The Kraków-Częstochowa Upland, also known as the Polish Jurassic Highland or Polish Jura, is a part of the Jurassic System of south-central Poland and consists of a hilly landscapes with Jurassic limestone rocks, cliffs, valleys and vast limestone formations, featuring some 220 caves. The Polish Jura is visited by roughly 400,000 visitors a year.
The Jura stretches between the cities of Krakow, Częstochowa and Wieluń. It borders the Carpathian Mountains to the south (including part of the Carpathians of the Slovak Republic and the highland of Central Poland to the north), toward the Świętokrzyskie Mountains. Part of Jura belongs to the Ojców National Park, the smallest of Poland’s twenty national parks, ranking among the most attractive recreational areas of the country.
The relief of the upland had developed since the Paleogene, under climatic conditions changing considerably. Its main component is a peneplain (low-relief plain, the final stage of fluvial erosion), crowned by monadnocks, rocky masses that resisted erosion, generated as hard rock on Late Jurassic buildup and surrounded by less resistant bedded limestone of the same age.
The Kraków-Częstochowa Jurassic Upland contains a rich ecosystem, where completely opposite plants coexist in the same area, partly because of the unique microclimate and also because of the whole upland being surrounded by virgin forest. Plant and animal life is very bio-diverse, with over 1600 species of plants and 5500 species of animals.
The plant and animal life in the Jura comprises 4600 species of insects, including 1700 species of beetles and 1075 of butterflies, as well as 135 of birds. Mammals include beavers, badgers, ermines and 15 species of bats, many of which hibernate in the park’s caves during the winter.
Apart from a diversity of plant and animal species, one can find a unique cultural landscape with archaeological objects and relics of ancient inhabitation, with a vast collection of artefacts. The earliest settlement in the area dates to the Paleolithic period, approximately 12,000 years ago. The region is rich in flint, which attracted early humans.