The old traditions of tourism in Stołowe Mountains region resulted from great attractiveness of the region and development of health resorts connected with the utilisation of mineral springs. Back in the 17th century, visitors to Duszniki and Kudowa were very interested in their surroundings. People visiting Duszniki wandered to ruins of the Homole castle, while Kudowa was the jumping-off point to "wild and full of dangers" Stray Rocks (Błędne Skały). Szczeliniec Wielki was unknown at that time and considered impossible to climb.
The later growth of tourism was connected with founding of Karłów in 1730 and the progressing boom of spas in the 18th century, which apart from curative treatment advertised beauty of the region. A special road was built in 1771 to Stray Rocks from Kudowa through Jakubowice, and the visiting was done with a tour guide. A very important event was the construction of Charles's Fort in 1790 on the mountain Bird (Ptak), not far from Karłów, built by Prussians within their plan of strengthening the Silesian borders before the expected war with Austria. Major von Rauch, a builder of the Fort, also intended to use the natural defence resources of Szczeliniec. He penetrated the terrain with the aid of Francis Pabel, a 17-year-old citizen of Karłów. During the preparation work, the soldiers created a route to the top and made part of the mountaintop accessible, but in the end the plans of fortifying it were abandoned. The Prussian Crown Prince and, a few days later, the very king Frederick Wilhelm II himself along with the princesses and numerous entourage visited the raised defence facilities in August 1790. During both visits, trips to the top of Szczeliniec Wielki took place under the guidance of Francis Pabel, a batman of the above-mentioned builder of the fort. Visit of the Prussian king as well as other Prussian and foreign dignitaries and people connected with them initiated mass traffic to the flat top of Szczeliniec Wielki. A visit to Szczeliniec became soon so fashionable and popular that a trip to the top of this mountain was an obligatory point of holiday programme in health resorts. A proof of this is a fragment of the letter written by Frederick Chopin, who was treated in Duszniki in 1826 "but I haven't been yet there, where all travel, for I wasn't allowed. Near Reinerz ( Duszniki) there is a mountain with rocks which is called Heuscheuer (Szczeliniec Wielki), a place from where views are delightful but not available for everyone because of the unhealthy air at the summit and I am unfortunately one of these patients who are not allowed there "(excerpt from A. Zieliński, Polish travels over Silesia in the 18th and 19th century Wrocław 1974, page 142).
In 1804, Szczeliniec Wielki Fund was established. The money from charged fees was used to build stairways, paths, railings and make other parts of the mountaintop accessible, for example setting up a viewing spot on the Ancestor's Armchair (Fotel Pradziada). A wooden gate to the summit was locked; the key was kept by a tour guide. A custom of signing in to the visitor's book after seeing the mountain was also introduced. Francis Pabel, who became the administrator of Karłów and the owner of the first inn for guests visiting the mountain, was engaged in all works connected with making Szczeliniec available and maintenance of the equipment. Since the king's visit he had become the tour guide and protector of Szczeliniec Fund. He also discovered and named most of the rocky forms at the summit. In 1813, after the next visit of king Frederick Wilhelm III, Pabel received an official post of a nominated tour guide and cashier of Szczeliniec. This was the first mountain tour guidenomination not only in the history of Sudety, but also the first nomination in Europe. Francis Pabel had been a tour guide up to his advanced old age, climbing Szczeliniec in summer seasons 3 to 4 times a day. Using the self- kept diary book, this simple man prepared for printing the history of opening Szczeliniec to the public. It appeared under the title (in German translation) "Short history of opening Szczeliniec to the public, recalled by Francis Pabel, a tour guide and administrator of Szczeliniec", and was published three times: in 1843, 1851 and 1857. Today it is available in Karłów in Polish translation. From this publication, we can find out not only about many facts connected with making the place available, but also about the number of tourists visiting it. Over the years 1813-1851 this number amounted to 60 000 visitors. Apart from royal visits, which were commemorated by plaques, located on the Great- grandfather's Armchair, Szczeliniec was visited by Johan Wolfgang Goethe in 1790. A plaque cut in the rock, unfortunately now in a very ruined state, near the viewing area in front of the chalet, informs us about that fact. A year later Minister of Silesian Affairs Carl von Hoym took part in a feast at the summit served in his honour. Some people claim that the name of the Stołowe (Tabletop) Mountains come from a German word "Tafelstein"- then-invented for a place where sumptuously laid tables stood. In 1800 John Quincy Adams, the later president of the United States, came to Szczeliniec to admire the sunrise. He described his impressions from this stay in German and French versions of "Letters about Silesia".
A number of Poles also visited the mountain in the 19th century. They could have used a guidebook, because one of the oldest sources that included descriptions of Szczeliniec and Stray Rocks was a guidebook "Mineral waters of Silesia and Glack county" (Wody mineralne Śląskie i Hrabstwa Glackiego) by F.K. Mosch published in Polish translation in 1821 in Wrocław. Some of the visitors, such as Józef Morawski, left entries in the visitor's book expressing delight of nature of the Stołowe Mountains: "Wonderful nature! Here where you hide your fine rifts among the clouds, here a wanderer, whose foot struggles to your summits, you leave a horrifying picture of fate of so many nations and you raise his spirit above the earth to the superior fate" and Zygmunt Stęczyński, a famous Polish wanderer of the 19th century, in his poem "The Sudety Mountains" presented a large, poetic and illustrated description of Szczeliniec. On the basis of published letters, recollections and guidebooks, we can reconstruct how tourism in the Stołowe Mountains looked like in the times of Pabel. Tourists used to approach Stray Rocks and Karłów in carriages. Among the most popular were Stray Rocks, Szczeliniec Wielki, Pośna falls, Wambierzyce and the Skull Chapel in Czermna. Visitors could climb Szczeliniec only with a tour guide and often before dawn, because there was a romantic custom of admiring sunrise from its summit. Richer people were carried up in sedan- chairs. At the top the tour guide, apart from drawing tourists' attention to all the things worth noticing, was trying to provide them with maximum amount of attractions. One of them stated by almost all of the 19th century tourists was the "Singing Stone" (Śpiewający Kamień), hardly known today, situated even before the entrance to the northern viewing areas. Karol Antoniewicz, who was visiting Szczeliniec in 1837 recalls: "clear, metal sound similar to that of a bell, which a rock hit lightly utters as if it was roused from sleep (...) a beautiful toy of nature." The sights from southern viewing areas were watched through coloured pieces of glass in order to get even more interesting impressions. The pieces of glass were stored in an arbour which had stood from 1815 in place of the later chalet, still existing today. Not far from the cliff, the tour guide shot a gun to produce echo. Listening to this phenomenon in the mountains and estimating the number of repetition was a favourite custom of the 19th century tourists. In the second half of this century, for a special fee, even mortar shots were made in front of the chalet. Rumour had it that echo replied the bang of the shot from 8 to 10 times. It was also certain, as stated the Poznań Newspaper (Gazeta Poznańska) from the year 1899, that even in the 19th century, there was a custom, specific for Szczeliniec and preserved till today, of "propping up" rocks "imminent to collapse" with the use of small sticks. From the northern viewing spots, where an organ-grinder complementing sounds of nature was another attraction, tourists initially walked only up to the Ancestor's Armchair. To the top of this rock, where one of the most beautiful panoramas in the Sudety Mountains could be admired, led two-way wooden stairs. Destroyed after the war, they were replaced with metal stairs by the National Park in 1995. Farther south-eastern viewing spots over Karłów were reached in 1825. On one of them a wooden viewing pavilion was built in 1830, which still existed till the 60's of this century. The return stairs leading towards Karłów from the southern viewing areas were made available in 1827. They were also destroyed and had not functioned after the last war. The National Park repaired it and made it available for tourists again in 2000, giving the route over Szczeliniec the name of Francis Pabel. The route at the bottom of deep crevices leading to other parts of Szczeliniec was started in the second half of the 19th century.
In 1845 on the upper platform, a chalet called "the Swiss" (Szwajcarka) was built. It is one of the oldest chalets in the Sudety Mountains and the only one built with he only aim to serve tourists. All other chalets in the Polish Sudety evolved from shepherd's sheds. The chalet "On Szczeliniec" also as the only one in the Sudety, doesn't have access to road. Initially all supplies were transported here on people's backs or using pack animals (donkeys). Since the seventies, there has functioned here a goods lift from a drivable road to village Pasterka, stretching at the northern foot of the mountain. Presently the chalet, which has not been repaired for many years, is in catastrophic condition. In the middle of the 19th century, an inn situated near the Pośna falls was built at the access route to the side of Karłówek. An additional attraction for the tourists was made here, which are gates damming up the water and a system of cascades activated after paying a fee. Shortly after the war, despite the facts that the inn existing in Karłowek didn't reopen and the system of water flow was destroyed, the Pośna falls was very popular. In the sixties after the construction of drinking water intake for Radków, Pośna lost most of its waters and the waterfalls nearly disappeared. At the end of the 19th century, the Kłodzko Mountain Association (Kłodzkie Towarzystwo Górskie) started its activity in the Stołowe Mountains. Its members established new tourist trails, prepare viewing spots and built other tourist facilities. The tourist trail linking Ardśpaskie Rocks in Czech part of the Stołowe Mountains with Szczeliniec and Karłów gained great popularity then. It went through Hvezda in Broumovskie Walls, Ostra Góra and Pasterka, which in that time was a significant tourist resort. In Karłów, which was expanding excellently, the next tourist inn was built in 1836. It had been open till the seventies of the 19th century and during all that time it was run by the Stiebler family. In 1833 a school was built. In the middle of the 19th century, there were a number of other facilities in Karłów. Apart from forester's lodge and a mill, there were 2 sawmills, a distillery, 24 weaver's shops and a post office with telegraphic lines established in the year 1888. The considerable growth in the numbers of tourists occurred after the main transport artery of the Stołowe Mountains, "Way of Hundred Turns" was built in the years 1867-1870, and the railway lines to Kudowa and Radków were opened at the beginning of the twentieth century. After the last war most of the villages in the region of the Stołowe Mountains lost their holiday functions and some of them were entirely abandoned and disappeared from the face of earth (Karłówek, Ostra Góra).
Karłow remained one of the most popular touring places in the Kłodzko region, but it also underwent great depopulation and most of all lost its old landscape of a woodland-tourist settlement. Ugly boxlike buildings of new restaurants and souvenir kiosks were built and holiday cabins appeared in the most exposed places. The picturesque wooden building of an old school, decorated with a signature, and also functioning as a youth hostel collapsed due to the lack of renovation. The PTTK (Polish Tourist Country-lovers' Association) took care over the chalet on Szczeliniec and tourist trails. In the sixties, this association also created a new chalet in Pasterka. New routes (among others, those in the region of Rock Mushrooms, not known before the war and only discovered after the great hurricane in 1955) were marked and the old ones were renovated. Presently, the Stołowe Mountains have the most complex network of tourist routes for hikers among all mountain ranges in Sudety. Within an area of about 63 square kilometres, their total length amounts to 120 km. Among them, a part of the main Sudety route (which bears the name of Mieczysław Orłowicz) marked with red colour, links the greatest attractions of the region: Calvary foundations of Wambierzyce, Rock Mushrooms, Szczeliniec, Stray Rocks and Kudowa Zdrój. In the seventies, an asphalt road to Stray Rocks was built. It enables coaches or cars to enter the plateau of Skalniak at 850 m above sea level. In the nineties, after the administrative reform of the country, we witness the intensification of tourism growth in the region of the Stołowe Mountains, which is contributed to the activity of consortium of 6 local communes called the "Tourist six". In 1997, thanks to this organisation's initiative, in cooperation with Czech landscape park (CHKO Broumovsko), two international bicycle routes were created. One 159 km long, around the whole range of the Stołowe Mountains, the other somewhat 50 km longer called "Walls" - inside of the mountain range, going at the foot of rocky bastions, past the highest elevations on Czech and Polish side. In the second half of the nineties, protected territories of the Polish and Czech Stołowe Mountains became linked by tourist border crossings in Ostra Góra, Kudowa Czermna and Radków. The Stołowe Mountains National Park in cooperation with the CHKO Broumovsko on the other side of the border prepared and then published a joint tourist map of both protected places. In 1996, Euroregion Glaciensis was established, includingssociations of Polish and Czech communes, based on the exact likeliness of geographical conditions and great historic unity of the region.
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