Jelenia Góra

Jelenia Gora Travel Blog

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Rynek

Jelenia Góra is a small town in the far Southwest of Lower Silesia. Its name is Hirschberg in German, Jelenia Góra in Polish – an exact translation of the same name, which means “stag mountain”. Hence the stag in the town’s coat of arms. It is the gateway to the famous Karkonosze (Riesengebirge) mountains. Its surroundings include the Valley of Palaces, where noble and rich people built their summer palaces in the 19thcentury. All this must be beautiful to visit. However, I only had a few hours and no car, so I focused on the town itself. To me, the main attraction was the Church of Grace, one of the seven churches that the Habsburg rulers permitted to be built in Silesia after 1709. It is a fantastic example what Lutheran church architects can do.

Town hall and the town's heraldic animal
The interior is jaw-droppingly beautiful. This church will be granted a separate blog entry to do it justice.

I am squeezing my report into this blog although I did not visit from Wrocław. In fact I came over for the day from the German side for the day, from Görlitz. In recent years a direct train connection has been re-established, so it is easy to hop over for the day. Direct trains run only every 3-4 hours, though, and connections to Zgorzelec on the Polish side are not too frequent either, so this needs some preplanning.

I caught the first direct train at seven something in the morning – luckily I was staying very close to the railway station in Görlitz – and arrived, after happily trying my Polish on the conductor (successfully) and a fellow passenger (with mixed success), in Jelenia Góra already at a quarter past nine.

Train from Görlitz
It was a cloudy day and the famous Karkonosze mountains remained invisible, only on the return journey I caught a glimpse of their silhouette in the distance. But it stayed dry for most of the day. The forecast had been much worse than the actual weather. Hence I still consider myself lucky.

The Lutheran Church of Grace is located halfway into town by the main street, so this was my first port of call. The church was to open at 10. There is loads to see around it, though, not only the sculptures and epitaphs on its walls but most of all the former cemetery. Burial chapels of the town’s leading families are lined up along its wall. The time until the church opened was thus well filled.

After seeing the church, I continued walking into the centre.

Jelenia Góra station
Jelenia Góra is one of those typical small towns in Silesia. The old town has a more or less oval outline. Its centre is the rectangular main square (Rynek) with the town hall and a block of houses in the middle. The main parish church is not in Rynek but in its own square off its corner. Walls and ramparts surrounded the town, of which some leftovers are preserved.

The walk from the train station into town is really easy, all you have to do is follow ul. 1 Maja (First of May Street) straight into the centre. It leads past the Church of Grace, then transforms into a pedestrian zone with many shops. Through Wojanowska gate it enters the old town. The medieval town gate has been substituted by a baroque one in the 18thcentury. The round tower next to it is a remain of the medieval fortification, as well as the small chapel of Saint Anna next to it.

Jelenia Góra station
The little church has a baroque interior – as people were gathering to pray the rosary, I could not take photos inside, though.

Rynek, the main square, is just a short walk ahead. The square is surrounded by the gables of the wealthy citizens’ townhouses. Facades date from the late 17thand 18thcentury – reconstructed after damage in World War II, though. They all have arcades along the ground floor, so there is a covered passage round the whole square (and plenty of photo options). Shops and restaurants are hidden underneath. Benches and flower beds give it an inviting look. A pleasant spot to hang out.

The middle of the square is occupied by the town hall, a baroque building from the 1740s. It substituted an older predecessor which had collapsed.

On the way to the Church of Grace
Inscriptions in Latin refer to the legendary foundation of the town in the year 1108 by a certain duke named Bolesław, nicknamed Krzywousty (Wrymouth) – poor fellow. The adjacent so-called “Seven Houses” (they’re really seven) have been occupied by the municipal administration about 100 years ago.

An old tram in the square, now hosting a souvenir shop, is a reminder of those times when trams rattled through the narrow streets of the old town.

The tourist information office is located in the southwestern corner of the square. A map of the town and a leaflet with a self-guided walking tour and detailed explanations of the sights can be obtained there for free.

Jelenia Góra is prepared for tourists. There are restaurants with outdoor seating, souvenir shops, stalls selling pottery from Bolesławiec, boards with explanations of the sights in four languages.

Former Lutheran Church of Grace
However, on this October day it was rather calm. Cafes and restaurants were almost empty. I heard a lot of German in the streets, though. The town gets is share of day visitors from across the borders. In summer as well as during winter ski season it will certainly be much busier.

The western end of the old town has two historical towers, once part of the 15thcentury town fortifications. While Baszta Grodzka has been turned into a residential house and can be seen from the outside only, Baszta Zamkowa, the “Castle Tower”, is open to visitors. The tower is open from 10 a.m. to late afternoon, the hour of closure depends on the season. Entry is free. There are neither guards nor tickets, you simply walk in and climb the stairs. The stairs are newly built from very solid and trustworthy looking timber.

Burial chapels in the cemetery round the Lutheran church
I was hesitant at first because I suffer from fear of heights, but despite being semi-transparent due to lack of risers, they were easily doable for me. Inside the tower, each stair is just half a round to cover one storey, then there is a solid platform before the next stair begins. Thus no scary depths underneath.

The tower has two viewing platforms, or rather galleries. The first one is no higher than the roofs of the surrounding houses and the view is limited. The upper gallery rises above the rooftops and offers a nice view over the old town and the suburbs, over the surrounding hills and, in theory also to the Karkonosze mountains, as I guess from the signs that explain the panorama. Low clouds deprived me of the mountain view, so I can only assume that they are there.

Streetview with the orthodox chapel

Returning into town, I arrived just in time for a quick look into the main catholic church, the large Basilica of Saint Erasmus and Pankratius (Bazylika świętego Erazma i świętego Pankracego). They close at midday for one hour between 1 and 2 p.m. A convent is attached to the church, and one of the nuns is there to keep guard and explain the church to visitors. There was too little time left, though. I had considered to return in the afternoon and test my language skills (ha, ha), but in the end I opted for the museum instead – more below.

The church is a gothic basilica from the 14thcentury with a tall steeple that dominates the town’s skyline together with the tower of the city hall. Its interior has been refurbished in the 18thcentury and equipped with new altarpieces, pulpit and organ.

Town centre
The Lutheran Church of Grace was already finished, and the Jesuits, who were in charge of the catholic parish church, clearly had some ambition to compete with them. The main altar in particular has been designed and ornated with all possible splendour.

Since I was alone and all restaurants looked rather deserted, I did not go for lunch but had a break on a bench in Rynek, eating and drinking from the supplies in my rucksack. In the meantime the clouds had lifted and a bit of sunshine appeared. The wombats and I took some more photos in Rynek and enjoyed observing a gang of sparrows roaming the square.

As the next train back to Görlitz was only due some three hours later, the afternoon had to be filled. Studying the map of the town and the distances, I chose Muzeum Karkonoskie, a museum about the history and culture of the town and surrounding area.

Baroque house
It is outside the centre, about 15 or 20 minutes walk from Rynek. More about the museum in a separate review.

The walk leads along the ring road that surrounds the old town first, then through residential streets. These parts of the town have come through the war remarkably well. The streets are lined with villas and townhouses from the late 19thand early 20thcentury. There is a remarkable amount of art nouveau architecture in Jelenia Góra (the museum just had an exhibition on this, in fact), including the theatre building. 

vulindlela says:
Seems like a nice small town to visit!
Posted on: Oct 31, 2017
jacobi says:
Nice blog Kathrin
Posted on: Oct 17, 2017
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Rynek
Rynek
Town hall and the towns heraldic …
Town hall and the town's heraldic…
Train from Görlitz
Train from Görlitz
Jelenia Góra station
Jelenia Góra station
Jelenia Góra station
Jelenia Góra station
On the way to the Church of Grace
On the way to the Church of Grace
Former Lutheran Church of Grace
Former Lutheran Church of Grace
Burial chapels in the cemetery rou…
Burial chapels in the cemetery ro…
Streetview with the orthodox chapel
Streetview with the orthodox chapel
Town centre
Town centre
Baroque house
Baroque house
Church of St Anna and Wojanowska T…
Church of St Anna and Wojanowska …
Wojanowska Gate
Wojanowska Gate
In the centre
In the centre
Seen on a house
Seen on a house
The flag with the stag
The flag with the stag
Historical and modern architecture…
Historical and modern architectur…
Houses in Rynek
Houses in Rynek
The old tram, now a souvenir shop
The old tram, now a souvenir shop
Colours...
Colours...
Polish eagle on the tower of the t…
Polish eagle on the tower of the …
Rynek
Rynek
Neptun fountain in Rynek
Neptun fountain in Rynek
Inscription on the town hall, refe…
Inscription on the town hall, ref…
Town hall
Town hall
Baszta Grodzka
Baszta Grodzka
Baszta Zamkowa
Baszta Zamkowa
Stag sculpture
Stag sculpture
Panoramic view from Baszta Zamkowa
Panoramic view from Baszta Zamkowa
Arcades in Rynek
Arcades in Rynek
Restaurant underneath the arcades
Restaurant underneath the arcades
Under the arcades
Under the arcades
Rynek
Rynek
Catholic Church of Saint Erasmus a…
Catholic Church of Saint Erasmus …
Streetview
Streetview
Street in a corner of Rynek
Street in a corner of Rynek
Grocery shop
Grocery shop
Houses in Rynek
Houses in Rynek
Rynek in afternoon sunlight
Rynek in afternoon sunlight
Jeleniogorskie wróbly
Jeleniogorskie wróbly
Takeoff
Takeoff
Town hall
Town hall
Sculpture on a corner of the town …
Sculpture on a corner of the town…
Little Venice Bridge of Sighs betw…
Little Venice Bridge of Sighs bet…
Side street in the centre
Side street in the centre
Streetview with bus
Streetview with bus
19th century houses
19th century houses
19th century houses
19th century houses
Signs to the Valley of Palaces
Signs to the Valley of Palaces
A quuiet residential street with h…
A quuiet residential street with …
Muzeum Karkonosze
Muzeum Karkonosze
Late 19th century villa
Late 19th century villa
Theatre
Theatre
Streetview
Streetview
With a renovation these houses cou…
With a renovation these houses co…
Europa statue
Europa statue
Panoramic view from the train
Panoramic view from the train
Jelenia Gora Sights & Attractions review
Muzeum Karkonoskie in Jelenia Góra
Muzeum Karkonoskie is a museum about the history and culture of Jelenia Góra and the surrounding area, the landscape of Riesengebirge or Karkonosze m… read entire review
Jelenia Gora Sights & Attractions review
Baszta Zamkowa – Castle Tower
The western end of the old town has two historical towers, once part of the 15th century town fortifications. While Baszta Grodzka has been turned int… read entire review
Jelenia Gora Sights & Attractions review
Basilica of Saint Erasmus and Pankratius
The large Basilica of Saint Erasmus and Pankratius (Bazylika świętego Erazma i świętego Pankracego) is the main Roman-Catholic parish church of th… read entire review
Jelenia Gora General Tips & Advice review
Euro Nisa Ticket
Euro Nisa (Euro-Neiße) ticket is a day pass for all local transport in the triangle where Poland, Germany and the Czech Republic are bordering. It co… read entire review
Jelenia Gora Sights & Attractions review
The Cemetery and Burial Chapels: Where Hirschberg’s Upper 10,000 were buried
The cemetery around Church of Grace, the formerly Lutheran church, is not active any more. The grounds have been transformed into a public park, acces… read entire review
Jelenia Gora Sights & Attractions review
Jaw-Dropping Lutheran Baroque: Church of Grace in Jelenia Góra
Protestant churches are all bland and simple? Come on! No, they’re not… One of the most remarkable examples of Lutheran baroque church architectur… read entire review
Jelenia Gora
photo by: Kathrin_E