Twenty years ago Walbrzych was not a particularly popular destination for the casual visitor - and for a good reason. Ironically, while the city’s name translates directly as 'Forest Mountain', it was hailed as one of the most polluted urban centres in Poland, violating dozens of World Health Organization regulations. What's worse, this once historic and majestic city was becoming too industrialized even for its citizens, let alone visitors, offering only the usual post-war greyness and the murkiness of factories. Today, however, Walbrzych is a completely new city. Having closed the infamous coalmines and implemented new pollution policies, the city has undergone a process of re-establishing itself. Clean, healthy, tourist friendly, and most notably “green,” Walbrzych has finally stood up for its name.
Walbrzych is located in a large valley, the city itself being inhabited by about 130,000 people. Founded near the spring of a highly mineralised water source, the city was intended to become a health resort. The curative properties of the Walbrzych stream began to disappear around the 17th century, when numerous coalmines were opened in the region. As a consequence, in the 19th and 20th century the pollution of the city became too evident to be ignored. However, in the 1990's the city launched a successful action to restore its status as a centre of health. Nowadays, Walbrzych is one of the “greenest” cities in the region, boasting over 50 km of marked tourist routes leading through seven parks and several of the forest areas that surround the town. What’s more, Walbrzych is a proud owner of a unique Palm House, which houses about 80 species of tropical plants.
Walbrzych is situated in the south-western part of Poland, in the Lower Silesian Voivodship. The areas surrounding the city belong to the central part of the Sudety Mountains and have clear views of the Walbrzyskie Mountains. The city is in a densely forested valley, with several mountain streams flowing through it, most notably the Pelcznica River. The setting provides numerous opportunities for relaxation in the open – particularly popular are hiking, climbing, cycling and camping in the forest. Located near the borders with the Czech Republic (17 km) and Germany (120 km), Walbrzych, apart from a holiday destination, can be used as a base for further exploration of Europe. The best way to drive to Walbrzych is on the A4 highway or national road No.35, which intersects the city on its way to the Czech Republic.
The first records mentioning Walbrzych indicate that the city already existed by the 12th century, on what was once the site of a small Slavic settlement constructed on a hill near the Pelcznica Valley. Early in its life the city of Waldenburg (the original name) was nicknamed Wallenberg, which meant 'the place of pilgrimages'. Indeed, pilgrimages were quite popular to the region, mainly due to its famous springs of highly mineralised water located near the town. Between the 12th and 14th centur... ( more >>)