Ojców National Park - trekking, history, nature

Ojców National Park is the smallest (21 km­2 area) national park in Poland, just 16 km from Kraków Centre. A perfect place for a one day trip from Kraków. It is situated along a scenic Prądnik river valley, and it is famous for numerous limestone cliffs, ravines, and over 400 caves. One of these caves is believed to be used by one of polish kings - Władysław Łokietek. Why a king should live in a cave? According to local stories, the king was escaping from Kraków and pursuing by the Czech king Waclaw II and his army. To commemorate this event, the cave is now called Łokietek's Cave. It's also the biggest cave in the park - it is 320 meters (1,050 ft) deep. The most popular activity in the park are walks along several well marked tourist paths, mountain bike excursions, visiting old castles, and meeting local fauna and flora. Note that rock climbing is forbidden in the park, though the local rocks seem to be heaven for vertical adventures. 

Bat appears in the logo of Ojców National Park – there are 25 species of bats in Poland and in this tiny national park you can meet 17 species.

Spider is another symbolical animal for ONP. A legend says that when the king Władysław was hiding in the cave, a spider wove a web across the entrance, so the pursuit assumed that nobody was in the cave. Now the cave's entrance is closed by the gate shaped into a spider web.

Nature: dead…

The most characteristic objects in the ONP are odd-shape rock formations with famous Hercules Club – a 25 meter limestone column. There is also the rock called White Hand, but so far nobody seen the Hand holding the Club.

… and alive:

ONP has a high biodiversity – there are 5500 species of animal (280 of them are protected), 950 vascular plants species, 230 species of mosses and liverworts, 200 lichens.

Where eagles dare:

Ojców Castle is a fortified castle, erected in the second half of 14th century. Unfortunately, except one tower and the gate, only ruins survived until today. They fit perfectly to the surroundings – the castle was built mainly from limestone.

Pieskowa Skała Castle stands on high rocks, with Hercules Club at the bottom. It is undoubtedly the best recognized symbol of Ojców National Park, and it hosts an interesting historical museum inside. The castles of Ojców National Park are a part of a multikilometer chain of old fortifications on Jura Krakowsko-Częstochowska, which you can visit with a help of other part of our guidebook.  

Chapel on the Water:

During the period in a Polish history called Poland partition, Ojców area was forged with Russian Empire. Tsar Nicholas II forbade Polish people to build objects linked with their Christian religion on Ojców grounds. Poles are known for their creative behaviors and for unexpected solutions to difficult situations. So, in 1901 local people built a wooden chapel on a wooden platform on water. The law was not broken and they had their chapel as they wanted. Now, the Chapel can be visited while on a trip in Ojców National Park.  

How to get there?

There are local mini-buses going from Kraków (from the place called Kleparz) to villages near the park. But, the most convenient way to reach Ojców National Park is by a private car, organized trip, or by a bicycle. Cycling to the park from Kraków is a popular activity among sport-lovers in Kraków, though the cycling itself is not very physically demanding. There are a lot of places in the center of Kraków, where you can rent bikes. Going there by a bike will give lots of opportunities to explore off-the-beaten track areas. Shops in Kraków sell good maps for biking around Kraków.