Wroclaw – Lower Silesia

The goal of the trip was to experience each kind of attractiveness of this land – Polish Piast castles, German palaces and other historical relics, beautiful landscape, curative waters and see how the troubled past meets present. And we did it all.
  • Route: Wroclaw – Szczawno Zdrój – Cieplice Śląskie-Zdrój / Jelenia Góra
  • Time: August 25 – September 2, 2010

About Lower Silesia

Lower Silesia is a name of western part of Silesia (south-western part of Poland) – see note below*. The origin of the name comes probably from the Slavic tribe Ślężanie, living around Ślęża mountain. Due to the richness of ores and minerals (gold, iron, precious stones) and fertility of the local soil Lower Silesia had always been a place of rivalry betwen Poles, Czechs and Germans. Proceeds of each of these nations left a lasting mark on the culture and sights of the region. The capital of Lower Silesia is Wroclaw (Breslau).

Around 990 Polish ruler Mieszko I incorporated Silesia into the Polish state and until 14th century it was under the rule of the Piast dynasty, being economically and demographically the most developed part of Poland. Since 12th century, the period of disintegration (fragmentation of the state into politically independent principalities), most of Silesian principalities went under the rule of the Czech kings. Also many Piast princes were Germanized under the influence of their German wives. In 1348 king Kazimierz Wielki (Casimir the Great) relinquished the state rights to Silesia – it was to be a temporary solution, forced by financial problems of the state, but Poland never managed to recover it. In 16th century Silesia was ruled by Habsburgs, and in 18th century, as a result of wars between Austria and Prussia, was incorporated into Prussia. Photo: Piast Prince Henry the Bearded, a son of Duke Boleslaw I of Silesia-Breslau.

After WW II Lower Silesia was given to Poland as compensation for lost eastern territories (which were incorporated by USRR – see: History: Development of the Polish borders). German population was totally displaced and its place was taken by settlers from the east (also Polish emigrants from other countries).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Museum of displaced persons and expellees, Pławna by Lwówek

Today we do not meet the natives here, only those repatriants or their descendents. These people are the bearers of diverse cultural traditions, what raised the problem of the lack of a uniform cultural identity. For instance: Lower Silesian people don’t have a common regional outfit.

Karkonosze, Sudety mountains

Beautiful and vivid, Lower Silesia is extremely attractive for tourists and visitors. Its south side is filled with Sudety mountains – a very picturesque mountain chain, which has well-developed tourist base and hiking trails, also being a popular winter sports center. Its high curative qualities – air and water – meant that there are numerous SPA resorts and sanatoriums (you can recognize SPA resort by word “Zdrój” in the name – Lądek-Zdrój, Polanica-Zdrój, Duszniki-Zdrój, Szczawno-Zdrój). Lower Silesia has also many natural and landscape parks, palaces, manors and Piast castles. This region is also connected with many WW II mysteries and is very attractive for treasure hunters.

But there is also another “face” of this area. Lower Silesia consists not only of beautifully restored palaces, but also of the ruins of former German farms, huge and silent witnesses of the distant past of the land. Often you can indeed get the impression that time has stopped here since postwar reality, that the descendants of displaced Poles, like their parents and grandparents, are still afraid of Germans return and stuck in temporality manifested with neglect of their farms and houses. The view is rather unpleasant, as if the old trees had been uprooted, and the new ones have not yet grown into the ground…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Note: There is Lower and Upper Silesia. The division comes from the time of separating two lines of Piast dynasty into Wroclaw and Raciborska lines. Currently Upper Silesia is identified with the most industrialized region of Poland, with Katowice as the capital. The ordinary meaning of Silesia relates today to this part of the country.

WROCLAW /  August 25-27

Accommodation: The apartment in the Old Market Square. Due to resignation of the hotel we stayed in the city center for relatively little money and the days could begin from personally brewed coffee.

Some history

Wroclaw (Breslau) – a city built on a site inhabited by Slavic tribes Ślężanie – is the historical capital of Silesia and one of the oldest Polish cities, mentioned in chronicles as early as in 1000 year. Named after the legendary founder, Czech prince Wratislaw. Since the end of 10th century it was one of the Piast state headquarters. On April 1241, during the Mongol invasion, Breslau was abandoned and burned. After this event the town was built anew on the Magdeburg Law. In 1335, after death of Prince Henry VI the Good, the town became a part of the Czech kingdom. Since 1416 Breslau experienced a boom business, even temporarily was a member of the Hanseatic League. In 1523 became protestant.

Wroclaw 1493, Nuremberg Chronicle

In 1741, as a result of the Silesian wars (1740 – 1763; a series of wars between Prussia and Austria for control of Silesia) most of Silesia with Breslau fell under the rule of King Frederick II of Prussia. During Napoleon Bonaparte wars the land temporarily remained in the French hands, but after Bonaparte fall it returned to Prussia. During World War II Silesia was heavily damaged. At the Potsdam Conference Wroclaw and Lower Silesia were granted to Poland. As the consequence of this decision German people were displaced, replaced by settlers from the eastern territories of the former Second Republic of Poland, mostly from Lvov. It is now the fourth most populous and fifth largest Polish city area.

Wroclaw has always been a city of a big migration – people used to come here and go out, what is commemorated by a special monument.

Wrocław RD (19)

OLD TOWN / August 26

 Old Market Square is the second largest market in Poland and dissipates only that one in Cracow. It was rebuilt in the years 1952-1955. It has square shape and each side has its own names: The Side of Green Phragmites – east, The Side of Golden Cup (with “Świdnicka Cellar”, „Schweidnitzer Keller“) – south, The Side of Balance – west and Market of Sweetness – north.

Wrocław RD (12)

Old Market Square with a Millenium Fountain

The first evening was rainy so after a short walk we took refuge in the interior of the Świdnicka Cellar”, located at the south side of City Hall. Over 700 years old, it is the oldest pub in Poland and one of the oldest in Europe. A splendiferous beer “Świdnicki” is served there.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Świdnicka Cellar” – the entrance

Explorations of the market and its surrounding areas took place the next day. Each of the sides of the huge market has its attractions and almost each has its own history. Dutch influences trackers will find them also here, in the architecture of the Under the Griffins house, built in the style of Dutch Mannerism. There is also reconstruction of the pillory and the Millennium Fountain, and on each frontage are located many restaurants and cafés. The most impressive building is the late Gothic City Hall, which fortunately had not been seriously damaged during WW II. It was building for over 250 years (13th – 16th centuries). At present time the Municipal Museum is situated there, it also acts for representative purposes. In 19th century the city hall was very impoverished, even served as military barracks. Only at the end of that century the restoration begun and it was during this period, in 1891, that pseudo-Gothic statues were added to its outer walls. (The models were famous citizens of Breslau.)

The city hall

The interiors consist of the exhibition halls and historical reconstructions.

Next step was visiting Old Butcher’s Stall (Stare Jatki) – a place where Breslau citizens could buy meat and grease for lightening houses. This place was completely destroyed during WW II but has been reconstructed, only in the exhibition stalles you can buy art, no meat. There are sculptures of butchery animals on the street – a monument commemorating them and every meat eater must caress them.

While wandering around Wroclaw tourists encounter numerous bronze statues of gnomes, which are a symbol of the city. Its genesis comes to 80. of the last century and students anti-communists movement called Orange Alternative, which used to organize many happenings. Students used to paint dwarfs on places where anti-regime writing was covered with paint by city authorities. At these moments there are over 30 dwarfs in Breslau and new appear, created by artist Tomasz Moczek.

 

Visiting the Old Market Square on that day we were lucky to take part in the Hare Krishna festival.

Hare Krishna Festival

Update: under the Solny Square there is a former German WW2 airfield with an area of 232 m². Plans: from the summer of 2017 it is to be available for sightseeing as a museum and exhibition facility.

Photo: Adrian Sitko

OSTRÓW TUMSKI – RACŁAWICE PANORAMA – MULTIMEDIA FOUNTAIN / August 27

That day we have completed three points of the program, allocating the morning, afternoon and evening.

 Ostrów Tumski

Ostrów Tumski (“Cathedral Island”) is the oldest part of the city. It was formerly an island between branches of the Oder River. Since 14th century Ostrów Tumski has been a residence of bishops and the centre of the bishop’s reign. During WW II this place was heavily destroyed and some houses were rebuilt only in 70. and 80. of the last century. Reconstruction is being continued even now. It is surprising place, because a relatively small area is a cluster of many oldest churches in Breslau, which is a great team of sacred architecture in Europe.

Wrocław RD (7)

Church of St. Giles, built 1241-42

Among them are:

  • The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist (13th century) – it has the observation tower, which offers a wonderful view over the city; you can get there by elevator
  • Holy Cross & St. Bartolomeo (13th century) – one church with two levels, lower one of St. Bartlomeo name, the upper one of Holy Cross name
  • St. Peter and Paul church (14th century)
  • St. Martin church – small gothic church, the oldest in Breslau, the only remains of a former, today non-existing old Piast’s castle

 Worth to see there is also Botanical Garden and Museum of Natural History. And romantic souls can have an evening walk on the Tumski Bridge with its authentic, 19th century gas lamps (still in use!) and take a view on the beautifully highlighted Cathedral.

Tumski Bridge and The Cathedral of St. John the Baptug

  Panorama of Racławice

Racławice Panorama is a huge panoramic oil painting depicting the Battle of Racławice (1794). In this battle, which took place during Polish partitions, the army under command of General Tadeusz Kościuszko, with participation of the peasantry, the so-called scythe bearers, defeated Russian army. Unhappily it did not prevent the loss of independence.

Panorama was created in 1894 by order of the authorities of Lvov. Its principal authors were Jan Styka and Wojciech Kossak, who painted a picture measuring 114 m. After WW II canvas went to Breslau, but because of its politically incon-venient content – Polish victory over the Russians – for over 40 years has not been issued in full public view.

                                      Panorama (click to scroll the painting)

Only the events of 1980 created an atmosphere conducive to the exposure of this huge painting. Since 1985 you can watch it in a specially built Rotunda building. The picture is blended with human and animal figures and a landscape (so called staffage), what helps to create an additional effect of realism and the multidimensionality of work.

 Multimedia Fountain

Multimedia Fountain in Breslau is one of the biggest fountains of this kind in Europe. The one-hectare fountain (situated by the Hala Stulecia) incorporates about 300 jets of different kind to create a screen of water for animation display. There are also 800 lights. When frozen in winter, the fountain is a 4700-square-metre ice skating rink. Screenings take place every hour, for different types of music (Richard Wagner, Jean Michel Jarre, etc.). Since 2011 on the water screen of 700 m2, an art animation is shown. We saw only impressive streams of water dance, beautifully illuminated by the different types of light, with excellent music.

See also: Wroclaw Impressions

ŚLĘŻA / ŚWIDNICA / SZCZAWNO ZDRÓJ  / August 28

Our destination was a SPA town Szczawno Zdrój, located near the castle Książ, which was in a program of our tour. On the way to the resort we drove to the hill of holy pagan mountain Ślęża and to wooden evangelical church in Świdnica. 

Ślęża mountain

Ślęża (German: Zobten or Zobtenberg, also Silingi), 718 m high, is a mountain in the Sudetes foothills. In ancient times it was a holy place of the heathen tribes of the Lusatia culture, dedicated to a sun deity.  It is worth to climb up the hill (about 2 hours route) to see the part of ancient stone walls and also mysterious stone statues with a typical glancing cross, probably connected with pagan solar cult. In 6th century it was settled down by Slavic tribe Ślężanie. It is possible that the name of Silesia originates from this mountain. There was then a place for a 14th century castle and 17th century church. Since 19th century Ślęża mountain is a popular place for tourism and walks. We didn’t decide to climb up as weather was not good. Maybe another time?

Ślęża

On our further way we passed by the archeological heritage park Będkowice, created on the place of early medieval settlement, consisting of ancient defending settlement and barrow cemetery (8th – 9th century). Presently there is a small reconstruction with a camping for tourists. We didn’t enter this place however.

Next stop was in a small city Rogów Sobócki, where you can see a pillory (built probably around 1555 year) and conciliation cross – Maltese kind with one arm destroyed. Just opposite them you can find excellent bakery / café where you can try its delicious cakes. We did!

The entrance to the archaeological reserve Będkowice / A pillory and conciliation cross  in Rogów Sobócki

 Świdnica – protestant Church Of Peace

 In 14th century Świdnica was placed on the very important trade route, being a very strong craft and trade centre, second after Breslau. It was also the capitol of princi-pate. Today is famous for one of the three protestant Churches of Peace built in Silesia in 17th century. The name “Church of Peace” relates to the Peace of Westphalia (1648) which permitted the Lutherans in the Roman Catholic parts of Silesia building three Evangelical churches. But they had to be built under heavy restrictions: only from wood, loam and straw, outside the city walls, without steeples and church bells, and the construction time was limited to one year. All of them be-came the biggest timber-framed religious buildings in Europe due to pioneering constructional and architectural solutions. Unhappily one of them was burnt.

Church of Peace

Since 2001 the two remaining churches (the other one in Jawor) are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It is worth to have a look there as The Church of Peace is very unique and unusual – it looks a bit like an opera house. The church in Świdnica needs a big money for restoration, unhappily protestant community in Silesia is very small now, not big enough to give enough money for its maintenance.

Church of Peace – interior

Restoration of the church requires a big amount of money, unhappily protestant community in Silesia is very small now, not big enough to give enough for its maintenance.

SZCZAWNO ZDRÓJ / August 28-29

 Accomodation: hotel “Joanna”, very nice, of high standard.

Szczawno Zdrój became famous for its soft climate and mineral curative waters. In 19th century it became popular SPA and health resort, with a big complex of hotels, pump rooms, promenades, parks and theater. The city was visited by kings and celebrities: kings August Sas and Constantin I, German emperor Wilhelm II and tsar Nicolaus I, also by Winston Churchill, writer Iwan Turgieniew and Polish composer Henryk Wieniawski – to commemorate his visit every year International Festival of Henryk Wieniaw-ski is held there. People having rest there or standing there for health rea-sons can enjoy walks in two lovely parks or – while drinking curative water – in 19th century wooden walking hall Hala Spacerowa – on the photo.

KSIĄŻ / August 29
 (German: Fürstenstein)

This is the third largest castle in Poland, second only to the castle of Teutonic Knights in Malbork and Wawel in Cracow. It was built in 13th century by prince Bolko I the Crude as a fortress protecting frontiers of Silesia. Since then it has been rebuilt many times. In 1509 Książ became a property of the Hochberg family, one of the wealthiest baronial dynasties in Prussia. The last owners were Hans Heinrich XV, Prince of Pless, and his English wife Mary-Theresa Olivia Cornwallis-West, so called princess Daisy (she died there in 1943 but her grave is unknown).

Książ

In 1941 the castle was taken over by Germans and Todt Organization led secret military activity there. They dug tunnels under the castle, as the castle was connected with mysterious Project Riese (1943-1945) – the mining and construction project of Nazi Germany, started and unfinished in the Owl Mountains and Książ. It consists of seven complexes of the under-ground military facilities located in Lower Silesia. In 1945 Soviet army devastated the castle and all equipment was destroyed or stolen. Restoration work continues today, but even if under restoration, enormity (400 rooms) and the remnants of equipment of this building, including a ceremonial hall, exerts a great impression. Situated on a rocky promontory in Książański Landscape Park and surrounded by scenic beauty hills, the castle enchants with beautiful landscape.
For horse lovers – there are stud stallions within the complex.

Read also: The Castle Książ Mysteries

BOLKÓW / the same day, afternoon

Modest, unassuming-looking old Piast castle from 13th century has its interesting past and mysteries. The castle has a shape of the drop of water, with a kind of beak on its south-western side, the first and the easiest to be attacked. Thanks to this shape artillery missile could fell down on the walls. It was built by Piast prince of Legnica Bolesław II Rogatka (Horned), also called Łysy (Bald) – he was a big wrangler!

Bolków castle

The castle had a big defending and strategic importance. Its role was to protect amber tradesmen and defend the principate. In the 14th century a treasury was kept there for a hundred years. In next centuries there were quite few owners of Bolków, Czech kings and a knight-robber among them. In the 19th century it became slowly a ruin, but it was not the end of its significance. It is said that during WW II Bolków castle was a kind of German scientific centre that hold control over nearby factories but there is no evidence for that. The legend says that there was an underground corridor connecting Bolków castle with the neighboring Świny castle and that some German belongings were hidden there shortly before arrival of the Soviet army. The tunnel was closed by concrete and all workers were executed. At present time it is a small museum and a residence of Knigt’s Brotherhood of Bolków (they arrange there medieval tournaments). What’s more, every summer the Castle Party, festival of gothic music, one of the most important in Europe, is held there.

Castle Party 

KOWARY – CIEPLICE ŚLĄSKIE-ZDRÓJ / JELENIA GÓRA / August 30

Our next destination was Cieplice Śląskie-Zdrój, another Lower Silesian health resort. Going there we chose extended route to the south, through Kowary, to see former uranium mine and Miniature Park.

Underground Tourist Route Kowary Drifts

Kowary (German: Schmiedeberg im Riesengebirge) is a city which owes its existence to iron ore mining and smith industry. It was a Wallon miner Laurentius Angelus who in 1148 discovered iron ore in the mountain Rudnik. In 1158 they started mining there. Wallon people came to Silesia for search of precious ores and they found plenty of them in Sudety Mountains. They could not only dig it up but also process the stones. Iron ore mining collapsed in early 17th century, during The Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648).

Walloons treasure

Next mining period is connected with uranium which was discovered there in 20. of the last century – the extraction started in 1927 year. After WW II extraction of uranium ore was revived for Soviet Union atomic weapon and continued in 40. and 50. of the 20th century. It was the deepest state secret. No one miner knew what he was working upon, they were also unaware of negative radioactive influence of the uranium ore. They were even not protected by special clothes! Many of them died of course, and official reason was a typical dust disease. Last extraction in Kowary uranium mine had place in 70.

This was not however the end of Kowary area mines activity. After discovering curative features of radon in Podgórze area (a part of Kowary), underground radon inhalatorium was created there – 3rdbiggest in Europe. People could cure there breathing and blood circulation problems and men could improve their sexual potency. It was closed in 1989 and new radon inhalatorium was created in 2002 in former uranium mine. Tourists visiting the Underground Tourist Route Kowary can see there Wallon Treasury, collection of ores and miners tools. The problem is that there is not foreign language guiding yet, but it may have changed since we were there, who knows… Photo: st. Barbara, patroness of miners.

The Lower Silesia Monuments’ Miniatures Park in Kowary

Dutch people have their Madurodam, but Parks of Miniatures became also popular in Poland. One of them is in Kowary. This is the Lower Silesia in a nutshell, because the most important and the most beautiful architectural objects in 1:25 scale miniatures are gathered there. They are made of weather-proof materials by using up-to-date techniques, so they can be shown in the open air, in lovely green surroundings. Every detail of each building is mapped with extremely precise. You can visit this charming place in a company of friendly guides who speak foreign languages.

 Wojanów palace – a miniature

CIEPLICE ŚLĄSKIE – ZDRÓJ  / August 30 – September 1

Accomodation: “Hotel under Roses” in the center, arranged in old fashioned way, with a cozy restaurant.

It is the oldest SPA town in Poland, situated in the picturesque Jeleniogórska Valley. Cieplice Śląskie–Zdrój is famous for its curative waters, which were discovered there in 1175 year. According to a legend prince Bolesław Wysoki (the Tall) noticed that badly hurt deer was curing his wounds in a thermal spring of Kamienna river. A special chapel dedicated to John Baptist was erected there, which later turned into a church. It is the only place in Poland with thermal springs, with temperature reaching 86 C. (The name of the city – Cieplice – relates to those warm springs as word “ciepły” in Polish language means “warm”.) This is how Cieplice became a health resort, visited even by Polish queen Mary Sobieska. Today it is a SPA where people can cure rheumatism, urinary system, kidneys, blood circulation, nerve system, eyes, legs and hands problems. We also tried its curative waters.

Cieplice Śląskie – Zdrój

Cieplice is also a place where many tourist routes start: to popular Śnieżka and Szrenica mountains, to 14th century Chojnik castle, to the old adits in Kowary, to the Museum of Gerhart Hauptmann (a Nobel prize winner) in Jagniątkowo, as well as to the Czech Republic and Germany. (We write about Chojnik castle and Museum of Gerhart Hauptmann in Lower Silesia 2)

CZOCHA CASTLE / August 31

Czocha Castle is one of the most beautiful defensive castles in Poland, situated in picturesque surroundings of the lake Leśna, near the Kwisa river. It is quite away from Cieplice, but worth to make a trip because of interesting past of this place, full of mysteries, legends, ghosts and WW II secrets.

Czocha castle – main entrance

Origin of the stone castle dates back to 1329 year. In next centuries there were several owners, like the noble families of von Dohn, Henryk von Renker and Hartnung von Klux which all of them were… robbers. In 1793 the whole complex was burnt. The last private owner was Ernst Gutschow, a cigar manufacturer from Dresden.  Gutschow, who was close to the Russian Imperial Court and hosted in Czocha several White émigrés, lived in the castle until March 1945. Upon leaving, he packed up the most valuable possessions (it is said that Romanov dynasty royal insignia were among them) and moved them out. Nobody knows what has happened to them. Some treasury had been found in the castle but it was probably the less valuable part and left by Gutschow to cheat new authorities.

Second mystery is connected with WW II. It is possible that there was an Abwehra school and that in the neighborhood Germans worked upon V1 and V2 missiles, maybe also upon uranium fuel. Third mystery is connected with intelligence as some claim there were found mysterious sticks made of crystal glass, few millimeters long, with some maps and pics (microfilm) inside. Czocha (like few other Silesian castles) was also a place where Germans kept for a while some French intelligence archives with names of French quislings (collaborators). They didn’t however manage to take them with while running away to the west. And all Polish people, who were connected with those archives, died later for unknown reasons. It is said that some of those papers were kept by former Polish prime ministry Piotr Jaroszewicz, who was killed with his wife in 1992 for reasons which are still unclear. Photo: beautiful relief – a decoration of the  fireplace.

After WW II the castle was ransacked several times, both by Red Army soldiers and Polish thieves. Pieces of furniture and other goods were stolen, so today there are very few original remains to be seen by tourists. One of them is a huge bed (on the photo) with a special trapdoor, so when the owner of the castle was not satisfied of his wife service during a night, he used it to send poor lover into the Kwisa river. For those who may be interested – it is possible to spend a night in this room! Comfortable way to get rid of unfaithful wives was drowning them into the castle well, which still exists (our tourist guide book says, that at least three ladies were killed this way). Let add to it a child bricked up alive under the fireplace and a woman who was beheaded there for her traitor in the time of Hussites wars – all those unhappy human beings appear in the night as ghosts!

Visiting this distant place took much time so when we came back to Cieplice it was too late to drink curative water in one of many special places, so we tried some in the nearest sanatorium.

 KARPACZ AND LANDTOUR / September 1

It was a day full of surprises. We planned visiting Karpacz (the main tourist and ski resort in Karkonosze Mountains, with his famous Vang church) and having just lazy rest but it was a bit different. As we missed the right road to Vang church, we entered some forest, where we met a Dutch-Polish couple who live in nearest Piechowice village. And they became our guides who told us about the WW II cemetery situated close to the place of our meeting.

Borowice – cemetery of war prisoners, Sudety Road

Borowice is a piedmont holiday resort belonging to the highest range of Karkonosze Mountains, also connected with WW II tragedies. Since 1943 many war prisoners of Polish, French, Belgian and Russian nationality were forced to build so called Sudecka Road (Spindlerpaßstraße), intended to connect Borowice with Karkonoska Pass. The road has never been finished however. It was a deep secret so people living in the village were not aware of existence of well hidden prisoner camp. Prisoners worked extremely hard, crushing hard rocks by picks and suffering from cold, hunger, beating and sickness, so most of them died. In 1944/45 prisoners’ camp was eliminated and destroyed and those few workers, who managed to survive, were killed (shut) and buried in a cemetery close to the road. There are 38 nameless graves and one big mass grave. If you plan to go there, take a grave candle and make a light for all those poor unknown men who rest there…

Karpacz – Vang church

Our visit in Karpacz was limited to watching from outside the historic wooden Protestant church from 13th  century, which was built in … Norway, in the town of Vang. After 800 years it became too small to its users so they decided to build a new, larger one and the old one strip and sell. It was bought by the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm IV for a museum in Berlin, but his friend, the Countess of Frederick von Reden from Bukowiec, persuaded the king to place it in Lower Silesia, to serve for the local Protestants. So he did and it is in local Lutheran service since 1843.

 Vang church / photo: Micha L Rieser

The construction of the church is made without nails, all calls completed with wooden carpentry joints. High stone belfry was added in 19th century to protect old church from the wind blowing from Śnieżka Mountain. Vang church is beautifully situated in a charming mountain landscape, having a small cemetery by his side.

Wojanów and Łomnica palaces

At the insistence of our Polish-Dutch guides we decided to have a closer look at some local palaces. Lower Silesia might be called the land of palaces, because practically every village has one, what proves of wealthy landowners or love of this region by aristocracy. Not only German, but also Dutch as Dutch tracks can be also found there. Unhappily the post-war history of many palaces was rather bad. After WW II many of them were turned into schools or headquarters of the State Agricultural Farms and fell into ruin. It was only after 1990, when privatization began, that they could be transformed into luxury hotels and conference centers. One of them is the palace in Wojanów.

Wojanów

The first historical note about the residence comes from 1299 year. As many other palaces it had many owners. In 19th century Wojanów was bought by Frederick Wilhelm III, who then presented it as a wedding gift to his beloved daughter Louise and Prince Frederick of the Netherlands (Frederick van Oranje-Nassau). Thanks to them the estate acquired a beautiful scenic park and the façade got a New Gothic style. In 1889 Wojanów was inherited by their daughter Maria zu Wied, than it was sold. After WW II it belonged to State Agricultural Farm. In 2007 it became a conference and training centre with sporting and recreation facilities, as well as SPA Centre.

Photo: Dr Bernd Gross

We only had a look at the palace from the outside and went to another one.

Łomnica

There is a charming palace and park complex, built in 17th century by family von Zedlitz. Since 1835 year up to the end of the WW II the lovely manor remained in hands of the family von Kuester. After the war a primary school and offices of State Agricultural Farm were located there, what caused destruction of the palace. In 1991 it was bought by the grandson of the last owner, Ulrich von Kuester, and transformed into a stylish hotel and restaurant.

Photo: Kriskros, Wikipedia

Present owners of Łomnica palace, Mr. and Mrs. Kuestler, organize many cultural events and recreational activities, and in objects belonging to the palace various exhibition are held. The permanent one is an exhibition presenting economic activities of the palace in the pre-war period, where you can see vintage farm photos, farm equipment, and also try to guess the names of agricultural products. In the palace shop you can buy food products from the palace farm.

(click to enlarge)

Kuester activity is a great example of overcoming prejudices against the Germans and the former owners of the local residences. It is also a proof that the Polish-German cooperation in pursuit of culture can bring much good. We were lucky to have a small talk with Mrs. Elizabeth Kuester – although very busy and having not much time, she was very kind for us. And in the restaurant we tried delicious coffee and cakes served by a smiling staff.

A very nice farewell accent was a beautiful rainbow which shone for us when we were on the road back to the hotel.

DEPARTURE / September 2

At a morning departure time we split in Jelenia Góra, very unhappy that our excellent Lower Silesia trip came to the end!

 Renata Głuszek

 Read also: Lower Silesia 2

See also: Wroclaw Impressions

helpful site: Lower Silesia Country Life

Photo: Han Tiggelaar, Renata Głuszek, Renata Drygiel, Paweł Kijak, Daria Niesler, Vikimedia Commons