A Commune Friendly to Residents, Tourists, Investors and… Bats

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The mayor of Jerzy Pilch was awarded the title of Leader by vocation

Picturesquely set in the Silesian Beskid, the Brenna Commune is famous for its extraordinary tourist attractions, investment opportunities and interesting cultural and sports events. Since 2014, it has been governed by the mayor Jerzy Pilch, who has been awarded the title of Leader by vocation (Lider z powołania) for his enormous commitment to improving the quality of life of the residents and popularising the municipality on an international scale.

Brenna is a thriving town. It is investing in new areas of economic and social life. There is a Godula Sandstone quarry, which has been operating for many years, as well as craft stone processing plants in the municipality. A well-developed branch of the tourism industry, combined with effective management, is the most important factor ensuring constant development.
Since November 2014, the municipality has been managed by the mayor Jerzy Pilch—an entrepreneur with a degree in economics, and, after hours, a football fan and player. His main goal is to increase the importance of the village as a sports and tourist centre, and the means to achieve it is the continuous development of tourist infrastructure.

However, in order to do so, some of the problems common to all towns located in mountain valleys must first be tackled (e.g. smog and environmental safety). This is how the idea of creating an Active Recreation Centre (Centrum Aktywnego Wypoczynku) was born.

The aim of the project is to implement a pilot project of supra-regional impact. It envisages the creation of an innovative ski, leisure and recreation centre based on local cooperation and governmental involvement of public and local entities. Moreover, the aim is to build an integrated recreation, sports and tourism complex, unique in the country and energy efficient, as it will be implemented following RES policies. The project will be based on numerous implementations of innovations in the field of energy and tourism infrastructure. The model character of the project is also to be an element of its tourist attractiveness. All elements of the infrastructure created on the basis of innovative implementations will be open for tourists.

Among other things, the construction of a pumped hydroelectric energy storage (PHES) power plant with three tanks was indicated as the main objective, thanks to which Brenna would become energy self-sufficient, reduce pollution from the lower parts of the stratosphere, and would have an orderly water management system in terms of low retention and surface water.

“The aim was to create a kind of independent energy system based on renewable energy sources.” stresses the Mayor. “Until now, we have been fighting the smog in various ways, and now we are convinced that this is a much more effective means of dealing with the phenomenon.”
Along with solving these problems, the municipality is committed to developing the tourist infrastructure. New cycling paths and places for extreme sports are indicative of the strategy that the commune is following in its efforts to attract tourists. A coherent concept of tourism development should consist in an optimal use of tourist attractions and facilities.

Tourist attractions and facilities

Brenna offers about 3 thousand accommodation places. Tourists will also find ski lifts in the centre and in a nearby town, Leśnica. There is an Observatory of Bats and over 50 natural monuments, including the thickest oak and the highest common fir in Poland. In the summer you can take part in numerous events. Among others, Harvest Festival, Midsummer Night, Days of Old Cultures and , especially dedicated to art lovers, Artistic Summer at Kossaks’. Health benefits for tourists are guaranteed not only thanks to the forest microclimate and educational paths, but also through the possibility of taking part in numerous sports events. Among them is the mountain run „o Breńskie Kierpce”, awarded many times by the League of Mountain Runs as the best mountain run in Poland. Recreation and horse riding enthusiasts will enjoy the „Hucul’’ Centre while those who love ice-skating will be pleased with the smooth surface of the municipal ice rink.

”This requires a whole set of measures: first, the capacities of the tourist accommodation facilities and of those places that are of interest to visitors must be anticipated and assessed as part of spatial planning. The next step is to create an offer that meets the relevant needs and the expectations of our guests. We want to be at the forefront of touristic places in the region” explains Mayor Jerzy Pilch.

The municipality is constantly expanding its offer and developing infrastructure: “We have a graduation tower in the Municipality of Brenna!” emphasises the Mayor. ”Actually, it belongs to a nearby town of Leśnica. Since brine inhalations support the prevention and treatment of many diseases, I am glad that the inhabitants of Górki and Brenna will be able to enjoy such facilities in our Commune from spring to autumn. Undoubtedly, the graduation tower is yet another tourist attraction. The fact that it was built in the vicinity of a playground and an open-air gym makes Leśnica an interesting sports and recreation complex. Besides, we are glad that for this investment we managed to obtain funding from the Rural Development Programme.”

Force of nature

The Brenna commune is also a unique place in terms of nature. Curiously enough, it is inhabited by several species of bats. Apart from their natural habitat (caves where bats spend the winter, engulfed in hibernating deep sleep), they can also be found in the attic of the Primary School No. 1 in Brenna, in the buildings of the Scouts’ Station of Aleksander Kamiński, in the Kossaks’ Manor and in the historic church in Górki Wielkie. In 2014, the Bats Observatory was established in the attic of the primary school. Visitors can admire these remarkable mammals and this not through the display cabinet glass, but with their own eyes and ears, as they can also hear the sounds the bats emit. Year after year, this place is becoming increasingly popular. In 2019, the Observatory was visited by around 3000 tourists.
Bats are unusual animals well worth getting to know up close. Therefore, the Municipality of Brenna has implemented the project „Get to know the bat—resident of the Municipality of Brenna” which was financed by the Voivodeship Fund for Environmental Protection and Economy in Katowice. Thanks to its implementation, the Municipality of Brenna organised the „Night Bat Workshop”, during which bats flying out for night feeding were observed.

The municipality has always focused on maintaining its cultural identity formed by the rich history of the region and pastoral tradition. Shepherds from the Carpathian Mountains settled in Brenna in the 16th century. Sheep grazing was carried out in numerous pastures at the time when the mountain glades were overgrown with herbs and grasses. The herbs have long inspired the rituals of the Silesian Highlanders. In Brenna they became an important part of life of many inhabitants.

„Brenna Ziołami Pachnąca” („Brenna fragrant of herbs”) is a pilot promotional campaign focused on herbs. The steadily growing popularity of herbs in recent years and the natural and historical heritage of our region have inspired the municipal authorities to create a unique place on the national scale – the Beskid House of Herbs „Przytulia”: a unique museum combining tradition with modernity. „Przytulia” is a story about the life of the Silesian Highlanders hundreds of years ago: about rituals, traditions, crafts, shepherding and every other aspect of their lives. All told from the perspective of herbs and their wide presence in the kitchen, medicine and magic practices.

Brenna in winter

The municipality of Brenna is an ideal spot for relaxation! It is really worth coming to Brenna to get proper rest, whether you are looking for activity, recreation or just peace. You will be surprised by this town, by its numerous cycling and mountain trails, wooden architecture gems, wonderful folklore, natural beauty and many attractions in both the summer and winter season. The richness of the cultural landscape as well as the Beskid Mountains will certainly put you in a good mood. Here you will find everything you are looking for! •

Iwona Wolańska-Stachurska
Beata Sekuła