This is the second largest park in Poland, and the largest in northern Europe. It was opened on January 16, 1959, and was created for the protection of the natural environment, namely the forest and its wildlife. Within the park, there are over 5,000 types of animal, including salmon, lynx, black storks and bison. The area has been recognized by UNESCO World Biosphere Reservation of biological diversity, as well as a bird sanctuary by the European Union. The forest is north-west of Warsaw, and is largely comprised of dense forests and swamps, as well as a few old sandy fields. Evidently, though, the forest itself dominates the national park, and encompasses about 71% of its total area, with oaks being a defining characteristic of the park – it’s quite unusual to find this type of tree on sand. There is a great deal of diversity of vegetation, with about 118 groups known to exist.
But Kampinoski Park does not only consist of nature, as a quick walk around will confirm: there are architectural antiques and historical curiosities to be admired. The oldest and most valuable are the 12th century Roman-style Abbey, found at the edge of the forest, and the Salezjanów Basilica and monastery from the 15th century. Also, make a point of seeing the wooden Baroque church built from 1773-1782, and a classical court from the beginning of the 19th century which served as the Zygmunt Padlewski’s headquarters at the time of the January Uprising.