What to see in Roztocze in South-East Poland?
Most people visiting Poland choose popular, well-known locations. Some of them go to the cities willingly visited by tourists, such as Krakow, Warsaw or Wroclaw. Others spend a few days in the Tatra Mountains, in the land of lakes in Masuria or on the Baltic Sea. However, Poland has much more to offer. One of the most beautiful but underestimated hidden gems is Roztocze. That land is located in the south-eastern part of Poland. There are no tourist crowds, no commercial souvenirs and no banal places. But you can find there a beautiful nature, peace and quiet mixed with the atmosphere of a mysterious, and sometimes frighteningly living history. During the Second World War and in later years, this region was one of the most important centres of resistance against the Nazi Third Reich and the Soviet Union. The large forests that have been in Roztocze until now were appropriate to perform large-scale partisan operations. This place impresses with nature and frightens with a brutal history. See 5 reasons why you should definitely visit Roztocze.
Forests, lakes and birdsRoztocze is surrounded by nature. The huge Solska Forest is one of the largest woodlands in Europe. Most of its areas are highly protected. Roztocze is inhabited by over 160 species of birds, including rare ones. In addition to a large population of white storks, which spend the summer in Poland, you can also meet black storks, eagles, several species of owls and many more. In addition to birds, there is also a rare possibility to meet mammals, like wolves or lynxes. The best time to visit Roztocze is late spring and summer because it is warm and green. If you are interested to observe fauna the best way to do it is to pitch a tent near one of the many lakes and wait till (or wake up at) early morning. Believe me, it will be one of the most unforgettable nights of your life. You can hear dozens of various, unknown sounds that make up a unique and wonderful symphony of nature. Fortunately, I took my binoculars with me and I could admire the local flying fauna in full splendour.
City of ZamoscZamosc, which is often called “The Pearl of Renaissance”, is the main city in Roztocze. Several hundred years ago it was a city of great importance. Currently, only 65,000 inhabitants live in it. It is worth visiting Zamosc in order to feel the atmosphere of a small, historic town, visit Town Square (inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List), the town hall, the cathedral, the synagogue and the former bastion. You can find there a small zoo, where you can see most of the animals found in the area, including the aforementioned wolves and lynxes, as well as lions (which, of course, do not appear in Poland), bears and rare birds.
Wooden Orthodox churchesAlthough Poland in the vast majority is Catholic, in the east of the country live plenty of Orthodox Christians. In Roztocze you can visit several historic, beautiful wooden Eastern Orthodox churches. Especially two of them should draw your attention. The Greek Catholic Church of St. Nicholas in Hrebenne village was built probably in the first half of the 17th century. The beautiful Orthodox complex is located on a small hill and until today there are religious services. The Orthodox church in Radruż is probably the oldest building of this type in Poland. Established around 1580 church is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List and on the World Monuments Found list. The admission ticket is very cheap, you can also listen to the guide for an additional fee, which I highly recommend. There are also two historic cemeteries next to it. The whole complex, consisting of the church, the bell tower and defensive wall is well-preserved. It’s definitely worth to visit at least one of the mentioned temples.
Szumy waterfalls and hiking trailsHiking trails near the village of Susiec is a great way to spend free time. Particularly beautiful is the area around the Szumy (which means “Noisy”) waterfalls. You can feel the true pristine atmosphere of old Poland, which was mostly covered with a huge forest. It is worth spending a few hours there, walking among trees, ponds, swamps and waterfalls and listen to the sounds of nature. If you have played “The Witcher” saga you will surely remind yourself a climate of the adventures of Geralt of Rivia. There are several kinds of trails, from short walks to long ones.
Death camp in BełżecThe Second World War was a traumatic experience for the whole world. The most horrific events took place in Poland, where the German Third Reich created a complex of death camps in order to the extermination of people. The death camp in Bełżec belonged to this inhumane complex. In the period between March 1942 and June 1943, about 450,000 people, mainly Jews, were cruelly murdered there. Currently, in the place where the death camp was located, there is a museum for the memory of the victims of the camp. It is worth going there because travel does not only serve pleasant experiences but also to expand your knowledge – also about the human nature hidden in the dark recesses of the soul. A visit to Bełżec encourages reflection and reverie.
What is more in Roztocze?Of course, the Roztocze region offers much more attractions and places to see. Listed in this article are only examples and the most interesting ones. Besides, you can see:
- Guciów homestead, where there is an open-air museum consisting of several wooden huts. It is worth going there with your children and see how people in the countryside once lived.
- Municipal Brewery in Zwierzyniec, where you can look at the process of producing local beer and, of course, try their products. In addition, in Zwierzyniec you can also see a beautiful baroque church on the water.
- Kayaking on the Tanew River.
- Palace in the city of Krasnobród.
- There are a lot of bicycle routes in Roztocze, so cycling tours around the area are popular.