Landscape, nature and tourist assets

A diversified land sculpture of the Near Kraków area shows a variety of landscapes: from Jurassic landscapes with characteristic limestone rocks of Grzbiet Tenczyński and karstic phenomena which occur because of its carbonate bedrock, through lowland landscapes of the flat areas at the Kraków Gate, to the undulating foothills of the Beskidy range.
On the north, the Garb Tenczyński (Tenczyn Hummock) is clearly marked in the landscape, whilst on the south almost longitudinally run: Rybna subsidence, horst hills from Kamień in the west to Kajasówka (in Przeginia Duchowna) in the east and Cholerzyn-Półwieś graben, connected with the Vistula basin (foothill graben) between Rusocice and Czernichów. Further on south-east, the area raises higher and higher, with hilltops reaching up to 392 m above sea level (Góra Pochów) in Wola Radziszowska. Largely afforested foothills offer spectacular panoramas of distant areas in many places. We can admire Kotlina Sandomierska (Sandomierz Basin), Wyżyna Miechowska (Miechów Upland), Wyżyna Krakowsko-Częstochowska, Kotlina Oświęcimska, and individual ranges of the Beskidy, from Beskid Mały and Żywiecki, through Beskid Średni, Wyspowy, up to the Gorce ridge. Weather permitted, one can see the Tatras towering over the Beskidy on the horizon.
Afforestation of the area reaches 13.9%. It results from the fact that part of it is cultivated. However, scarce woodland areas are of a high natural value, including a few nature reserves.
The areas Near Kraków are prevailingly covered by mixed forests, as well as pine-and-oak woods and beech forests with some oaks and hornbeam trees. Alders and poplars occur in the stream valleys. The main woodland area is in the northern part of the region (Kamień, Przeginia Duchowna and Rusocice) and north of Czernichów (Chełm hill). The Bronaczowa Forest, including its Kozie Kąty nature reserve, covers more than 350 ha in the central part of the area. It is a pine-and-oak forest, with sporadically growing silver birch, rarely seen in Poland. The western part of the area is situated within the Jurassic Landscape Parks (Zespół Jurajskich Parków Krajobrazowych), including parks and their buffer zones. The following landscape parks lie here: Bielańsko - Tyniecki Park Krajobrazowy (the total area of 6 415.5 ha, of which 988.4 ha Near Krakow) and Rudniański Park Krajobrazowy (the total area 5 813.9 ha, of which 2 117.4 ha in the Rudna Municipality). The Kajasówka Inanimate Nature Reserve (12 ha) is in the village of Przeginia Duchowna, with its unique horst landscape with xerothermic vegetation protected. On the north lies a section of Dolina Potoku Rudno nature reserve (the Rudno Stream Valley, 96 ha). The establishment of the Chełm nature reserve is also planned. The Cieszynianka flora reserve was created in 1969 On the northern slopes of the Mogilany hill. It is a stand of cieszynianka wiosenna – Hacquetia epipacitis and linden-oak-hornbeam – Tilio Carpinetum. There are no nature reserves in the eastern part of the area, but we can see manor parks with specimen of old trees that are now monuments of animate nature.
An unquestionable natural (and often culture-related) asset of the area is the river Vistula with the Łączany – Skawina canal, offering opportunities for water-based and nature tourism. Picturesque valleys of the Rudno stream, the river Skawinka and its tributaries Cedron, Głogoczów, Mogiłka, Włosanka and Rzepnik, offer opportunities for nature tourism.
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