We came here again after two years, as it was necessary on the way to the western border*, but not without great pleasure. Lower Silesia is not only very attractive, but still offers many new places to explore. And it is a perfect place for relaxation.
time of stay: July 23-26, 2012
route: Kamieniec Ząbkowicki – Zachełmie by Jelenia Gora
accomodation: Paczków (motel „Pod kotwicą”) – Zachełmie (hotel „Chojnik”)
(Note: we stayed in Paczków because of the lack of decent hotel in Kamieniec Ząbkowicki. Paczków is also a place worth to see; for his defending city walls it is often called the Polish Carcasonne.)
The route through Lower Silesia begins with a visit to Kamenz (Kamieniec Ząbkowicki), where we go to see the palace of the Dutch princess Marianna of Orange (read: Lady from the Netherlands). Marianna has built it in the years 1838-1857, and for the next 10 years she was arranging gardens. Unfortunately, due to the restrictions of Prussia, she was not allowed to live there – she could only stay during the day.
View of 2015
The palace itself, like its founder, had no luck. During the Second World War Russian soldiers robbed and destroyed the equipment and set the fire there (the palace was burning for 2 weeks!). Although the direct witnesses of those events are no longer alive, their children still remember the stories which were told them by their parents and shared them with us.
View of 2015
Marianna’s palace never regained its former glory, although a couple years ago someone tried to restore it. It was Professor Włodzimierz Sobiech, a longtime tenant who invested there his private money. He even managed to run the hotel and cafe for some time, but unfortunately died in 2011 what resulted in inheritance proceedings involving the municipal authorities. The future of the palace is a great unknown although some investors show some interest in it.
We approached the walls (by a car, although it is forbidden, anyway the road to the castle is not bad) with great emotions. We are aware that we are following steps of Marianna which had to drive this winding road in the carriage. What would she feel today seeing her beloved mansion in the rather poor condition?
View of 2015
Anyway, the basic body of the castle, seen from the outside, seems to be intact (part of the walls have been reconstructed). The top of the facade (from the stairs side) still bears the coat of arms of Marianna’s family. But there is no trace of the elaborate gardens and ponds and many architectural elements felt into disrepair. Everything is covered with ubiquitous green. The palace’s walls are surrounded by barbed wire and the simple gates are locked (can that protect it from the nosy intruders?). It is easy to imagine however that after restoration this picturesque building with its gardens and ponds would be one of the most beautiful and attractive palaces of Lower Silesia, maybe also of the entire Poland. Full of sad reflections, we set off on the road to Zachełmie near Jelenia Góra, to get the last stop of this year’s trip.
That was in 2012. Currently (2015) after the renovation by the owner of the object – the municipality Kamieniec Ząbkowicki – the palace looks great and is open to the public. One can visit it in the hours 10.00 – 17.00 (entrance every hour).
Pictures from 2015 made by Renata Drygiel.
Zachełmie is a village in the municipality of Podgórzyn** (Sudetenland / Karkonosze Mountains), located 11 km southwest of Jelenia Góra, at an altitude of 494 m above sea level.
It was founded by Czech religious refugees who left their country in 17th century, during the 30-year war. Since the beginning of the 20th century it became a popular summer resort for the residents of the cities that are nearby: Breslau (Wroclaw), Dresden and Berlin, although it has never been strongly developed and maintained a very intimate character. Accommodation is mostly in pensions or rooms at the host.
Zachełmie is the ideal place for people seeking peace and close contact with nature, and also a place of a convenient distance from the major attractions of the region: hiking and skiing centers (Szklarska Poręba, Karpacz), Jelenia Góra, a nearby castle Chojnik and others.
Accommodatie: Hotel Chojnik
To get to the hotel it is necessary to overcome a long and winding road through the picturesque mountains.
Hotel itself is in an amazing location – it is built on a slope, with a breathtaking view on the surrounding mountains. There are only a few houses in the neighborhood, which guarantees peace and quietness.
There are, among others, two ski lifts, tennis court, barbecue area and a charming island in a small pond. But the new owners of the hotel are planning to introduce many changes. Their plans are very ambitious and we wish them good luck! We spent there few pleasant evenings. Good weather and summer temperatures let us sit outside to admire the lovely sunsets and the beauty of the area. On the photo: a pond.
The castle Chojnik
The big advantage of this hotel is its proximity to hiking trails and the medieval castle Chojnik, which can be reached only by foot. From our hotel the green trail leads there through the forest (on the picture). During the walk, not too strenuous and lasting about an hour, one can see the granite rocks, that are typical for this area (Sudety Mountains are the oldest mountains in Poland). The brick castle was built in the half of the 14th century. Its founder was a Piast prince Bolko II Small. In the 16th century was expanded and also decorated with the rich Renaissance ornaments. Unfortunately, in 1675 a storm lightning has hit the castle, causing a fire that damaged it severely. Since the 19th century the fortress service as a tourist attraction, with a tourist hostel on its territory.
This castle is also the headquarters of the “Association of the Brotherhood of the Knights”. Since 1991 there is even yearly one of the biggest crossbow tournaments. Everybody can try shooting (for a small fee) while visiting the castle. The castle is very interesting, but walking around and climbing its walls requires some physical effort. But one who climbs the high tower, overcoming a fear of heights, is awarded with the beautiful panorama of the area with the town Jelenia Góra, lying down the hill.
Jelenia Góra means the “Deer Mountain”. Using the closeness of the city, we arranged the trip to it (previously, in 2010, we only saw the Cieplice district in wich we stayed – (read also Wroclaw – Lower Silesia). The town is very picturesquely situated in the northern part of the Jelenia Góra Basin, and on four sides it is surrounded by mountains: in the west Izerskie Mountains, in the north Kaczawskie Mountains, from the east – Rudawy Janowickie and in south – Karkonosze.
A bit of history
According to tradition the town was founded in 1108 by the Piast Duke Boleslaw Krzywousty (Wrymouthed) – his trail is preserved in the form of an old Slavic settlement on the Krzywousty Mount. Most likely, the proper founder of the city was Prince Boleslaw II Rogatka (much to write about this bully prince!), with the help of the German colonists. After 1392 Jelenia Gora belonged to the Czech rulers. Thanks to production and trade of linen cloth the town grew rapidly, but after the 30-year war and capturing by Prussia (1742) it firmly declined. In the 19th century the development of tourism helped Jelenia Gora to overcome the crisis and started to flourish economically. During the Second World War it was not destroyed. After incorporating to Poland its German citizens were deported to Germany, replaced by displaced people from the east of Poland. On the photo: houses on the Old market.
We limited our stay in Jelenia Góra mainly to walk in and around the Old Town, which captivated us with its colorful houses.
Late in the afternoon we went to the villa once owned by the German writer Gerhart Hauptmann (a Nobel Prize laureate in 1912), located in the district of Jagniątków. The museum was already closed but even a glance from the outside assures us that writing here had to be easy and pleasant!
From the elegant villa we move to the country atmosphere of Podlasie (middle-eastern part of Poland), which is offered by the regional restaurant – Gospoda “Wedle bucków” (Tavern near the beeches), situated nearby.
It is not only a restaurant but also an ethnographic museum, exhibiting equipment of a typical country house of Podlasie. So we combined all at one: pleasantness (for the stomach) and usefulness (for spirit), and we never regret that we spent some time in this charming place!
The day of departure. We went to Jelenia Góra again and from there we started the way back home…
Photo: Renata Głuszek, Renata Drygiel, Wikimedia Commons; map: Targeo
* Whole route (July 2-26): Rzepin (2-3) – Warsaw (4-9) – Kazimierz Dolny (9-12) – Szczawnica (12-18) – Kraków (18-19) – Tarnowskie Góry (19-22) – Paczków (22/23) – Jelenia Góra (23-26)
** Don’t mixed it with Zachełmie in Świętokrzyskie Province, nearby Kielce!