With its forested hills, “Swiss-style” castles and villas, and medieval towns, Lower Silesia looks like a fairy-tale corner of old Germany “hidden in plain sight” in the heart of modern Europe. , says Magdalena Miecznicka in the FT.
Its quaint charm and quiet beauty are the result of a complex history. Largely German and Austrian since the end of the Middle Ages, it was incorporated into Prussia in 1742 and then ceded to Poland in 1945. Decades of relative poverty and neglect followed, which helped preserve its old buildings and wild places. In recent times, the arty of Warsaw and Berlin have moved there or taken second homes, but it is still little visited, and more enchanting for that.
Arriving here from the dull plains around Warsaw is like stepping into a different world. First comes the beautiful former regional capital, Wrocław, then south of the Oder River the landscape begins to crumple and the population becomes sparse.
Your first stop could be Sokołowsko – or Görbersdorf, as it was once called – a village of “rare beauty” where tall modernist villas are dwarfed by the neo-Gothic towers of a 19th-century tuberculosis sanatorium, the first in Europe. Director Krzysztof Kieslowski grew up here and his archives are housed at Villa Rosa, now a boutique hotel and meeting place for artists.
From there, it’s easy to cross the Czech border to Adršpach, a municipality famous for its turquoise lake and thousands of spectacular spiers of natural sandstone; from there you can return to Poland, to the mountain spa town of Miedzygórze, where there are several arts and crafts guest houses, including the pleasant Villa Titina.
Nearby is Kłodzko, a “stunning” medieval hill; you can visit the 16th century Château de Sarny, now a hotel that hosts concerts and literary events; and Osówka, where you can see the remains of Project Riese, an extensive network of Nazi-built tunnels whose destination has been lost to history.