Royal Oaks Trail

6 listopada 2014

November has come. A warm autumn is coming to its end, while winter is still to come. Bicycle trips remain rather for those more hardened to cold, whereas ski-lovers have to wait for snow. However, this period is perfect simply for walking and, for example, choosing one of the educational routes of Białowieża Forest.

 

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giants in November light

 

For this weekend we suggest to your attention ”The Trail of Royal Oaks”. The trail is situated in the vicinity of the Teremiski – Pogorzelce road, in the forest range called ”Stara Białowieża” (Old Białowieża). Most probably, the first settlement of Białowieża and, at the time, also a hunting manor of Polish king Zygmunt Old were located in this very place. 

The trail is about 500 metres long and leads among more than 20 ancient oaks that are given names of Polish kings or Lithuanian dukes. Next to each oak you will find an information plate containing data about the tree’s age, circumference of the trunk and also a short historical record. The trail is available for people with disabilities, including blind persons.

 

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oaks Aleksander Jagiellończyk (on the left) and Zygmunt August

 

The oaks are historical witnesses, reminding us about strong bonds between the monarchs of old and the Forest, as well as about their care over this piece of wilderness. Ancient chronicles mention the Forest for the first time already in the Middle Ages. That was a turbulent period for the region, which became an area of permanent fights between Polish and Lithuanian sovereigns, and even of Teutonic Knights’ influences. The reminder of that time is one of the oaks called ”Giedymin” to honour a great 14th -century Lithuanian duke. According to a legend, duke Giedymin built in the Forest a castle decorated with a pine-wood tower planed to white colour. Supposedly, the name ”Białowieża” (meaning in Polish ”white tower”) derives from that construction. Another mention about ”white tower” comes from the Polish king Stefan Batory (16th century) who built here a hunting manor with a similar pine-tower and founded the first game park.

 

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oak Barbara

 

The Forest was also visited by the Polish king (earlier Lithuanian prince) Władysław Jagiełło. A legend says that he sat under one of the Białowieża’s oaks just before the famous battle and victory over Teutonic Knights in Grunwald (1410). This oak survived until the 70’s of the 20th century. After king Jagiełło, at the time of Jagiellonian dynasty, the area of the Forest was taken under protection. People, who lived here, were subject directly to the king and not to the local lords.

 

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general view of the path

 

From ancient times, as royal domain, the Forest was famous for royal huntings. However, we should keep in mind the fact that kings did not only profit from the Forest but also protected it. King Władysław IV (17th century) governed strict protection over the Forest, which could be entered only with his personal written permission.

 

Recommending you this trail, we want to emphasize the uniqueness of this aggregation of old, often over 400-year-old oaks. Such giants, growing together in one place, are a rarity not only in Poland but also in Europe.


Europejski Fundusz Rolny na rzecz Rozwoju Obszarów Wiejskich. Europa inwestująca w obszary wiejskie. Projekt współfinansowany ze środków Unii Europejskiej w ramach osi 4 Leader. Program Rozwoju Obszarów Wiejskich na lata 2007-2013. Projekt zrealizowany przez Stowarzyszenie Metamorphosis. Instytucja zarządzająca Programem Rozwoju Obszarów Wiejskich na lata 2007-13 Minister Rolnictwa i Rozwoju Wsi