Święty Krzyż with former Benedictine monastery, where the relics of the Holy Cross are kept, lies at the heart of Świętokrzyskie mountains. The place, in pagan times, became famous in oral traditions – witches’ Sabbaths were supposedly taking place at the local Bald Mountain. The City of Sandomierz is, next to Kielce, the capital of the voivodeship with the historic Castle Hill and the Palace of the Krakow Bishops, the greatest city of the region with royal castle, the old urban layout and many valuable religious monuments.
The city is well known to viewers of the popular television series “Father Matthew” because the shots were taken in the very City of Sandomierz. While visiting the land of Świętokrzyskie, seeing one of the most impressive monuments, which is Krzyżtopór castle in Ujazd built in the first half of the seventeenth century, is a must. It was designed in the fashions of a calendar ? had as many windows as there are days in the year, as many chambers as weeks, so many great halls as months and as many towers as the seasons. Today, the castle is a permanent ruin, recently restored, which still impresses with its monumental beauty, becoming the scenery of numerous tournaments and demonstrations of knights fighting. In the ruins of the royal castle in Chęciny, which dates from the fourteenth century, one can come across the spirit of Queen Bona. Some shots to Colonel Wolodyjowski movie, directed by Jerzy Hoffman, were taken in this charming town. One of the major attractions of Świętokrzyskie is also a fourteenth-century palace complex in Kurozwęki.
Today, thanks to the efforts of the descendants of former owners, it is a vibrant tourist destination, famous for its American bison breeding ground, unique in Poland, and Europe’s largest corn maze, which has a different shape every year. The real jewel of the region is the Raj Cave, an amazing creation of nature – a complex of tunnels and chambers decorated with hundreds of stalagmites, stalactites, stalagmite and stalactite forming one column of various shapes and forms. The millennial oak Bartek is growing near Kielce, in Zagnańsk, a still living monument of nature, though supported by a number of specialised treatments to secure one of the oldest trees in Poland and to prolong its life. According to legends, Polish kings, such as Bolesław III Wrymouth, Casimir the Great or John III Sobieski rested under the branches of the Bartek oak. JuraPark Baltow, one of the biggest theme parks, where one can admire the models of prehistoric animals made in accordance with the standards in force in palaeontology, is very popular among tourists.
The tourist complex of Baltow is, not accidently, the first theme park in the country devoted to dinosaurs. The idea for such an initiative appeared in connection with the discovery of 150-million-years-old dinosaurs? footprints in this area. In recent years, the Świętokrzyskie Mountains have become a place ideal for snow sports enthusiasts from the central lowland Poland. There are nearly 20 ski lifts in the Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship. Most slopes are quite mild, suitable for both beginners and advanced, and are just perfect for family skiing recreation. The slopes are covered with artificial snow, are illuminated, thanks to which one can enjoy winter activities late into the night. The slopes are also provided with ski equipment rentals, ski schools, and artificial ice rinks. There are also hotel facilities of different standard and prices situated nearby. In the City of Kielce, the capital of the region, there are two centres, Telegraf and Stadion Kielce, attractive because of the proximity to the city centre, their picturesque location surrounded by greenery and tranquillity.
Szwajcaria Bałtowska ski station is the biggest year-round tourist complex in Poland, and Sabat Krajno resort lies at the foothills of Bald Mountain, the highest peak in the Świętokrzyskie Mountains. The outstanding writer Stefan Żeromski, who came from the Kielce region, used to ski in the area. There are also popular resorts in Niestachów, Tumlin Sport Ski, a resort in Bodzentyn and Konary Slope, “the youngest” lift situated in Klimontów located near the Krzyżtopór castle. The offer of active recreation also involves organised canoeing, such as on the Nida River. The canoeing traditions in Ponidzie date back to the fifties of the twentieth century and the trail was blazed by Melchior Wańkowicz. The well-known Polish writer and reporter was a big fan of canoeing – in the fifties, he participated in a canoeing trip along this very route ? on the Wierna River and the Górna Nida to Pinczów. Contact with nature and proximity to nature are unique here as the river is not so besieged by tourists yet as the more popular waterways in the Mazurian Lake District. There are three landscape parks and several nature reserves in the valley of the river. The attraction is a fairly large population of beavers in the area.
The Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship is one of the regions with the highest number of agritourist farms with very diverse offer. Holiday-makers from the country and abroad are provided with not only cheap accommodation, but also with a range of additional activities, such as horseback riding and handicraft activities. You can also look for peace and tranquillity away from the hustle and bustle of civilization at places like Pustelnia Złotego Lasu in Rytwiany, located in the former Camaldolese monastery from the early seventeenth century. The well-known Polish series “Black Clouds” was shot here. Hermit cottages, where one can relax and look for spiritual balance based on silence, contemplation, and solitude, are currently waiting for tourists with these extraordinary needs.
Świętokrzyskie is a paradise for gourmets: Dzionie, Kasioki, Byki, Pasternocek, Spyrok, Kurozwęcki Pate, Pokrzywianka, Bomby, Sośniak or Bzówka have nothing to do with the mass production of food, standardised aromas or flavours. Each of these dishes, often with a very original name, has its own history and tradition handed down from generation to generation. The specific features also stem from the natural environment, the use of local crop varieties and animal breeds. The dishes, varied and nutritious, made with ingredients produced in own farms or picked in forests, are an integral part of the rich regional culinary heritage. Spa and health-related tourism is an industry, which will continue to rapidly grow in the Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship. Thanks to its high potential, this sector gained the status of the so-called smart specialisation next to construction, metal-casting industry and modern agriculture and food processing. Undoubtedly, sulphurous waters of a very high concentration of minerals are the strength of the region. Diseases of locomotive organs, nervous system, gynaecological diseases, heavy metal poisoning, rheumatic diseases and orthopaedic traumas are treated here, among other. The Busko-Zdrój spa is planning to implement innovative treatments for musculoskeletal disorders using stem cells, as well as a wider range of oncological rehabilitation. Excellent commercial offer of relaxation stays complements the specialised medical activity.
The land of Świętokrzyskie is also the area with the oldest industrial tradition in the country, especially in the northern part of the voivodeship, as evidenced by, among others, Blast Furnace Museum in Starachowice of the nineteenth century. The ancient mines used to operate here, such as a striped flint mine in Krzemionki Opatowskie. While Dymarki Świętokrzyskie, a very popular event for many years, reminds us that the ancient and medieval bloomery metallurgy of Świętokrzyskie used the iron ore. The voivovideship, however, has not lost its leadership position in the mining of minerals to date – it is now one of the leaders in mining of rock and mineral resources: carbonate rocks, gypsum, refractory quartzite, shale, glass sands, sulphur and limestone. The marble of Kielce was mined from the sixteenth century and used by the Italian masters in ornaments of churches, castles and mansions – including the Royal Castle in Warsaw.