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Feel invited to learn about one of the most enchanting beauty spots of Opole region. This is an exceptional place in which nature and the human created a unique, enchanting masterpiece of beauty and simplicity. Its uniqueness attracted naturalists, who established St. Anne’s Mountain Landscape Park, a nature protection area Natura 2000 and the National Geopark, as well as humanists, who put the cultural landscape of St. Anne’s Mountain on a list of the national Monuments of History.

St. Anne’s Mountain Landscape Park was created in 1988. It encompasses Chełm Hummock, i.e. the western part of the Silesia Upland. The Park stretches from the North-West to the South-East for 20 km and is 5 km wide. St. Anne’s Mountain is the highest rise of Chełm Hummock as well as of the Silesia Upland (404 m above sea level). The Park is located in the Central-East part of Opole Province and is stretched on two counties: Strzelce and Krapkowice and the following six municipalities: Leśnica, Zdzieszowice, Gogolin, Strzelce Opolskie, Ujazd and Izbicko. It encompasses an area of 5051ha. The disadvantageous influences of the neighbouring industry centres and metropolitan areas are eliminated by a protective strip of a land, the so-called buffer zone. Its area spreads to 6374 ha. Chełm Hummock is distinguished by its height and diversified structure against the extensive and flat Silesia Lowland. The ridge of the hummock descends sharply in south-eastern direction towards the valley of Oder, whereas the northern and north-western hillsides slope gently towards the Opole Plain. Chełm Hummock encompasses many hills such as: Ligocka Góra Kamienna (326 m above sea level), Biesiec (350 m above the sea level), Wysoka Góra (385 m above sea level), Stoki (308 m above sea level) and Bukowy Bór (308 m above sea level) and St. Anne's Mountain itself.

St. Anne’s Mountain Landscape Park is one of very few places in Poland which displays an example of the most beautiful Middle Muschelkalk profiles with rich and well-preserved fauna on a relatively small area. Among the predominating rocks of the Middle Triassic we find the deposits of sandstones and Carboniferous conglomerates which survived in Żyrowa village. Also much younger vulcanite rocks coming from St. Anne's Mountain occur in the area. The geological processes taking place here were very complex, thus the indications of contact metamorphism, deformations, faults, depressions, karst formations can be all found in the rocks. The lie of the land was finally formed as a result of the Scandinavian glaciation. The withdrawing continental glacier left sand material and smaller as well as bigger glacial erratic rocks. Loess covers, in which the water curved picturesque gorges and dry valleys, are clearly visible between Poręba and Czarnocin.

The network of surface waters within the territory of the Park is underdeveloped and very poor. This is caused by the karst-like built of Chełm Hummock. Within the protected territory the following 3 water-head areas can be found: “Siedem Źródeł” in Leśnica, Łęcka Woda in Czarnocin and Heliosza near Jasiona.

The region of St. Anne's Mountain was granted a status of the National Geopark on the 1 June 2010. Its area constitutes ca. 75% of the total Park's territory. A geologic trail (of ca. 10 km) was established within the area of the Park. The trail starts in St. Anne’s Mountain Village (a geological nature reserve and nephelinite geosite) and ends in Ligota Dolna Village (a reserve of xerothermic vegetation). The trail connects the most interesting natural and geological places: a nephelinite quarry, Krwioka Valley, rock amphitheatre, Biesiec Reserve, and Ligota Dolna Quarry. 11 geosites on the trail are equipped with information boards which provide interesting and reader-friendly descriptions of individual spots.

St. Anne's Mountain reserve of inanimate nature as well as the nearby nephelinite geosite, especially designed and opened for public are the most interesting geological spots offered in St. Anne’s Mountain Village. The geological reserve was established in 1971 in one of the parts of a former nephelinite and limestone excavations site. The reserve is to protect rare geological profiles and phenomena for the scientific and didactic purposes. This little area of only 2.58 ha is characterised by interesting and complex geological built and unique flora.

In 2014 a tourist and educational trail was created in the direct vicinity of the reserve with the purpose of limiting tourist traffic. The trail is located in the nephelinite geosite and describes the geology of St. Anne’s Mountain and Chełm Hummock.

The patchwork landscape of St. Anne’s Mountain is dominated by agricultural fields separated by lines of trees and cherry orchards in majority. The landscape of St. Anne’s Mountain presents a view of enchanting beauty in the spring time when the fields shine with dazzling yellow of rape and bright green of grain with white patches of cherry trees' crowns highlighting incredibly diversified structure of the land. Small, mosaic forest areas encompass old beech woods with numerous interesting species of native flora. Unique soil conditions and climate differences determined the flora of the area. Forests, once prevailing, cover now only 21% of the Park's general area. These forests are varied and fragmented by farm fields. Nevertheless, the forests are rich in tree species and very interesting in the view of phytosociology.

The Park’s flora includes 832 species of vascular plants (with 26 mountain species) represented by 88 families and 408 genera. They include 26 legally protected species, including those under strict preservation, i.e. the white helleborine, narrow-leaved helleborine, red helleborine, cross gentian, early coralroot, rolling hen-and-chicks, turk's cap lily, linum austriacum, hard shield fern, and the following plants under partial protection: common centaury, stemless carline thistle, gentianella ciliata, royal helleborine, broad-leaved helleborine, twayblade, bastard balm, granny's bonnet, goat's beard, true oxlip, belladonna, snowdrop, february daphne.

Chełm Massif serves as a very interesting area for faunistic research. This is an area characterised by the abundance of unique invertebrates. The grass and beech woods of St. Anne’s Mountain provide a perfect habitat for spiders. Heteroptera constitute a numerous group represented by 184 species with the majority of the Miridae family. A group of beetles, particularly the genus of the ground beetle, is extremely rich (12 species under preservation). Butterflies are the most beautiful representatives of the insects, whose large concentration can be found in Ligocka Góra Kamienna. Almost 600 species were found as a result of long-lasting studies in the 1960s. However, the number of species* has been decreasing here and throughout the country. At the moment 86 species of butterflies and 567 of moths live in the area and they include: the scarce swallowtail, large blue, and large copper. Lizards constitute the largest group of reptiles within the Park area, whereas snakes are least numerous: the smooth snake and the venomous common viper. So far 126 species of birds, including 83 breeding birds have been detected in the Park. And these are: the collared flycatcher, stock dove, grey wagtail, hoopoe, barred warbler, ortolan bunting, corncrake, and woodpeckers: black and grey-headed. Particular attention should be paid to the birds of prey: the sparrowhawk, kestrel, hobby and owl: barn owl, tawny owl, little owl, and long-eared owl. Many interesting species occur in the area but they leave the Park during the hatching season. And these include: the wild-tailed eagle, black stork, red kite, and western marsh harriers: moor hawk, and Montagu's harrier. The common dormouse, ermine, and fat dormouse are the greatest curiosities among the protected mammals in the Park. The great number of potential summer and winter hiding places attract bats for their breeding season and to hibernate. And these are common noctule, greater mouse-eared bat, brown long-eared bat, grey long-eared bat, western barbastelle, and serotine bat, northern bat as well as common pipistrelle.

The forests of the greatest natural interest in the Park are included in the reserve protection. The age-old beech stands are protected in four of six reserves located within the St. Anne's Mountain Landscape Park, such as: “Biesiec”, “Lesisko”, “Grafik” and “Boże Oko”.

“Biesiec” Reserve (established in 2001) includes in its area the following two hills: Biesiec and Wysoka Góra, with picturesque limestone outcrops. The 150-year old beech stand including a great number of rare plants are legally preserved. These plants include February daphne, bastard balm, Turk's cap lily, snowdrop, and orchids such as broad-leaved helleborine, royal helleborine, and early coralroot.

“Lesisko” Reserve (1997) is located on the southern slopes of Chełm Hummock and some parts of a beech wood with oaks and larches. As this area is picturesque and easily accessible, it suffers the greatest human impact on the environment of all forest reserves. Lesisko concentrates the majority of the preserved rare plants of the Park.

“Grafik” Reserve (established in 1997) is located between Leśnica and Czarnocin. Its name is derived from a German word graf (count) and refers to a tragic death of the Count Renard’s son from Strzelce, which happened while hunting in the forests and also to the "Filo" Memorial commemorating this sad incident. This reserve protects a 150-year old beech stand growing on a thick layer of loess, which is vulnerable to water erosion. Three forest communities are distinguished in the reserve: acid lowland beech forests, fertile lowland beech forests, and fertile Sudeten beech forests.

"Boże Oko” Reserve (1997) is located west of the Klucz Village. Dry valleys of wide bottoms and deep ravines of steep slopes with sinkholes give the spot peculiar charm. Beech trees being 145-165 years old predominate in the reserve.

The guests can also visit the remaining two reserves, that is, the afore-mentioned St. Anne's Mountain reserve of inanimate nature, according to the custom called a geological reserve, and “Ligota Dolna” established on Ligocka Góra Kamienna in 1959 for the purposes of protecting the xerothermic relicts of plant communities. The reserve is a unique floristic and faunistic area. The reserve encompasses three plant communities: saxicolous grasslands, loose and low xerothermic turf and poor xerothermic turf as well as shrubby thickets with wild privet, blackthorn, buckthorn, hawthorn, and rosehip.

This particular landscape park distinguishes itself thanks to numerous monuments of material heritage. The Park offers visiting over 200 historical objects. The basilica of St. Anne and Calvary in the Village of St. Anne’s Mountain being the very heart of the landscape park are the most valuable pieces of monuments. The village successfully attracts tourists and pilgrims. In 1993 UNESCO ordered the area of St. Anne’s Mountain Landscape Park to be included in the World Heritage List, and in 2004 St. Anne’s Mountain Cultural Landscape Park was acknowledged to be a monument of history. The early days of St. Anne’s Mountain Sanctuary and the village itself date back to the 15th century. Back then Mikołaj Strzała with his son Krystek, who were the owners of nearby Poręba, founded a wooden church dedicated to St. George about 1480. Until 1637 the church belonged to such families as Strzała, Żyrowscy, Strzała again, then von Schlewits, and finally to Gaszyn Family. Following the example of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska Town 3 large and 30 smaller chapels were built in honour of Christ’s Passion between 1700 and 1709. Later on several other chapels devoted to Mother of God were added. In the second half of the 18th century today’s Franciscans cloister was built and the church underwent conversion. In the course of time St. Anne’s Mountain became a centre of religious life in Silesia. Lurdzka Grotto and the Pilgrim’s Guesthouse were built at the beginning of the 20th century. Numerous printing houses publishing religious books and publications operated in the House.

Recently, St. Anne’s Mountain Village has been a place of several great religious celebrations: the the 500th anniversary of the Sanctuary, the visit of Pope John Paul II, 750 years of the Franciscans Monastery in Silesia, 300 years of the Calvary, the 100th anniversary of the coronation of the statue of Virgin and Child with Saint Anne. St. Anne’s Mountain as a symbol of the 3rd Silesian Uprising played a significant political role for both fighting parties. Those days (in 1921) the region was a central part of military actions which determined the final result of the fight and the subsequent division of Silesia. Between 1934 and 1938 a German and Nazi National Memorial was created within the area of a former limestone quarry. The memorial included a mausoleum and a rock amphitheatre for 30 thousand seats. However, just after the World War II in 1945 the monument and mausoleum was knocked down to give room for the Monument of Insurrectionary Act designed by Xawery Dunikowski to commemorate the Silesian insurgents.

Nevertheless, St. Anne’s Mountain is not the only attraction in the Park. Żyrowa Palace and Park is one of those interesting places in the Park which attracts visitors. A baroque palace, built by Melchior Ferdynand Gaszyna between 1631 and 1644, underwent numerous conversions ordered by new owners. Now the palace has 4 wings and an inner courtyard on a square-like plan and eastern wing in the L-shape, with a utility courtyard. However, the palace is not the oldest historical building in the village - it is a former Cistercian filial church dedicated to St. Nicholas, and more precisely its gothic chancel originating in 1300. The surrounding park abounds in the trees of historic importance as well as foreign trees (of foreign origin), i.e.: southern catalpa, saucer magnolia, ginkgo biloba, tulip tree, London plane, sweet chestnut, tree of heaven, Douglas fir. Inside the park visitors can admire the ruins of the villa in which Wilhelm II stayed as a guest. Blooming specimen of common ivy climbs the trunks of age-old trees. In Żyrowa tourists are welcomed to visit also classicistic cemetery chapel of the end of the 15th century, a roadside chapel from the 19th century being a well at the same time.

Almost every town or village in the Park can boast of a sacral monument, whether it is a church, chapel, or a roadside cross. Also the facilities of industrial architecture draw a lot of attention, and these are watermills and windmills in the villages of Wysoka and Kadłubiec, limestone furnaces for the 19th century. The limestone furnace in Ligota Dolna is historically the most interesting monument of industrial architecture. Before the World War II the village was known for the gliding school and the airport, which in 1937 belonged to NSFK (Nationalsozialistisches Fligerkorps – a national paramilitary organisation). This airport and other neighbouring airports, also in Kamień Śląski, Izbicko, and Otmęt, were used as a military airline hub in 1939. The airports were used by the planes of the 4th Air Force Army supporting the attacks of German forces on Częstochowa and Wieluń. The furnace by the airport became a memorial for the victims of several dozen tragic air accidents during flight trainings between 1937 and 1944.

We would like to invite all visitors to enjoy nature and cultural values of the Park on our five educational trails:

  1. Around St. Anne’s Mountain

Start – the Park headquarters. Monuments on the trail: the Monument of Insurrectionary Act, rock amphitheatre, Valley of Krowioka, St. Anne’s Mountain Calvary, the Pilgrim’s Guesthouse, common land and the Papal Altar of St. Anne’s Mountain, Lurdzka Grotto, St. Anne’s Basilica, the monastery.

  1. From St. Anne's Mountain to Zalesie Śląskie through “Grafik” and “Boże Oko” Reserves.

Start – the Park headquarters. Monuments on the trail: Insurrectionary Act Museum, “Seven Sources” Karst Spring, Poręba Village, “Grafik” and “Boże Oko” Reserves.

  1. From St. Anne's Mountain to Ligota Dolna through Żyrowa

Start – the Park headquarters. Monuments on the trail: geological reserve, manor park in Żyrowa, Gaszynów Palace of the 17th century, “Ligota Dolna” Floristic Reserve.

  1. From Żyrowa to St. Anne’s Mountain through “Lesisko” Reserve

The trail starts in Żyrowa at ul. Wojska Polskiego (nearby the fire station). Monuments on the trail: geological stand, Emperor’s Oak, Studzionka Chapel, manor park and Gaszynów Palace, the nature monument by St. Nicholas Church in Żyrowa, Lesisko Reserve

  1. Didactic trail in the geological reserve

The start of the trail – by the monitoring station behind the roadhouse in St. Anne’s Mountain Village. The trail includes 16 stops describing the natural values of the reserve and nephelinite geosites.

Europejski Fundusz Rolny na rzecz Rozwoju Obszarów Wiejskich: Europa inwestująca w obszary wiejskie.
Strona współfinansowana ze środków Unii Europejskiej w ramach Schematu III Pomocy Technicznej. Programu Rozwoju Obszarów Wiejskich na lata 2007-2013.
Instytucja Zarządzająca PROW na lata 2007-2013: Minister Rolnictwa i Rozwoju Wsi.
Strona opracowana na zlecenie Urzędu Marszałkowskiego Województwa Opolskiego.


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