Twardowski Rocks are situated in Zakrzówek Park, in the vicinity of the picturesque Zakrzówek reservoir that was founded in 1990 on the site of a former quarry. Located within the Krakow Gate, between Oświęcim Basin and Sandomierz Basin, the area lies on the eastern edge of Bielany-Tyniec Landscape Park and is legally protected.
Krzemionki Zakrzowskie are a Jurassic limestone massif, cut with clear fault lines and visible from the Vistula river. Depressions between horsts create rifts and are filled with Tertiary sea sediments. Twardowski Rocks are intensively used by local climbers – the area has a large number of climbing routes, equipped with permanent climbing protection. The relatively easy access and popularity of the place among climbers led to a particular form of erosion – smoothing the rock surface along the existing climbing routes.
Twardowski Rocks were formed in the Tertiary epoch at the foot of the Carpathians, and thus belong to the Subcarpathian region. The area is situated at an altitude of 147-200 metres above sea level. The relative height reaches 50 metres.
In addition, there are also many karstic forms, mainly in shape of craters with a depth of 1 to 2 metres. At the bare limestone rocks karstic grooves and ribs can be seen. Within Twardowski Rocks there are caves, the most famous being Twardowski’s Cave on the south side and The Bright Cave.
According to legend, the famous sorcerer Mr Twardowski ran a school of magic among the surrounding cliffs. One day, as a result of an explosion in his laboratory, the Rocks were created. Twardowski Rocks began to be associated with the sorcerer only by the end of the 19th century, as he reportedly worked in another rocky area, near Krzemionki Podgórskie, where his studio was located.
The most famous sorcecer in Krakow, Jan Twardowski (whether he was a historical or fictional figure is still under discussion) worked on the invention of the philosopher’s stone that would make possible converting any metal to gold, rejuvenating and treating disease. In exchange for the fulfilment of all his wishes, Twardowski signed a pact with the devil, who was to take the sorcerer’s soul as soon as Twardowski arrived in Rome.
To outwit the devil, Twardowski carefully avoided any trips to Rome. One day, however, he visited an inn, not realising that it was called “Rome”. The devil appeared to take his soul, but Twardowski mounted a rooster and rose into the sky. Legend has it he still sits on the moon and longs for Krakow.