“ Map Coordinates: 50°02′26″N 19°54′21″E „
Skalki Twardowskiego Park and Zakrzowek
Earlier this year, following a recommendation from one of my students I found myself taking a lunchtime visit to Skalki Twardowskiego Park and Zakrzowek. After living in Krakow for around 6 months at this time the thought of a nice large open area was my idea of heaven. Don't get me wrong, I love this city and there are many smaller parks to visit, but after living in Birmingham near Sutton Park for most of my life I was beginning to miss my little escape from city life.
The park had been described to me as a nice place to go for a walk and feel as if you are miles from the city. I was told that if I went on a sunny day I would be left feeling like I was in paradise! Needless to say, I was rather intrigued and set aside a couple of hours one morning to go and explore.
To get to Skalki Twardowskiego Park and Zakrzowek you can take a tram or bus from Krakow centre to the bus and tram stops named Kapelanka. From here you will need to walk down Twardowskiego street. If you follow this street all the way to the end you will come to the entrance of the park.
Large Rocks and Amazing Views
As you enter the park you will simply see a lot of greenery, trees, bushes and an uneven dust path, if you follow this path through the trees within a couple of minutes you will be faced with a large rock face and a number of small caves located along the path. On my first visit to the park I thought these caves looked rather dodgy and with them being covered in graffiti and the entrances littered with rubbish I felt no urge to investigate further. The large rock face however, was fascinating! It is extremely high and while standing at the bottom looking up I could feel my head starting to go a little dizzy so I decided to continue my walk along the path while taking a wide birth on the caves.
As I continued my walk I noticed the path was starting to get a little rocky and uneven and I was starting to climb parts of the path rather than walk it. I didn't really mind this as I love these kinds of adventures so I continued on my way occasionally stopping to take a look at the scenery. It was on one of these stops I noticed some people standing at the top of the huge rock, having seen no-one climbing the rock face I realised there must be a path to the top and decided to try and find my way there. This actually turned out to be really easy to find as there are many rocky routes leading to the top and before long I found myself at the top of the rock looking out on a spectacular view of Krakow.
The view from the top of the rocks, which I have since found out are known as the Rocks of Twardowski the Magician are breathtaking! Looking in one direction you get a fantastic panoramic view of Krakow city and the Wisla river with its many bridges. In the distance you can see the church spires popping up among the buildings and Wawel castle looking fantastic, especially on a sunny day! In the other direction the view is the complete opposite with the mountains in the south on the distant horizon and a large countryside area stretching out towards them. I honestly never realised how green Krakow is!
So, why are the rocks named the Rocks of Twardowski the Magician?
After speaking to numerous students about this park I have discovered a little bit of history behind it. As there are 2 areas to this park I am going to split the history into 2 parts. The first part being about the Rocks of Twardowski the Magician.
The rocks are the remains of an old limestone quarry, as is the whole area this park is located in. However there is another story behind these rocks as I have heard from my students. So, the story of the rocks as told by my student...
Skalki Twardowskiego Park and these huge limestone rocks date back thousands of years when Twardowski the Magician lived in the rocks many caves and experimented with magic. Becoming more and more powerful Twardowski struck a deal with the Devil and in exchange for more power he sold his soul to the Devil. Not thinking this decision through Twardowski realised afterwards what a terrible mistake he had made and then tried to reason with the Devil. The Devil was angered by Twardowski and as a result Twardowski tried to run away from the Devil and as the story tells he ran away from Krakow to the moon and indeed he became the man on the moon and it is his face we see when we look at the moon and see the face smiling back at us.
A Lake of Beauty
Still standing on the top of Twardowski's Rock I noticed a lovely blue colour shining through the mass of green so once again I set off on my adventure along the rocky path to investigate. I can honestly say that nothing would have convinced me of such beauty being hidden away here in Krakow other than seeing it with my own eyes!
After negotiating a few tricky paths with unsecure rocks I found myself at the top of another set of rocks looking out over a beautiful pure blue lake! I remember the first time I visited this park and I literally just stood at the top open mouthed at what I was seeing! I had lived in Krakow for around 6 months at the time and I had seen a lot of the city and its' beautiful old buildings and nice little parks so to see this amazing scene in front of me was simply "WOW"
After taking many photos to prove what I was seeing to my mum I decided to find a nice place to sit and relax before my next students. The area near the lake is very peaceful and there is a lot of open space to sit and just enjoy the quiet so this was perfect! My next lesson was only a 10 minute walk from the park so I decided to ask my students about the lake.
They were happy to assist in my quest for information and told me that the lake is actually an old limestone quarry. It was formed when the people working in the quarry dug too far down and struck water, as a result the entire quarry filled with water and this beautiful lake was created. They also told me that the area is very popular with suicidal people and there have been a number of accidents too so I should be careful while I am there. I can understand this as the ground is very uneven but I stayed away from the edge while walking and only got close to the edge while sitting down and shifting myself along.
Since discovering this amazing park area I have made many visits back and I have enjoyed all but one of them. The one I didn't enjoy was made on a Saturday afternoon in April when the sun was shining and we had about 32 degrees of lovely heat. Unfortunately as a result of this I think most of Krakow descended on the park and lake. It was very busy and due to people sunbathing and having BBQ's in random places it was really hard to walk and relax. Also as a result of all of these people there was a lot of litter around and the place simply looked a mess. I have been back since as this is now my favourite place to visit during the week when it is quiet and I get a little break between lessons, they do seem to have removed a lot of the litter from around the lake area but I noticed the rubbish problem is still quite bad in the park area, especially near the caves.
Entrance & Opening Times
Entrance to the park is free and it is open constantly. The lake is also free to visit and while you may see many people jumping off the rocks and going for a swim in that lovely blue water you should be aware that swimming in the lake isn't actually allowed as there are no lifeguards and the rocks under the water are very dangerous. However if you are a qualified diver, you can dive to a depth of almost 30 metres and I have been told by yet another student who has done this that there are many interesting sights at the bottom of the lake including a car and some old buildings from when the quarry was in use.
Should You Visit?
If you are ever visiting Krakow and fancy a break from everything the city centre has to offer then I would more than recommend a visit to Skalki Twardowskiego Park and Zakrzowek. Apart from the litter problem this is a hidden beauty of Krakow and the perfect escape from a busy city. It is very easy to get to from the centre with the easiest way being the number 19 tram which runs frequently throughout the day followed by a 10 minute walk to the park itself. A lovely change from city life and a beautiful area to go and simply relax! I do advise that you wear sensible shoes with a good grip though and if you are unsure of any of the paths then simply don't take them as there have been many accidents here in the past.
4 out of 5 stars from me with 1 star being lost for the high quantity of litter.
Thanks for reading :)