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Pustynia Błędowska

Błędowska Desert

Pustynia Błędowska

Klucze Tourist region: Jura Krakowsko-Częstochowska

Błędowska Desert is the largest site of shifting sands in Central Europe (area of approx. 33 km2), located on the border of the Silesian Upland and the Olkusz Upland. Natural and geographical site unique on a European scale, the Błędowska Desert is also called the "Polish Sahara".

The surface of the desert stretching from Błędów in the west to Klucze in the east and Chechło in the north is divided by the valley of the Biała Przemsza river. The average thickness of sand is 40 m (maximum up to 70 m). The sands were deposited here by melting glaciers 2–3 million years ago. Back then, the area was covered with forests that were logged in the Middle Ages. The demand for timber soared in the 18th century, along with development of silver mining and metallurgy. This revealed loose post-glacial sands and initiated new natural processes, e.g., the formation of typical desert dunes with valuable psammophilous grasslands. Since the 1960s, the desert had been forested with long-leaved violet willow. In order to protect this valuable natural landscape, forestation was abandoned in 1994. The desert is overgrown with thermophilic plants and willow bushes, pines and silver birches. Rare plant species include the stemless carline thistle, the umbellate wintergreen and the Iceland moss. In springtime, the spring cinquefoil blossoms here, and at the beginning of the summer, pink wild thyme covers the desert, along with goldmoss stonecrop and maiden pink. The Biała Przemsza Valley has the greatest diversity of species; it divides the Błędowska Desert into its northern and southern parts.

The desert is located within the boundaries of the Eagles' Nests Landscape Park and is partially covered by special protection. It is one of the biggest tourist attractions of the Olkusz land. The desert area can be admired from the viewpoints:  Czubatka Hill, 355 m a.s.l. (Klucze), Dąbrówka Hill, 382 m a.s.l. (Chechło), and Compass Rose (Róża Wiatrów) (from the side of the Klucze-Bolesław road). The desert is crossed by the 28.5 km long yellow hiking PTTK Desert Trail, connecting Błędów with Ryczów, as well as the orange Cross Jurassic Horse Riding Trail and several educational trails.

Some scenes for the 1965 film ‘Pharaoh’ were shot here; it was directed by Jerzy Kawalerowicz and based on Bolesław Prus’ novel.


Desert Legend

The Olkusz miners dug the mine’s shafts. They worked fervently extracting zinc and lead ore and also silver. As we all know, hell is beneath us and heaven is above us. The miners were making a lot of noise, banging and knocking over the devils’ heads. This made them angry and they decided to put an end to it, especially that they believed silver to be their property; one of them decided to fly to the sea shore with a big bag and to bring sand. On the way back, the bag got hooked against the tower of the church in Klucze; it was torn apart and huge amounts of sand were spilled across the area.

(Tomasz Lamorski, ‘Przewodnik po ścieżkach dydaktycznych. Murawy napiaskowe wśród wydm i drzew’)

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