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Dates of visit:
September 15 - 30, 2009

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Trip Highlights:
 Meeting Cousins
 Historic Berlin
 Karkonosze Forest
 Town of Boleslawiec
 Town of Nowy Sol
 Town of Zielona Gora
 City of Wroclaw
 Wang Church
 Kowary Mine
 Klotzko Fortress
 Ladek Zdroj


[ Home ] [ Travel Page ] [ Trip ] [ Part 1 ] [ Part 2 ] [ Part 4 ] [ Part 5 ] [ Part 6 ]
Intro Page - Introduction to trip
Part 1 of trip - Berlin, Germany
Part 2 of trip - Meeting Family, Towns of Kozuchow, Nowy Sol, Zielona Gora
Part 4 of trip - Szklarska Poreba, Vang Church, Hauptmann & Hofman Houses
Part 5 of trip - Kowary, Klodzko Fortress, Ladek-Zdrój, Bear Cave, Ksiaz Castle
Part 6 of trip - Wroclaw + Panorama, Zagan + Stalag Luft III, Military Museum
Background on Region Visited

Lubuskie Coat of ArmsThis region of Poland we are visiting, called Lower Silesian Voivodeship (also known as Lower Silesian Province, or by its Polish name of województwo dolnoslaskie or simply Dolnoslaskie) is one of the 16 voivodeships (provinces) into which Poland is currently divided. It lies in south-western Poland, corresponding roughly to the region of Lower Silesia (the northwestern part of the historical and geographical region of Silesia), but also includes the eastern part of Upper Lusatia. Its capital and largest city is Wroclaw, on the middle Odra (Oder) river..

History and geography ... The voivodeship was created on 1 January 1999 out of the former Wroc?aw, Legnica, Walbrzych and Jelenia Góra Voivodeships, pursuant to the Polish local government reforms adopted in 1998. It covers an area of 19,946 square kilometres (7,701 sq mi), and as at 2006 has a total population of 2,884,248, comprising an urban population of 2,047,151 and rural population of 837,097.

Although much of the region is relatively low-lying it also includes part of the Sudetes mountain range running along the Polish/Czech border. Popular ski resorts in Lower Silesian Voivodeship include Karpacz and Szklarska Poreba in the Karkonosze mountains. The town of Kudowa Zdrój, also in the Sudetes (west of Klodzko near the Czech border), is a traditional spa town often visited by heart patients. Other important tourist destinations in the voivodeship include the chief city, Wroclaw, as well as the towns of Jelenia Góra and Legnica.

Lower Silesian Voivodeship is bordered by Lubusz Voivodeship to the north-west, Greater Poland Voivodeship to the north-east, Opole Voivodeship to the south-east, the Czech Republic to the south, and Germany to the west.

Economy ... Lower Silesia is one of the richest regions in Poland. GDP per capita in 2007 accounted for 108.7% of the average for the country. GDP per capita in the region is similar to the GDP in the poorest regions of Spain, Greece and Portugal, and slightly lower than the poorest regions of Italy. Since 2005, the voivodeship recorded the highest in the country economic growth rate (around 10% per annum).

For more information about this province visit ...
Lower Silesia Voivodeship
Towns and Cities of Lower Silesia

City of Boleslawiec

Some important maps of Boleslawiec ...

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Location of Boleslawiec on Poland's Map
5 ... Town of Boleslawiec Plat ... metro + city center

Boleslawiec Coat of ArmsBoleslawiec (German: Bunzlau) in Lower Silesia was first mentioned in 1201 and took part in the battles against the Mongols in 1241. After that, a renewed city with city walls was established. The city seal, still used today (left,) was first used in 1316. In 1346, Boleslawiec came under control of Imperial Bohemia. It was again heavily destroyed during the Hussite Wars in 1429. After that, a double city wall was started in 1479.

With the majority of burghers in 1522 becoming Protestant early on, Boleslawiec became an important center of the Reformation. The city town hall was rebuilt by the famous Wendel Roskopf in 1525 and at the same time construction of a sewerage system was started. This was an unusual and difficult undertaking; it was finished in 1565 and it was the first canalization system in that part of Europe. In 1558, the first apothecary was established.

Boleslawiec potteryFor a long time Boleslawiec has been famous for its Bunzlauer pottery works. Pottery was an early trade and already in 1511, the Boleslawiec pottery guild is mentioned. This entire region has a history of pottery making dating back to the early 7th century. Early pieces from the 1700s and 1800s were used by farmers as storage pieces and had a chocolate colored glaze. At the end of the 19th century, the potters of Boleslawiec began to introduce new lines of pottery intended for use in the parlor. At the same time, they began to experiment with colored glazes, sponging techniques, and various decorations. Much of the pottery is of high quality, hand painted stoneware. In 1898, the German government established the Keramische Fachschule (Ceramic Technical Training School) to foster development of the art.

One of the biggest Soviet Red Army contingents was stationed in Boleslawiec until its withdrawal in 1992. Perhaps this explains why a rare event took place after 1945. Poland received administration of most of eastern Germany from the Soviet Union. However, the Bunzlau German Evangelical church continued even after 1945, until 1950. This is in contrast to what happened to other parts of Germany east of the Oder-Neisse line.

Between 1942 and 1945, Bunzlau was the site of a concentration camp.

Boleslawiec Viaduct

Boleslawiec viaductBy 1851, Boleslawiec had a railway connection with Wroclaw and Dresden. For this one of the longest viaducts in Europe, architect Frederick Engelhardt Gansel was awarded the Order of the Red Eagle, and the grand opening of the bridge has attended by King Frederick William IV … with a plaque commemorating the occasion built into one of the spans of the viaduct.

The structure is impressive - the Boleslawiec viaduct is 490 meters long, 8 meters wide and 26 meters in height. The designer of the bridge modeled the viaduct on Roman aqueducts, and the material used to build it was bright yellow sandstone from a nearby quarry.

Boleslawiec viaductConstruction of the bridge started in 1844, lasted for 2 years, and cost 400 thousand dollars. Although this amount was, for those times, astronomical, the experts have calculated that only the proximity of the quarry from which material was drawn for the construction of the viaduct, helped reduce construction costs by as much as half. For the scaffolding, 12 thousand trees were cut. Construction of the viaduct work required over 600 people … with a further 3200 who were indirectly related to its construction.

Viaduct consists of 35 semicircular arches supporting the huge pillars. Those pillars are spaced at regular distances: varying in distances of 15 m, 11.5 m and 5.65 m.

The bridge was opened on July 27, 1846 however; commemorative plaques are built into one of the arches give a different date: June 18, 1844 as the start of construction and completion on July 5, 1846. On August 17, 1846, the railway crossing was officially opened, attended by King Frederick William IV.

In 1945, the retreating Germans blew up the west bay situated directly on the river and two spans. For a short time after the war, it was necessary to interrupt the rail journey, crossing the river by whatever means and continue driving the train on the other side of the line. By 1947, the Boleslawiec viaduct has been rebuilt. Subsequent work on the viaduct was carried out in 1984-85 in connection with the electrification of the railway line.

Aerial views of viaduct ...

Boleslawiec viaduct

Boleslawiec viaduct

Source: Viaduct

For more information about this city visit ... City of Boleslawiec
Official city web site (Polish): City of Boleslawiec (English option available)

Video recorded: September 2009
: If video starts/stops often, PAUSE the playback for 15-30 seconds to allow the video buffer memory to fill. To resume playback press PLAY.

Site Gallery - City of Boleslawiec

Boleslawiec Rynek (Central Square)
Boleslawiec Boleslawiec Boleslawiec
Boleslawiec Boleslawiec Boleslawiec
Boleslawiec City Hall + Tower
Boleslawiec Boleslawiec Boleslawiec
Boleslawiec Cathedral
Boleslawiec Boleslawiec Boleslawiec
Boleslawiec Boleslawiec Boleslawiec
Region of Jelenia Gora

Some important maps of Nowa Sol ...

1 ...
Location of Jelenia Gora on Poland's Map

Jelenia Gora Coat of ArmsJelenia Góra (German: Hirschberg im Riesengebirge,) a city in Lower Silesia. The name of the city means "deer mountain" in Polish and German. It is close to the Karkonosze mountain range running along the Polish-Czech border. As at 2007, the population of Jelenia Góra was ~ 87,000.

History … Polish authors Piotr Pregiel and Tomasz Przerwa in their work on history of Silesia note that Jelenia Góra was used by Polish ruler Boleslaw Krzywousty as base for his campaigns against the Czechs in 1110. A legend, mentioned by German author Johann Karl Herbst in his town chronicle from 1847, attributes the beginnings of the town back to the times of the Polish Piast dynasty, and connects its foundation with King Boleslaw III Wrymouth (1108). Today instead of the first mention, the legend is used by the town to celebrate their anniversary.

German and Polish authors, however, note that the town was only founded shortly before 1281, on a cleared spot in the mountains, during the German Ostsiedlung. In 1281, the settlement was first mentioned as Hyrzberc, and in 1288 in Latin as Hyrsbergensium. When the Silesian Piasts lost inheritance and Agnes of Habsburg, the last dutchess of Schweidnitz- Jauer (Swidnica-Jawor) died in 1392, the city passed to Bohemia, ruled by the House of Luxembourg.

The city was inherited by Habsburg Austria in 1526; two years after the town adopted the Protestant faith. In 1560, a fire destroyed large parts of the city and stopped the economic development, which until then was characterized by linen weaving. The city recovered when Joachim Girnth, a shoemaker on a return journey from Holland, introduced veil weaving. The first "light veils" were offered in 1625, and five years later, the city received an imperial privilege by Ferdinand II for these veils.

During the Thirty Years' War, the city suffered badly. Hirschberg was beleaguered by troops of both parties, paid high contributions, and during a siege in 1634, the city burned down again. Two more sieges followed in 1640 and 1641. The town needed several years to recover. One reason for the new boost was the creation of a merchant society 1658, which secured Hirschbergs position as the most important center of linen and veil trade in the Silesian mountains during the 17th and 18th century.

Hirschberg was annexed with Lower Silesia by the Kingdom of Prussia during the Silesian Wars. The city was again partly destroyed, had to pay contributions and was seized several times. The detachment from Austria and the new border in the mountains to the south badly damaged the economy as the merchants lost a large part of their customers. Although Prussia took on substantial efforts to revive the economy, they never recovered completely and finally lost their position during the industrial revolution.

In 1871, the town became part of the German Empire upon the Prussian-led unification of Germany, as one of the largest towns in the Province of Silesia. The Deutsche Riesengebirgsverein (German Giant Mountains Club), an organization to protect the environment of the Giant Mountains (Karkonosze) and to promote tourism, was founded in 1880 by 48 dignitaries of the region. It was the seventh oldest German mountaineering club with up to 18,000 members and 95 local groups, some of them even in Hamburg, the Rhineland, or New York. In 1912-14 the Riesengebirgsmuseum, a museum about the mountains and the history of Hirschberg and the region, was opened by the club. It was closed in 1945 together with the Riesengebirgsverein, whose members were expelled. The museum was rearranged in 1950 and opened again in 1953. The club still exists in Germany, although its mission is obsolete.

After World War I, the town became part of the Province of Lower Silesia in 1919, and in 1922 became a separate city. During the Nazi era under the regime of Adolf Hitler, a concentration subcamp of KZ Gross- Rosen was located in Hirschberg.

Following the end of World War II in 1945, the town was placed under Polish administration according to the decisions of the Potsdam Conference, and became officially known by its Polish name of Jelenia Góra, which was first recorded in 1882. The remaining German inhabitants were expelled westward and replaced with Polish settlers. The city was not destroyed in the war. After the war, the new Polish authorities dismantled the Old Town and destroyed the cemetery of the Protestant church. Afterwards the buildings around the market place were reconstructed in more simple forms.

For more information about this city visit ... Jelenia Gora
Official city web site (Polish): Town of Jelenia Gora (English option available)
Karkonosze National Park

Karkonosze NPKarkonosze ... the mountain range called Karkonosze in Polish (Czech: Krkonoše, German: Riesengebirge, English: Giant Mountains) lies on the border of the Czech Republic and Poland, between Bohemia and Silesia. It is part of the larger Sudetes range. Its highest peak is Snežka (Polish Sniezka, German Schneekoppe), which stands on the border between the two countries at a height of 1,602 meters (5,260 ft) above sea level, making it the highest peak in the Czech Republic and in the entire Sudetes range. They contain the source of the Elbe River. Large areas of the mountains are preserved as national parks by both countries: the Czech Krkonoše National Park, and the Polish Karkonosze National Park. In 1992 the Czech and Polish parts of the range were jointly designated a trans-boundary biosphere reserve under UNESCO's "Man and the Biosphere" program.

KarkonoszeThe Czech Krkonoše National Park (Krkonošskż nįrodnķ park, KRNAP) was created in 1963 as the second national park in Czechoslovakia, making it the oldest national park in the Czech Republic. Its area is approximately 370 sq km (140 sq mi), including not only the subalpine zone but also large parts down to the foot of the mountains. Poland's Karkonosze National Park (Karkonoski Park Narodowy, KPN) was created in 1959 and covers an area of 55.8 sq km (21.5 sq mi). It covers the highly sensitive higher parts of the mountain range from an altitude of about 900 - 1000m. The strict conservation regulations of the Polish national park prohibit reforestation of damaged and dead forests. On the Czech side, however, large-scale reforestation projects are common.

Until the Middle Ages, the mountain range and its foothills were an unpopulated place of deep, impenetrable forests. The first traces of human settlements probably appear near two provincial paths between Bohemia and Silesia in the 12th century. The first wave of colonization by Slavonic settlers goes back to the 13th century, but only includes the foothills, whereas the ridges of the mountain range were still unaffected. The second wave of colonization (Ostsiedlung) during the late 13th century to the foothills was carried out mostly by German settlers, which first colonized the Silesian northern part, where farming conditions were better, and later the southern Bohemian part along the Elbe and Upa Rivers. Many agriculture settlements, market, and handcraft communities and cities were founded during this time, which formed a base for the further colonization of the mountain range.

The first people who explored the inner parts of the Giant Mountains were treasure hunters and miners looking for gold, silver, ores and valuable stones, mainly on the Silesian side. In the 14th and 15th centuries, foreigners who spoke a different language than German came to the mountains. These foreigners were called "Wallen", and their journeys to the "treasure" deposits were recorded in so called "Wallenbüchern" (Wallen books). Mysterious orientation signs from these "Wallen" are visible to this day, especially on the northern side of the mountains. At the beginning of the 16th century (1511) German miners from the region around Meissen in Saxony started their work in Obri Dul directly below mount Snģežka, and at the same time many other mines were opened in other central parts of the mountains.

By the orders of Christopher von Gendorf widespread timber cutting for the silver mines started in many places, which caused irreparable damages. These orders led to the third wave of colonization, which fully affected the mountain ridges. In 1566, he invited lumberjacks from alpine countries to settle in his domain. These people from Tyrol, Carinthia, and Styria changed the character of the mountains and shaped the cultural landscape significantly. Hundreds of families especially from Tyrol created another group of inhabitants that spoke a different German dialect and brought another domestic culture to the Giant Mountains. On the mountain hillsides, they founded new settlements, laid down the basis for later farming by breeding cattle, and built wooden dams to retain the water. The entire mountain range was already in the 17th century a densely populated region with meadow enclaves and cottages, which were used during the cattle pasturage in the summer and sometimes even through the winter. Around this time, non-Catholics found refuge in remote places in the mountains. Later entire village communities of non- Catholics from Austrian countries found asylum on the now Prussian northern side, where they settled in Marysin, Michalovice, Jagnietkow or Karpacz (Krummhübel).

During the 17th century the mountain range on the Bohemian side was divided among new landowners, most of them of Catholic faith and foreign to the region. Disputes about the borders of each domain followed soon, which were settled between 1790 and 1810. The court decision from 1790, which set the border between the Bohemian dominions and the Silesian Schaffgotsch dominions (which owned this region since the Middle Ages), defines the border between Bohemia and Silesia to this day. In 1918, the Republic of Czechoslovakia was founded, and the coming years were characterized by an influx of Czechs on the Bohemian side of the mountains. Usually these people worked for the government (opposed to the German inhabitants they spoke both Czech and German, which was required), but some of them also worked in the tourism industry. Many of these mountain huts were previously owned by aristocratic landowners and given to the Czech Hikers Club (KCT) after the Land Control Act. This influx was stopped when the Czechoslovakian side of the mountains was occupied by Germany in 1938, and many of these Czechs left the region, or were expelled. After World War II, almost the entire German population was expelled and replaced by Poles on the northern Silesian side and by Czechs on the southern Bohemian side of the mountain range. Today the population density on the area of the national park is 2/3 lower than before World War II as the resettlement was only partly successful and many houses are only used for recreational purposes at weekends. The population exchange moreover led to a decline of the cultural landscape. In large parts of the mountains the meadows run to seed, settlements decimated, hundreds of traditional houses and mountain huts decayed or turned into architecturally worthless objects. Countless memorials, chapels, shrines, landmarks and springs were destroyed, either because they were German related or ecclesiastic.

For more information about this region visit ... Karkonosze
Official web site (Polish): Karkonosze NP (No English option available)
Zamel (Castle) Chojnik

A regional map of Zamek Chojnik ...

1 ...
Location of Zamek Chojnik
2 ... Map of Zamek Chojnik

Karkonosze MtnsChojnik ... (German: Kynast) is a castle located above the village of Sobieszów, today part of Jelenia Góra in southwestern Poland. Its remains stand on top of the Chojnik hill (627 m (2,057 ft)) within the Karkonosze National Park, overlooking the Jelenia Góra valley.

The building of the fortress dates back to the times of the Silesian Piasts and for most of its time was in the possession of the Schaffgotsch noble family. Today the semi-ruined stronghold is a major tourist attraction and houses a hotel and a restaurant.

Zamek ChojnikHistory ... The castle of Chojnik was originally erected by the order of Duke Bolko I the Strict in 1292 at the site of a former hunting lodge built by his father Boleslaw II the Bald. The fortress was meant to protect the borders of Bolko's Duchy of Jawor against the menacing Wenceslaus II of Bohemia. Bolko's grandson Bolko II the Small, the last independent Piast duke, had the castle reconstructed starting from 1355.

ZamekAfter Bolko II had died without issue in 1368, his widow Agnes von Habsburg sold the castle to one of the courtiers, the knight Gotsche Schoff. Gotsche II Schoff modernized and expanded the castle in 1393. In the same year he donated the Gothic chapel, which was completed in 1403. The chapel devoted to Saint Catherine and Saint George featured artful paintings preserved until World War II. The castle survived the next centuries without damages. It withstood the attacks by the Hussites in 1426 and by King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary, who after his campaign of 1469 destroyed many Silesian castles. In 1529 Ulrich I von Schaffgotsch expanded the building with two forecourts, depots and a pillory, and at the end of the 16th century Renaissance modifications were carried out.

Located in Karkonosze MtnsDuring the Thirty Years' War Hans Ulrich von Schaffgotsch, Lord of Kynast - though a Protestant - after the 1620 Battle of White Mountain supported Emperor Ferdinand II and served as a general in the Imperial army under Albrecht von Wallenstein. After Wallenstein's persecution and assassination in 1634 Schaffgotsch as his liegeman was arrested, accused of high treason and executed one year later. Ferdinand II seized his property and had Kynast castle occupied by his troops, who resisted the attacks of the Swedish forces. Ferdinand III added new bastions to the castle in 1648 and finally restituted it to Christoph Leopold von Schaffgotsch, Hans Ulrich's son, in 1650. Still during the latter's lifetime, in 1675, the castle that has never been conquered burnt down completely after being struck by lightning and was not reconstructed.

Directions to ZamekThe comital family relocated down into the valley to the old palace of Warmbrunn (today Cieplice Slaskie-Zdrój) and the destroyed castle became a tourist attraction already in the early 18th century. It was visited by the Prussian royal family and poets like Heinrich von Kleist and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe as well as Theodor Körner, who immortalized the ruin in one of his poems and made it famous all over Germany. 1822 the Schaffgotschs added a tavern and harbourage to the castle and three years later rebuilt the tower. In the 1920s the old legends were resuscitated by Waldemar Müller-Erhardt, and in the next years these folk plays were performed there.

The ruins remained in the property of the Schaffgotsch dynasty until in 1945 the family was expelled. In 1964 the Polish state restored the ruins and rebuilt the mountain hut.

Kunigunde legend ... The ruins of Chojnik are tied to the myth of Kunigunde, a castle lord's daughter desired by many knights. As she had no intention to enter into marriage she promised to espouse the bold man who would complete a circuit along the castle's walls on a horseback, knowing that on the steep slopes horse and rider must fall into the chasm. Many tried and perished until a proud nobleman came along, who appealed to Kunigunde's eyes. Though she declared to abandon the precondition and to marry him right away, the knight insisted to take the risk and he succeeded. Instead of accepting her proposal he scolded her for her cruelty and departed. Kunigunde however, deeply humiliated, lunged into the abyss herself.

For more information about this castle visit ... Chojnik
Official web site (Polish): Zamek Chojnik (No English option available)

Video recorded: September 2009
: If video starts/stops often, PAUSE the playback for 15-30 seconds to allow the video buffer memory to fill. To resume playback press PLAY.

Site Gallery - Zamek (Castle) Chojnik

Hiking to Zamek (Castle) Chojnik
Hiking to Zamek Hiking to Zamek Hiking to Zamek
Hiking to Zamek Hiking to Zamek Hiking to Zamek
Hiking to Zamek Hiking to Zamek Hiking to Zamek
Hiking to Zamek Hiking to Zamek Hiking to Zamek
Hiking to Zamek Hiking to Zamek Hiking to Zamek
Ruins of Zamek (Castle) Chojnik
Ruins of Zamek Hiking to Zamek Hiking to Zamek
Ruins of Zamek Hiking to Zamek Hiking to Zamek
Ruins of Zamek Hiking to Zamek Hiking to Zamek
Panorama View of Lower Valley from Zamek (Castle) Chojnik
Panorama of Lower Valley from Zamek
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