Opolskie Province is located in the south-western part of Poland, in the basin of the upper Odra. It is bordered by the Czech Republic, as well as the Silesian, Lower Silesian, Łódź and Greater Poland provinces. The Investor and Exporter Assistance Centre (Polish acronym COIE) in Opolskie emphasizes that one of the main strengths of the region is the A4 highway running from the west to the east, but also a proximity to the A1 highway, the road network connecting the region with the South of Europe and the dense railway network. All this makes that the region is on the route of important communication lines between Poland and France, Germany, the Benelux countries and Ukraine, as well as directly with the Czech Republic. The proximity of the junction, inter alia, in Sośnica (A1) facilitates communication with the markets of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Italy and Austria. Investors can also benefit from easy access to international airports in Wroclaw, Katowice, Kraków and Ostrava. There is less than 400 km from Opole to Berlin, only 280 km to Prague, 340 km to Vienna, 360 km to Bratislava and 320 km to Warsaw.
The main sectors of the regional economy are industry (especially chemical, construction and food) and agriculture.
The area of Opolskie province is 9,412.5 km2 (3,634.2 sq miles). It is home to just over one million inhabitants - with nearly 65 percent in cities. The problem of the region is its depopulation, because of the lowest fertility rates in the country, and the highest percentage of migration. The data of Opolskie demographers show that since the 50s of the last century, more than 230,000 people left the region permanently, and approx. 120,000 are now temporarily staying abroad.
It should be noted, however, that the Opolskie province as the first in the country begins to systemically counteract the adverse demographic trends by introducing the so-called Demographic Special Zone program, funded, among others, by the EU money. This is a project that aims to prevent depopulation of the region. It consists of four packages: nursery and kindergarten, education and the labor market, golden autumn and the work means a safe family. Its objective is to create jobs, favorable conditions for investors who wish to invest their capital in the region and for the residents, so as to retain them in the region and encourage them to establish their families here.
The Investor and Exporter Assistance Centre in Opolskie reports on its website that the largest “wealth” of the Opolskie Region are the people “accustomed to hard and responsible work”. According to COIE, Opolskie is the region that is characterized by a wealth of traditions and harmonious cooperation of different cultures: Polish, Czech and German. “It makes that the people of the region are open to international contacts and exchange of experience” – it said. And added: Many of them work in the European Union countries, mainly in Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and Belgium. These contacts help to move to the region market labor patterns and standards that exist in these countries, increase the skills of the workers in the region, and provide an excellent knowledge of the requirements of the employers in Western Europe. People returning to the region create new jobs, strengthening the sector of small and medium enterprises, and using their extensive experience gained in the European labor market.
The multiculturalism of the Opolskie Region is also manifested through coexistence in the local community of the country's largest minority - the German minority. In the census of 2011, German nationality was declared by more than 148,000 people, a large part of which are the inhabitants of the Opolskie Province. They are represented at all levels of local government - from municipalities, through counties to council - and benefit from the exercise of their privileges, eg. in the field of education and bilingual teaching. The evident effects of this are, amongst others, bilingual teaching in a growing number of schools in the Opolskie Region or bilingual, Polish-German, information boards that are already in over 330 locations in 26 municipalities of the region.
The inhabitants of Opolskie Region can also develop their skills in many universities existing in the region - mainly in the capital of the province. The main academic center - Opolskie - educates approx. 40,000 students, which represents, according to COIE experts, one quarter of the population of the city. In the city there are headquarters of: University of Opole, Opole University of Technology, School of Management and Administration, State Medical College, Department of Economics of Wroclaw School of Banking and the Department of Bogdan Jański College. In the region, there are also the State Higher Vocational School in Nysa and the College of Humanities and Economics in Brzeg.
Opolskie Province is not only conveniently located, multicultural region, but also a place attractive to tourists. Although picturesque Opawskie Mountains in Opolskie region are not Tatra Mountains; Stobrawski Landscape Park is not Białowieża Forest; and Nyskie, Turawskie or Otmuchowskie lakes are not Masuria - many tourists have already appreciated their charms. Trail to the Bishop’s Kopa (890 mamsl) - the highest peak of the Polish part of the Opawskie Mountains and the highest peak of Opolskie Province - is equally popular among hikers, as water sports, fishing and sailing on the lakes of Opolskie Region among supporters of rest over the water.
In addition to the natural values, the Opolskie Region can also boast of tourist attractions created by human hands. One of the biggest one is JuraPark in Krasiejów (Opole county). The expanded all the time complex is visited annually by approx. 200,000 people.
Currently, more than 260 life-size replicas of prehistoric dinosaurs, representing nearly 60 species of these primeval animals were collected and exposed on 44 hectares of JuraPark. You can view them in their natural environment – they are set along the longer than 1.5 km track. In Krasiejow’s JuraPark there are also a three-dimensional cinema and the Tunnel of Time, in which - traveling by the special train – you can get to know the history of the Earth. This is one of the three longest 3D cinemas in the world - its screen is 500 meters long.
JuraPark has also Aquarium with huge multimedia screens instead of aquarium windows where you can watch the three-dimensional flying dinosaurs of millions of years ago, among them the shark ancestor. It also contains a playground, beach, food and beverage outlets, monkey grove. Children can also play in archaeologists and look for fossilized bones in the ground.
JuraPark is not only a place of entertainment. Next to the dinosaurs’ replicas you can see the real fossils, because the park was created on the site, where the Europe's largest deposits of Triassic vertebrate bones have been found. Museum dedicated to them is situated above the research station still active in Krasiejów, just off JuraPark where paleontologists still work. It is worth mentioning that among many dinosaurs found on this cemetery it was discovered a completely unknown one. He was named Silesaurus opolensis, because he was discovered in Opolian Silesia.
One of the newest attractions in Krasiejów’s JuraPark is Interactive Science and Human Evolution Park opened in June of this year. Prehistory trip begins here 66 million years ago, when life on Earth was almost wiped out. Then the audience move closer to the present day, when the evolution of man began. Wandering through the museum is accompanied by a virtual guide that explains the mysteries of the fate of mankind. All videos are displayed in 3D.
Opolskie Region is also a land of castles, mansions and palaces. These include a fairytale castle in Moszna. As indicated by the study of tourism, this place is always - like JuraPark and a picturesque complex of Góra Świętej Anny Landscape Park with beautifully situated sanctuary and amphitheater - among the most popular tourist destinations.
Moszna Castle resembles that of the Walt Disney Pictures logo. There are 365 rooms and 99 towers and turrets. According to one of the legends, the main builder of the castle, Count Franz Hubert Tiele-Winckler made sure to have exactly this number of towers, because if there were a hundred, he would need to keep the garrison of soldiers. According to another one – the family had 99 estates and the count decided to reflect it in the number of turrets.
The castle was built in the mid-seventeenth century. Its eclectic block consists of a Baroque central part rebuilt after a fire in 1896, the eastern neo-Gothic wing and the western wing of the neo-Renaissance style. Thanks to this, it is one of the most architecturally diverse castles in Poland. Another attraction in Moszna is also a park with centuries-old trees, ponds, bridges, azaleas and rhododendrons. The castle houses a hotel, restaurant and cafe. Right next door is a stud. Moszna is a mecca for horsemen, in addition to stud in nearby Prudnik, and the well-known among athletes and enthusiasts of riding Lewada Riding Country Club, which annually hosts the most popular actors for the stars equestrian championship.
The great attraction in the Opolskie Region is also the Brzeg Castle called Silesian Wawel with Renaissance cloisters, Museum of the Silesian Piast and a richly decorated entrance gate. A great popularity gained also a completely renovated in recent years Sulisław palace, which dates back to the seventeenth century. Today it houses the Ayurvedic medicine center, apparently unique in Poland, and the first five-star hotel in the Opolskie Region. Elements and symbolism of distant India have been here subtly woven into a classic and elegant interior of the castle.
According to the data of Opolskie conservator of monuments, there are approx. 180 castles, mansions and palaces entered in the register of monuments. The same number is not registered. More than half of those registered is in average and good condition. Several were completely renovated, becoming hotels and holiday complexes, for example, palaces in Izbicko, Kamien Slaski and Rogow Opolski. Approx. 60 structures have been identified as being at risk. Among the most damaged and most beautiful is the palace in Kopice called “water palace”. According to many, it could also be a great attraction, as a castle in Moszna, if not fallen into disrepair.
Noteworthy are also Opolskie religious monuments. Apart from Opole cathedral, a large tourist attraction is a trail of wooden churches, the number of which is close to seventy in the Opolskie Region. They come mostly from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century. Small, built of darkened wood, they become a characteristic feature of Opolskie landscape and one of the tourist attractions of the region. The biggest attraction and the most important point of so-called Brzeski polychrome trail is the church of St. James the Apostle in Małujowice (Brzeg county), called “the Silesian Sistine”. Its walls are tightly covered by nearly one hundred paintings on religious themes, conceived as the Biblia pauperum - the bible for the poor, formerly unfamiliar with handwriting. It became even more attractive after the murals renovation completed in recent years.
A lot of tourist attractions are also in the town of Opolskie, where, apart from the Main Square with the Town Hall modeled on The Palazzo Vecchio of Florence and the thirteenth, fourteenth-century Piast Tower, there is also famous and recently rebuilt Opole amphitheater, hosting the legendary National Festivals of Polish Song since 1963. The biggest stars of Polish music were appeared and born there. Some of these stars were also honored with special, commemorative plates, unveiled in the Polish Songs Walk of Fame, which is located opposite the Opole Town Hall.
It is impossible to mention all the Polish stage artists who performed at the festival in Opole. Among those who come from Opole or have lived here for a long time are Edyta Górniak, Michal Bajor and Elżbieta Zapendowska.
It is worth noting that the National Festival of Polish Song is not the only musical event in Opole. Just to mention the International Percussion Festival Drum Fest held every year and reeling ever widening circles, which attracts not only the greatest percussion virtuoso.
Among the tourist attractions of the capital of Polish song are also the Opole Zoological Garden, Oder revitalized boulevards, areas along Młynówka river – the old bed of the Oder, Most Groszowy (Penny bridge) called also Green Bridge, an open-air museum in the Museum of Rural Architecture on the outskirts of the city and the exhibitions at the Museum of Opole Silesia, presenting history of the Opolskie Region. There is also the Jozef Elsner Opole Philharmonic, Jan Kochanowski Theatre, where the Opole Theatre Confrontations “Polish Classics” are organized every year, the Contemporary Art Gallery hosting World Press Photo exhibitions and Alojzy Smolka Puppet and Actor Theater.
The Opole region is also proud of its athletes’ successes. One of the best volleyball teams in the country - Zaksa Kędzierzyn-Koźle works in the region for many years. It is a sports power, built from scratch in the second largest city in the Opolskie Region. The team, formerly playing as Mostostal Kędzierzyn-Koźle, won the Polish championships and cups, as well as high places in international competitions: CEV Cup and the prestigious Champions League. In Mostostal, then in Zaksa, played such Polish volleyball celebrities as the current coach of this team Sebastian Swiderski, world champions - Pawel Zagumny, Pawel Zatorski and Marcin Możdżonek, as well as Bartosz Kurek, Felipe Fonteles, Marcin Prus and Michał Ruciak.
But not only fans of volleyball will find something for them in the Opolskie Region. Hockey lovers can look for emotions on the ice rink Toropol, where a top league Orlik Opole plays, while handball fans will find a place in the Gwardia Opole hall, which is fighting for a return to the top level handball league. High-ranking events are also hosted from time to time by the railwayman speedway stadium, which is strongly supported by the former great master of this sport and citizen of Opole, Jerzy Szczakiel. Some of the most successful weightlifters are educated in the Budowlani Opole Club, where also trains Bartlomiej Bonk, the bronze medal winner at the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Another well-known sport personage, who lives in the capital of Polish songs, two-time Polish champion in the high jump at the stadium (1980, 1983), and under the roof (1982), a participant of the Olympic Games in Moscow in 1980, Janusz Trzepizur is co-organizer of one of the “youngest”, but highly rated athletic events: Opole Jumping Festival. It hosted already such famous jumpers like Ivan Ukhov from Russia and Mutaz Essa Barshim from Qatar. During the meeting in Opole in 2013, the subsequent indoor world champion in the high jump Kamila Lićwinko (at that time still Stepaniuk) from Podlasie Bialystok, with the result of 1.99 m improved by two centimeters Polish record in the women’s high jump. Previous record for 29 years belonged to Danuta Bulkowska.
Bułkowska is, moreover, one of the regular visitors of Opole Jumping Festival, where Trzepizur invites Polish champions and Olympians to encourage children to play sports.
COIE also suggests to those who invest in the Opolskie Region that near Opole there is an Aeroclub with the parachute, glider, airplane, powered hang glider sections. In addition, many modern resorts with full physiotherapy (including swimming pool, classical and water massage) were created in places such as Moszczanka, Pokrzywna or Jarnołtówek. In Kamien Slaski there is a modern spa, the first in Poland using the methods of treatment of Dr. Kneipp.
A large number of diverse tourist attractions and a small area of the region make it a good place for investment, but also for leisure activities.