The Pagan Mountain


Long before anyone lived in Wrocław, there was an ancient civilisation in the Sobótka area, a short drive to the south of the city. Sobótka sits at the foot of Śłęża – the first mountainous peak towards the Czech border. Although there is no official agreement as to what height qualifies for a mountain, at 717.5 metres it is an impressive sight and in my opinion is a mountain – visible from many parts of Wrocław. Activity on the mountain dates back to the 7th century BC as a place of worship for heathen tribes and you can see several ancient cult sculptures at the top of this mount. In the 12th century an Augustinian convent was founded there and later a church which still holds mass to this day.

There are several routes to the top varying in length and time. The longest one is accessible just after the hotel on the right hand side. This is the obvious one as it is the first you encounter, but is a little tiring at around 1.5 – 2 hours. If you can get there by car, which is recommended, you can really make a day of it. If you drive past the first trail and continue to the village of Sulistrowiczki, you will get to a small church. Park there and walk towards the various honey and local product stalls. Follow the path uphill and around 5-minutes later you will get to a natural spring. The spring is very popular with the locals and you may see queues of people with large, plastic water bottles eager to take this water home for a good few weeks supply. Legend has it that this water is truly special with amazing qualities to rejuvenate and improve your health. Some say that when you drink it, it purifies your body. If you wash your face and hands, it will improve your skin and take a few years off your age. Making tea and using it to cook food will also have remarkable effects.

Continue on and you will get to Tąpadła. You will find ample parking space and several small bars serving refreshments as well as a small picnic area. The walk up from here is ideal at about 45-minutes and is perfect for families with young children. The trail is well organized with around 7 stops on the way providing information about the fauna and flora. As you approach the top you will see a few old graves from German times and as you walk onto the summit you will easily find the viewing area which offer panoramic views of Mietków reservoir and the larger mountains further south. Go inside the PTTK (Polish touristic centre) for refreshments and look out for the locally produced beer: Piwo Sobótka Górka which takes the ancient sculpture of a bear as its logo.
The only disappointment is the lack of an expected great view of Wrocław. For this you’ll need to visit the smaller and lesser known, neighbouring mountain of Radunia – also accessable from Tąpadła on the other side of the road. If you have time, check it out as it also has a couple of other interesting things such as a disused ski-lift and a 19th century German plaque.

And finally, for those of you who enjoy driving, you can actually go all the way round Ślęża by turning right after Tąpadła and following the road around. Great views and a great drive. Once you do the loop, you can park near the hotel and walk up to the pretty decent line-park if you fancy some monkey business.
If you haven’t visited yet, this is a convenient and interesting place to go for a day trip with much more to offer than you may first think.

Written by: Terry Clark-Ward

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