The “Kadzielnia” geological and nature reserve, Kielce
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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The “Kadzielnia” geological and nature reserve

Kielce

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One of the most picturesque and distinctive sites in the entire city, providing a commanding view of the surrounding area while at the same time remaining a valuable site for geologists due to its research value for the process of the analysis of the geological history of the Świętokrzyskie Mountains.

History

The name “Kadzielnia” is believed to originate from the word “kadzidło” (incense), which has led to many rather wild and unconfirmed theories on the existence of a centre of a pagan cult on the site of the current nature reserve. In the 17th or 18th century, the process of Devonian limestone extraction on the site has begun, while in the year 1770 a lime kiln was erected here at the initiative of Kajetan Sołtyk, the bishop of Cracow. By 1886, there were already three lime kilns on the site, while half a century later the local manufacturing plant had about 200 employees in total. The process of limestone excavation on the Kadzielnia hill continued well into the 1960s, even though the first plans for the establishment of a park and garden on the site were drawn up as early as the first half of the 19th century. Immediately following the discontinuation of mining activities, an inanimate nature reserve was formed in the central part of the quarry, encompassing the limestone monadnock known as the Geologists’ Rock. The remaining part of the site was adapted to serve as a recreational area and a landscape park. In 1971, an amphitheatre was opened in the south-eastern part of the quarry; this amphitheatre was later redesigned and modernised in 2010. Works intended to ensure the safety inside a number of caverns deep within the eastern wall of the former quarry, intended to open these subterranean passages to tourists, have been underway from 2004 onwards; in the end, the underground trail was opened to the public in 2012. The history of the exploration of the caves beneath the Kadzielnia hill is a separate issue altogether, with the largest of them – the so-called Kadzielnia Crevice, with a total length of 180 metres – having been explored back in 1959.

Description

The Kadzielnia hill, rising at 295 metres above sea level, is the central component of the Kadzielnia Range which stretches across the southern and western part of the city of Kielce. The hill, consisting mostly of Upper Devonian limestone, has been largely destroyed due to the activities of a quarry which operated on the site for more than 200 years. The quarry did not extend to the uppermost section of the hill, however; as a result, the centre of the site is now occupied by a picturesque monadnock known as the Geologists’ Rock, surrounded periodically by the waters of a natural basin (the so-called Emerald Lake) which forms around it. Stacked layers of limestone can be seen in the exposed sides of the monadnock, formed while the entire site formed the bottom of a shallow Devonian sea. Remains of several prehistoric species such as sponges, anthozoa, brachiopods, gastropods, foraminifera, rare fish species and many others have also been unearthed and documented. The tectonic fault visible in the eastern wall of the excavation is the result of the mountain-building event known as the Variscan orogeny which led to the formation of the Świętokrzyskie Mountains. It was at that point that the mineral veins containing calcite, galena and barite were formed. Kadzielnia has the largest concentration of underground caverns in the region; the caves have come into being in the course of erosion processes collectively referred to as the Cenozoic karst. A total of 26 caves and rock shelters have been discovered, most of them in the eastern rock wall as well as within the so-called Geologists’ Rock. Some of the caverns have been made available to visitors in the form of a tourist trail. The south-eastern part of the former excavation is currently occupied by an amphitheatre, with picturesque paths and alleys winding along the edges of the former quarry.

The site is open to visitors.

Compiled by Aleksandra Ziółkowska, 08-12-2015

Bibliography

  • Jaskinie regionu świętokrzyskiego, red. J. Urban, Warsaw 1996.
  • Kozłowski S., Surowce skalne Polski, Warsaw 1975.
  • Pazdur J., Dzieje Kielc do 1863 r., Wrocław 1967.
  • Pazdur J., Dzieje Kielc 1864-1939, Wrocław 1971.

General information

  • Type: cultural landscape
  • Chronology: 1962 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Al. Legionów 20, Kielce
  • Location: Voivodeship świętokrzyskie, district Kielce, commune Kielce
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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