In the Świętokrzyskie region, the ancient and misty past comes together with the present day, united by technology. Our distant forebears left us sites with clear traces of their copper-ore mining, sandstone cutting and iron smelting in the region and the evidence of human ingenuity continues, via the monuments of the great industrial age, to the metal and other industries which thrive there today. The fertile lands of the region have also been farmed since time immemorial and contemporary Świętokrzyskie is home to small farms employing traditional methods and thoroughly modern agricultural holdings alike. What makes Świętokrzyskie so special is that all of this inventive diligence has always been employed amidst magnificent natural surroundings.
When it comes to landscape, the geographical location of Kielce makes it one of the best situated regional capitals in Poland. Outstanding views, unique, karst landforms, mountain ranges and glorious forests number amongst the city’s and region’s most important natural attributes. There are five nature reserves in various districts of Kielce itself; four of them protect geological features and one is devoted to a forest landscape.
The region also encompasses nine landscapes parks. Amongst the mountains protected by the Świętokrzyskie (Holy Cross) National Park is the highest range of the oldest mountains in Europe, the Świętokrzyskie Mountains. Known as the Łysogóry (Bald Mountains), the range includes the summits of Łysica (Bald Pate), at six hundred and twelve metres above sea level, Agata, at six hundred and eight metres and Łysa Góra (Bald Mountain, also known as Holy Cross Mountain), at five hundred and ninety-five metres.
The National Park also embraces the priceless remains of our ancestors’ early technological endeavours and includes a museum where the ancient techniques of iron smelting can still be seen in action. The region’s religious sites stretch back over the centuries, as well. Łysa Góra was the site of a pagan cult. Later, the most prized of the ancient architectural sites within the Park was built on that same mountain; a Benedictine monastery, which was most probably erected in the eleventh or twelfth century.
Kielce is situated on the crossroads of a number of national transport routes. With a history stretching back over nine hundred years, it, too, unites past and present. It serves as the departure point for those tracing the region’s technological heritage in the Staropolska (Old Polish) Industrial Region. The city is home to some fascinating historical architecture, such as the Summer Palace of the Bishops of Krakow, a splendid Baroque cathedral and the picturesque and variegated Stary Rynek (Market Square), for instance. There is an aeroclub less than ten kilometres to the north-east, in the Commune of Masłów.
Spreading across several hills and a high escarpment from which a splendid view over the Vistula valley spreads forth, the town of Sandomierz boasts more than one hundred and twenty outstanding architectural monuments, most of them dating from the Middle Ages.
On a hill of Devonian rock, the ruins of the Royal Castle loom over the town of Chęciny. A typical upland fortress, it is divided into two parts; the castle proper, with its cylindrical towers and the lower castle, which once housed the stronghold’s domestic offices and storerooms.