Roztocze is a forested rolling hills, stretching across the southern Lublin region. This is the sunniest area in Poland, where the concentration of iodine is comparable to that at the coast. There are no crowds anywhere, instead there are vast wild spaces, and the forests are home to wolves and lynx.
Most of Roztocze is listed as a Natura 2000 site, and the 225 species of birds that live here have earned the region IBA bird sanctuary status according to BirdLife International. In the vast fields, under the mature trees, you will meet in some places beautiful shrines with a Polish folk specialty – a figure of the concerned Christ (Pensive Christ). Historic Orthodox churches, churches and synagogues also add the extraordinary charm of the landscape to these lands.
Roztocze National Park
Start your sightseeing with the Roztocze National Park and a visit to Zwierzyniec. This small, atmospheric town attracts attention with its picturesque Baroque island church of St. John Nepomucene. There is an old brewery that produces excellent beer, and in the summer thousands of cinemagoers are drawn to outdoor screenings under the stars as part of the Summer Film Academy. A few kilometers further south, you can relax by the water at Echo Ponds.
A peculiarity of Zwierzyniec and the surrounding area is the Polish Konik – a tiny horse with a mouse-like coloration, a distant relative of the extinct tarpan. In 1780, the last wild animal of the species was brought to Zwierzyniec for special breeding. Tarpan could not be rescued, however, by mysterious turns of fate it turned out that the area is inhabited by horses of very similar size and coloring.
Saved from extinction and revived in a reserve refuge run by the Roztocze National Park, they now inhabit the forests around Echo Ponds. If you are lucky, you will see them from the top of the observation tower at the ponds.
Szczebrzeszyn and the Tanew River
In close proximity to Zwierzyniec is the old town of Szczebrzeszyn, which, in addition to having one of the most difficult to pronounce names in Poland, is distinguished by a literary festival held in August. In turn, a small river Tanew flows through the backwoods further south, forming a string of picturesque waterfalls in its upper section – Szumy na Tanwi. This is an ideal place for a quiet walk in the forest grove.
In its middle and lower section, the Tanew turns into a heavily meandering, wild river that you can traverse by canoe. An unforgettable canoeing trip can be planned for 1 or 2 days, staying overnight on the riverbank along the way. The river is shallow and undemanding, so you can handle it regardless of your previous canoeing experience.
The eastern part of Roztocze is a land of abandoned villages and historic wooden Orthodox churches. The area used to be home to Ukrainians, and the multicultural character of the area is highlighted by the Folkowisko festival held in the small village of Gorajec.
Holidays in Roztocze are also a fairy tale for bicycle lovers. The well-marked Central Cycling Route of Roztocze crosses the entire region, and there are also long stretches of the Green Velo – a large bicycle trail crossing eastern Poland.
In 2019, the Roztocze Transboundary Biosphere Reserve, consisting of reserves in Poland and Ukraine, has been included in the list of UNESCO Biosphere Reserves. If you are looking for places where it is not man but nature that comes first, and the traces of the past are arranged in a polyphonic chorus of different cultures, Roztocze is the place for you.