Jelenia Góra in Brief
While travelling to the resorts of the Jelenia Góra Valley you may pass through the city of Jelenia Góra itself. Let’s look at a little of the interesting history of this medieval city.
Jelenia Góra lies by the rivers Bóbr, Kamienna, Podgórna and Wrzosówka. The city is about 22km across with about 100,000 inhabitants. Being the capital city of the Karkonosze Mts., Jelenia Góra is also a transport hub with a well-developed municipal transportation system.
According to legend, the city was founded by the Polish King Boleslaus the Wry-mouthed (in Polish: Bolesław Krzywousty) in 1108. The first settlement had a castle, a moat and a double ring of powerful defensive walls which served it well through many wars.
The city’s most precious monument is the St. Erasmus and Pancras Church (in Polish: Kościół św. Erazma i Pankracego; in Boczna Street) constructed around the 14th century but now bearing a full three architectural styles: late gothic, baroque and renaissance. The baroque high altar was constructed by the Norwegian artist T. Wiesfeldt.
An unusual story is associated with another church, this one modelled on the Saint Catherine Church in Stockholm, Sweden and designed by the Swedish architect Martin Franz from Reval. In 1 Maja street is the Holy Cross Church (in Polish: Kościół św.Krzyża).
On 1 Maja Street is the Holy Cross Church (in Polish: Kościół św.Krzyża), which was constructed between 1709 and 1718 as the so-called Church of Mercy. In the 18th century, Jelenia Góra and the whole of Silesia belonged to a Roman catholic emperor in conflict with protestants wishing for their own churches. Silesian protestants turned to the Swedish protestant king Charles XII for help and owing to his mediation were permitted to build six Churches of Mercy.
However, there is not for nothing. The mercy of the Catholics cost 700,000 guldens, and for the mercy of the emperor’s commission, protestants had to pay another 15,400 guldens. The Swedish king’s mediation cost a noble 200,000 guldens and the mediator at the Swedish court took his own 20,000 guldens, a total of 935,400 guldens altogether. This was more than the physical construction costs. Jelenia Góra’s protestants themselves paid 200,000. The church has space for around 4,020 and is now Roman catholic and used by the Polish army.
Following the Second World War, Poland was shifted bodily to the west and lost the eastern territories tightly connected to the Orthodox Church. When in 1945 the western border was changed and Silesia returned to Poland, Orthodox Christians moved to this new land, a place without any Orthodox traditions. In fact, the dominant religions were Protestantism and Catholicism. In 1947, an Orthodox parish was organised and one year later was given its church, which was rebuilt and remodelled into the St. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church (in Polish: Cerkiew św. Piotra i Pawła) on 1 Maja street. This church is quite small, with space for only about 100 people, yet its original frescos and baroque character make a big impression. The byzantine-like paintings created by two professors, Adam Stalony-Dobrzański and Jerzy Nowosielski, show the Christ Pantocrator and the Saints. The Ikonostas, the border between heaven and earth, and the Heavenly Doors, were created accordingly to strict rules. On the right of the doors is the Jesus Hominum Salvator icon and on the left the Bohorodice icon.
On the Market Square (in Polish: Rynek) is the City Hall, which is the seat of the municipal authorities and was built between 1747 and 1749. Above the main entrance to the hall is a Latin inscription which may be translated into English as “Boleslaus the Wry-mouthed built the city in 1108, while before the building is a fountain and well with a Neptune figure, the sign of the alliance between the city and the sea. The well has happily remained almost original and dates from 1727. Another interesting building in the town is the local theatre, an example of the Jelenia Góra Secession. Also worth seeing is the regional Karkonosze Museum with its excellent exhibits of glass and graphics.
Jelenia Góra Valley
Jelenia Góra is the city about 120km west of Wrocław, easily accessible by car, bus or train. Rich in historical sights and monuments.
Jelenia Góra Valley is a starting point to Western Sudety Mts. The Jelenia Góra Valley (270 km ) is located between the Kaczawskie, Izerskie and Rudawy Janowickie Mts. It is the best starting point for all visitors to the Karkonosze Mts. National Park, to the Izerskie Mts., and also for the famous spa resorts of Cieplice Zdrój and Świeradów Zdrój.
In addition, the Jelenia Góra Valley is an ideal place for gliding, which is organised at Góra Szybowcowa. The valley also has much to offer those loving hiking and walking, biking, horse-riding, cross-country and downhill skiing and is also rich in agrotourism farms and guest houses, which are often luxurious and well furnished. The valley is not only attractive for its landscape, but also for its newly-renovated market squares, historical and archaeological sites, churches in both the gothic and baroque styles, and for its renaissance mansions and manors. It is a country of old castles and the residences of kings, the most famous and undoubtedly most impressive being Chojnik, perched high on a tall hill. The castle recalls the old Silesian family of von Schaffgotsch – the one-time fourth family in Europe in terms of wealth, property and power.
The main tourist centres include Jelenia Góra, which has several excellent hotels, Wojanów, Miłków, Łomnica and Cieplice Zdrój, and the valley is also equipped with a well-developed transport system, allowing easy access to all of its treasures.
Cieplice Zdrój in Brief
According to legend, Boleslaus the Tall (in Polish: Bolesław Wysoki) discovered the hot spas by the Kamienna river while hunting an injured deer in the forests in 1175, although other stories attribute this to King Boleslaus the Wry-mouthed (in Polish: Bolesław Krzywousty).
Once upon a time, Cieplice Zdrój was an independent town, but since 1976 it has been administered within the borders of Jelenia Góra. The town has been known as a health resort for centuries, the first mention in the historical record being dated 18th March 1281. On this date the delivery of the calidus fonds, or hot spas, to the Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem by the Duke Bernard was confirmed. The monks took care of the sick and applied the hot waters as a treatment. The next owner of the land, the knight Gotche Schoff, in turn presented it to the Cistercian monks in 1381.
The first scientific description of the waters comes from 1569, provided by the local physician Caspar Hoffmann, while the first chemical analysis was made in 1609 by one of the most prominent renaissance physicians, Caspar Schwenckfeldt. However, the first inn for bathers had been built long before, in the 15th century and a special document, 'the Spa Statutes’, existed to provide rules covering the behaviour and proper dress of the bathers. A notable curiosum was the Horse Spa (in Polish: Końskie Źródło), a special spa where animals were cured. The fame of Cieplice spread far and wide, many visitors coming for cures to such diseases as the so-called 'French disease’, syphilis. Moreover, some of the most prominent individuals were to visit the town for treatment, the most notable being the Queen of Poland, Maria Sobieska, the wife of Jan III Sobieski, who defeated the Turks at the Siege of Vienna in 1682. The curative waters of Cieplice Zdrój are used in treatment of the following:
✓ motor system diseases and post-traumatic conditions
✓ rheumatological diseases
✓ urological and nephrological diseases
✓ ophthalmological diseases (Cieplice Zdrój is the sole health resort in Poland applying spa treatments to eye diseases)
The thermal waters have a temperature of about 87oC and contain fluoride, silicon, iodine, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium and iron. The main methods of treatment are hydrotherapy, pelotherapy (which uses healing clays), inhalation, kinesitherapy, electrotherapy and light therapy.
The most precious monument of Cieplice Zdrój is the baroque palace of the Schaffgotch family, who ruled almost the entire territory of the Jelenia Góra Valley until 1945. The dynasty was founded by the afore-mentioned knight, Gotche Schoff. Another attraction is the post-Cistercian convent with its John the Baptist Church (in Polish: Kościół św. Jana Chrzciciela) and monumental gravestones. In this church, above the high altar, is a painting by the most significant of Silesian baroque painters, Michael Willmann, who was the Cistercian’s own artist. His excellent paintings may be seen in many churches and abbeys in Lower Silesia: at Krzeszów, Lubiąż, Bardo Śląskie, Trzebnica and Henryków as well as many others. The town also contains a protestant church, the Norwegian Pavilion (in Polish: Pawilon Norweski) and the Norwegian and Spa Parks (in Polish: Park Norweski & Park Zdrojowy). The Norwegian Pavilion was the home of the remarkable Nature Museum of the Karkonosze Mountains (in Polish: Muzeum Przyrodnicze).
Sobieszów and the Chojnik Castle Both in Brief
In the past Sobieszów too was an independent village, until in 1976 it became part of Jelenia Góra. It is located by the river Wrzosówka, at the foot of Mt. Chojnik and also once belonged to the Schaffgotch family. The town’s most precious building is the St. Martin church, although Sobieszów is the administrative heart of the Karkonosze National Park too, and home to the Nature Museum, at 23 T.Chałubińskiego Street. Mt. Chojnik (627m a.s.l.) is a granite forested mountain declared in 1953 a strict reserve of the Karkonosze National Park. Those enjoying nature hikes may follow the white-green educational trail which presents trees, birds, rocks, and mammals of the park. The summit may be reached by either of two tourist trails, the black or the red. Chojnik Castle was built in the 14th century by Duke Bolko I and was part of a whole complex of defensive castles constructed during his reign to defend the area. In 1368, Bolko’s wife Agnieszka sold the castle to the knight Gotche Schoff, founder of the Schaffgotch family. In the 16th century, the castle was refortified extensively and was never conquered during any of the multiple wars that were fought in Silesia in the 15th, 17th and 18th centuries. On 31st August 1675, the castle was struck by lightning and burnt down, which led the Schaffgotch family to move to Sobieszów and later to the baroque palace in Cieplice Zdrój. This ruined monument subsequently became the most visited tourist destination of the 19th century Jelenia Góra Valley. The castle also offers a small hostel. Mt. Chojnik, along with the neighbouring villages of Jagniątków, Michałowice, Zachełmie, Przesieka and its surrounding peaks, is famous for its wide panoramas and for being an ideal spot for landscape photographers.
The Izerskie Mountains - Góry Izerskie
The Izerskie Mountains derive their name from the river Izera and for decades have been an excellent place for downhill skiing, cross-country skiing and touring, while in summer and spring they are also the best area in the region for bikers.
Cross-country skiers can glide over Jakuszycka Meadow (in Polish: Polana Jakuszycka), along the well-prepared tracks for amateurs and professionals at the Cross-country Centre in Jakuszyce. Real mountain-men, preferring cross-country tracks through wild forests, can stay at the Orle refuge, and walkers and joggers can choose to follow a system of marked trails and climb Mt. Stóg Izerski, which stands 1,008m above sea level, visiting the newly-restored refuge of the same name. All visitors are safely under the protection of the Karkonosze Mountain Rescue Service (GK GOPR), which provides help and first-aid in the mountains.
For those seeking relaxation, revitalising spa treatments are available in the small village of Świeradów Zdrój (in German: Bad Flinsberg). The healing properties of the area’s waters were first announced in 1539 by a special commission of renaissance physicians, and in 1933 modern science provided firmer proof, discovering radium emanation. Here, visitors can be treated for motor, circulatory and gynaecological system diseases, rheumatological and upper respiratory tract problems, metabolic disorders, allergies and asthma. At the Nature Treatment Centre, (in Polish: Zakład Przyrodoleczniczy) physicians prescribe peat baths, iodobromic inhalations, compresses, irrigations, mineral water, spruce bark, radium and sedative baths, electrotherapy, ultrasound and massotherapy. The spruce bark baths in particular are a speciality of Świeradów Zdrój and are recommended for nervous system problems, while peat baths are used in treating post-traumatic joints, muscles, periosteum and chronic digestive system diseases and gynaecological illnesses. Approaching the centre of the village, visitors encounter the elegant Spa House (in Polish: Pijalnia Wód), where the local mineral waters can be drunk and superb homemade apple or cheesecakes can be eaten in the café.
Towering above Świeradów Zdrój, at 1,002 metres above sea level, is Świeradowiec, a skiable mountain offering a beautiful panorama of the Izerskie and Karkonosze Mts. The mountain also offers a 1,260m long ski-lift and a 310m2 prepared area for beginners. Sadly, off-piste skiing is allowed in neither the Karkonosze National Park, neither the strict nature reserves nor wildlife sanctuaries.
The Izerskie Foothills (in Polish: Pogórze Izerskie) are also worth visiting for their many old castles, including Czocha, where several legends can be learnt. Their many small towns and villages also harbour a selection of astonishing archaeological sites, including Lwówek Śląski, Gryfów Śląski and Lubomierz.
The Karkonosze Mountains
With its name most likely drawn from the Greek word Korkontoi, or amber, this is the most impressive mountain chain of the Sudety massif, with a severe, but stimulating, humid alpine climate. The Karkonosze, this smaller and lower version of the Alps, offers two downhill skiing centres: Szklarska Poręba and Karpacz. These both possess unique vegetation and wildlife, and therefore in 1959 the whole 5575 ha area was acknowledged as the Karkonosze National Park (on the Czech side acknowledgement came soon after, in 1963). Furthermore, in 1993 both the Polish and Czech sides were enrolled on the list of Biosphere Reserves.
Inexperienced hikers are advised to hire a guide in the winter months to guard against such hazards as avalanches and cornices, and at this time of year some dangerous trails are closed altogether.
The largest settlement in the area is the city of Jelenia Góra, while towns and villages include Szklarska Poręba, Karpacz, Kowary and Mysłakowice as well as the health resort of Cieplice Zdrój. There is also a range of smaller and lesser-known locations, for instance, Piechowice with its huge hotel complex Las, Jagniątków, Michałowice and Zachełmie.
Szklarska Poręba. Mt. Szrenica (1,362m)
This mountain, standing 1,362 metres above sea level, overlooks Szklarska Poręba and is the most skiable area of the western end of the Karkonosze. Its ski trails are varied, with some rated for experts and others for beginners. Visitors have a choice of several elegant hotels, but also of guest houses in villages or high in the mountains, and may even choose to stay at Szrenica Refuge which crowns the summit. The Łabski Szczyt Refuge is also nearby and is easily reached by a double chair-lift running from Szklarska Poręba to the top.
Szrenica is a great starting point for cross-country skiers, telemarkers or ski-touring lovers who wish to cross this majestic mountain chain.
Szklarska Poręba offers good restaurants, lively nightlife and a range of cultural events, and is also a good training centre for rock climbers who can pick up or practise new climbing techniques on boulders standing close to the town.
Karpacz. Mt. Kopa (1,375m a.s.l.) and Śnieżka (1,602m a.s.l.)
These mountains, soaring above Karpacz, are the best skiable area of the eastern end of the Karkonosze. Their ski trails are also varied, for both experts and beginners, and hikers may also reach the summit by use of a chair lift.
Two extremely popular neighbouring refuges, Samotnia and Strzecha Akademicka offer accommodation and a superb atmosphere. At the heart of Karpacz is another ski complex, Kolorowa. In addition, Karpacz offers good restaurants, nightlife and cultural events and visitors are warmly welcomed at its fine hotels and guest houses. The most famous monument is Vang Stave Church (in Polish: Kościółek Wang), a Roman wooden church in a Norwegian style, and Karpacz, like Szklarska Poręba, offers rock-climbers practise climbing techniques on boulders standing near the centre. Sadly, off-piste skiing is not permitted in either the Karkonosze National Park, the strict nature reserves and wildlife sanctuaries.
The Rudawy Janowickie Mountains
The Rudawy Janowickie is a long, relatively wild and densely forested massif neighbouring the Jelenia Góra and Lubawka Valleys and the Karkonosze, Kaczawskie Mountains, Wałbrzych and Kamienne Mts. Its highest summit is Skalnik (945m a.s.l). The area’s tourist centres are the villages of Janowice Wielkie and Kowary and the tiny villages of Trzcińsko and Karpniki; visitors should be aware that only the basics may be bought in local shops. This mountain range is an excellent place for both hikers, walkers and backpackers in summer and cross-country skiers in winter. In spring nature may be observed reawakening and later in the year the stunning phenomenon that is the golden Polish autumn, but the fame of Rudawy Janowickie arises from its hosting the best rock-climbing areas in Poland, the Sokole Mts. This small range is covered with fantastic rock formations and possesses climbing routes for beginners, intermediates and experts. Climbers here need no special permission beyond good training and operable equipment.
The Rudawy Janowickie, with its medieval castle Bolczów, is covered with a network of tourist trails suitable both for beginners and for families with small children. Visitors may stay in one of the many agrotourism farms or perhaps the famous mountain refuge Szwajcarka, but there is also a selection of good hotels and youth hostels. The Rudawy Janowickie have been declared a Landscape Park (in Polish: Rudawski Park Krajobrazowy) and are also considered to be a protected area of the Karkonosze National Park. Visitors can admire exquisite panoramas and unspoilt nature, while the area also boasts a range of mysterious sites, including old mansions and disused mines: for those with an interest in the history of either iron, copper, uranium or gold mining, this is the place to come.
The Kaczawskie Mountains and Kaczawskie Foothills
Named after the Kaczawa river, the Kaczawskie Mts. are an excellent place for those looking for extensive rural areas, with hilly and mountainous terrain for long walks, hiking, horse riding and cross-country skiing. The highest summits are Skopiec (724m), Baraniec and Maślak, and the main tourist centres are the towns of Wojcieszów, near the source of the mineral water Wojcieszowianka, which rises on the slopes of Mt. Miłek, as well as the village of Dziwiszów and Świerzawa. The range is a real school of geology and mineralogy where you can learn about 50 different kinds of gemstones and see karst formations; the mountains are also full of so-called 'expiation crosses’. Accommodation is in one of the many agrotourism farms or restored manors.
The Kaczawskie Foothills (in Polish: Pogórze Kaczawskie) are most famous for the town of Złotoryja, with its gold-panning competition, and they offer many monuments in addition to the alluvial gold sands of the Kaczawa river. What is definitely worth seeing is the Grodno Castle in Zagrodno. The whole area is protected within two Landscape Parks, Chełmy (in Polish: Park Krajobrazowy ‘Chełmy’) and the Bóbr River Valley (in Polish: Park Krajobrazowy Doliny Bobru). This area has several good educational trails and some enjoyable, easy-going theme trails which cover history, geology, nature, culture and medieval industry. The area is also close to Legnica, Legnickie Pole and of course Złotoryja, all three of which will be of significance for visitors interested in architecture, culture, gold mining and medieval battlefields.
The Museum of Miniature Lower Silesian Monuments In Kowary
Perfectly made models of castles, palaces, monasteries and town halls in 1:25 scale.
Geopark. The Land of Extinct Vulcanos in Dobków
Geological heritage and geo-conservation