Lower Silesia is located in the south-western part of Poland and is part of the historic land of Silesia. Its important advantage is, in the context of tourism, economy and trade, the fact that the southern and western parts of the region are at the same time the state border. In the Sudety Mountains is the boundary with the Czech Republic and along the river Nysa Poland borders with Germany.
Lower Silesia’s other neighbors are: from the north – the Lubusz and Wielkopolska provinces, and from the east – the Opole province.
The Lower Silesian province was formed as a result of a the local government reform undertaken in Poland in 1999. This is when, among others, the number of provinces was reduced to 16, and the province of Lower Silesia was created from a combination of the provinces of Jelenia Góra, Legnica, Wałbrzych and Wrocław, as well as seven municipalities that before the reform were part of the province of Kalisz.
Dolnośląskie covers an area of nearly 20 thousand square kilometers, which is about 6.3 per cent of Poland. Comparing these data with other regions it can be seen that Lower Silesia, in terms of area, is relatively high, in the seventh place in the country.
Another advantage of the region is its urbanization. It is estimated that the urban population accounts for over 42 percent residents of Lower Silesia. In addition, the distribution of villages is characterized by lower fragmentation than in other parts of the country. The Lower Silesian Province has, according to the Central Statistical Office of mid-2014 – 2,908,500. residents.
Wrocław – the magnet
Speaking of Lower Silesia, much attention should be paid to the region's capital – Wrocław. The city was founded in the tenth century, and for many centuries it has been a strong economic and cultural center. According to official data, Wrocław has more than 630 thousand. residents, but in fact, there are plenty more, because it is a university center. Students are indeed an invaluable asset of Wrocław.
The role that Wrocław and its people have played in the history of Poland could be long to write. It is worthwhile to mention that as early as in the tenth century the city was (next to Sandomierz and Kraków), one of the centers of power of the Polish Kingdom.
In 1241 Wrocław played a significant role in the defense of Poland against the invasion of the Mongols, and in 1270, near the city, in the Book of Henryków the first-ever sentence in Polish was written. Over the years, the power over the city was changing – Wroclaw was Polish, Czech or under the rule of the Habsburg monarchy.
The Lower Silesia and Wrocław became permanently Polish at the Potsdam Conference in 1945. After 1990 Wrocław noted success after another. Both in terms of economy, tourism, and image. Several years ago, the city authorities focused their efforts on actions making Wrocław a thriving center of IT industry. They succeeded to such an extent that already there are voices that the local market of modern technology is sufficiently saturated. Success of Wrocław in the IT made other Polish cities copy this development strategy. Katowice, Lublin and Białystok want to become IT centers.
History and the copper city
Lower Silesia is not only the thriving Wroclaw, but also other important cities of the region. Jelenia Góra (over 80,000 inhabitants) has the status of a county town today and – apart from Wrocław – is one of the strategic centers of the Lower Silesian province. It is a historic city, whose origins date back to the year 1108, the time of the establishment of a Slavic settlement. Today Jelenia Góra is widely known for its many architectural monuments and the Jelfa company. It is a modern manufacturer of pharmaceuticals (the country's largest manufacturer of ointments and one of the largest in terms of hormonal and cardiac drugs), dating back to the interwar period. After World War II Jelfa functioned as a state company, and in 2006 was successfully privatized and is part of the corporation Valeant Pharmaceuticals International.
Legnica (over 100 thousand inhabitants) is another strong urban center in Lower Silesia. Legnica’s undoubted advantage is that it is situated in the heart of the copper basin. The biggest employers in the city are: transport company Pol-Miedź Trans (part of the KGHM copper group), Winding Wires Factory “Patelec Elpena” or the Legnica Copper Smelter.
Speaking of Legnica, we have to mention LGOM (Legnica-Głogów Copper District) – an industrial area covering five counties. LGOM is one of the world's largest copper mining areas.
Wałbrzych (over 100 thousand. Inhabitants) is the center of the Wałbrzych agglomeration that brings together local, urban municipalities. Wałbrzych has a history as rich as Wrocław, Legnica and Jelenia Góra, but it is well known for its industry. More specifically – for the coal mines (Julia, Victoria and Wałbrzych) operating here for many years,. Today, Wałbrzych is a city still known for mining tradition – the Wałbrzych Coke Plant “Victoria” is at work here.
Wałbrzych mines were closed in the 1990s. 20 thousand people lost their jobs – in mining and the cooperating industries. High unemployment was a headache for the city until the establishment of the Special Economic Zone “Invest-Park” in 1997. Then Wałbrzych began attracting companies such as Toyota and Cersanit. Further factories appearing here have created favorable conditions for the development of companies cooperating and supplying larger plants.
The renowned Financial Times observed recently that the Wałbrzych zone deserves the fourth place among the zones in Europe. In addition, the authors of the FT special report recommended it to small and medium-sized enterprises.
Not only labor
Lower Silesia is commonly associated with heavy industry, old mines in Wałbrzych and modern technologies in Wrocław. For several years, the regional authorities have also put strong emphasis on promoting the region in terms of tourism. They have the right conditions, because the Lower Silesia is one of the most attractive and beautiful regions in Europe.
Lower Silesia can be visited in different ways, following a variety of criteria. You can e.g. choose castles, for which this region is famous. These are palaces and fortresses, whose history dates back to the time of the Piast dynasty and the beginnings of the Polish state, and later buildings. Each has witnessed many a war, siege, and sometimes even raid of the local population, which cast out knights - robbers from the castle.
Guides recommend everyone to see e.g. the Bolków Castle (reportedly the Amber Room was hidden here), Książ (the largest castle in the region), Overwater Castle in Wojnowice (brick with a small moat, now a hotel) and Czocha Castle (owned by Piast, Czechs, Saxons and Germans).
It is also worthwhile to go underground and look at, among others, the Osówka complex (the remains of one of the last Third Reich projects), a coal mine in Nowa Ruda (visited by an underground railway), a gold mine in Zloty Stok (established in 1510). and the Museum of Industry and Technology in Wałbrzych (in the closed “Julia” mine).
It's hard to even talk about the Lower Silesia without mentioning the Sudety Mountains, and more specifically the highest range of the Sudety – the Karkonosze (the highest peak of the mountains is Śnieżka – 1602 m). This is, on the one hand, a wild, attracting land, on the other – mountains relatively easily accessible from the picturesque parts, attracting many tourists.
Karkonosze is the perfect place for hiking the mountain trails, for skiing, as well as for those who prefer rural tourism.
Analyzing the Lower Silesia region's tourist attractions and leisure activities one cannot forget about the most important sights and attractions of the regional capital Wrocław: the Racławice Panorama (a huge historical painting), the Centennial Hall (the first in the world modernist building of reinforced concrete), the Market Square (one of the symbols of the city) and the Cathedral Island (the oldest part of the city, until the nineteenth century, an island on the Odra).
To drive, to ride and to fly
There are no problems with going to Lower Silesia or transport of goods. The Nicolaus Copernicus Wrocław Airport has in its network, among others, flights to Warsaw, Frankfurt, Munich, Bristol, London, Copenhagen, Paris or Rome. The airport is located approx. 12 km from the city center, there is no problem with getting to the train or bus station.
The Lower Silesian rail network is one of the densest in Poland and the infrastructure is constantly in use (the provincial government has its own transport company servicing local routes). Lower Silesia is easily accessible from any part of Poland. Wrocław has a direct train to almost every largest city in the country, as well as to Hamburg and Berlin. In addition, other cities in the region are reached by trains from Gorlitz, among others. The railway has also good connections with the Lower Silesian spas – Polanica, Duszniki, Kudowa Zdrój and Szklarska Poręba.
Due to the extensive road infrastructure, many other Polish regions are looking with envy at Lower Silesia. The A4 motorway passes through the province (from the border with Germany to the border with Ukraine), as well as a number of roads to Poznań, Warsaw and Opole, among others. The region also has a convenient road connection with Berlin or Prague.
Compared to other provinces, Lower Silesia is also distinguished by a waterway. It is the route on the Odra River, from Racibórz (Upper Silesia) to the mouth at the Bay of Szczecin. Thanks to the Odra-Havel channel, the waterway extends to Berlin and further – to Rotterdam.