On the beginning of June we shortly visited Kłodzko Valley (Kotlina Kłodzka). Here are my very subjective impressions about this south-western part of Poland.
Bystrzyca Kłodzka is a city with great touristic potential which is not explored. Medieval city surrounded by historic walls with monumental gates and tower could be a real money machine run on tourist, however during our short stay in beginning of July 2009 we were denied to visit sightseeing tower and matches museum. Unblievable – it was closed in the middle of the day (temporarily as we could read on sheets of paper sticked to doors). Well, we thought about some lunch close to market square, but again – it was impossible to find anything that looked interesting. In fact we were unable to find any restaurant. We tried really hard, but despite of it we spent no single grosz (thousandth part of Polish Zloty) in Bystrzyca Kłodzka. What a pity.
Being so disappointed of Bystrzyca Kłodzka we went to Polanica-Zdrój. To tell you the truth: we were not so much charmed by Kłodzko Valley. So far we had seen Lądek Zdrój (only passing through by car) and Stronie śląskie, which is something different that you would expect from touristic place. Both places made a not so good impression on us. So adding what we’d seen in Bystrzca, we prepared ourselves for continuation of disappointing discoveries. And we experienced a surprise! Polanica-Zdrój looks different. It’s renovated, it has clear touristic axis which leads along stream flowing through the center, there’s a lot of restaurants, cafes and ice-cream kiosks, but the real discovery waited for us on the end of side-walk. Fountain of mineral water inside sanitarium historic buildings. You can see it on the below picture.
You have to buy the right to drink this water (don’t worry, it’s really cheap), few additional groszes for plastic cup, and voila – the water is yours. It’s highly mineralized – around 2000 mg of solid ingredients in 1 liter of water. For comparison: normal bottled water you can buy in supermarket contains around 200-300 mg of solid ingredients in 1 liter. Although it’s good for health, don’t drink it too much at once.
Close to Polanica-Zdrój is a crossing to Wambierzyce, where you can visit a Roman-Catholic basilica, built as a votum for healings that occurred exactly in this place. All I can say is that it is interesting and worth seeing. For 2 hours. No more.
Next to Wambierzyce you should visit Góry Stołowe (Table Mountains). These are very old mountains piled during Cambrian period. The warranty for these mountains has already expired so rain, wind and other atmospheric conditions sculptured unbelievable labirynth of passages in giant rocks. Some of these passages are not wider than 20-30 cm. Definitely not for people suffering from claustrophobia. Some of the rocks presents rare and unique forms defying law of gravity. You can see for example heavy rock weighting several tons standing on narrow, slim leg measuring only around 20 cm in diameter. The whole place is wet and muddy when it rains, however touristic route is paved with wood so you can wear even flip-flops (although I advise cozy touristic shoes).
Kłodzko is quite a interesting one. The biggest city in the region, old and located in the interesting neighborhood or rather on the frontier. You can walk the city around, on and… under the ground level. But before descending in not so dark corridors you can sit down in one of the restaurants and cafes on the city square and eat something delicious. Well, there is a chance to meet a little bit strange waiter, however you should not be discouraged – just order anything, and probably you will get tasty meal
In fact the most visible restaurants are located in City Hall. Good appetite!
Underground touristic route leads you through interconnected cellars of several houses. Entering in one part of the city, you appear on the ground just below the Citadel. Medieval citizens of Kłodzko used this labyrinth of cellars as a shelter during wars and enemy assaults. During peace time it served as… a cellar. What a surprise…
When visiting a Citadel I advise you to descent to old miners corridors. They served as a secret labyrinth of passages in order to sneak under enemy forces located in front of citadel, plant a barrel of gunpowder under enemy’s cannon and explode it. Some of the corridors are just 75 cm high and 50 cm wide, so you can really get claustrophobia there. I went through such corridor, and even it was only 12 meters long, I felt my knees really painfully. Watch out if you have heart problems or claustrophobia. Otherwise I definitely recommend this adventure.
This is another one of Kłodzko monuments – St. John’s Bridge. Some people try to compare it with Karl Bridge in Prague, but it doesn’t make sense. To put it simply, that’s how people were building bridges during those times. Observe sculptures of Saints and Bible Scenes on it.
Have you ever tried to make your own sheet of paper by yourself? Hand-made? I did, and it’s fun. One of the few places you can do it in Europe is old paper mill in Duszniki-Zdrój. It is located close to main road from Kłodzko to Czech Republic. First of all you should see the history of paper making, then large exhibition of machinery. There is also a temporary exhibition. At the time we were there the exhibition showed cut-outs according to Japanese and Jewish tradition. Astonishing.
Now, ready for making a moulding paper. Go down to cellar. Wait! First you have to pay 10 PLN (2,5 EUR). You will have an opportunity to make few sheets of paper in different colours, with water-mark and without it. Even with shape of your hand. The whole process takes around 15-20 minutes and, of course, you can take paper home. Must-do experience.
Back to the nature. Few kilometers south from Stronie Śląskie you can see the largest and probably the most beautiful cave in Poland – Bear Cave. This time I advise to take touristic shoes and warm jacket, preferably water-proof. Constant temperature in Bear Cave is 6 degrees Celsius. And it’s wet. You can enter there only with qualified guide (available on place . First of all, you should call few days earlier and book a tour. Be on the place half an hour before time. Don’t touch anything inside. Well, to be honest, the only allowed actions inside the cave are breathing (although I’m not a 100% sure) and walking. But seriously – only by following these rules you can help preserve the cave for next generations. It’s very delicate! Just think about these stalagmites, stalactites and stalagnates. Each millimeter of their length arises during decades.
Definitely, when you are in southern Poland, try to visit Kłodzko Valley. I, personally, made few own discoveries: mineral water, cave, paper making and labyrinth of rocks. Go there, see it and enjoy