Can a real desert be found in the middle of Europe?
Yes, apart from limestone rocks, cold dark caves, picturesque valleys, and deep green forests, Polish Jura has also its own, unique desert…
The name Bledowska Desert came from the village of Bledow (today part of Dabrowa Gornicza City). The desert occupies the area of ca. 32 km2 (ca. 12 sq. miles) between Bledow, Olkusz, and Klucze. It is the largest “desert” or better-said accumulation of sand in Central Europe. In Poland, you may hear its nickname: “Polish Sahara” :-).
How Bledowska Desert was created?
The high amount of sand in this area was deposited thousands of years ago by a melting glacier. Its forehead, after long, long journey south, stopped around the area of Czestochowa. The glacier brought tones of sand collected on its way from the north. But the Bledowska Desert is not a completely natural creation. We may refer to it as a result of human activity. Activity, which lowered the water table in the area to such a degree, that the ground could no longer support plant life. At the beginning of the Middle Ages, local miners cleared in really extend and aggressive way the forests around Klucze, Boleslaw, and Olkusz.
Of course, this what scientists have to say about the events… According to the local legends the roots of this wonderful natural phenomenon are completely different… You can read more about it here.
The Bledowska Desert was and is still used for military purposes. During the Second World War, when Poland was under Nazi occupation the German Afrika Korps used this area to train soldiers and to test equipment before deployment in Africa.
But the first confirmed military activity over this desert took place already in 1864, during one of the Polish uprisings (Poland lost independence in the 1795 and till the 1918 this part of the country was under Russian occupation). According to the reports of Italian squad, volunteers from so-called Garibaldi Legion participating in the fights, the soldiers even experienced the phenomenon of mirage there…
Today you may find the NATO troops, especially paratroopers, practicing their fights’ techniques and strategies there.
Can the Bledowska Desert be visited?
Generally, it is not possible to enter the Bledowska Desert or better said to have unlimited access to its vast area. However, there are some viewpoints and the areas where tourists may enter and experience this wonderful nature’s phenomenon.
There are three really good viewpoints that allow us to have a broader look over this magnificent land of sands. The first one is called Dabrowka and it is situated in the village of Chechlo. What’s interesting, Dabrowka is a part of the bunker from the times of the Second World War. Near Dabrowka point tourists have the possibility to enter the desert and try to make a short walk over sand; which is a rather difficult task.
The second viewpoint is situated in the village of Klucze over the hill called Czubatka (ca. 380 meters above sea level). If you have to choose one of the points, I would recommend Czubatka hill as it is higher and the view is better, especially during the evenings when you can observe magic sunsets over the desert.
The third viewpoint called “Roza Wiatrow” (“Compass Rose”) can be reached only by car from the road joining Hutki (village of Boleslaw) with the village of Klucze. This viewpoint is situated around one kilometer from Klucze. As it is the newest one, it is also accessible to handicapped tourists.
Whichever point you may chose, I think it is really worth visiting the Bledowska Desert. Where else can you find the real desert in the middle of the green area of forests, meadows and fields?