As dutiful information purveyors regarding Silesia’s wealth of beguiling tourist destinations (ahem), we like to spread the wealth, making sure visitors to this modern metropolitan area have plenty of escapes from city life as well. In this instalment, blindfolded as always, we pin the tail on the Silesian donkey (or ass as it were) in Jaworzno-Szczakowa, a city lying less than 20 miles east of Katowice.
Like so many of Silesia’s wonders, Jaworzno’s prime attraction is the result of yesterday’s drowning industry. Literally. In the mid-90s the financial viability of Jaworzno’s Gródek dolomite quarry seemed to hit rock bottom; the electric company cut the power, the mighty drills stopped drilling, the excavators stopped excavating and the lifts stopped lifting. The quarry was in the pits. What to do, what to do. In a stroke of entrepreneurial ingenuity, the crater was flooded with water and instantly became Poland’s premier scuba diving destination. Now rented by the Orka diving company (based out of Bielsko-Biała, www.orkasa.pl), the Gródek quarry offers a world class facility to fans of Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparati. The maximum depth of the chasm is 18 metres with visibility in its clear waters varying from 5 to 12 metres. Open year round for scuba certification courses, snorkelling, skin diving, dry diving and even under-ice diving, what makes Gródek so popular (it even has its own fan club) is what awaits discovery beneath the surface of the water. Seems the quarry’s demise was so hasty that none of the equipment was removed when the floodgates were opened. As such, divers can see two enormous excavating cranes at the bottom of this abyss and explore the original workers’ barracks, in addition to swimming among the prolific pike and perch that populate the waters. Two of Gródek’s main attractions are submerged automobiles – a Polonez and BMW – and as we’ve come to expect, one of them is the source of popular local legend. Seems a local diver bought the Beemer for his gal, who swiftly broke up with him, spurning the gift. Rather than sink into depression every time he saw the fine-tuned German vehicle, he sank the car. Love is indeed a bottomless pit, dear readers. Drown or be drowned.
You don't have to be an aspiring merman or maid, however, to enjoy the quarry. The quarry is actually divided into two lagoons separated by a narrow strip of dry land; on one side diving takes place, while the other is more of a family recreation area, which includes a gazebo, barbecue area, benches, and an awesome winding boardwalk which extends romantically out over the water. A popular spot for swimmers and cliff-divers, the quarry offers beautiful views any time of year, and there's even a bar near the scuba centre, and a campground nearby.