Study visits 8 June 2015, 14:00 to 22:00 including dinner

An extraordinary life: the story of John Paul II

When the man destined to become John Paul II was born Karol Józef Wojtyła in Wadowice, a small town west of Kraków, nobody ever imagined how this would affect the town many years later. It is a big task to be the little home town of one of the most respected men not only in Poland but in modern world history

The small town museum has faced the challenge of describing the whole story of Wadowice's history which has been overwhelmed by the story of its most famous son.

Next door, the new museum dedicated to Pope John Paul II takes visitors on a poignant journey of a man whose life led him to become Pope and one of the most venerated men in Poland. It  related a chronicle that leaves many visitors of all cultural and religious backgrounds immensely impressed. It can help tourists from other countries to understand Polish religious devotion and why a Polish pope has had such major role in the life of many Polish people.

On the way back we will stop for dinner at Lanckorona, a pretty Polish village in the hills outside Kraków.

Ojców National Park:
A balancing act between local people and visitors

Ojców National Park is the smallest national park in Poland with total area of 2146 ha. Nevertheless, there are about 700 caves here. They have been created by water which dissolved Jurassic limestone and shaped a unique karst landscape. The flora and fauna of the Park are also very rich.

This is the only national park in Poland which includes a small village. The park management is facing the challenge that local people prefer to protect their cultural rather than their natural heritage. On one hand, the presence of fallen timber, as well as beavers and wild boars which cause damage to crops outside the park and, on the other, the prohibitions and restrictions on new buildings are food for extensive debates.

In addition, Ojców National Park is situated only 20 km north of Kraków. Every year the Park is visited by 400 000 people which in itself is a potential threat to its plant and animal life. In particular, the caves with their fragile ecosystems, suffer from visitors’ thoughtless behaviour.

We will discuss with representatives of the park management how they cope with these different pressures and needs and what role interpretation could play in local people's participation as well as in raising awareness for day visitors about the fragility of nature. During the study tour, we will visit the Park’s nature exhibition and the Dark Cave which is one of the two caves which are open to visitors.

Wieliczka salt mine:
An underground world carved in salt

Already fully booked!

In 1978, the Wieliczka salt mine was one the first twelve places that were declared by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites. Since then millions of visitors have come to walk among the lasting evidence of centuries of mining, to appreciate what has been created and developed in a hidden world and to experience glimpses of a hard working life underground. This is a sensitive site which tells many stories about the strenuous existence and the role of faith when people spent most of their time below the ground.

Before we will return to daylight we will enjoy dinner in the salty depths!

Please note:
The visit includes a long walk underground with very few opportunities to sit down or rest. If you are claustrophobic or are uncomfortable below ground, you should not take part in this tour. You must bring strong shoes and warm clothing.