The Lower Silesian Voivodeship (Polish: Województwo dolnośląskie) is
located in south-western Poland and borders on the Greater Poland and
Lubusz Voivodeships to the north, the Opole Voivodeship to the east, the
Czech Republic to the south and Germany to the west. Lower Silesia is
one of the most culturally rich regions in Europe, where different
cultures have mixed over the centuries. Lower Silesia is characterized
by the Silesian lowlands on the Oder in the north and by the mountains
and hills of the Sudetes in the south. The capital and largest city is
the university town of Wroclaw in the north-east of the voivodeship.
Apart from the capital, there are two other major cities, Wałbrzych and
In this region you will find numerous brick Gothic and Baroque churches, fortified towers and castles and beautiful pond landscapes. There are good water sports opportunities (kayaks, swimming, sailing, diving) at the reservoirs, the Militsch lakes and the numerous mountain rivers. The kayak route along the Glatzer Neisse is very varied. Hikers and winter sports enthusiasts get their money's worth in the Giant Mountains, which reach an altitude of over 1,600 meters in the voivodeship area with the Sněžka. The other mountain ranges of the Sudetes are also interesting hiking and winter sports areas. The hilly foothills of the Sudeten, for example the Zobten Mountains, have their own charm. In particular, the provincial capital Wroclaw offers an interesting cultural program. With its numerous castles and palaces, the Hirschberg valley is a unique cultural landscape in Europe.
In the south are the Sudetes with the mountain ranges of the Giant Mountains, the Jizera Mountains, the Heuscheu Mountains and the Glatzer Bergland. In the north lies the valley of the Oder.
The Lower Silesian Voivodeship was part of the Great Moravian Empire at the time. From about 990 it belonged to Poland and from 1138 it was part of the Polish Seniorate as a part of the Principality of Silesia. In the 14th century almost all areas of Lower Silesia, which were further ruled by the Silesian Piasts, came under Bohemian fiefdom and in the 16th century to the Habsburgs. After the Silesian Wars, Lower Silesia became Prussian.
In the area of today's Lower Silesian Voivodeship, a significant German-speaking population settled before the First World War, arising from the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation and the time as the Prussian province of Lower Silesia. After the Lower Silesian part of the former German eastern territories was retained by the German Reich after the First World War, this, among other things, went under Polish administration after the Second World War as part of the westward shift of Poland. The population historically settled there fled from the Red Army or was expelled and replaced mainly by Poles, who in turn were expelled from the eastern Polish territories. Today's Lower Silesian Voivodeship was formed in 1999 from the areas of four old Voivodeships.
Polish is the official and colloquial language.
In Lower Silesia, a mixed dialect, which developed from various East Polish dialects, is spoken. The younger Poles speak English at the same high level as the Germans or Austrians. German, French, Spanish and Italian are spoken sporadically.
The name possibly comes from the prehistorically significant cult
mountain Ślęża (Latin: Silensi, German: Zobtenberg). According to other
theories, the Slavic Slensanen or the Germanic Silingen gave their name.
The name Lower Silesia is confusing at first, because the area has
higher peaks with the Sudetes than Upper Silesia with the West Beskids.
In fact, however, Lower Silesia lies downstream of the Oder from the
point of view of Upper Silesia. The name Lower Silesia is therefore
justified, even if southern Lower Silesia is significantly higher than
the Silesian Plateau in Upper Silesia.
Most of the region is made up of historical Lower Silesia, the original capital of which was Wroclaw. In the west, small parts of Upper Lusatia also belong to the Lower Silesian Voivodeship. Parts of the north are in historical Wielkopolska and the Glatzer Ländchen in the south was part of historical Bohemia. On the other hand, parts of historical Lower Silesia are now in the Voivodeships of Opole, Lubusz and, to a small extent, Greater Poland, Saxony and the Czech Republic.
The voivodeship has a share of the Milicz lakes in the north-east.
Most of the Lower Silesian Heath is located in the north-west of the voivodeship.
The Oder Valley, which runs through the voivodeship in the north and north-east, makes up the majority of the Silesian Plain.
To the south of the Oder Valley is the hilly foothills of the Sudeten Mountains, which stretch as far as Opole.
The voivodeship shares the Sudetes in the south, which are very popular with winter sports enthusiasts and hikers, especially on the Sudetes Main Hiking Trail (part of the Polish-Czech Friendship Trail in the Krkonoše Mountains). On the Polish side of the Sudetes, there are these mountainous regions in the Lower Silesian Voivodeship:
The Giant Mountains with its cirque lakes, waterfalls, rock formations and high moors is the highest and most famous mountain range that is also protected in the Giant Mountains National Park.
The Jizera Mountains with their high moors and abandoned villages are the western extension of the Giant Mountains.
The Bober-Katzbach Mountains adjoin the Giant Mountains in the north-west and are surrounded by the Bober and the Katzbach.
The Landeshuter Kamm is located north-east of the Giant Mountains and is known for its bizarre rock formations. Its western part is also known as the Falcon Mountains.
The bizarre Heuscheuergebirge is located at the transition to Glatzer Ländchen and its rugged rock labyrinths are also protected in the Heuscheuergebirge National Park.
The Eulengebirge impresses with its blaze of color in autumn. It is known for the World War II project Riese.
The Zobten Mountains lie in front of the main ridge of the Sudetes to the north and are within sight of Breslau. The historically significant Zobtenberg is said to have given Silesia its name.
The Rabengebirge joins the Riesengebirge in the east. Here is the beautiful baroque Grüssau Monastery
The Waldenburger Bergland is the eastern extension of the Rabengebirge. Here is the Fürstenstein Castle, one of the largest, most magnificent and most beautifully situated castles in Europe.
The Wartha Mountains are characterized by the picturesque breakthrough of the Glatzer Neisse near Bardo.
The Eagle Mountains nat with Zieleniec one of the most important winter sports areas of the Sudetes in Glatzer Ländchen. The mountains are located on the Polish-Czech border.
The Habelschwerdter Mountains are the south-eastern extension of the Eagle Mountains. There are some nice shelters on the alpine pastures.
The Reichenstein Mountains are located in the border triangle of Opole and Moravia. Gold has been mined here in the mountain streams since the Middle Ages.
The Bielen Mountains are located in the border triangle of Bohemia and Moravia. In Lądek-Zdrój there is treatment and in Stronie Śląskie skiing.
The Śnieżka Mountains are known for the Big Śnieżka Mountain, the stalactite cave at Kletno and the waterfall at Międzygórze.