Introduction - Góra Św. Anny Geopark
The Landscape Park "Góra Św. Anny (St. Anne Mountain)" is one of few places on the map of Poland where on a relatively small area of 5.051 ha some of the most beautiful and well preserved profiles of middle Muschelkalk with numerous examples of fauna can be seen. Apart from dominant Central-Triassic rocks there are also underlying deposits of sandstones and carboniferous pudding stones, preserved in the city of Żyrowa, and much younger vulcanite coming from the top of the St. Anne Mountain. The geological processes were once very complicated, and this is why we can now find the rocks showing the signs of contact metamorphism, deformations, faults, hollows, karst forms. The farmlands are dominant elements of the landscape, looking almost like waves that encircle the Chełm Ridge from all sides. The adjacent areas owe its looks to the Scandinavian glaciation that ultimately shaped the landscape. The receding ice sheet was leaving sandy material behind, along with smaller and bigger erratic boulders which now can be found in the fields. In the north-eastern part of the park the loess layers, in places where the water sculpted picturesque gorges and dry valleys, are well visible. An additional advantage of this place are the historical and cultural qualities, attracting many tourists to the area of St. Anne Mountain.
All these natural and geological qualities contributed to the establishing the second National Geopark in the area, "Góra Św. Anny Geopark".
Currently in Poland there are three geoparks: The Arch of Mużaków, Św. Anna mountain (Opolskie Province) and National Park of Karkonosze with the buffer zone. All three of them were created because of their unique geological qualities. Polish geoparks are created e.g. for the purpose of preserving valuable geoposts, as a result of the creation of a network of documentation posts, as well as to actively protect the exposed rocks and land forms. The following popularization activities are undertaken: creating educational paths with infrastructure facilitating the visit, and geological information points. All these activities are intended to raise the awareness of geological knowledge and to develop geotourism in Poland. Such areas are the places where the knowledge about the Earth can be acquired. It is possible to conduct classes there, which at the same time popularizes the use of the active teaching methods.
The area of St. Anne Mountain acquired the status of the second National Geopark on 1 June 2010, during an open - air event "The meeting on the volcano" organized by the Association of the St. Anne Geopark and the Team of Opole Natural Landscape Parks – Góra Św. Anny Geopark division The area of the Geopark is located on the area of the landscape park and occupies approximately 70% of its area. On its area, a geological path (10km long) has been designed. It starts in Góra Św. Anny town (geological reserve – the quarry of nephelinite) and ends in the town of Ligota Dolna (the xerothermic vegetation reserve). The path connects some most interesting from the natural and geological point of view places: the quarry of nephelinite, the Valley of Krowioka, the stone amphitheatre, Biesiec Reserve and the Ligota Dolna quarry. On the route there are 11 geoposts with information boards (prepared by a team of people from PIG-National Research Institution, Sosnowiec Branch) which describe particular places in an interesting and accessible way. The geological path in most places is leading through the already existing tourist routes, therefore it is easily accessible on foot or by bike. Each geopost can be visited separately, without observing the numeration, as the understanding of information on any of the boards does not require familiarizing with the preceding ones. Owing to such preparation of the path, the trip through the Geopark can be taken without the guide. To complete the geological route it takes approximately 6-7 hours. People who want to see all the places and get to know the geologic structure in greater detail need approximately two days. The well developed accommodation-gastronomic base located in Góra Św. Anny town enables such a long trip.
Due to the location within the area of the St. Anne Mountain Landscape Park, the stay can be additionally diversified by getting to know the historical, cultural and natural qualities while traversing other educational paths. The employees of the landscape park arrange educational classes in the geological reserve for school groups (after prior arrangement).
Information comes from: "Zanim Góra Św. Anny wynurzyła się z morza" ("Before St. Anne Mountain emerged from the sea"). "Skamieniałości, jaskinie i drogie kamienie wokół sanktuarium św. Anny" (Fossils, caves and valuable stones around the St. Anne sanctuary)
Robert Niedźwiedzki, Marek Zarankiewicz
The selected bibliography (only Polish)
* Thanks to the courtesy of Gazeta Wyborcza, Opole, the fragments of text by Robert Niedźwiedzki, published in Gazeta Wyborcza 3 XI and 30 XII 2006 were used in this study. Also the archaeological consultation provided by Dr Andrzej Wiśniewski from the University of Wrocław was used here.