– known as the cultural center and green lungs of the Chrzanów County. Its natural and landscape values, numerous outdoor events, interesting monuments, extensive sports and recreational infrastructure, as well as proximity to Kraków and Katowice and tourist centers such as Oświęcim, Zator and Wadowice makes it perfect place to live, invest and relax for the weekend. Fans of active recreation will find in the Municiaplity many opportunities to spend their free time travelling through a perfectly prepared network of cycling and hiking routes.
The Municipality has a very favorable location. It is situated at an equal distance from two large urban agglomerations: of Kraków (approx. 38 km) and Katowice (approx. 40 km), as well as near Zator (approx. 8.5 km), Oświęcim (approx. 22 km) and Wadowice (27 km), which is especially conducive to weekend recreation. It has a good road connection with the A4 motorway. Two very important provincial roads run through the Municipality: No. 780 betwen Kraków and Chełm Śląski and No. 781 between Chrzanów and Łękawica. It consists of 7 villages: Babice, Jankowice, Mętków, Olszyny, Rozkochów, Wygiełzów and Zagórze, where everyone will find many attractive places worthy of a visit.
The Lipowiec Reseve and Castle. Fot. S. Urbaniak
SPORTS AND RECREATION
Numerous interesting places and extensive infrastructure encourage recreation and physical activity. Those who are passionate about jogging, Nordic hiking and cycling will find here perfectly prepared cross-country trails, cycling and hiking paths that do not require significant fitness preparation.
Włosień Recreation Center. Fot. B. Oravecz
The following routes run through the area of the Babice Municipality:
a. The Babice Loop - blue route, 29.6 km long,
b. Two Castles - black route between Lipowiec and Rudno with a total length of approx. 20 km
c. Greenways - green route, 34.5 km long,
d. Greenways - blue route, 11 km long,
e. Vistula Cycling Route - running on a section of approx. 15 km through the Babice Municipality, currently leading from Brzeszcze through Oświęcim to the Babice Municipality: from Mętków, through Jankowice to Rozkochów,
f. EuroVelo R4 – a 4,000 km route connecting Roscoff in Brittany, France, with Kiev in Ukraine,
g. Skansen (approx. 8.7 km) and Grodzisko cycling routes (approx. 8.8 km) - a red route running along the most important tourist attractions of the Municipality, connecting with other routes, including the VCR.
View of the Vistula Cycling Rout. Fot. R. Niebieszczański
Hiking and cycling route
running through Mętków, where the Church of Our Lady of Częstochowa in Mętków is situated, forming partof the International Pilgrimage Route - St’ Mary’s Trail between Częstochowa and Mariazell, connecting all shrines to the Virgin Mary from Częstochowa through the Chrzanów County, to Levoca in Slovakia and Mariazell in Austria.
a. John Paul II Jurassic Valleys - yellow route, route: Tęczyn Castle – Rudno - Grojec – Alwernia – Regulice – Lipowiec Castle – Bukowica Reserve – Chrzanów, length: 32.4 km
b. Lipowiec - green route: Lipowiec Castle – Wygiełzów – Bukowica Reserve, length: 5.9 km
c. educational and recreational path „Mysteries of the Grodzisko Mountain”, beginning in Wygiełzów with a length of 2.3 km.
Outdoor gyms located in each village of the Municipality are conducive to physical activity.
Relaxation with a fishing rod is made possible by the angling centre established in Rozkochów around the Ostrówek pond and the Vistula Oxbow Lake extended with a gravel excavation site, as well as the Błaszkowiec fish ponds, fishing ground in Zagórz and the "Włosień" Recreation Center.
Education and recreational path "Mysteries of the Grodzisko Mountain".
The following areas of natural value are distinguished within the Babice Municipality: the Rudno Landscape Park, Tenczynek Landscape Park, which are part of the Jurassic Landscape Parks and the Natura 2000 site of Lower Skawa River Valley.
Thanks to the outstanding natural values found in the municipality, two nature reserves were established:
Lipowiec and Bukowica. They were established in order to preserve a natural fragment of the Carpathian beech forest.
The Bukowica Reserve is a landscape and forest nature reserve, located in the Chrzanów Forest District in the Babice Municipality, within the Tenczynek Landscape Park. The protected Bukowica Mountain (361 m above sea level) forms part of the Tenczynek Ridge. The reserve of 22.76 ha was established in 1987 to protect the natural Carpathian beech forest and the Triassic limestone outcrop, which is several meters long. The reserve features closed quarries and a picturesque boulder pit. The border between the beech forest and the surrounding pine forest is clearly visible in the reserve. An outcrop, which is a rock wall made up of Triassic limestone is an attraction of the reserve. Numerous openings of small caves can be seen in the rock outcrops. The beech stands found in the reserve can be up to 170 years old and more than 31 m high. Approximately 100 years old sycamore, larch and pine trees are also found in the reserve. Presence of of 171 species of vascular plants has been confirmed for the Bukowica Reserve of which 13 species (including 6 species of orchids) are subject to complete protection. Protected plants such as the martagon lily, broad-leaved helleborine, stiff clubmoss, snowdrop and bird’s-nest orchid can be found in the reserve.
Natural attractions in this reserve include rare blooming specimens of the common ivy, which climb pine trees to a height of 5 - 10 m. The beech forest in Bukowica also features a relatively rich flora of mosses and liverworts.
Bukowica Reserve - a rocky outcrop. Fot. R. Matyskiel
Lipowiec Reserve - with an area of 10.80 ha, established by the Ordinance of the Minister of Forestry and Wood Industry of November 25, 1959 in order to preserve a natural fragment of the Carpathian beech forest growing on the Tenczynek Ridge of the Kraków Upland. Perfectly preserved ruins of the Lipowiec castle are found within the reserve. One of the most valuable representatives of the flora of the Lipowiec nature reserve is the small-leaved helleborine, which is threatened with extinction. In the interwar period, in 1926, Professor Pawłowski discovered the stand of this very rare orchid species. Lipowiec Reserve was the first and for a long time the only known site of this plant in Poland. In order to protect this plant, a protected area was established as early as 1933, followed by a reserve established on the Lipowiec hill in 1959. The southern side of the reserve hill is covered with thermophile beech forests and the northern side with Carpathian beech forests.
The age of the beech forests found in the Lipowiec nature reserve, called the Black Forest by the residents of the Municipality, ranges from 120 to 160 years. Tree species such as pine, elm and elderberry can be also found here, and as many as 24 protected species of vascular plants and 11 species of mosses form the groundcover. In the reserve there are populations of at least 36 protected animal species.
The Lipowiec reserve includes stands of (list incomplete): broad blucker-fern, purple toothwort, germander speedwell, mezereum, common ivy, martagon lily, European columbine, coralroot bittercress, branched St Bernard’s-lily, baneberry, bastard balm, lady’s-slipper orchid, early coralfoot, red helleborine, sword-leaved helleborine and white helleborine.
Lipowiec nature reserve. Fot. T. Walczyk
Forests - the natural wealth of the Municipality. Forests cover approximately 40% of its surface area and offer an excellent place for walking, mushroom picking or relaxing in the nature.
The Mętków Forest is an interesting place in natural terms, and its ecosystem is characterized by uniqueness, fabulousness and mystery. It is located below the Tenczynek Ridge in the direction of the Vistula basin. The forest range grows on loess soils and fluvioglacial sands. It is little appreciated and known by the Municipality residents, and it is a place for hiking and cycling, mainly along the road from Mętków to Babice.
The Mętków Forest. Fot. R. Matyskiel
The wooded and unforested area with land under cultivation and meadows covers 1911 hectares. It repre-sents 35% of the Municipality surface area. Forest habitats are prevalent with a predominance of coniferous species (71%), the rest is occupied by deciduous forests. The contribution of forest-forming species is as follows: pine - 74%, birch - 15%, beech - 5%, oak - 2.5%, alder - 2.5%, maple, elm, linden, ash, hornbeam, black locust, aspen, poplar, willow all constitute approx. 1 %.
Szare Bagno - rarely visited and difficult to reach forest of the Babice Municipality, criss-crossed with numerous streams, watercourses and ditches. The numerous beaver dams, swamps, quagmires, bogs and sinkholes make this area difficult to access for mushroom pickers, hikers and tourists. Two types of forest can be found here: humid and riparian forest.
Interesting and undiscovered places for group hikes are the post-mining sinkholes, peat bogs, spring areas on the border of the Szare Bagno and the areas of Przyborowe, Osetne, Spyrowe, Grabina, Zakarczenica, Stawy Mętków. New habitats of rare bird species have appeared, such as the water rail, a spotted crake, Eurasian bittern (listed in the Polish Red Data Book), little ringed plover, common moorhen, common snipe and crane.
The Szare Bagno. Fot. R. Matyskiel
An attractive area of the Babice Municipality in ornithological terms are the fish ponds and lakes between Rozkochów and Jankowice, as well as the oxbow lake of the Vistula river. This area has been partially included in the Natura 2000 Site Lower Skawa River Valley. At least 17 species of birds from Annex I of the Birds Directive and 7 species listed in the Polish Red Data Book are found here. The valley is one of Poland’s most important refuges for the black-crowned night heron and the little bittern, both listed in the Polish Red Data Book. This area also has a great local importance for the whiskered tern (listed in the Polish Red Data Book) and the common tern, whose broods are very irregular. Significant breeding Polish populations of such birds as the greylag goose, little ringed plover, Caspian seagull have been recorded in the area. The Błaszkowiec Pond in Rozkochów is a habitat for mallard ducks, northern shoveler, common pochard, garganey, Eurasian teal and tufted duck. It is the feeding ground for the white and grey heron. Długie and Okrągłe Lake and the Ostrówek Pond are breeding sites for the black headed gull, common tern and mute swan.
The Natura 2000 Site Lower Skawa River Valley. Fot. R. Matyskiel
CULTURE AND SIGHTS
The Babice Municipality is also a center of cultural events of the Chrzanów County, held, among others, at the Lipowiec Castle and the Wygiełzów open-air museum, addressed to a wide audience.
One of the largest outdoor events is the „Ziemniaczysko” organized by the „Partnerstwo na Jurze”
Local Action Group on the first Sunday of September. The event is a festival of culture, traditions, tastes, crafts and resources of Western Lesser Poland under the tourist product brand name „Chrzanolandia”.
The tradition of this event is the tasting of potatoes in Cabański style, referred to as roasted potatoes in the Babice Municipality and prepared by the local rural housewives’ associations. The event is also accompanied by performances of well-known cabarets and music bands. Lovers of tradition and regional cuisine will find something for themselves during the annual Municipal Harvest Festival or traditional „Wianki”.
The Witches and Hags Convention is an event dedicated to entire families, organized in the atmosphere of magic and witchcraft - taken lightly. The event is accompanied by a fair, which is a meeting of artists and craftsmen from the Lesser Poland and Silesia, presenting and selling their products, combined with workshops for children and adults.
The Witches' Convention at the Lipowiec Castle. Fot. GOKiS Babice
THE MUSEUM - THE NADWIŚLAŃSKI ETHNOGRAPHIC PARK IN WYGIEŁZÓW AND LIPOWIEC CASTLE
We invite everyone willing to learn about life and customs prevailing in the 18th and 19th century to the Museum - the Nadwiślański Ethnographic Park in Wygiełzów and Lipowiec Castle, established in 1968 in order to gather, preserve and make examples of wooden construction characteristic of Western Małopolska available to visitors. Houses with straw or shingle roofs showcase the life and work of the population of the 18th and 19th century. Facilities waiting to be explored include a country homestead with a residential house connected with a barn, a stable, a barn and a granary, a mayor’s cottage, a forge, an oil mill, and an inn from the village of Minoga. One of the most interesting objects in the open-air museum is a church moved from Ryczów, dating from the 17th century, and a wooden bell tower from Nowa Góra from 1778.
View of the open-air museum. Fot. S. Urbaniak
A great complement to the appearance of the villages and towns at that time is the reconstructed wooden manor from Droginia, erected by Adam Jordan in approx. 1730.
Manor house from Droginia. Fot. S. Urbaniak
Museum – apart from scientific and conservation work, the Nadwiślański Ethnographic Park in Wygiełzów and the Lipowiec Castle deals with the popularization of folk culture through diverse animation activities, which include museum lessons and workshops.
Every year, the open-air museum hosts the International Festival of Organ and Chamber Music, as well as a number of other interesting events, such as „Pod czerwoną jarzębiną” church fair, ETNOmania Festival, the „Po krakowsku” Ceremonial Group Review, „Przy chłopskim stole” Regional Food Competition and Night at the Museum.
THE LIPOWIEC CASTLE
Enthusiasts of history and others alike will be interested in the perfectly preserved ruins of the Lipowiec Castle, which hide many interesting stories. It is an example of medieval defensive construction and it was built at the end of the 13th century on a high limestone hill. In the old days, it served as a prison in which people under clerical jurisdiction of the Diocese of Krakow were held. In addition to the clergy held esponsible for breaking the canon law, propagators and supporters of the reformation spreading in Poland were also imprisoned here. Maciej of Ropczyce was imprisoned in Lipowiec in 1526, while Franciszek Stankar, professor at the Academy of Cracow, well-known religious reformer, follower of Zwingle, co-author of a wonderful translation of the Bible called Brzeska was sent here in 1550. The oldest parts of the gatehouse is the well forged in solid rock, which provided fresh drinking water necessary for the survival of the castle inhabitants and a round stone tower, which at the time was designed to constitute a uniform defense system. Thanks to this, Lipowiec was able to act as a border castle and a watchtower controlling the old trade route leading from Kraków to Silesia. A dangerous fire broke out in 1629, destroying a large part of the castle. Due to the poor condition of the buildings, the castle ceased to be the seat of bishops, and this role was taken over by the manor built at the foot of the hill. In 1655, during the invasion of Swedish troops, the fortress failed to defend itself against a modern army, as a result of which a long period of collapse began. Two years later, the Swedes retreated from Lipowiec and burned the fortress down. It was not until the 18th century that the castle was rebuilt, adaptin it to the place of retreat and the house of improvement for priests.
Residential rooms intended for clergymen who perform retreats or penance here are located on the first floor, next to the prison cells. The second floor of the castle featured solely bishop’s apartments. In 1789, the Austrian Partition took over the property together with the castle for the benefit of the state treasury, which over time passed into the hands of private owners, slowly falling into disrepair. The Lipowiec Castle was recognized as a historic building in the mid-fifties of the 20th century. Secured in the form of a permanent ruin, it was adapted for tourist purposes. At present, the Castle is part of the Nadwiślański Ethnographic Park open-air museum in Wygiełzów, and its cultural and landscape values attract a significant number of tourists.
The Lipowiec Castle. Fot. S. Urbaniak
The Lipowiec Castle. Fot. S. Urbaniak
THE PARISH CHURCH IN BABICE
A visit to the Babice Municipality can not go without the monuments of sacral architecture. The most famous one is the parish church in Babice featuring richly decorated interiors. The exact date of construction of the church in Babice remains unknown. The first mention of the church in Babice dates from the ca. 1337 - 1358.
The parish church in Babice. Fot. S. Urbaniak
THE PARISH CHURCH IN MĘTKÓW
The second interesting sacral object in the Babice commune is the larch church of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Mętków from the 17th century, with which Karol Wojtyła is associated. It was transferred to Mętków from Niegowić between 1972 - 1974, and its consecration on May 1, 1974 was performed by Cardinal Karol Wojtyła, the metropolitan of Kraków at that time, who had performed the role of vicar there in the period between 1948 and 1949. The Parish Church of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Mętków is an element of the Wooden Architecture Route, presenting the architectural diversity of wooden buildings in the Lesser Poland Voivodeship, thus being one of the most valuable sacred buildings in the Chrzanów County. Every year, papal concerts are held with the participation of such celebrities as: Alicja Majewska, Małgorzata Walewska, ZAKOPOWER and other renowned pop and opera musicians. The Trail of Papal Sites on the Chrzanów Land also begins in Mętków near the church.
The parish church in Mętków. Fot. R. Niebieszczański