Lower Silesia is situated in south-west Poland and borders on Germany and the Czech Republic. The region is distinctive in the diversity of its landscapes, which include a number of unique features. It also has a wealth of remarkable historical sites and is known for its long tradition of filmmaking, which is now primarily associated with such film institutions as Odra-Film and the ATM Studio in Wrocław.
The landscapes of Lower Silesia include the Karkonosze mountain range and the unique Stołowe (Table) Mountains in the south, both with national park status. Then there are the valleys of rivers such as the Odra and the Barycz, the Milicz Ponds and uplands of various altitudes. The Karkonosze National Park boasts not only stunning waterfalls, cliffs and precipices, but also bogs abundant with unique flora on the flat peaks. As its name suggests, the Stołowe Mountains National Park protects tablelands of exquisite beauty, rising in fissured strata of sandstone tiers. The mountains abound in spots which are the stuff of fairy tale and legend and the Errant Rocks, a rocky labyrinth stretching over twenty hectares, is one of the most mystic and magical of them all. More outstanding landscapes are provided by the Lower Silesian Wilderness, a vast swathe of forest.
The region has more than ninety cities, of which Wrocław, Legnica, Wałbrzych, and Jelenia Góra are the largest. Wrocław boasts the country’s largest agglomeration of sacred buildings, displaying the Gothic architecture of mediaeval Poland and a town hall which is considered to be one of the most impressive mediaeval structures in Europe. The city stands on the banks of five rivers, the longest of which is Odra, and has more than one hundred and twenty bridges and other crossings.
At different times over the centuries, Lower Silesia was part of Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria and Germany and its rich architectural diversity reflects this heritage. The region’s most famous sites include the Cistercian monasteries in Lubiąż, Henryków, and Trzebnica and the Churches of Peace in Jawor and Świdnica. It also encompasses the country’s largest concentration of castles and palaces, dating back to every era from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century. The castles of Chojnik, Książ, and Bolków are a must for every visitor, as are the palaces situated in the unique Valley of Palaces and Gardens in Jelenia Góra. In turn, the military history of the region is represented by the fortresses of Kłodzko and Srebrna Góra and, in the vicinity of Walim and Głuszyca, the ‘underground city’ of halls and corridors carved into the rock and used by the Nazis to house their underground armament factories. Modern times, on the other hand, are represented by post-industrial nineteenth and twentieth century architecture, the twentieth century modernist architecture of buildings such as the Centennial Hall in Wrocław and post-communist ‘monuments’ such as the residential districts built between 1945 and 1989 for the USSR troops stationed in Poland.
The remarkable diversity of Lower Silesia’s natural landscapes and the footprints left by human history in the region mean that it has already furnished excellent shooting locations for more than four hundred and fifty Polish films, the best known of which include Andrzej Wajda’s Popiół i diament (Ashes and Diamonds) and Wojciech J. Has’ Rękopis znaleziony w Saragossie (The Saragossa Manuscript), as well as numerous foreign productions such as Peter Greenway’s Nightwatching and Andrew Adamson’s The Chronicles of Narnia.