Samotnia od strony Strzechy. Fot. SkywalkerPL, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Samotnia – the iconic Karkonosze mountain hostel is one of the oldest in Poland

Samotnia is one of the oldest hostels in Poland. The first mention of the small hostel dates back to the 15th century. The building is located on the Little Pond, in the Little Pond Basin, in the Karkonosze Mountains. At present, the chalet has 49 beds. There is also a buffet, a tourist information point, a GOPR point and a climbing wall. For almost 60 years, the facility was managed by the Siemaszko family, but now the new leaseholder will be the Wysoka II company from Zakopane.

The origins of Samotnia date back to 1670, when the first mention of a lodge at Mały Staw appeared. A path led there from the area of today’s Karpacz through Złotów. A guard who watched over the trout bred in the reservoir lived in the hut. A little later, at the end of the 17th century, another trail began to be used, leading from the Wang church, through Rzepiórowa Kręgielnia, Polana, Kozi Mostek, which is still frequented today.

Chalet and Little Pond, 1928. Source: Deutsche Fotothek www.deutschefotothek.de

It is believed that the first owners of the pond hut came from the Schuder family. Making a living from goat farming, they watched over the pond, thus fulfilling the will of the Schaffgotsch family, who owned the land at that time. The opening of railway lines from Zielona Góra to Breslau and Berlin in 1866 increased the development of tourism in the region. The owners of the Karkonosze lodges recognised the need to modernise them. Karol Häring set about extending Samotnia. The present-day buffet hall, which is more than 100 years old, dates from this period. The new owner of the building continued the expansion.

Samotnia and Mały Staw, 1933 and 2020. Source: Silesian Digital Library and whiteMAD/Mateusz Markowski

At that time, the symbol of Samotnia was also created – a turret and a bell-signature with the date 1861, cast in Jelenia Góra. In the following years, the building underwent further modernisation thanks to the next owners. The building was renamed Klein Teichbaude after the Little Pond (Kleiner Teich). From 1927, the famous sportsman Paul Haase and his wife Greta ran the chalet. During this period, it became a centre for winter sports, among other things. The last German owner until the end of World War II was Franz Hövel. After the war, the hostel was managed by several Polish administrators. From 1966 Samotnia was managed by Waldemar Siemaszko together with his wife Sylwia. on 10 February 1994 the man died in a car accident. After this tragic event, Sylwia Siemaszko became the manager of the facility.

Samotnia from the Strzecha side. Photo SkywalkerPL, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Under the Siemaszek family’s management, which lasted until 2024, Samotnia flourished and became one of the most awarded hostels and tourist facilities in the country. The first biological sewage treatment plant in the Sudety Mountains was built here, the heating system was modernised from coke to oil, one of the back rooms was adapted into a self-service ski room in 1973, a garage was built for the first Canadian snowmobile in the Krkonoše, and the kitchen and laundry facilities were modernised. At the time, other investments were thought of, but a technical expertise carried out in 1975 showed that a complete overhaul was not cost-effective. The idea was then to turn the chalet into a mountain museum, but it is still in use today. However, it was necessary to shore up the oldest part of the chalet ceiling in what is now the buffet hall and main staircase.

Samotnia. Photo author: Marek W./photopolska.eu

The first decision to reject the Siemaszko family’s offer to continue leasing Samotnia was made in July 2023. This caused a massive wave of protests. Petitions to leave the hostel to the Siemaszko family were signed by tens of thousands of people – tourists, Himalayan mountaineers and public figures. The PTTK authorities decided on another competition, in which three entities took part. The results were announced on 6 February 2024. High II will become the new tenant and the Siemaszko family is to leave Samotnia by 15 May. The decision has caused much controversy. Enthusiasts of the atmospheric hostel fear that the iconic place could turn into another ‘mountain hotel’.

Source: bryla.pl, samotnia.com

Read also: Architecture in Poland | History | Wood | Interesting facts | Travel

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