Deserts in Poland are mostly the result of human activity and in no way resemble deserts such as the Sahara or Kalahari. Nevertheless, Poland has more deserts than other European countries. The Siedlec Desert is the second biggest desert in Poland.
The Siedlec Desert (also known as Siedlecka) is the name given to one of the sandy areas in the Kraków-Częstochowa Upland. The name was given to the area of one of the former sand pits, located in the village of Siedlec. The desert, although much smaller than the most famous Bledowska Desert, is a tourist attraction.
The creation of the desert
The sands in the area are a remnant of the sandy seabed from the Upper Jurassic period and the renewed marine transgression in the Upper Cretaceous. Westerly winds blowing at the end of the North-Polish glaciation and the beginning of the Holocene led to the formation of dunes in the area of today’s desert.
After World War II, an open-pit sand mine exploited the sand deposit. After its operation ended in the 1960s, much of the sand pit area was planted with Scots pine. The desert covers approximately 30 hectares, of which 25 hectares is sand.
There is also a legend concerning the creation of the Siedlec Desert. According to it, the devil chased Twardowski*. Sir Twardowski was fleeing on a rooster. The devil was so close that the gates of hell opened in front of the sorcerer. The infernal fire scorched the earth turning it into a desert. Part of the area in front of the desert is called Siedlec Hell.
The main tourist attractions are the high dunes. They reach up to 30 meters in height. There are also plants typical of sandy areas, such as the annual knawel (Scleranthus annuus), the grey hair-grass (Corynephorus canescens), the dwarf everlast (Helichrysum arenarium) and the sand ryegrass (Leymus arenarius). Moreover, on hot days, one can see the phenomenon of mirages in the hot air.
*Sir Twardowski, also known as Master Twardowski, is a Polish folklore and literature feature. He is a sorcerer who made a deal with the Devil. There are a great number of Polish, Ukrainian, Russian and German works inspired by Twardowski.
Read also ⤵️