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South and east of the Karkonosze range lies a sparsely populated region of woods and hills that extends southward deep into the territory of the modern-day Czech Republic. The Kodzko region (www.powiat.klodzko.pl) was one of the first parts of Silesia to be settled by Slavs in the years before 1000 A.D. During the early centuries of its existence, Kodzko (pronounced kwahdz-koh) was part of the Bohemian crown lands and ruled from Prague. Even today, the statue-lined main pedestrian bridge in the capital city bears a noticeable resemblance to Charles Bridge in Prague. When the Habsburgs assumed control of Bohemia in the 16th century, they got the Kodzko region as well, only to lose it to Prussia in the 18th century. Later, Kodzko became part of Germany, and then, after World War II, it fell back into Polish hands. Today, while Kodzko is unmistakably Polish, here and there, you'll still find traces of the Prussian and Czech presence. The Polish spoken here is laced with traces of Czech, and in the countryside, much of the rural architecture has a Prussian or Germanic feel. Kodzko is best explored by car since trains are scarce and bus timetables can be tricky to negotiate. The main sights include the beautifully preserved Prussian fortress town of Kodzko and the pleasant spa town of Kudowa-Zdrój, with an eerie bone church, which merits a diversion. Nature is another draw here, unspoiled and wilder the farther south you go toward the Sudety mountains and the popular hiking base of Miedzygórze.