Ojcowski Park Narodowy
Ojcowski National Park
Ojców National Park, the smallest national park in terms of surface area in Poland, hides extraordinary geological, natural and cultural richness. Established in 1956, it protected the Valley of Prądnik and the Sąspowska Valley, as well as several small gorges.
The importance of this area was already appreciated by the 19th century, undoubtedly thanks to its close proximity to Kraków. The fairy-tale character of the landscape formed by steep-sided canyons, jutting rock pinnacles and groups of monadnocks came as the happy result of destructive water activity. Jurassic limestone rocks are quickly eroded by rain and this process, repeated for millions of years, resulted in astounding forms. The most spectacular is the Prądnik Valley - a gallery of karst works - which is endowed with tall rocks of fanciful shapes, karst springs and a cornucopia of caves (approximately 400). A characteristic microclimate has evolved in the valleys carved by water. The climatic conditions combined with the substratum’s rich diversity gave rise to the abundant floral resources that are a feature here. Over a thousand vascular plants, half of all species occurring in Poland, have been recorded here. Among the most interesting species here is the lady’s-slipper orchid, known as the “common obuwnik” in Polish and which, despite its name, is not very common, and mother-of-thyme, which grows only here in Poland. In terms of fauna, bats are the most popular inhabitants of the park. Out of 21 species living in Poland, 17 of them have been spotted here. A bat’s iconic silhouette has been included in the park’s logo.