Ojców is like stepping into some sort of Narnia. A little north of the city, the village and surrounding national park are, especially in summer, a popular day escape from Kraków. As a national park it was established in 1956. With 21.46 km2 (8.29 sq mi) it is the smallest national park of the country. It has a slim valley, surrounded by steep limestone clifs, and a lot of forest. It even holds up to 400 caves, but many are small or cannot be visited. However, the largest is a nice 320 metres (1,050 ft) deep. The valley of the modest Prądnik river holds some houses, places to eat and places to stay.

Zamek Ojców, or Ocjów Castle, was one key in protection of the southern edges of the Polish kingdom. It was built on order of king Kazimierz III The Great, in the 14th Century. For many visitors it is the starting point of a walk through the park, as the tourist information office and modest main parking lot are located at its foot.

The settlement near Ocjów Castle.

Limestone cliffs, some accessible via foot paths to the top, dwarf humans in the valley below.

The Love Pond
The Love Pond

View on the settlement of houses, places to stay and restaurants at the foot of Ojców Castle.

Among the locals - and visitors from Kraków - locally grown, smoked river trout (pstrąg in Polish) is a welcome delicacy. The fishery and restaurant is open almost year round, at the end of the settlement pictured in the photos above this one.

The Krakowian Gate (Brama Krakowska), a 15 metres (45 feet) high natural Jurassic rock gateway in/out the valley of Ocjów National Park.

The Southern approach
Ojców is fun year round, just try to avoid sunny Saturdays and Sunday, as the Krakowians tend to visit it by mass. Most will start at or near Ojców Castle, but the southern approach - from the direction of the village of Prądnik Korzkiewski - is a joy too. Photos from March 2024.
The Eastern approach
Even less popular, apart from with the locals, is the Eastern approach. From the village of Smardzowice there are two main entry paths into Ojców National Park. Photos from March 2024.

Hidden from the eye, in between the house and trees in front and the ridge with houses in the distance, flows the Pradnik river through the Ojców National Park valley.

The Eastern approach gives one a different view on the settlement near Ojców Castle, when nearing the end of the trail down.

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