The last article, as we’ve promised, will be devoted to the south-east of Poland: we will look into not three, but four exceptional provinces! Let’s not waste time and start our journey!
Lower Silesian Voivodeship is mostly known because of its capital, Wrocław, which belongs to 4 most popular destinations in Poland – in 2016 it received the title of the European Capital of Culture! You can start from there, but then – don’t forget about two most important attractions of this region! One of them is Kraina Wygasłych Wulkanów – the Land of Extinct Volcanos, in which the oldest mountains have even 500 mln years! Generally, you can see three different periods in the history of volcanos here, in Kaczawskie Mountains.
The other place you actually may want to stay at (not only see) is Zamek Czocha – a 13th-century castle that was lately turned into a hotel. Of course, the biggest attractions, such as the torture chamber (although multimedia one) were incorporated into this resort!
Opole Voivodeship is known for being… the smallest of all counties! Nonetheless, you must go there – if you are not convinced, check out the amazing Pałac w Mosznej! An 18th -century Moszna Castle is one of the most beautiful and biggest baroque buildings in Poland: it has dozens of (exactly 99!) soaring towers and 365 chambers&rooms. If you enjoyed fables about kingdoms, princesses, and princes as a child – you will just fall in love with this place. And even if you didn’t – still, it is a real piece of architecture to admire!
If castles don’t appeal to you, maybe the cuisine of this region will – śląskie niebo (“Silesian’s heaven”) is a speciality of this region – served in restaurants that form the culinary trail called Opolski Bifyj (“bifyj”-hutch). What is it? Cooked, smoked, or pickled pork in a sauce made of dried fruits (usually plums and peers), accompanied by potato dumplings. Very satiating! An alternative for vegetarians can be gołąbek z kaszy gryczanej i ziemniaków – a dish made of buckwheat and potatoes wrapped in cooked cabbage – this variation of traditional “gołąbki” (which contain meat and rice) you will find only here!
Most people link Silesian Voivodeship with heavy industry. And they are right – one of the biggest and historically most important Polish mine is Kopalnia w Tarnowskich Górach, from which we used to extract lead, silver, and zinc. Now it is listed as UNESCO heritage and you can take a tour around many facilities that belong to this huge complex.
If you fear going underground, stick with Szlak Orlich Gniazd – it is a 160km-long trail that connects 25 medieval castles (or their ruins) situated between Częstochowa and Kraków.
This route is actually perfect for a weekend bike ride with friends! Those who prefer climbing must explore Beskidy – but the Beskid Mountains exclusively will be covered in another article.
After an exhausting bike marathon or a long hike, you need to grab a bite! Starving? Rolada śląska is a beef Roulade commonly served with potato dumplings in sauce and red cabbage. Need to warm up? Choose traditional śląski żur – fermented cereal soup in which you shall find a boiled egg and a piece of sausage. The version with potatoes inside is called żur żeniaty (in this dialect it means ‘the rich one’). Kołocz śląski is what you should order for dessert this traditional cake made of a yeast dough originates from Silesia. It comes in four different variants – find out what are they!
Lesser Voivodeship is probably one of the two most recognized Polish
counties! Why? First of all, it is very picturesque: a big part of Małopolskie’s landscape is Tatra mountains, the highest range of Carpathians. Even if you don’t climb per se, it is worth to visit Zakopane, a resort town located in Tatras – for sure you have heard about this stronghold of folklore! Here you can see ethnic highlanders – Górale – in their traditional clothing, try regional specialities such as Oscypek (smoked cheese that is made of salted sheep milk), and experiment with some high percentage alcohol.
If you appreciate architecture – take time to see Kaplica na Jaszczurówce – a chapel which belongs to Szlak Architektury Drewnianej – a trail of wooden architecture that stretches out between four neighbouring counties and links over 250 outstanding timber buildings – churches, mansions and villas. This trail includes also Church in Lipnica Murowana and Nadwiślański Ethnographic Park in Wygiełzów – only 40 minutes from Kraków!
Kraków (Cracow) is the other reason why Małopolskie is so well-known: this incredible city used to be Poland’s capital for a very long time – surely it deserves an independent feature! But once you find yourself even near Kraków, don’t hesitate to take a tour around Królewskie Kopalnie Soli w Wieliczce i Bochni – the mines of salt hidden 135 m under the ground offers many unique attractions, such as boat cruise through a salt chamber!
Now, you know Poland in a nutshell. This is just the beginning though! We will present you other series of articles about our country’s unexplored nature, particular cities, and regional cuisines. Start this adventure with us and soon you will be a Polish expert! Stay tuned!