Karkonosze are a range of mountains in South-West Poland, close to the Czech and German border. I have chosen as our base the nice town of Karpacz. The city center concentrates around a pedestrian lane that is, I admit, pretty steep.
The buildings are modern. Even though Karpacz exists for around 800 years, until 1950s it was only a small village. The Town Hall is pretty modest as well.
Karkonosze mountains are not very high - the highest peak is just about 1,600 meters. But apparently the local government is very ambitious and looks up. Next to the Town Hall I have found a "winter rock" that commemorates 30th anniversary of the Polish winter expedition to Mount Everest.
I propose that now we go down the pedestrian lane.
The building in the back, topped by a black onion-like dome, is the main church in town, 100 years old church of the Visitation of Virgin Mary. The dome (called also "helm") is inspired by baroque churches from the Tyrol region.
Before this church was erected, people from Karpacz could only attend masses in the former catholic school, located on the other side of the lane.
A few meters down, you can find a tree. To be more specific - a small-leaved lime (tilia cordata).
This particular lime is called "Tribunal Lime" because since 1602 in its shade the local authorities were conducting tribunals, judging criminals and solving conflicts between inhabitants. The Tribunal Lime has over 5 meters of diameter.
On the other side of the street (that is no longer for pedestrians only so be careful!) you can spot yet another church, dedicated to the Holy Heart of Jesus.
You may be surprised that such a small town needs two pretty big churches. Well, this second one was built to serve the protestant community in Karpacz and was transfered to the catholic parish only after the Second World War when not many protestants remained in the town.
On the walls of the church you may notice a little commemorative table. The inscription says "Truth cannot be destroyed". It commemorates the fact that in this church Jerzy Popiełuszko has delivered his first mass. Jerzy Popiełuszko used to be the chaplain of the Solidarity. In 1984 he was killed by special agents of the communist government. As such, he is considered a martyr and has been beatified. His death is considered to be one of the milestones of the political revolution in Poland that led to the termination of the communism.
Next to the main entry to the church you can find a table with miniatures of 3 churches.
This refers to the fact that Karpacz is on the path of Via Sacra, a touristic path that runs through Poland, Germany and Czech Republic. All 3 churches in Karpacz are on the way (ans yes! there is a third church but it is so special that I will show it to you next time in more details).
Karpacz is not a big town but I hope that you have liked this little tour. I propose we say goodbye to its guard and try to look for a place to sleep.
I have chosen for you the biggest hotel in town (actally it is huge by any standards).
The greatest thing about this hotel is the view. You can see from there a truely beautiful panorama of the Karkonosze.
If we walk a bit around it you will see some small brooks, running fast despite the cold.
And yet some more mountains.
On top of one of the hills you can spot a building with a high tower. This is the gooal of our next trip.
Get some hot chocolate, put on your best winter shoes because there is some nice climbing to come. I guarantee that you will be able to really see and feel the beautiful Polish winter.