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Szlak samochodowy: Między jaskiniami i ostańcami

Car Trail: Between caves and monadnocks

Oświetlona sala w Jaskini Wierzchowskiej Górnej. Na dnie jaskini stalagmity.
Wierzchowie Tourist region: Jura Krakowsko-Częstochowska
Fancy a short trip from Kraków, during which you can see mysterious caves and picturesque limestone rocks rising above the valleys, peek into historic churches, and discover what Diabelski Most / the Devil’s Bridge) is and where Źródło Miłości / the Miłości Spring beats? We have an exciting route for you, ideal for a one-day adventure! There will be plentiful nature, interesting architecture and even a gladiator monument. Interested? Then read on!

Piktogram długość trasy 34 kilometres

Piktogram miejsce startu Wierzchów; a car park near the Wierzchowska Cave.

Piktogram dojazd along the bustling national road no. 94, linking Kraków (in the east) with Olkusz (in the west). From here, you'll need to make for the exit in Murownia, leading into the quaint Dziurawiec Street (marked by a furniture shop). After a brief journey of approximately 300 metres, you'll arrive at a marked car park.

Piktogram mapa 


Often, we journey to far-off lands in search of beautiful views and unique tourist attractions. Yet, sometimes, the most remarkable discoveries lie just a few kilometres beyond the city limits. This car route is one such hidden gem, offering not just a scenic drive but also serving as an excellent starting point for hiking in the area following the suggestions provided.

Three caves

You start the tour by visiting the first of the three caves you will find on the route. It takes about 10 minutes to get from the car park to the Wierzchowska Górna Cave. You should follow the signs in the area. This largest accessible cave in the Kraków-Częstochowa Jurassic Highland is open daily from May to October. During a 50-minute hike through the underground passageways, you will visit Hotelik / the Little Hotel, Sala Balowa / the Ballroom, and Sala Człowieka Pierwotnego / the Hall of Primordial Man.

Piktogram opcja wycieczki

While in the area, consider visiting picturesque the Kluczwody Valley. In the Middle Ages, a knight's watchtower stood on Mt Zamkowa, which rises over it. In more recent times, the valley was the borderline between the Russian and Austrian partitions, as evidenced by the reconstructed border posts.

It is about 1.5 kilometres from the cave to the valley. You need to walk 200 metres towards the centre of Wierzchów, then turn left into Słoneczna Street and follow it until the end (about one kilometre), where you turn right into Kluczwody Street. After 300 metres, you will find yourself at a tiny car park at the exit of the Kluczwody Valley.

You can continue your trip once you have explored the cave (and possibly the valley). When you reach road no. 94, turn left. Soon, you will pass the ruins of a lime kiln on your right. At the next crossroads, turn right to find yourself near the Łokietek Cave after passing through Czajowice.

Piktogram parkingA paid car park in a private area is at the end of the street.

It takes about 15 minutes from the parking area to get to the Łokietek Cave, also known as the Łokietek Grotto. Look for the signs of the blue trail and then the black trail marked along the path. According to legend, King Władysław Łokietek is said to have been hiding in the cave for six weeks after escaping from the army of King Wenceslas II of Bohemia. He was supposedly helped by a spider, which covered the entrance to the cave with a dense web, thus foiling his pursuers.

This is the largest cave in the Ojców National Park the smallest of Poland's national parks but extremely valuable in terms of nature.

Piktogram opcja wycieczki Suppose you want to get to know the area better. In that case, you can go on a hike lasting about 2 hours, allowing you to see many natural peculiarities and the spa development in Ojców.

From the crossing of trails at the Łokietek Grotto, one should follow the blue trail signs, which, after a quarter of an hour, lead to rocky Brama Krakowska / the Kraków Gate and the Prądnik Valley. From there, you head left, and after about half an hour, you reach the centre of Ojców, with the Natural History Museum and the ruins of the Knights’ Fortress. Return along the same route or take a shortcut using the black trail.

Piktogram czas przejścia about 1 ¾ hours

Piktogram mapa 


There is one more cave left for you to visit. Getting to it is as easy as the ones you have already explored. Go back to road no. 94, turn right, and after about 1 km, you will pass the 'Łokietek' Inn, behind which you must turn left, following the signpost indicating the way to the Nietoperzowa Cave, another kilometre away.

Piktogram parkingThe car park is just off the road, at the entrance to the cave.

The Nietoperzowa Cave owes its name to the numerous bats that inhabited it. Interestingly, their droppings were extracted and used as fertiliser. It is also worth knowing that the cave was the setting for making Jerzy Hoffman's 'With Fire and Sword' (you can read about other films shot in the region in the text ‘Filmowa Małopolska’). Admiring the dripstone waterfall and the giant vortex cauldrons, one can imagine our ancestors visiting this place thousands of years ago, as evidenced by finds excavated from the silt during archaeological work.

Local points of interest

You've already explored all the caves. Now, it is time for other attractions. After returning to road no. 94, you turn left and go west through the area of the Jerzmanowice-Przeginia Municipality. On this journey, you will be enchanted by views of numerous monadnocks, as the area is strewn with them. Smaller and larger ones, often of fanciful shapes, make the landscape extremely picturesque. In the 1990s, a meteorite fragment most probably hit one of the rocks. However, this mysterious event was followed by many theories about supernatural forces, including one about a visit from aliens. Interestingly, after the incident, as many as four triplets were born in nearby villages in quick succession as well as countless pairs of twins.

After passing a long straight and a slight curve to the right, you will pass the Hospital Church of St. John the Baptist, founded by a wealthy Kraków-based merchant, Jan Sroczyński, who emigrated from Jerzmanowice around 1645.

Sanctuary and calvary

Keeping to the national road, we pass through Gotkowice and Przeginia, where you will visit the Sanctuary of the Holiest Saviour. The first wooden church was built in Przeginia between 1325 and 1327. The temple owes its present shape to its reconstruction in the early 20th century. On the main altar is a miraculous painting of the Lord Jesus the Merciful, who, according to legend, was rescued from a burning church by a knight from nearby Sieniczno during battles on the borderlands in the 17th century. Carrying the painting, he returned home and placed it in a chapel in his native village. The fame of the painting prompted the Bishop of Kraków to move it to the church in Przeginia. The image of Jesus is painted on canvas, and a metal silver robe and a gold crown of thorns have been placed on it. The image is behind a veil, which features an image of St. Joseph with the baby Jesus.

Piktogram parking The car park is on the left-hand side of the road, right next to the church.

That was the last point on the road no. 94; now we take you on local routes. From the car park by the church, you backtrack about 250 metres to the junction you passed earlier and follow the signs leading to Paczółtowice and Krzeszowice, the destination of your further journey. Until recently, houses only stood within 300 metres of the national road. There are many more, with buildings stretching almost to the sharp descent to Czubrowice. It is hard to imagine today, but at the end of the 20th century, there were times when this section of the road was covered by several metres of snowdrifts, the road was impassable, and clearing it required snow loaders or a rotary plough.

In Czubrowice, the Czubrowice Calvary, built by the inhabitants, is worth a visit.

Piktogram parkingIt is best to leave your car in the car park near the road or drive between the buildings, following the local streets to the right. At the last houses, you can try to park on one of the forks, being careful not to obstruct the residents' access to their properties.

From the main road, follow the signs of the blue cycle trail. After crossing a pass on the creek near a property with a concrete fence, turn left and follow the barely visible path through a meadow to a hill about 150 metres away. On its slopes, the path is more visible, and you will easily reach the top where the last stations of the Czubrowice Calvary are located. Its creation was an utterly grassroots initiative. Initially, the stations of the Passion were marked by stones, then birch crosses, which were later replaced by stone figures. From the metal cross, there is an extensive view of the surrounding area.

Beautiful wooden churches

The journey continues further into the valley to the village of Racławice (not to be confused with the village of the same name near Miechów, on the fields of which the famous battle of Tadeusz Kościuszko took place). Here stands the wooden Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary dating from 1511. In the church, you can admire Gothic carpentry and furnishings from this period as well as Renaissance polychromy from the 17th century, depicting Marian and Passion scenes and images of saints.

Continuing along the Racławka stream, the road leaves its valley (there is a car park from where you can take a walk along the picturesque Racławka Valley towards the village of Dubie), and you enter the Krzeszowice municipality straight to the church in Paczółtowice.

Piktogram parkingJust behind the church, on the left side of the road stands the wooden.

Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, dating back to the 16th century. Legend has it that its origins are linked to an 'adventure' that befell the owner of the nearby village of Pisary. She was carrying an image of the Virgin Mary to her home chapel, and suddenly, her carriage stopped and refused to move on. The woman took this as a sign from God and founded a shrine on the spot, which houses an image of the Virgin and Child dating from the second half of the 15th century, standing in a meadow full of flowers and herbs. Locals believe that praying in front of it helps to ward off misfortunes and protects against extreme weather events as Mary wraps the area in her mantle.

There are also many other valuable Gothic and Baroque furnishings in the interior. Noteworthy are the 17th-century Baroque painting of Christ in the Mystical Winepress in the vestibule, the painting of St. Nicholas with wood-carved elements, and the sheet metal door leading from the presbytery to the sacristy.

To Diabelski Most / the Devil’s Bridge and Źródło Miłości / the Miłości Spring

A little further on, the main road leading to Krzeszowice turns left, but you continue straight ahead and after entering the forest you descend quite steeply to the Eliaszówka Valley. At the first crossing, you have to turn left at a 180-degree angle. Soon, you will pass the Chapel of St. Anthony and a little further on you will pass the Prophet Elijah’s Spring. This is the sign that you are already close to the Monastery of the Discalced Carmelites in Czerna (30 kilometres from the starting point). Clear signposts lead to it from the main road.

Piktogram parkingAn extensive car park is located within the monastery complex.

The Baroque church, which is the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Scapular and St. Rafał Kalinowski, was built in the first half of the 17th century and the furnishings come from this period. St. Rafał Kalinowski contributed to the spread of the cult of the image of Our Lady of the Scapular located here. In the area, attention is drawn to the grotto with the statue of Prophet Elijah, the well carved in the rock, the monastery cemetery, as well as the Stations of the Cross scattered on the slopes of the hill where there is a viewing place.

Czerna may be the last point of your trip, but we recommend you still go for a walk in the surroundings, using the yellow trail or the forest paths around the monastery. The decoration of the valley is made up of fragments of walls and ruins on its bottom and slopes, including the remains of Diabelski Most / the Devil’s Bridge, growing into the forest landscape. We should add that Prophet Elijah's Spring is called Źródło Miłości / the Miłości Spring, as visiting it ensures finding true love.

Gladiator Monument and other attractions

Another option is to continue along the valley through Czatkowice to nearby Krzeszowice (4 kilometres) to look at the park surrounding the Potocki Palace and Market Square, where the only gladiator monument in Poland stands.

Piktogram parkingA small car park is at the level of the church, on the right-hand side.

The local palace was built in the mid-19th century on the order of Countess Zofia Potocka. The building does not look inviting today, but it is worth walking in the surrounding park, climbing the hill on which it stands to look down on the Potocki estate.

To get to the park from the car park, turn right. On the other hand, if you want to get to the town centre, you need to cross the street and follow Parkowa Street, which starts at the church.

Krzeszowice used to have the status of a spa. For over 250 years, the local sulphide waters have been recognised as curative, with the first patients registered here as early as 1779. The spa tradition continues today.

In Market Square is the only gladiator statue in Poland. It is a copy of the monument located years ago at the Potocki Palace. The Vauxhall Palace recalls the town's spa past (at the exit of Doktora Walkowskiego Street), which was built in the second half of the 18th century as a spa house with playrooms.

There will certainly not be time to explore the area further. The Kraków Valleys has so many attractions that you must devote more days to discovering them. Another car route, also passing through Krzeszowice, can be of help in finding them, which we entitled ‘Kraków Valleys, castles and extinct volcanoes’. Though the title sounds intriguing, the reality is even more exciting. We encourage you to take a trip!

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