Guest Author - Barbara Swiech
Every country, to develop its touristic attraction, creates some trails that lead the visitors along the way where specific monuments are located. These are usually monuments connected with a given epoch, person or event. They go through specific city, region or throughout the whole country.
The trail, that leads the tourists around the Eagles’ Nests, shows the beauty of Polish castles. But these are not normal castles. They are former strongholds located high on the rocks (hence the name connected with eagle nest). They protected the country in the strategic points. Today’s trail runs across 2 provinces – Little Poland and Silesia.
The great advantage of the trail is its location in Jura (Jurassic system of south-central Poland that runs between Krakow and Czestochowa). Beautiful Jurassic rocks and picturesque valleys are added value to the beautiful castles that date back mostly to 14th century.
As Krakow was the capital city of Poland, the trail of strongholds was used to protect it – as well as to protect the most important trading routes from foreign invaders. The route was created by Casimir the Great – one of the most important Polish kings.
Today we cannot enjoy the beauty of the castles from their best times as they were all destroyed during the Swedish Deluge (that occurred in 17th century). Afterwards they were taken over by prominent magnates but never regained their previous shape.
In most of the cases we can admire nowadays only picturesque ruins of the castles that protected the trail. Actually, only one of them has been rebuilt to remind the original fortress – the one in Pieskowa Skala (in the Ojcow National Park). But probably that feature is advantage of the trail. The Jurassic rocks stress the wildness of the ruins and add to the beauty of the castles’ remains.
The traditional trail of the Eagles’ Nests includes castles in places such as: Korzkiew, Ojcow, Pieskowa Skala, Rabsztyn, Bydlin, Smolen, Pilica, Ogrodzieniec, Morsko, Bobolice, Mirow, Olsztyn. The biggest one (as well as one of the most popular and picturesque) of them is the castle in Ogrodzieniec. Its ruins bring to mind Medieval times and the knights that were hosted in it.
Probably not many tourists (especially from abroad) decide to follow the trail of Eagle’s nests. But it is worth knowing that that trail exists in case you pass by and have spare time to visit one of the fortresses.