Click CTRL – to diminish Click CTRL – to diminish Click CTRL + to enlarge Click CTRL + to enlarge
Panorama of the Table Mountains visible from the summit of Mount Szczeliniec Wielki (photo by Sebastian R. Bielak)
Panorama of the Table Mountains visible from the top of Mount Szczeliniec Wielki (photo by S. Bielak)

The Table Mountains – a geologic unique in Poland

The Table Mountains are located in south-western Poland and as a middle part of the Sudeten Mountains they stretch on the borderland of Poland and the Czech Republic. This mountain range is 28 miles (45 km) long, several miles (a dozen or so kilometers) wide and consists of four smaller mountain chains. On Polish side the prime and the most popular are the Specific Table Mountains with acreage of 24 square miles (63 km2), protected as a whole by the Table Mountains National Park. Here is located the highest peak of the range which is Mount Szczeliniec Wielki rising 3013 feet a.s.l. (919 m a.s.l.). In turn, the most charming fragments of Czech Table Mountains are Adrspach-Teplice Rocks and Broumov Walls. The Table Mountains are the only mountain chain in Poland and one of very few in Europe that is characterized by a slab structure with particular layers of rocks laying almost perfectly flat one on another. These rocks are build of marls and jointed sandstones, however the name of sandstones comes from numerous and vertical cracks present in this type of rock. As a result of erosion these cracks are still widening and converting into splits which cause that huge rock massifs finally crumble into smaller blocks. Particular layers of marls and sandstones are put together alternately so they create a few stage structure (in form of a plateau) in which the upper level of rocks is strongly jointed and weathered. As from far distance this plateau is flat as a table it has become the origin of the Table Mountains’ name.

Long Passage is a very interesting fragment of famous rock maze called the Wandering Rocks (photo by Sebastian R. Bielak)
Long Passage is a fragment of famous rock maze called the Wandering Rocks (photo by S. R. Bielak)

Mysterious world of the Rock Towns

Great tourist attraction of the Table Mountains, connected to their unusual geological structure, are the Rock Towns. They are big aggregations of rocks where among sandstone blocks, which are a hundred or more feet (several dozens of meters) high, there is so many splits, narrow passages and alleys that they remind real mazes. Rock Towns occur both on Polish and Czech side of the Table Mountains and the most famous are: the Wandering Rocks (situated close to the Skalniak Rock), the Rock Maze on the summit of Mount Szczeliniec Wielki and a maze called Skalni Mesto in the Adrspach-Teplice Rocks. Now the Wandering Rocks are protected as a wildlife refuge with acreage of 50 acres (over 20 ha) but several centuries ago it was a heavily guarded customs point located between the Klodzko County and the Czech Kingdom. In the Table Mountains there are also another forms of rock relief, which are the result of still active erosion. These are single rocks with fantastic shape of mushrooms, spires and gates. The most numerous aggregations of such rocks on Polish side of the mountains occur in north-eastern and southern part of the Table Mountains National Park. Great natural values of these mountains have been confirmed by presence of one national park, one Nature 2000 area and several dozens of wildlife refuges protecting fauna, flora and landscapes on both sides of Polish-Czech borderline.

Spa park in Duszniki-Zdroj, in the background the sanatorium Jan Kazimierz (photo by Sebastian R. Bielak)
Spa park in Duszniki-Zdroj, in the background the sanatorium Jan Kazimierz (photo by S. R. Bielak)

Tourists and health resorts of the Table Mountains

Picturesque landscapes and unusual rock formations occurring in the Table Mountains have been drawing people’s attention for a long time. Thanks to that, at the end of the seventeenth century, local tourism has begun to develop. Real impulse for intensive bloom of local villages and small towns was the discovery of underground mineral water springs located at the mountains’ base. Healing features of these waters and popularity of natural therapeutics have allowed some small local towns to transform into official health resorts. Nowadays, curative use of mineral waters does not play such a big role like several centuries ago but tourism in the Table Mountains is still developing with about 400 000 tourists visiting this region each year. Except hiking on trails most of guests also visit local health resorts among which the most popular are: Kudowa, Duszniki and Polanica. In all these towns there are well-kept spa parks, historic buildings and numerous springs with devices designed for drinking mineral water, e.g. “Jan Kazimierz”, “Pieniawa Chopina”, “Sniadecki” and “Wielka Pieniawa”. Local underground mineral waters are mainly acidic calcium-bicarbonate waters containing many rare elements, including beryllium, manganese and nickel.