Worth seeing

Royal Castle in Olsztyn

One of the biggest tourist attractions are the ruins of Olsztyn fortified castle from the fourteenth century, permanently inscribed in the landscape of the Krakow-Czestochowa Upland.

It was built on a hill, among the limestone cliffs, by Casimir the Great and was one of the border fortresses of  Malopolska. Initially placed in the fief of Vladislavus of Opole, was taken from him - for plotting against the Crown - by Vladislavus Jagiello in 1396, and transmitted in the lease to Jan Odrowaz from Szczekociny. During 1442-57  Silesian princes the were repeatedly invading the castle. In 1587 the crew, led by Kacper Karlinski defeated Archduke Maximillian troops, but the castle was seriously damaged.

With the development and improvement of martial techniques which minimized the importance of strategic military position of Olsztyn castle, it was gradually losing its recognition. Conquered by the Swedes in 1655 it was finally brought to ruin. Moreover, in 1722 it was partially demolished as the building materials were needed for construction of the church in Olsztyn.

Only fragments of baileys preserved to our times. The most impressive part of the ruins, built in 13th century (earlier than the rest of the Castle) is a  35-meter high, round tower, which served as a prison for sentenced to death by starvation in the glory years of the fortress, and during the war was the last refuge for the besieged. In the southern and eastern parts of the courtyard you can see the living rooms and outside the bailey there is a rectangular observation tower called Starościnska.

The Castle in Olsztyn, like many other historical places of this caliber, has got its own legends of ghosts. When you hear the baby crying it will be a ghost of Kacper Karlinski’s son. Karlinski did not agree to surrender the fortress besieged by the troops of Archduke Maximilian even though he knew in this case his son would die. If you see a lady in white it will be the mayor Albrecht’s young wife who lost in the recesses of the castle dungeons. If anyone hears moans and shrill of shackles, they will be able to see the ghost of the governor of Poznan – Macko from Borkowice , who was condemned for treason by King Casimir the Great and sentenced to death by starvation.

Sokole Gory - Falcon Mountains

The Falcon Mountains are the largest nature reserve located in the Krakow-Czestochowa Upland.

The name given by local people suggests that on these hills there were once falcons’ nests. Not so long time ago rare eagle owls inhabited this area, as evidenced by, inter alia, the name of rocks representing the eastern edge of Falcon Mountains  - Eagle Owl Rocks.       

Falcon Mountains consist of ten domed hills and rocky massifs, forming a kind of jack mountain, raised on average for about 100 m above the surrounding terrain (about 400 m above sea level).
From west to east they go sequentially:
Sokolica (Falcon Mountain)– a ridge of about 1 km; its south-eastern branch is called Nowa Setka - The New Hundreds;
Kamienna Gora (Stone Mountain) - low, isolated hill south of Sokola;
Pustelnica (Hermit)- the highest of the range with the triangular tower on top of 400 meters above sea level (in the northwestern branch of the mountain there are several caves; the southern branch is called Stare Setki – The Old Hundreds;
Puchacz (The Eagle Owl);
Knieja (Woods) - north of Puchacz, does not belong to the reserve;
Donica (Flower Pot) - south of Puchacz, but much lower;
Karzelek (Dwarf);
Jodlowa Gora (Fir Mountain) - south-east spit of Donica.       

In Falcon Mountains there are several caves. The most famous caves are: Maurycego (Maurice’s), Pod Sokola Gora (Under the Falcon Mountain) Studnisko (An Old Well), Olsztynska (Olsztynian Cave), Wszystkich Świętych (All Saints’ Cave) and Koralowa (Coral Cave).
Higher parts of a natural reserve are covered by a beech forest. Single Polish larch trees reach the age of 150. In the undergrowth and ground cover the orchids grow.  A protected shrub – bladdernut grows near Knieja. The animals here are: squirrel, marten, forest deer, wild boar, fox, woodpeckers, hawk pigeons, linnets, buzzards, worm, Coronella austriaca.
Eight species of bats were discovered here, including brown bat Myotis nattereri and ciliate. This reserve is also a mainstay of the sparse birds – Caprimulgiformes.

The cave is situated in the northwestern branch of Pustelnica (Hermit Mountain) in the Falcon Mountains. It creates one system with Jaskinia Wszystkich Swietych  (All Saints Cave). This system is indeed one of the biggest and most interesting caves in Jura. The Cave was once considered the prettiest in Poland. At the end of 19th century people began to extract spar (calcite crystal once used in glass metallurgy). Its intensive use contributed to the complete destruction of garments and partially sintered the walls of the cave. In 1932 the local mine calcite was finally closed.
The advantages of the cave are still, however varied forms of corridors. Comprehensive corridor leads into the hall with a small hole, often used as a place of accommodation. This room is connected by the unavailable gap with Eastern Shelter which forms the eastern extension of the main cave.

JASKINIA POD SOKOLĄ GÓRĄ – A CAVE UNDER THE FALCON MOUNTAIN (called also Pochyła – Slanted or Zimna - Cold)
This cave is located in Puchacz – an Eagle Owl Mountain, near the summit of Mount Sokola (The Falcon Mountain) on the northern side. The name Slanted comes from the significant slope of the cave floor and the fact that with relatively small length it has a significant depth. The second name - Cold is related to another phenomenon. This cave is in fact one of the few Jurassic static cold caves. The cave is a tunnel traversing into the vast hall. The bottom sloping from the entrance, horizontal  in the middle, rises towards the end of the cave. Such a structure creates conditions for the retention of cold air masses. This is one of the few known in the Upland microclimate thermal vacuum-like conditions resembling the Arctic. The average annual temperature in the cave is approximately + 3 degrees Celsius (other caves of this region: about + 8 degrees Celsius). Thanks to this two relict species of beetles survived here: Choleva lederiana gracilenta and Catopos tristis infernus. They are the residue of the last interglacial period. At the ceiling there is a large accumulation of vortex cauldrons. The bottom of the cave is covered with the rock rubble and great blocks of limestone. In the middle part of the cave there is a hole now crumbled with rubble. There was supposed to be an entrance to the long corridor which served during the Nazi occupation as a partisan bunker.

Studnisko is located near Slanted Cave. Its depth (-75.5 m) makes it currently the deepest known cave in the Cracow Upland. In terms of the length of corridors (296 m) it is the eleventh in the area. It is characterized by infiltration of sand with a diameter of a few centimeters - a phenomenon unique to the entire Jura. A unique beetle called troglobit appears in both Studnisko and Pochyla.

In Mount Pustelnica in TheFalcon Mountains. The cave is connected with the Cave Olsztynska into one system by a low corridor BAKK. It leads to a broader hall with pretty side blurs. Further a low round corridor which is a difficult clamp leads to a 9 meters bottom of the inlet well of All Saints’ Cave, now crumbled with rubble. Down there is a room with the sandy bottom and pretty infiltrates on the ceiling It probably represents a fragment of a larger whole cluttered with debris during the exploitation of spar between 1905-17.

In terms of depth it is the 6th cave in Jura. Its length is 132 m, depth - 39 m.

A Beads’ Cave is located on the southern slope of Pustelnica (A Hermit Mountain). It was discovered accidentally in 1918-39 by the prospectors of spar. Since 1966 is has been secured by a lattice. The name comes from the original infiltrates which were formed on the hanging and tangled roots of trees and resemble beads. The corridor of the cave falls straight down but then the cave is easily available.

The Towarne Mountains

Towarne Mountains lie 3 km north of Olsztyn (near Kusięta in the direction of Mstów). Their highest peak is Lisica (A Vixen) with 349 meters.

However, unlike The Falcon Mountains, they are deforested, both complexes of hills have one feature in common - the caves. The Caves of Towarna and Dzwonnica (The Bell Tower) create a system with a total length of 170 meters. It is more difficult to get to the Bell Tower Cave as very narrow openings lead to it so it is better preserved. Inside you can admire the rare infiltrations of so-called lime milk. Towarna Cave is sometimes called The Bear Cave. Here the remains of cave bears were found together with the traces of people from the Middle Paleolithic Period. It is worth mentioning that during the Second World War it was the guerrilla hideout.
In Towarne Mountains there is also The Cabanowa Cave. Its length is 47 m, the initial part winds with a 30-meter narrow corridor that leads to a large chamber. The Cave is famous for its well-preserved formations - stalactites and stalagmites.

Karst lake - Kusięta

Just northwest of the railway station in Kusięta, in the bottom of a broad valley basin, there is an oblong lake. Its range varies seasonally depending on precipitation. It is a form of karst created in a large karst funnel (or several linked funnels).
Karst depression was filled with impermeable clays which resulted in the inhibition of surface water drainage to the groundwater aquifers in the existing board of limestone. This lake is a unique attraction for the whole country and similar forms are listed only in the karst areas of the Lublin Upland.

Kusięta Uwał – The Kusięta Cavity

About 0.5 km north of the railway station in Kusięta, among meadows and fields there is a 20-50 meters narrow  and 300 meters long zone of interconnected depressions of the terrain. This elongated depression directs from north to south. The depth of the successive depressions forming a karst cavity, goes up to 10 m.
A karst cavity is the original form of the terrain, typical of areas subject to intensive karst processes. In their development underground cave sequences obtain a connection to the surface through a system of karst funnels (landslides, wells). In case of dense accumulation funnels are held together and thus form a karst cavity – a valley with steep slopes and uneven bottom. A karst cavity in Kusiętach is a result of a merge of ten such karst funnels. Beneath the board, there must be an extensive system of limestone caves. The cavity is still periodically active when during rains or spring thaws small streams drain into the cavity and disappear in it entering the underground karst system. The cavity is a very rare form of terrain in our country. Similar phenomena occur only in Ponidzie and Lublin Upland. This shows a significant advancement of karst processes in this part of Krakow-Czestochowa Upland. The co-occurrence of the karst cavity and karst lake in one line suggests that these two forms from Kusięta neighborhoods are linked to a single cave system located near the surface.

Pańska Góra – The Lord’s Mountain

Lord's Mountain near Olsztyn is now a closed quarry. On the walls you can see a 6 meters high aqueous rock profile and fine-grained oxford limestone formed during the Late Jurassic. Thin pale beige shoals are blurred slightly by the in-shoal separation. In this rough concise rock you can find the sea sponges, ammonites, brachiopods, echinoderms, and a few remains of snails. In the steep excavation wall you can see tectonic cracks inclined to the north. At the bottom of the excavation - the remnants of calcite cave.

Zielona Gora – The Green Mountain

Zielona Gora is a hill (310 m above sea level) north of the village Kusięta. It is also a forest reserve with an area of 19.6 ha, established in 1953.
Zielona Gora was formerly known as Goła Skała (A Bare Rock). In the upper parts of hills dotted with mountain beech there is a cluster of outliers  made of Upper Jurassic rock limestone. The summit is built with a huge monolith of limestone formed by the thick shoals. Collapsing of such a steep rock, unusual for the Krakow-Czestochowa Upland, was due to the proximity of faults along which the block of the Green Mountain was raised. From the summit you can admire a broad panoramic view to the north – for the range of wooded hills crowned with The Rocky Mountain in the east. From the north side the peak of the Green Mountain is a high-cut cliff.

On the south side of the Green Mountains, on the tourist trail, there is an entrance to the Cave in The Green Mountain. The cave is 70 meters long. Here you can see numerous stalactite columns supporting the ceiling. At some point they even create original colonnades.
On the western promontory of the outlier massif there is a characteristic little rock in the form of mushroom or anvil. This strange shape is the result of differential chemical weathering of limestone rock. At the eastern end of the massif, taking the pass from the tourist trail, there is a vast niche of a rock shelter - a fragment of an old cave, which was destroyed by the weathering of rocks.
Carpathian beeches and an oaks Quercus Robur grow in the upper parts, below grow oaks and pines. In the undergrowth there are: woodruff, Mercury durable, ivy, spring peas, lungwort. Strictly protected: daphne mezereum, flowering specimens of Ivy vulgar, snowdrop, lily of the valley Convallaria majalis .
Temporarily there are: deer, wild boars, foxes, badgers, blindworms, black woodpecker, oriole and buzzards.

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