Tag Archives: silesia

Lubiąż Abbey – a little walk round

On my last trip to Poland, I happened to visit Lubiąż Abbey, one of the largest Christian Complexes in the world and while today its Holy functions no longer exist, it is still a significant tourist draw in this part of Silesia. Of course, the day I went Siberia had decided to camp out in Poland (although it was still October) meaning that it was…well…cold when I visited the former monastery on the banks of the Odra.

A little history (my usual Wiki-Quote). The first Christian functions on this site were established around 1150. Like many parts of Silesia, its history is intertwined with the political wrangling that this part of Europe has found itself in. Lubiaz Abbey has come under the control of the Prussian States, the Polish, the Bohemians and even the Habsburgs of Austria-Hungary.

But it is during WWII that Lubiaz’s history come closer to the history in the UK. While occupied by Nazi Germany, Lubiaz’s vast underground complex was home to the engine factories for the V1 and V2 rocket bombs. This vast slave labour camp existed until the Red Army invaded. The Abbey itself fell into decay until 1989 and the fall of Communism. Restoration started and it is a process that continues today.

One little titbit about the Abbey was that in 1997 Michael Jackson visited Lubiaz. Rumour has it that his helicopter tour and stop-off was to see if he could buy the Abbey. Well, his offer was rejected. However, according to the guide who took us round, the visit was meant to be kept a secret, but the whole village (and most of the surrounding area) turned out to greet the King of Pop! Given the traditional Polish welcome of bread and salt, Michale Jackson was in Lubiaz Monastery for only 20 minutes. It is reported that he was astounded by the lavish interiors. Yes, I did go inside, but we were not allowed to take photos inside of the Abbey 😦

Yeah, I think you noticed it was snowing like crazy that day. Of all the days to see a top tourist attraction, I had to pick the one day in October where Siberia decided to decamp. Snow was everywhere, but luckily, having been bitten by the famed Polish cold earlier this year, I came fully wrapped up.

One little extra you will see at the abbey is an exhibition on old German trains. I do not exactly understand the reasoning behind it (other than the fact that Lubiaz was a hot tourist spot when it was called ‘Lubies’ and a part of Germany). Although I could not get exactly what everything was about, it was fascinating to see the old cultural links that used to exist between Silesia and its big neighbour to the west (something that is more evident in Wroclaw).

Getting there and away:

One word – car. It maybe only 40 miles or so from Wroclaw, but Lubiaz is a small village and it is difficult to get to. There are local (and infrequent) buses from the two nearest railheads in Glogow and Wroclaw throughout the day, but really, unless you have your own transport (or speak brilliant Polish), it is a pain to get here.

Accommodation here is non existent too, and the restaurant in the Abbey keeps limited opening hours, so plan your trip accordingly…

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The New Wroclaw Airport – Opened!

Yesterday I got on a flight from Wroclaw back to London. There is nothing impressive in the flight itself. The usual, bog standard budget airline, two hour hop. Except for one thing.

Oh yes, it was opening day at the Wroclaw’s new terminal. The airport is in the same place, but the new terminal is about a mile further down the road. So on Thursday, I shuffled through the cold and draughty old terminal building, while on Sunday I (still) shuffled through a warm and brand new glass and steel building. Hey, it has been a long time coming. Since Wroclaw was chosen as the host of Euro 2012, renovation and renewal has been the key. Along with being the European Capital of Culture in 2016, Wroclaw aims to put itself on the map as much as possible. And there is cash in the city, enough to build this new terminal at the airport. So while the train station in the centre of town is no more than a pre-fab shed, at least the airport will be swimmingly big enough to allow people to enter and exit the city to watch lots of football.

And opening day, the airport was busy! No, not because there was suddenly thousands more people travelling to far flung destinations. But simply as there were a ton of people gawping at the new airport.

Similar to Porto airport, the terminal is light and breezy. Steel and glass supported by large columns. It feels like Stansted airport all over again! However, unlike Porto airport, this is firmly stuck in the 1980’s with regards to transport. Yep, that means it is still the same, lousy and slow (but at least cheap) airport bus that trundles every twenty minutes to and from the city centre. And it is so behind on transport that cars take centre stage at the airport, while anyone on public transport has to lug their luggage from the periphery of the concourse to the bus stop at the edge, located as if it was an embarrassment to the airport authorities.

Yeah, as someone that has almost always used public transport to get to and from this airport, the lack of any real rail or tram link to the city centre is a pain. Wroclaw is not a big city, yet 40 minutes is a long time. Mostly as the bus stops and serves every other place on the way to the city centre. Plus, there are some awkward traffic moments towards the city. There is no motorway linking the airport to the centre of Wroclaw, so we all know that in a few years time, transport to and from the airport is going to become a real pain. The lack of foresight with regards to the surrounding infrastructure is shocking…

Still, once inside, the airport is shockingly well polished. The opening ceremony went smoothly and there were no major muck ups on opening day when I went through. A little understaffed, but even the security was surprisingly friendly. I think everyone was on their best behaviour as management was sculling around the terminal like a bundle of rotting fish. Some of the shops were still yet to open. For some bizarre reason there was a Virgin Record store there – I have not seen one of those in ages! The next time I pass through here (and that could be a long time in the future) everything would have settled down. The hustle and bustle would have replaced the prstine sheen. But you know what, if felt kind of nice to pass through Wroclaw’s new terminal on opening day…

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