Krzeszowice: Spa Traditions
The first mention of the healing effect of the waters comes from the parish chronicle of 1625, where the treatment of cattle with sulphurous water was mentioned. The organisation of the Krzeszowice spa began in the 1870s, when the first spring was cased. It is the oldest spa facility in the town and can still be seen today under the name of the Main Spa.
The 2nd half of the 18th century saw a dynamic development of the spa. Prince August Czartoryski erected the first bathing facilities, and his daughter, Princess Izabella Lubomirska, continued the development plans. In 1788, the spa complex consisted of several small bathhouses, two baths, a hospital, a classicist Vauxhall palace for entertaining patients, an inn and a building for poor guests. At this time, the spa doctor was Leopold de Lafontaine, who in 1789 wrote the first monograph of the spa, including characteristics of the waters and a description of the surroundings.
The ‘Green’ bathhouses were built near the palace in 1819. Their owners were Izabela Lubomirska's grandson, Artur Potocki, and his wife, Zofia, née Branicka. In the mid-19th century people started calling the bathhouses ‘Zofia’ and the name is still used today. The building has been rebuilt several times but has retained its original function of treating patients with rheumatic conditions and to help with recovery from traumatic injury. In addition to the bathhouses and the palace, an important place is the spa park, whose picturesque paths run along the Krzeszówka stream. Near the church is the Main Spa and a chapel where the sulphurous water reservoir is located. Krzeszowice evolved into a refined Polish spa resort attracting visitors and patients from Kraków and Galicia and all over the Kingdom. It owed its popularity to the increasingly widely known properties of the local mineral waters, the town's picturesque location, and the charm of the surrounding hills covered with forests, bare Jurassic rocks and lush meadows in the river valleys. An additional advantage was the proximity of the picturesque ruins of the Tęczyński Castle.
Over the years, interest in the spa gradually waned in favour of Swoszowice and Podkarpacie spa towns such as Szczawnica, Krynica or Iwonicz. In 1847, a temporary increase in popularity was recorded due to the opening of the railway line from Kraków to Mysłowice via Krzeszowice. However, the Potocki family's investments shifted to more profitable industries and mining. During World War II, the bathhouses were used by the occupying forces for wartime purposes and were severely damaged. In 1966-68, adaptation work was carried out in the ‘Sophia’ bathhouses and the facility was partially extended. The Rehabilitation Centre was then established and began treating patients starting in 1970.
Krzeszowice formally lost its designation as a health resort on 1 January 1967, but work is currently underway to restore its official status of a health resort. Despite the absence of official recognition, the use of therapeutic resources in Krzeszowice is uninterrupted, as the health resort traditions are continued by the 'Krzeszowice' Motor Rehabilitation Centre.
Criss-crossed with a dense network of tourist trails that take you to the most interesting sites, Krzeszowice and its surroundings are attractive places for tourists. The Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Scapular in Czerna and the Tenczyn Castle in Rudno are worth visiting. In Krzeszowice, the Potocki Palace, the former seat of the family, sits atop a hill surrounded by a beautiful landscape park. During World War II, the Potocki family's villa was occupied by Governor-General Hans Frank, who robbed the palace of the valuable artworks of the Krzeszowice family. Vauxhall Palace is the city's oldest and most valuable surviving monument, dating from 1783-89, built at the behest of Izabela Lubomirska. At that time, the building was called the Foxal or the Salon, as, standing in the centre of the spa park, it was a meeting place for visitors. Currently, after the renovation in 2010, the palace is the seat of the Culture and Sports Centre. An exciting attraction of Krzeszowice is the gladiator statue adorning the market square. The Roman warrior holds a trident and has a sword at his belt. It is a copy of the figure that once stood by the Potocki Palace.