Hell on Szczeliniec
Text and photos: Anna Plaszczyk
3 March 2021
While searching for exceptional places, in which you can relax and get tired at the same time, it is worth going to the Stołowe Mountains. Szczeliniec Wielki, the highest and the most beautiful mountain in this area, is a worthwhile place. It is there, where "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian" was filmed.
Although Stołowe Mountains National Park is small, it is certainly one of the most interesting places on the Polish map. Sandstone blocks uplifted during the Tertiary, exposed to the weather conditions, today make the mysterious rock labyrinths, the tangle of shapes and colours.
The highest of the Stołowe Mountains massifs- Szczeliniec Wielki, in contrast to Szczeliniec Mały, is almost entirely available for tourists. However a lot of determination is needed to get to its peak. Trail consist of more than 600 stairs! You have to remember that the route is one-way. However it isnt difficult, especially when the weather is fine. You can go there with the whole family including children and grandparents. Its important to dress properly - boots over the ankle, protecting it against dislocation, and a sweatshirt even on a hot day. A trip to Szczeliniec on a rainy day can be dangerous – the rocks get very slippery then and it is easy to fall.
After a long but scenic climb the stairs, on the top what we meet first are Żyfara (Giraffe) and Dzik (Boar), then Ucho igielne (Needles Eye) and Dzwoniący Kamień (Ringing stone). PTTK Chalet on the top of Szczeliniec is open all year round. "Szwajcarka" owes its name to Tyrolean architecture; it was built in 1845 and it is therefore the oldest hostel in the Sudetes range. After passing the hostel, you can reach the box office – an admission to this part of the park is not free. The trail, which we can choose, was designed by the first guide and guardian of Szczeliniec mountain, Franciszek Pabel. King Frederick Wilhelm II, Johann Wolfgang Goethe and John Quincy Adams, future president of the United States, were sightseeing there with Pabel as a guide.
In many places, the routes are artificially carved out of the rocks, and some of the rifts are filled in order not to endanger the tourists. However, when the weather conditions are difficult, you have to be very careful in the labyrinth. After the rain, at the time of frost and snowfall, the rocks can be very slippery and accidents could happen very easily. Besides, in some deep rifts, the snow remains here even till July.
From Fotel Pradziada (the Ancestor Chair), which is the highest point of Szczeliniec, when weather conditions are good, we can see Śnieżka, Śnieżnik and Pradziad in Jeseniki. The view point allows you to enjoy the area, with places excluded from visiting like: Głowa Księżniczki Emilii (the Head of Princess Emily) and Indyjska Świątynia (the Indian Temple). Then Długie Schody (the Long Stairs) lead us to Diabelska kuchnia (the Devils Kitchen), which is only a few steps from Piekło (the Hell). If you are expecting heat there- you will be disappointed. Piekło (the Hell) is a very deep rift, where even in summer you can find snow. It is much colder there than in other parts of the labyrinth. The attractiveness of Piekło (the Hell) was also appreciated by the producers of the film "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian". Few scenes for the movie were filmed there!
From Piekło (the Hell) we will get to Niebo (the Heaven), which is a large observation deck. Next the labyrinth awaits us, with low passages and fabulous shapes of rocks. The last of them is Słoń (the elephant), which is also our farewell to Szczeliniec. Stare Schody (the Old stairs), the way down, were built in 1830. While sightseeing Stołowe Mountains, do not forget about Błędne skały, which also have been visited by Prince Caspian. "A Meery devils friend" –"Przyjaciel wesołego diabła" Polish hit movie for children has been filmed there too.
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