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Silesia

The Home of Wroclaw, Czestochowa, Peace Churches, and More

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Sunset, Lower Silesia

Sunset, Lower Silesia

CC BY-NC-SA Rantes
Silesia is a historical region that is traditionally broken into two sections, Upper Silesia and Lower Silesia. Though most of Silesia is situated in the southwestern corner of Poland, the region bleeds slightly into eastern Germany and the northeastern part of the Czech Republic. Silesia is also home to the minority group of Silesians, some of which speak Silesian – its own language or a dialect of Polish, depending upon who you ask.

The administrative divisions that make up modern-day Poland make defining the Silesian region a little differently, but Lower Silesia and Upper Silesia occupy roughly the same area as historical Silesia. Additionally, the capitals of these administrative divisions, Wroclaw and Katowice, serve as good starting points for further exploration of Polish Silesia.

Lower Silesia

Lower Silesia is dominated by the city Wroclaw. Wroclaw is home to the UNESCO-protected Centennial Hall and maintains a charming old town historic district. Additionally, Wroclaw’s dwarfs work and play around the city, their sturdy, stony bodies perpetually performing tasks such as rolling boulders or withdrawing money from banking machines. Wroclaw is a bustling city in the western part of Poland that should be included on a whole-country tour.

In Lower Silesia can be found two other UNESCO Heritage sites, the Peace Churches of Swidnica and Jawor. These churches, made of wood, were constructed according to a specific set of guidelines that came out of a treaty in the 17th century.

Ksiaz Castle, near Walbrzych, contains a museum and is surrounded by gardens and forests.

At Kudowa Zdroj, south of Wroclaw, visitors can visit Poland’s very own bone-built chapel, similar in nature to Sedlec Ossuary near Prague, Czech Republic. The chapel is built with thousands of skulls and other bones from victims of wars and plagues.

Upper Silesia

Upper Silesia is an industrial region of Poland, but that doesn’t mean that it should be avoided by travelers. Katowice is the capital of Upper Silesia, and though it is representative of the industrial nature of the area, it can still serve as a hub for exploration of nearby sights.

Undoubtedly the star of Upper Silesia is Czestochowa, home of the Jasna Gora Monastery and the Black Madonna The monastery is a place of pilgrimage and attracts both religious and touristic travelers year round. The Black Madonna, an icon surrounded by legend and supposedly imbued with divine powers, is kept on display in a tiny chapel, where it can be viewed by visitors.

Cieszyn is a historic Upper Silesian town that is also worth a visit, and not only because one half of the city is located in Poland and the other half in the Czech Republic. It has an old town area, a market square, and a castle hill complete with Romanesque church and Hapsburg palace. Also visit the legendary well that is said to have been the site of reunion of three brothers who founded the town.

Silesia is also known for its natural beauty; park spaces, mountain ranges, and wildlife attract travelers who want to enjoy the great outdoors. The stone statues of Mount Sleza recall prehistoric times, while the Jura Krakowsko-Czestochowska is rich with wilderness and castle ruins. The mountainous landscape is good for hiking in the temperate seasons and skiing in the winter, so it’s no wonder that vacation homes and resorts can easily be found in the Silesian territory.

Though not officially in Silesia, the Auschwitz –Birkenau Museum is located just beyond the region’s border in Malopolska, which means if you’re in the area, you might consider taking a tour of one of the most well-known Nazi death camps in Europe.

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