What is a Geopark?
A geopark is a coherent area that, in a sustainable manner, enhances the protection and utilization of geological heritage and promotes the economic well-being of the people living there.
In a geopark, the unique geological heritage serves as a pillar for promotion and development, but the geopark’s activities are not limited to the popularization of geology. The goal of the geopark is also the promotion of the natural and cultural heritage of the region and the improvement of the quality of life for the residents.
What a Geopark is not?
Even though the name “geopark” may suggest it, it is not:
- an area of nature protection (such as national parks, landscape parks, reserves). In geopark areas, there are no legal restrictions on economic activities, including extraction.
- an amusement park, e.g. dinopark.
- rock park
Who is behind this?
The creation of the Geopark in the Land of Extinct Volcanoes is a grassroots, collaborative initiative in which, for many years, the municipalities of the Kaczawskie Partnership, forest districts, local government institutions, non-governmental organizations, businesses, and residents have actively participated. Our goal is for the region to develop dynamically based on its heritage, landscape, tradition, and the potential of its residents.
The task of coordinating the Geopark has been entrusted to the Kaczawskie Association. The Association Local Action Group “Kaczawskie Partnership” plays a significant role in promoting and developing the region, as well as in creating the brand of the Land of Extinct Volcanoes. Both Associations carry out projects and programs related to heritage preservation and promotion, education, supporting community initiatives, and entrepreneurship development.
UNESCO Global Geoparks Network
UNESCO Global Geoparks Network consists of 169 geoparks in 44 countries worldwide. In Poland, there are currently two UNESCO Geoparks – the transboundary Łuk Mużakowa Geopark and the Świętokrzyski Geopark.
Membership in the Global Geoparks Network enables regions to continue their sustainable development, supports the preservation of geological heritage, facilitates the exchange of experiences and contacts with other geoparks around the world, and contributes to the promotion among domestic and international tourists.
Membership in the Global Geoparks Network carries the prestige of being a globally recognized UNESCO brand, but it is not associated with grants and additional funds.
Why Geopark in the Land of Extinct Volcanoes?
The Kaczawskie Mountains and Foothills region stands out among other regions in Poland due to its exceptional geological diversity, with particular interest in the rocks and hills that are remnants of three periods of volcanic activity. It is for this reason that the region is called the Land of Extinct Volcanoes.
Many residents identify with this name, and it is of increasing interest to a growing number of tourists. We base the promotion of our region on its geological heritage, ancient volcanoes, and the diversity of rocks and minerals found in the area. The most important thing, however, is that we have a strong partnership between local governments, forest districts, non-governmental organizations, and businesses, whose goal is to jointly and cohesively manage the region.
The benefits for the local community and businesses resulting from the establishment of a Geopark primarily include increased regional brand recognition, boosted tourism, and the prestige associated with being a part of the UNESCO network.
The Land of Extinct Volcanoes Geopark covers the region of
the Kaczawskie Mountains and Foothills.
Its total area is 1290 km².
Get to know our Geopark
Read what distinguishes us
The Land of Extinct Volcanoes is an informal but already established term for a part of Lower Silesia, located between Legnica, Jelenia Góra, and Strzegom, characterized by the presence of rocks of volcanic origin. Currently, we do not have active volcanoes in Poland, and the last volcanic eruptions in Polish lands occurred several million years ago. The geological record of volcanism, however, is very rich and spans about half a billion years, and it is most fully revealed in the Land of Extinct Volcanoes.
The volcanic rocks exposed in the Land of Extinct Volcanoes originate from three periods in the geological past. The oldest one occurred in the earliest periods of the Paleozoic era, 400-500 million years ago, and it had the characteristics of submarine volcanism. During that time, basaltic lavas were formed, which, during subsequent tectonic processes, transformed into greenstone rocks. However, in some places, they retained their original appearance, with a characteristic pillow-like structure.
The second volcanic period occurred in the early Permian period, approximately 300-280 million years ago. In the semi-desert landscape of that time, volcanic cones and lava flows formed, with typical rocks for this stage being rhyolites and trachybasalts. These are associated with the region’s typical agates.
The third period of volcanic activity occurred during the Paleogene to Neogene transition, covering the period from 35 to 15 million years ago. The characteristic rock for this period is basalt, and the remnants of ancient volcanoes, already eroded by later processes, are exposed former volcanic vents. Due to the high hardness of the solidified basaltic lava within them, they form hills called necks. For basalts, a typical feature is the regular columnar fracture system that forms during the cooling of the lava, which can be seen on numerous outcrops and in quarries.
The Land of Extinct Volcanoes does not align with a single geographic region, but encompasses areas that vary in terms of elevation, surface topography, forest cover, and land use. Its western part is situated in the Sudetes and is divided into the higher Kaczawskie Mountains to the south and the lower Kaczawskie Foothills to the north, with small areas being part of the Wałbrzych Foothills. The extreme northern and eastern parts are characterised by a flat to hilly terrain. The low hills to the east of Jawor belong to the Sudetic Foreland, while the remaining areas are part of the Silesian-Lusatian Lowland and to a small extent, the Silesian Lowland. Administratively, the Land of Extinct Volcanoes corresponds to the area formed by the municipalities associated with the ‘Local Action Group Kaczawskie Partnership’ Association. These include the municipalities of Bolków, Krotoszyce, Legnickie Pole, Męcinka, Mściwojów, Paszowice, Ruja, Wądroże Wielkie, Pielgrzymka, Świerzawa, Zagrodno, the rural municipality of Złotoryja, as well as the towns of Wojcieszów and Złotoryja. The town of Jawor, along with the municipality of Jeżów Sudecki, has also been included in the cooperation and has declared its accession to the establishment of the Land of Extinct Volcanoes Geopark.
It would be misleading to assume that the former volcanic phenomena are the sole attraction of the Land of Extinct Volcanoes and the only reason to visit it. Even the inanimate nature itself offers much more than just the heritage of volcanism, and this has found its fullest expression in the establishment of the Geopark. Here, you can find rock formations, caves, deep river gorges, explore the remarkable diversity of rocks and minerals, and also see tangible remnants of the age-old human utilization of Earth’s resources.
Equally captivating is the world of plants and animals, and the measure of its uniqueness is the establishment of the ‘Chełmy’ Landscape Park in the eastern part of the Kaczawskie Foothills and as many as ten nature reserves protecting unique forest communities. A significant portion of the Land of Extinct Volcanoes is protected within the Natura 2000 network.
The cultural heritage is also very rich and dates back to the early Middle Ages when settlements and strongholds were established in places with exceptional defensive qualities. The towns of Bolków, Jawor, Świerzawa, and Złotoryja are the richest in historical sites, with particular emphasis on the Protestant Church of Peace in Jawor. In 2001, it was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, which is the highest possible recognition for a man-made structure. The Benedictine Abbey in Legnickie Pole has the status of a Monument of History. The vast majority of settlements in the Land of Extinct Volcanoes were established in the late Middle Ages as linear farming villages or commercial settlements along transportation routes. Enduring remnants of this distant past include not only architectural landmarks but also the strip field layout, which is well-preserved in many places to this day. Almost every village can boast a medieval lineage of its local church, although their contemporary appearance is typically of a later date. When visiting them, it’s impossible not to notice the ornate stone epitaphs of the former owners. Unfortunately, fate has not been kind to many palaces and manors located in these villages. Some of them stand in ruins, awaiting owners who will restore their former splendor, while others have disappeared forever, and only the manor parks remain, sometimes with impressive monumental trees, serving as a reminder of their existence. In the Land of Extinct Volcanoes, you will also find impressive medieval castles, remnants of old mines, mysterious stone crosses, relics of battles fought here, and numerous examples of traditional rural architecture, with characteristic half-timbered structures.
An increasingly better service and infrastructure support – accommodations, dining facilities, new roads, a dense network of pedestrian and cycling tourist trails, educational paths, information centers, and informative signs placed in interesting locations – all contribute to the growth of tourism. The natural and cultural diversity of the region makes it easy to plan longer sightseeing and leisure stays or multiple shorter visits. This publication contains brief descriptions of over 100 towns and sites (including hills, nature reserves, and Earth heritage sites) worth visiting. They do not aim to exhaust the subject and should rather serve as an encouragement and inspiration for independent exploration of the treasures of the region.
The Council of the Land of Extinct Volcanoes Geopark was established for the purpose of joint action by the Geopark’s partners to promote geotourism and to create and maintain a geopark operating in the territory of Poland, as well as within the network of European and global UNESCO geoparks. The Council’s responsibilities include implementing the recommendations of the UNESCO Global Geoparks Council, developing and implementing the Development Strategy of the Land of Extinct Volcanoes Geopark, caring for the brand of the Land of Extinct Volcanoes Geopark, and coordinating activities and projects related to the Geopark.
Publikacja zrealizowana w ramach operacji pn. „Punkt informacji turystycznej i promocji oferty kulturalnej regionu wraz z biblioteką regionalną w Sudeckiej Zagrodzie Edukacyjnej w Dobkowie”
Publikacje zrealizowane w ramach operacji pn. „Geopark Kraina Wygasłych Wulkanów: nowy produkt turystyczny regionu”
Obie operacje współfinansowane są ze środków Unii Europejskiej w ramach poddziałania 19.2 „Wsparcie na wdrażanie operacji w ramach strategii rozwoju lokalnego kierowanego przez społeczność” Programu Rozwoju Obszarów Wiejskich na lata 2014-2020. Operacja realizowana w ramach Strategii Rozwoju Lokalnego Kierowanego przez Społeczność na lata 2016-2023, wdrażanej przez Stowarzyszenie „Lokalna Grupa Działania Partnerstwo Kaczawskie”.
History of the Geopark
The initiation of partnership collaboration between the Municipality of Mściwojów and other municipalities, establishing an informal “Partnership Group of the Kaczawskie Mountains and Foothills.”
The “Association for Sustainable Development of the Municipality of Mściwojów” changes its name to the “Kaczawskie Association,” thus becoming a regional partnership organization spanning three sectors. Actions are commencing in the pilot program of the LEADER Rural Development Program.
The start of the construction of the Sudetic Geoscience Centre in Dobków with the support of funds from the Regional Operational Program of the Lower Silesian Voivodeship and the Regional Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management in Wrocław. It will be a centre for education and information about the region, as well as the future headquarters of the Geopark.
The initiation of activities of the Cooperation Network for entities in the tourism industry in the region. Art studios, craft workshops, and educational farms collaborate to jointly prepare the ‘Creative Summer’ and ‘Creative Winter Holidays’ programs for visitors to the Land of Extinct Volcanoes.
August 29, 2015 – the grand opening of the Sudetic Geoscience Centre in Dobków. Since then, the Kaczawskie Association has initiated a continuous offer of geo-educational activities for groups of school children, student groups, and adults.
The commencement of formal actions aimed at establishing the Land of Extinct Volcanoes Geopark in the area of the Kaczawskie Mountains and Foothills region. The signing of a letter of intent by the leaders of partner municipalities.
Implementation of numerous image-building activities related to the Geopark under formation:
- preparation of specialized geological inventory of the area,
- creation of visual identification,
- development of the Geopark certification,
- Establishment of a Tourist Information Centre and Geopark facilities in the attic of the Sudetic Geoscience Centre.
- The initiation of the Geopark Festival tradition in the last week of July.
Preparation and submission of application documents to the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network.
From September 19th to 23rd, the Geopark is visited by the Official Evaluation Mission on behalf of the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network. The purpose of the visit was to assess the region’s compliance with the individual criteria that determine its membership in the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network. More about the visit here.
Receiving an official report from the UNESCO Global Geoparks Committee with recommendations that the geopark must meet by 2024 in order to become a UNESCO Global Geopark.
The year 2022 marks the beginning of the implementation of the recommendations. Agreements on cooperation were signed with key partners in the region, including the Church of Peace in Jawor, as well as with UNESCO geoparks from Poland and Visegrád Group countries.
The establishment of the Council of the Land of Extinct Volcanoes Geopark.
Some of its responsibilities include:
- implementing the recommendations of the Global Geoparks Council
- developing and implementing the Development Strategy of the Land of Extinct Volcanoes Geopark
- caring for the brand of the Land of Extinct Volcanoes Geopark
- coordinating activities and projects related to the Geopark
- yearly approval of the membership fees and budget structure of the Geopark
Education in the Geopark
From the very beginning, education has been a central element of the Land of Extinct Volcanoes. Through play, creative workshops, activities, and spending time in nature, all visitors to our land could discover its secrets. Not only those directly related to volcanoes and geology but also those that are close to every person – the history and culture of the region, which are rich and particularly worth exploring.
See places implementing natural,
cultural and regional education
in our Geopark
The Geopark also supports the development of science
See how we can collaborate in the field of research activities.
The Geopark’s partners are the local governments of towns, municipalities and poviats: Bolków, Legnickie Pole, Jawor, Jeżów Sudecki, Mściwojów, Paszowice, Pielgrzymka, Ruja, Świerzawa, Wądroże Wielkie, Wojcieszów, Zagrodno, Złotoryja and forest districts: Legnica, Złotoryja, Jawor and Lwówek Śląski.
We invite representatives of institutions, organizations, and businesses in the Kaczawskie Mountains and Foothills region to engage in discussions about potential partnerships.