Ojcowski National Park
People around the whole world undertake efforts to protect nature from the destructive influence of civilisation. The first step on this way is to create national parks.
In Poland there are 23 national parks. The nearest national park to my city is Ojcowski National Park. It is situated in Ojców in Jura Krakowsko-Częstochowska near Cracow.
In the 19th century there were discovered many interesting plants and animal species as well as caves. The beauty of these terrains, their astounding features and flora made people realise that this miraculous corner had to be protected.
Ojcowski National Park was created in 1956. It was the sixth national park in Poland at that time. It has developed gradually. Now the park has a surface area of 2,146 hectares. It is the second smallest park among Polish national parks.
In this park we can see a lot of plant and animal species. Flora is represented by plants typical of mountainous regions. The representatives of fauna are small mammals like badgers, martens and foxes, bird species, reptiles, rare snails and insects. The park is also home to many species of butterflies.
The wealth of the Ojcowski National Park embraces unusual landscape. There are canyons up to 120 m deep and white limestone cliffs containing innumerable caves. In the caves live many species of bats. Tourists should visit the famous King’s Lokietek Cave, which is 270 m long and is reputed to be a shelter used by Polish King Wladyslaw Lokietek in the 14th century. What is interesting is that in the summer the air temperature near the rock surface can reach 60 ° C at noon.
The most famous landmark in ONP is Hercules ‘club’ together with the Pieskowa Skala Castle. The Hercules ‘club’ is a high (20 m) club-shaped rock. It’s an interesting example of karstic phenomena and erosion. It was first captured by mountain climbers in 1932. A local legend has it that the ‘club’ was brought to the bottom of valley by the devil, and made a pact with the famous wizard Twardowski. The devil said that he would fulfill his three wishes if Twardowski gave him his soul after death. One of the devil’s deeds was moving a rock to Pradnik Valley and putting it the way it stands now.
This beautiful terrain is often visited by tourists. Plants and animals create the beauty of Polish landscape during all four seasons of the year, though a keen observer will notice the changeability of views and colours. The Ojcowski landscape is the subject of reports and memoirs, and a source of inspiration for many artists and poets.