Blessed Salomea's Hermitage atop steep rock in
the park's heart.
Ojcow National Park in Poland
It may be, with its area of mere 21.5 sq.
smallest of Poland’s twenty national parks but
the Ojcow National Park (Ojcowski Park Narodowy in Polish) ranks among the most
attractive recreational areas in the country, and it
is just a 15 minutes’ drive – or 24 kilometers – northwest of
central Krakow (road 794 via Zielonki to the town of Skala,
right turn to road 773 to the Pieskowa Skala castle).
national parks in the world can boast so many
picturesque and worthy architectural monuments as
the Ojcow’s one has within its limits. This and
the most scenic landscape with an abundance of
many-shaped limestone rocks – some tall for fifty meters or
more – such as the park’s trademark 25-m-tall
‘Hercules’ Bludgeon’, rather than
wildlife bring in here roughly 400,000 visitors a year. Most of
them comes between mid April and mid
November. Also numerous caves, often easily
accessible, prove to be a magnet for many.
The core of
the Ojcow National Park consists in the Pradnik
river valley with a road running along it as a backbone – most opportunely for motorists. The
thing is there are too many of them, notably on
weekends, so the two most convenient parking
lots, at the village of Ojcow and by the Pieskowa
Skala Castle, tend to be packed.
flora and fauna of the Ojcow National Park
Ojcow National Park, established in 1956, preserves valleys of
two small rivers, Pradnik and Saspowka. The park includes 385
hectares of the strict nature reserve. Its fauna consists of
about 6,000 animal species (insects make up the bulk). There are
134 species of birds such as hawks, woodpeckers, owls,
kingfishers, and herons. The Ojcow National Park boasts also 15
species of bats whose colonies inhabit many of the park’s 400
or so known caves. Also, one endangered species of reptile, a
harmless snake gniewosz plamisty (smooth snake, Coronella
austriaca). A program to reintroduce beavers into the park was
successfully launched in 1985.
species of the Ojcow National Park
number about 900. Its area largely consists in forests of
common broadleaf trees.
in the Ojcow National Park
‘a pearl of the Polish Renaissance’, at
the Ojcow park’s northernmost end, among forests on a
hill overlooking the picturesque Pradnik river
valley, dates back to the mid 14th century. In
the 16th century it underwent refurbishment after
the fashion of the north Italian Renaissance.
Since 1970 it has been home to a European art museum, a branch of Krakow’s Wawel Royal
The castle of Pieskowa Skala lies on the Trail of
Nests (red marks), a hiking route that runs from Krakow to Czestochowa
linking a chain of medieval castles that used to guard
Poland's western frontier.
Ojcow village in the park’s heart boasts
the remnants of the 14th-century castle: Gothic
gate, octagonal tower, and ruins of the chapel.
Popular as a tourist destination since the 18th
century, Ojcow was a fashionable health resort
through the second half of the 19th century, and
a few buildings in the period’s so-called
‘Ojcow style’ remained, e.g. two former
hotels: one turned into the Nature Museum, the
other into the post office.
Blessed Salomea’s Hermitage (Pustelnia
Bl. Salomei) at Grodzisko village, atop a
tall upright rock halfway between Ojcow and the
Pieskowa Skala Castle, dates back to the 17th
century, and was built in the place of the
13th-century nunnery. Baroque church is
surrounded by the 17th-century statues of Polish
saintly medieval prices and princesses.
King Lokietek Cave (Jaskinia
Lokietka) near Ojcow is 240 m long and fabled
as the place where the Polish ruler hid from his
rival’s overwhelming forces in 1300 before he
eventually regained the Krakow throne.
Dark Cave (Jaskinia Ciemna) south
of Ojcow is 147 m long and was home to Poland’s
earliest known inhabitant who dwelled here some
120,000 years ago.
In the proximity of
Krakow is Poland's tourist mecca, and
also a gateway to many other must-see sites in
national parks near Krakow
of Krakow map
Poland's prime tourist attraction and a
must in Central Europe boasts numerous
world-class monuments, charming vistas,
delightful atmosphere, and the best restaurants.
The park’s trademark 25-m-tall ‘Hercules’
Bludgeon’ rock by the Pieskowa Skala
Castle is said to be the work of the devil.