Visiting Ustron, a health spa in southern Poland
This week I am in Ustroń, a health resort town in Cieszyn Silesia in southern Poland in the Silesian Beskids mountain range, the peaks of which are sufficiently low to be a manageable walk from the town centre for most of us. For example the Równica and Czantoria mountains can be reached if you are staying somewhere near the town centre but if you cannot be bothered to walk there is the chair lift up the Czantoria.
There is no dedicated camp site in the town but there is a parking space which accepts motorhomes for either PLN10 or PLN20 (it is not clear and the price no doubt depends on the size of the vehicle). There are no facilities such as water or electricity available there. For those needing such facilities there is a campsite located around 3km outside of the town - one can take a cycleway along the Vistula river to get into Ustron.
The town can not only offer health but also excellent hiking and cycling. The mountains are not too high although one can go up the Czantoria for example by cable car. Cyclists can follow the path alongside the Vistula to nearby Wisła and enjoy the attractions of that town.
The settlement was first mentioned in a Latin document around 1305 as Ustrona. It belonged initially to the Duchy of Teschen, formed in 1290, the duchy became a fee of Kingdom of Bohemia, which after 1526, became part of the Habsburg Monarchy.
In 1772, the Klemens Steel Works was opened and the village was gradually industrialised. On the site of the former steel works, there is now a museum which shows the technology that built this part of Silesia in the nineteenth century. When the steel work was closed in 1897 the market town switched to be more orientated towards a health and spa resort. This growth accelerated in the 1960s when pyramid-shaped hotels were built in the town. Today it is a very population for people coming to take 'a cure' - a very central European way of looking after one's health.
Other attractions include a dinosaur park and weekend displays of birds of prey. During the summer there are concerts in the amfitheatre in the park as well as in the main square (where I was able also to watch the Poland v Portugal game in Euro 2016).
Unlike most of Poland,a large part of the population is Protestant. For those linguistically inclined, many people speak a version of Cieszyn Vlach which is perfectly understandable to Polish speakers yet does have some endings more similar to those in Czech or Russian.