Historical background
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Mieczysław Orłowicz’s Main SudetyTrail – historical background

Główny Szlak Sudecki im. dra Mieczysława Orłowicza (Mieczysław Orłowicz’s Main Sudety Trail) commemorates the founder of Polish tourism. It runs from Świeradów Zdrój to Prudnik (the fragment described also includes the section from Szklarska Poręba to Orłowiec), through the most interesting part of the Polish Sudety mountains. It is in the historical territory of the Silesia (the former Duchy of Jawor and Świdnica) and Bohemia (the Land of Kłodzko). The area was colonised under German rule, which had a significant impact on its cultural character. Castles and cities were established, and rural settlements began to appear higher and higher up the mountains. In the middle of the 14th century the area was incorporated into a new state: the Lands of the Bohemian Crown. A growing crisis of authority by the end of the reign of king Wenceslaus IV resulted in several decades of wars (until 1479). This caused a decline in levels of settlement and a fall in mining. The stabilisation of the Bohemian state in the 16th century and an improvement in the economic situation brought about the development of cities. The Lutheran reformation became a new attitude-shaping factor. Religious tensions lead to the Bohemian Revolt and, as a consequence, the devastating Thirty Years’ War. The triumphant Habsburg family on the Bohemian throne initiated the recatholicisation process – stricter in the Kłodzko region, more lenient in the Silesian duchies. The second half of the 17th century was a period of a slow reconstruction from the ruins. With time, settlements begin to reappear in the mountainous areas. The first Silesian war (1740-1742) brought about a vital political change, as a result of which a major part of Silesia and the eastern end of Bohemia (the County of Kladsko) passed into the hands of the Prussian king. Subsequent wars (1744-1745, 1756-1763) confirmed that situation. From the late 18th century tourism began to develop on the wave of Romanticism. Health resorts became more important. The Sudety were also undergoing heavy industrialisation. In place of the hitherto prevailing weaving and glass industries, coal mining began to develop in the regions of Wałbrzych and Nowa Ruda. In the second half of the 19th century construction of railway began. The Sudety became the most industrialised region in Lower Silesia (a similar process was simultaneously taking place on the Czech and Moravian side of the mountains). From the 1880s travel companies began to develop and create a rich tourist infrastructure. In the post-war period, the major factors which contributed to the decline and damage of the region were: robberies carried out by the Soviet occupation forces, the expulsion of the German and Czech population, a draconian border regime which blocked tourist traffic, changes of ownership and legal relations (e.g. the nationalisation of most of the estate), the negative attitude of the immigrant population toward the German cultural heritage and a lack of proper education which would have allowed people to re-establish the once existing standards of civilisation. Even though attempts were made to bridge this civilisation gap, they could not possibly compensate for the losses.