Opole is a city in southern Poland on the Oder River. It has a population of approximately 126,000. It is the capital of Upper Silesia. It is in the Opole Voivodeship or Opolskie. Opolskie is bordered by the Lower Silesian Voivodeship, Greater Poland, Łódź Voivodeships, Silesian Voivodeship and the Czech Republic. The region has the warmest climate in Poland. About 15% of the one million inhabitants of this area are German. As a result, many parts are officially bi-lingual. The German language and culture play a significant role in education in the region too. The geographic location, economic potential, and level of education of the people within Opolskie, make the area attractive for foreign investors. Opolskie is the land of castles, palaces and manor houses. There are almost 200 of them – the largest number in Poland! Opolskie also has some beautiful mountains and parks etc. So if you like exploring, Opole is a great place to be based in order to easily access a large number of sights and experiences. Some of those are detailed in the Sights section below.
Opole originates from the old Polish word which means an ancestral territorial community. It has a history that dates back to 9th century which makes it one of the oldest towns in Poland. In 1217, Kazimierz I signed a document which gave Opole the rights to be a town. The town has grown steadily since then. Opole Rynek was badly damaged in second world war. More than 900 houses, most of the industrial plants and all the bridges were destroyed. The central market square was rebuilt after the war. It is lined with attractive sand-coloured Baroque and Rococo houses. It is populated with pubs, banks, shops and bars etc. There are several well known buildings that are worth a visit including: the Franciscan Church of the Holy Trinity, Holy Cross Cathedral, the Piast Tower and the Opole Silesian Museum. Shopping can be done at Solaris, along Krakowska high street, Karolinka shopping mall or at Turawa shopping Mall etc. The fountains just in front of Pyramida restaurant on Pasieka have regular displays featuring cleverly timed water springs that coincide with both music and an interplay of coloured lights etc.
The most important cultural event in Opole is the National Festival of Polish Song in Opole (Krajowy Festiwal Piosenki Polskiej w Opolu, KFPP). It is one of the two most important music festivals in Poland. The Opole Festival is meant as a summary of the past year’s achievements by Polish song writers and performers. The festival has a tradition lasting at least 50 years.
The recently renovated Opole Amphitheatre is now home to many musical events such as these. Opole also has a famous Zoo. It was founded in 1930. It is about 20 hectares in size. It has around 1000 animals of about 240 different species including giraffes, pandas, lemurs and rhinos. It is located on Bolko Island in the Oder River. The Island has many cycle/walking paths which allows people to explore the natural surroundings etc. The cycle/walking paths continue along the riverside. There are many outdoor fitness machines dotted alongside the riverside too. The result has made Opole a great place to bring up a family. At night-time, “Little Venice” is lit up beautifully and is a great location for a spot of romance.
Opole and Opolskie
In Opolskie there are 190 historic parks and gardens with unique floral specimens. There are 3 scenic parks and 34 nature reserves. Opole Voivodeship has the largest number of the oldest trees in Poland. Approximately one third of the Opolsie area is being conserved with Stobrawski Scenic Park as its jewel. The Opole voivodeship is a green region with three large lakes: Turawa, Nysa and Otmuchow. The Opawskie Mountains are extremely popular. The region also includes the castle in Brzeg, built during the reign of the Piast dynasty—pearl of the Silesian Renaissance, the Franciscan monastery on top of Saint Anne Mountain, as well as the medieval defence fortifications in Paczkow (referred to as the Polish Carcassonne). Protected areas in Opole Voivodeship include the following three areas designated as Landscape Parks:
- Opawskie Mountains Landscape Park – A protected area in the Opawskie Mountains in south-western Poland. The Park lies within Nysa County and Prudnik County. Kopa Biskupia – the highest summit in the area (890 metres above sea level). From the peak, one can see both Poland and the Czech republic. It is a beautiful area with numerous tourist trails and bicycle paths. There are a good selection of lodgings, ski-lifts, swimming pools, trout fisheries, business conference venues and rehabilitation centres etc.
- Góra Świętej Anny Landscape Park – A protected area in south-western Poland. The Park lies within Krapkowice County and Strzelce County. St. Anne’s Mountain has been registered as a UNESCO world heritage site. On the extinct volcano, there is a sanctuary, Calvary and monumental amphitheater made of stone. The temple is cared for by Franciscan monks. It hides a real treasure – a priceless linden statue of Saint Anne Samotrzecia from 15th century which contains relics of the saint.
- Stobrawa Landscape Park – A protected area in south-western Poland. The Park lies within the region of the Stobrawa river
Opole Village Museum in Bierkowice is an ethnographic park spread out over 10 hectares of land. Walking around the village is a bit like going back in time. There is an old wooden cottage with a barn floor, a blacksmiths complete with bellows, windmills, bee hives, bakeries to make fresh bread and earthenware pots etc. The open-air museum has over 50 historical buildings from the Silesian area which are carefully preserved for prosperity. Other places nearby include Nysa, Otmuchów, Paczków, Brzeg and Krasiejów. Nysa is one of the oldest towns in Silesia and is often called the Silesian Rome. Otmuchów has a unique castle which has stairs designed for horses to climb. Paczków is called the Silessian Carcassonne because of completely preserved medieval ring of walls with 19 shell keeps and four gates-keeps. Brzeg is known as the Silesian Wawel. Krasiejów has a well known dinosaur park. In Moszna, there is a palace/castle that looks like something from a Disney park. The castle has exactly ninety-nine turrets. There are 365 rooms with a total floorage of 7,000 sq. m. There is a beautiful park which includes fields, meadows, a forest and a famous sanatorium where people can go to rehabilitate etc.
This section deals with some of the sporting and exercise venues in Opole.
- Lodowisko Toropol – This venue is located on Norberta Barlickiego on Pasieka island. You can go Ice Skating, play Pool, eat and drink
- Mała Panew – Why not go Canoeing or Kayaking on one of the most picturesque rivers in Opolskie. This river is known as the Opole Amazon for good reason, as it has a charming character and beautiful surroundings.
- Cycling, jogging, rollerskating and walking – Opole has many areas with dedicated cycle and walking paths etc. The river side and in particular, Pasieka Island have an extensive network. Turawa is a great area to cycle and walk too.
- MOSIR – The Municipal Centre of Sports and Recreation has information on the Ice skating rink and Swimming at the Aquarium etc.
- Hart Tenis – This is locate on the outskirts of Opole in Zawada. They have facilities for Tennis, squash and Badminton.
- Szara Villa – This is located on Oleska near Solaris. They have facilities for Bowling and they have a Fitness club
- Other Fitness clubs include: Fitness Club Dynamika on Broniewskiego
- You can go Cross Country skiing in Biała Nyska and Skiing in Gliwice
- Wakescout have a large number of Water sports available such as wake-boarding and waterskiing etc.
This section deals with some of the places to eat and drink in Opole. It is not an extensive guide. It is designed to show that visitors can enjoy a wide variety of cuisines etc.
- Grabowka – This pancake restaurant is located on the riverside.
- Hotel Starka – This restaurant and hotel is located in ‘Little Venice’ on the riverside.
- Pyramida Steakhouse – This Steakhouse is located by the fountain on Pasieka island near the city centre.
- Quchnia – This restaurant is located on Oleska near Solaris.
- Sushi Bar Kaiseki – This Sushi bar is located on Ozimska near the Rynek.
- Villa Park – This hotel and restaurant is located on the outskirts of town. It has been beautifully decorated and makes a great location for a wedding etc.