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Opole Silesia – Beauty and Tradition

 Opole is the capital of the region. Rising high over the city - Piast tower and Opole Amphiteater bring to mind over 40-year-old tradition of National Festival of Polish Songs. Opole is also the scene of National Theatre Confronatations
„Polish Classics” and National Festival of Puppet Theatres.

Rising high over the Old Town - renaissance town hall was built after the Florentine Pallacco Veccio.

In a tenement number 4, worldwide famous „The Theatre of Thirteen Rows" was created by Jerzy Grotowski.

Piast Tower on Pasieka Island is the remnant of Piast Castle.
„Opole Akropolis”, seat of Opole University with the gallery of Silesian Baroque sculpture on the slope and Saint Adalbert’s Chapel look spectacular.

Opole Village Museum in Bierkowice is an ethnographic park spread on 10 hectares of land. It leads a tourist back to the times of wooden cottage with a barn floor, smithies with bellows, apiaries, mills, to the epoch of baking homemade bread and eating from earthenware pots. Open-air ethnographical museum constitutes over 50 buildings where the “enchanted in wood” history of Silesian country is preserved by the board of museologists.

Opolskie – the most interesting places

Opole Region is the land of castles, palaces and manor houses. There are almost 200 of such places – the largest number in Poland.

One of the most important strongholds is Otmuchów - a former castellany of bishops of Wroc?aw. It was the residence of famous Humboldt Family: baron Wilhelm – philosopher and eminent theoretician of language, the reformer of Prussian educational system and the cofounder of University in Berlin and Alexander – naturalist and geographer. The attraction of the castle are the only one in Europe stairs for horses.

Paczków is called the Silessian Carcassonne because of completely preserved medieval ring of walls with 19 shell keeps and four gates-keeps.

Just like Paczków is associated with Carcassonne, Nysa is called the Silesian Rome.
It is located on the crossing of trade routes: from Silesia to Czech Republic and from Cracow to Wroc?aw. Chosen by bishops of Wroc?aw for the capital of principality, it was the second richest Silesian city after Wroc?aw.

Bishops’ Palace, built for over 100 years and present-day museum, Town's Scale's House in northern renaissance style, artistically forged Baroque “Beautiful Well”, Triton’s Fountain (built after Roman Fountain del Triton by Bernini), Collegium Carolinum of European importance, built by Bishop Charles Habsburg – are only some of attractions which encourage legion of tourists to visit Nysa. Although it lost its “Flemish-Netherlandic” beauty after the war, Nysa still has its place in the list of twenty the most attractive cities in Poland.

In the Museum of Nysa Region, located in the bishops’ palace from the 17th century, there are 200 canvas of Flemish, German and Italian masters. Among them the most precious is “Judith with Holophernes’ Head” from Luke Cranach the Older’s workshop.

One of the greatest attraction of Nysa are fortifications surrounding the town. Each year in August, in the water fort, a spectacular battle is performed.

“Days of Nysa Fortress” imitate historical siege – In token of the year 1807 when Polish legionaries with „Dabrowski’s Mazurka” reached the town.

All castles and palaces in Opole Region have some interesting stories. During the Swedish Deluge behind the walls of renaissance castle in G?ogówek there was the seat of capital city of Poland. In this hospitable mansion of Oppersdorff Family, Jan Kazimierz with his family and retinue found shelter in 1655. Here, Ludwig van Beethoven composed his B-Dur symphony which he dedicated to the host of the castle – Francis Joachim Oppersdorff.

Silesian Wawel - this name is attributed to Brzeg – currently the fourth town in Opole Region as regards the population, once the capital city of Brzeg and Legnica principality, located by the High Track (Wysoki Trakt) – the most important trail of the medieval Europe.

The Castle of the Silesian Piasts: Here, ages ago, especially under Prince George the 2nd’s rule, intellectual and cultural life of Silesia was flourishing.

One of the best examples of renaissance art in Central Europe is richly carved façade of the gateway building.

At the gate, a tourist is greeted by Prince George and his wife Barbara of Brandenburg wrought in sandstone. Above them there is a low relieved gallery of portraits in the form of genealogical table with 24 busts of Polish kings and Silesian princes from the Piast Dynasty. In the castle, there is a Museum of the Silesian Piasts which has gathered the oldest prints from the times of the Piast Dynasty, parchment documents, coins, sarcophaguses of princes from Legnica and Brzeg, a rich gallery of Silesian sculpture and painting with the paintings of Baroque master - Michael Willmann.

For heath and relaxation

Since recently, Kamie? ?l?ski is the seat of "Sebastianeum Silesiacum" – only one sanatorium in Poland specialized in treating with the use of herbs and water according to the tenets of priest Sebastian Kneipp. It is situated in old stables, in palace and park complex of Saint Jack’s sanctuary.

Everyone who is searching for solace and tranquility has to come to Moszna where in sentimental park, there is a palace taken as if from Disney’s fairytales. In the palace there is a famous in Europe sanatorium – Therapy of Neurosis Centre. Moszna is famous for the organization of an annual Musical Holiday of Blooming Azalea as well as for open air paintings.

Beneficial microclimate of G?ucho?azy and its region and faint (weak) mineralization of waters around Park Mountain were discovered by the Jesuits, brought here in 1623 by Austrian archduke and bishop Charles of Wroc?aw. Presently, in resort in G?ucho?azy sanatorium of “Caritas” offers varied services within the scope of therapy and rehabilitation.

Three barrier lakes in Opole Region – Turawa Lake, Nysa Lake and Otmuchowskie Lake, are the most popular leisure centers in the region. Turawa is considered as one of the best pikeperch fisheries in Poland.

Ma?a Panew River is called „the Amazon of Opole Region”. Canoeing trip in autumn, is one of the most important events organized by the Polish Canoe Federation. On the territory of the Ma?a Panew Valley, 370 kilometers of bicycle paths were marked out and labeled.

One can sail across the Odra River by seagoing ship from Silver Lake (Jezioro Srebrne) in Januszkowice to the port in Ko?le to admire its cutoff from paraglider.

In Opole Region 190 historic parks and gardens with unique specimen of flora were preserved, also 3 scenic parks and as many as 34 nature reserves.

Opole Voivodship has the largest number of the oldest trees in Poland. Nature in Opole Region is very valuable and that is why as much as one third of its area is under site conservation. Stobrawski Scenic Park is the jewel of Opole Region.

Inland sandunes with pine forests, pond complexes and charming cutoffs are natural curiosities. As many as 11 plants which one can find in Stobrawski Scenic Park are placed in Polish Red Data Book of Endangered Species.

On the south of the voivodship, there are Opawskie Mountains Góry Opawskie with Kopa Biskupia – the highest summit in the area (890 metres above sea level). From the peak, one can see a panorama of Polish and Czech side. This is the most valuable beauty spot of the voivodship. It offers numerous tourist trail and bicycle paths, good selection of lodgings, ski-lift, swimming pool, fisheries of trout, agrotourism, modern seminar, conference and rehabilitative centres.

Treasures of Opole Region

Ten centuries ago, near Bia?a G?ucho?aska gold was discovered. From G?ucho?azy leads 3-hour long trail of „Golden Miners”.

Mining pits preserved there are almost intact. Revealed by the flood that took place in 1997, they enable tourist to find tiny pieces of gold.

In the strata of loam in Krasiejów which were extracted for cement industry, researchers from PAN found the graveyard of amphibians and reptiles from dinosaurs’ age, including the complete skeleton of the oldest pre-dinosaur in the world which was called Silesaurus Opolensis. It lived about 230 million years ago on the marshes which were covering the areas of present-day Krasiejów.

On these areas a Dinopark is planned which is about to one of the most important pillars of tourism in the region and an international research centre .

The Sacred

St. Anne’s Mountain, or in the language of local Germans - Sankt Annaberg, is a special place on the map of Opole Silesia.

On the extinct volcano, there is a cult Upper-Silesian sanctuary, Calvary and monumental amphitheater made of stone. The temple which is in Franciscan monks’ care hides a real treasure – a priceless linden statue of Saint Anne Samotrzecia from 15th century which contains relics of the saint.

St. Anne’s Mountain has been registered into UNESCO.

In Kamie? ?l?ski there has been the remembrance of Saint Jack restored for the region. Undiminished cult of Saint Jack – the founder of Dominican monasteries in Poland, Saint Bronis?awa and Saint Czes?aw who were born here, draws tourists and pilgrims under the walls of a renovated palace – the Cultural and Science Centre of the Faculty of Theology at Opole University.

The Trail of Medieval Polychromes from Brzeg: in as many as 18 churches there are unique Gothic paintings by unknown Master of Bows of Three Wise Men from Brzeg and his imitators.

The trail of wooden sacral buildings leads through 12 from among 70 wooden temples of Opole Region.
The trail ends in located near Olesno Saint Anne’s Church – the largest and the most interesting pilgrim church in Europe, built on the plan of a rose. Saint Anne’s Church is Grade I listed building and its model including the model of the Eiffel Tower was demonstrated on the world exhibition of architectural art in New York.

This little homeland, located at historical boarder between Poland, Germany and Czech is an exceptional, inseparable for centuries part of Europe which can be seen in its rich cultural heritage. Opole Region is certainly not to be missed.

Written by Teresa Kudyba