Sącz region

Blue sky. Green grass. Wooden houses in the distance. Trees around the houses. On the left, a wall made of stones and wood.
Following the Traces of Old professions and Handicrafts from Gorlice to Krynica Zdrój. Imagine merchants with wine barrels and other goods traversing the Carpathian mountain passes. Listen to the stories about the black gold rush and birth of the oil industry. Go back to the times when Ignacy Łukasiewicz invented the oil lamp and when the first oil street light was lit in Gorlice. Learn about the origins of the Carpathian spas and the bottling industry relying on the natural mineral springs and their health-related properties.

Between the Beskid Niski and the Beskid Sądecki Mountains, you will find places that recount unique stories of people and their professions: tar merchants from Łosie, lace-makers from Bobowa, bee-keepers from Stróże. We will visit the Medieval town of Biecz known as the ‘tiny Kraków’ or the ‘Polish Carcassonne’. We will peek into the open air museums in Szymbark, Gorlice and Łosie which display the industrial heritage of the region. We will wander along the trail of mineral waters in Krynica-Zdrój and Muszyna and other charming spa towns. We will also discover treasures of nature and culture left behind by the former residents of these lands: wooden churches and Lemko temples, Jewish inns, historical pump rooms in water spas, and cemeteries from WWI designed by the best architects in Europe. There will also be art, poetry and culinary experiences.


1. Paying a Visit to Tar Sellers from Łosie

Klimkówka – Pniaki – Na Ruskiem – Zawoda – Łosie, Wood Tar Traders’ Farm – Telechówki – Na Szlabancie – Klimkówka Hydroelectric Dam– Klimkówka – naturepath – Klimkówka Lagoon

The destination of the trip is the Lemko village of Łosie, which became rich trading in wood tar and lubricants. We will see gems of wooden architecture and the picturesque gorge of the Ropa River.

From Klimkówka towards Ropa we will walk for approx. 2 km along a road that is quite busy in the high season. Behind the forest at the height of the Na Ruskiem hamlet, we turn right to a peaceful and picturesque asphalt road towards the Ropa Valley. In the Zawoda hamlet, we cross the river on a pedestrian bridge and turn left. After a moment, we are in Łosie by the gate to the Greek Catholic Church of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Cerkiew Narodzenia Najświętszej Marii Panny). Behind the church is a unique open-air museum, the Wood Tar Trader’s Farm in Łosie (Zagroda Maziarska), which presents the history of the village related to the wood tar traders and trade in wood tar and lubricants. The micro-museum is a true ethnographic gem: you have to reserve approx. 1.5 hours to see it in the company of a tour guide.

Wood Tar Sellers from Łosie

The Lemko village of Łosie has transformed as a result of birth of the oil industry. Its residents seized the opportunity: they became affluent trading in oil-derivative products. For hundreds of years, the residents of Łosie have been producing wood tar oil and wood tar, indispensable in every household. These products were smeared on the wooden wheels of carts and creaky household items. They were also used in folk medicine.

The flourishing of the oil industry at the end of the 19th century led to an increase in the assortment of oil-derivative products and growth of international trade. Every year, the wood tar traders from Łosie set off on trade routes and travelled as far as up to Riga in the north, Kolozsvar (today Cluj-Napoca) in the south, Brno in the west and Odessa in the east. They started to build impressive houses and replaced the traditional Lemko attire with modern clothing.

Małopolska Institute of Culture in Kraków (Małopolski Instytut Kultury w Krakowie), ‘Maziarze z Łosia, wiejskie bogactwo w globalnym przemyśle naftowym’

On the way back, we will wander through the settlements located between the Valley of the Ropa (Dolina Ropy) and the Klimkówka water dam. There is no passage across the hydro-technical facility, so we have to go round the dam along a steep path that meanders through a forest, traversing the Kiczera-Żdżar elevation (610 m a.s.l.), which forms a part of the so-called Gorlice Pieniny Range. This is a Natura 2000 site – a bat refuge set up to protect the breeding colonies of the lesser horseshoe bat and the greater mouse-eared bat. The forest road leads us to Klimkówka. Finally, it is worth taking a stroll along the nature educational path through meadows and a forest to Lake Klikmowskie (Jezioro Klimkowskie), also known as Klimkówka. There is a beach by the Słoneczna Przystań camping site, gastronomic facilities and a kayak rental. Lake Klimkowskie was formed on the Ropa River in 1994. A small pumped-storage power station is located by the dam. Klimkówka was used as the setting for the filming of Jerzy Hoffman’s ‘With Fire and Sword’ (‘Ogniem i mieczem’): it ‘pretended’ to be the Dnipro River; however, this was at the end of the 1990s, when the lake shores were still pristine and unmanaged.

2. Cycling Around Gorlice– Traces of Oil Industry  

Szymbark – Gorlice – Wola Łużańska – Pustki – Górki – Szalowa – Bieśnik – Bystra – Szymbark
We present an idea for a cycling trip along the main attractions in the vicinity of Gorlice and Szymbark in the course of which you will experience the laid-back vibe of the Beskid Niski and discover its rich history related to the oil industry. We can promise you that the route will be diversified, as a predominant part of the trail leads across mountains and valleys. Conquering some great heights will allow us to get to a number of excellent vantage points in the vicinity of Gorlice and see interesting sites related to, among others, the industrial heritage of the region. The start and the finish lines are located in the vicinity of the castle in Szymbark and Professor R. Reinfuss Pogórze Rural Areas Open-Air Museum (Skansen Wsi Pogórzańskiej im. Prof. R. Reinfussa), so reserve some time before or after the trip to see these unique places.

You can leave the car on a parking site nearby, and there is a bicycle path from a recreation venue called the Szymbark Stop (Przystanek Szymbark), located in the vicinity, which will take you towards Gorlice. Cycling at this section will be quite pleasant because the path, in spite of changing surface, keeps close to the Ropa River which guarantees relative flatness. Our struggles with heights will start behind Gorlice, but before we reach this area, let us definitely take a look at the historical town. To see the famous stone sculpture of the Gorlice bears, just go across the bridge along Mickiewicza Street towards the sports centre and take a footbridge to the picturesque Municipal Park of Wojciech Biechoński (Park Miejski im. Wojciecha Biechońskiego) (you can go back via another bridge and a paved surface between Słowackiego Street and Rzeźnicza Street). After leaving the town, a ride up the Gorlice Golgotha awaits us –this place offers a magnificent panorama. You will definitely feel it in your legs (the name says it all!). If you need to rest, take a break and drop by the Open-Air Museum of the Oil Industry ‘Magdalena’ (Skansen Przemysłu Naftowego Magdalena).

This is only the first part of the climb: the next destination is the cemetery from the time of WWI No. 123 Łużna-Pustki, located on the Pustki hill. Here, not only can you feel the vibe of the turbulent history of these lands but also – weather permitting – see the Tatra Mountains! The cemetery was designed by a sculptor and painter, Jan Szczepkowki, and his work was completed by the Slovakian architect Dušan Jurkovič, the author of the most outstanding cemeteries in the Beskid Niski Mountains, where he combined the folk design of the Carpathian Mountains with Old Slavic elements. At the cemetery, the ‘gontyna’ chapel designed by him is a distinctive structure.

The cemetery was awarded the European Heritage Label by the European Commission, as it reflects important European values of ecumenism and brotherhood.

Military Cemeteries in the Vicinity of Gorlice

The Gorlice lands witnessed numerous fights during WWI; the greatest battle was the Battle of Gorlice, also known as the Gorlice Operation, or the ‘small Verdun’. The battle took place at the beginning of May 1915 and was the greatest battle on the Eastern front of WWI, during which the Germans and Austro-Hungarians defeated Russia, breaking through its front line. The battle was a watershed moment, determining the further fate of the war. Approx. 300,000 soldiers took part in the fighting, with 80,000 on the Russian side and 220,000 on the side of the Central Powers. In total, a combined total of approx. 20,000 soldiers from both sides died in the battle. The War Graves Division in the Austrian Ministry of War dealt with the ordering of the battlefields and dignified burials of the soldiers, stressing the glory of the winners. The surrounding areas were divided into cemetery districts. In each of them, construction of numerous military cemeteries was started, where soldiers of various nationalities, religions and denominations were buried together. This is how the unique funerary complex came into being, with every section designed individually and having its own style. However, the necropoleis have some common traits: the central layout, the main compositional axis, the arrangement of the graves with crosses or tombs in rows, fences with gates. Concrete, stone, metal and wooden elements were used for the construction. The design of the cemeteries was entrusted to Dušan Jurkovič, Hans Mayr and Jan Szczepkowski. The characteristic elements of the designs prepared by the first artist are slender towers, chapels and crosses. The cemeteries are usually located on slopes and harmoniously blend with nature. Jan Szczepkowski’s designs are similar. Hans Mayr’s cemeteries are located lower, in the vicinity of roads and development; they are monumental and minimalist. At the present moment, there are approx. 100 cemeteries from the WWI in the area of Gorlice.

Further on, we reach Szalowa along peaceful asphalt roads, where the late-baroque Church of St Michael the Archangel (Kościół św. Michała Archanioła) from the first half of the 18th century is worth a visit; it is located on the Trail of Wooden Architecture. Now, all we have to do is ride uphill to Bieśnik and then a nice ride down towards the banks of the Ropa and return to the finish line awaits us.

If you have not had enough, you can also do a trip starting here through Bielanka and Łosie in the vicinity of the Klimkówka Lagoon; on its southern banks, a new bicycle trail is being prepared (its completion had been planned for mid-2021).

Bicycle Loop from Ciężkowice to Biecz for experienced cyclists

This is a considerably hilly route for experienced cyclists. We start at the Bogoniowice-Ciężkowice train station in the Tarnów Region (access from Kraków is possible). After seeing the Market Square in Ciężkowice, we head to Moszczenica along back roads. The area is hilly, so we cycle up and down. We ride past the wooden Church of St Michael the Archangel (Kościół św. Michała Archanioła) in Binarowa entered in the UNESCO List of World Heritage sites (to get there, you have to leave the trail for a moment behind Racławice and follow road No. 980).

We reach Biecz, which is distinguished by the beautiful Market Square with a Renaissance Town Hall. On the way back, we cycle through Rzepiennik Suchy and Rzepiennik Strzyżewsko, time after time leaving the province road and using less well-travelled paths. Throughout the trip, the character of the area is very diversified, so it will definitely provide good exercise for your legs.

3. A Historical Stroll in Biecz

Collegiate Church of Corpus Christi (Kolegiata Bożego Ciała) - Russian Donjon and Barian-Rokicki House – Kromer House – Market Square – Starościński Stronghold – Holy Spirit Hospital – Reformed Franciscan Church and Monastery

Unfortunately, the foundation is all that remains after the destruction of Biecz Castle in 1475; therefore, we start our sightseeing in Biecz from the parish church, i.e., the Collegiate Church of Corpus Christi (Kolegiata Bożego Ciała). This structure made of brick and stone, dominating in the town’s panorama, is one of the most interesting examples of late-Gothic architecture in Poland. The elements of interior design in the church also include examples of later styles: Renaissance and Baroque. The polychrome paintings were executed by Włodzimierz Tetmajer, and some of the stained glass windows were probably designed by Stanisław Wyspiański. Next, the preserved fragments of defence walls are worth paying attention to–a path encourages a stroll around them. The town had extended fortifications on account of its significance and strategic location. To this day, the Butcher’s Tower (Baszta Rzeźnicka) (defence bell tower by the collegiate church), the Blacksmiths’ Tower (Baszta Kowalska) and the Russian/Councillors’ Tower (Baszta Radziecka also known as Rajcowska) with the Barian-Rokicki House, i.e., the so-called Old Pharmacy adjoining it, have been preserved. A museum with a display devoted to pharmaceutical services, handicraft and former music has been organised in the building topped with a Renaissance attic. In close vicinity is the Kromer House (Dom Kromera), where you can see exhibitions devoted to the history of the town and the neighbourhood, as well as a part of exhibition about Marcin Kromer and Wacław Potocki. From here, we proceed straight to the Market Square, where the impressive Renaissance Town Hall with a tower decorated with geometric sgrafitto and topped with a cupola catches our eyes. The vantage point on the tower offers great views to the neighbouring area. On the other hand, under the tower is the ‘turma’, i.e., the medieval prison. The museum offers access to the dungeons where convicts were held. You can see the old torture devices there. While on the Market Square, take a closer look at the corner burgher Chodorów Townhouse (the so-called House of Becz the Robber), which tradition says belonged to the legendary founder of the town. Also pay attention to the former synagogue which nowadays serves as the seat of the local authorities. Walking further, we will see the Starościński Gród, which was the residence of Baroque poet, Wacław Potocki, the Hospital of the Holy Spirit (Szpital św. Ducha), the oldest preserved hospital building in Poland (from the 16th century), founded by Queen Hedvig, as well as the Church and Monastery of Reformed Franciscans (Kościół i klasztor franciszkanów reformatów) from the 17th century.

4. Bobowa: the Bobbin Lace Centre

Długoszowski Manor House - Church of All Saints (Kościół Wszystkich Świętych) – Market Square – Cemetery Church of St Sofia (Kościół cmentarny św. Zofii) – Bobbin Lace Gallery – Synagogue – Jewish Cemetery

We start our walk in Bobowa at the Długoszowski Manor House. This Classicist building from the 17th century was the family residence of the Długoszowski family. Bolesław Wieniawa-Długoszowski (18811942), a diplomat, Polish Army General and personal aide to Józef Piłsudski, was brought up here. Next, we head to the Church of All Saints (Kościół Wszystkich Świętych). This is a massive Gothic single-aisle church from the 14th century with a cross-ribbed vault which, despite of several transformations, has retained its original character. In the second half of the 16th century, the church belonged to the Lutherans. Inside, pay attention to the painting by Jacek Malczewski in the main altar. At the Bobowa Market Square (dating back to the Middle Ages), the shrine with the figure of St Florian of 1800 and a sculpture of a lace-maker should be seen. Using the opportunity, have some ice-cream at the local ice-cream parlour and admire the ethnographic collections. At building No. 7 by the Market Square, in the ‘Pasja’ Café, definitely visit the museum with an exhibition titled ‘Shards of Memory’ (Okruchy Pamięci) devoted to the local Jews.

Shards of Memory (Okruchy Pamięci)

Jews were brought to Bobowa in 1732 by the contemporary owner of the land, Michał Jaworski. In this way, Jaworski wished to revive the town’s dwindling trade. Mr Józef Gucwa compiled tokens after Jews from Bobowa. The micro-museum with its exhibition is located in the former house of Markus Jakub Landau, who ran an inn here before the war.

From the Market Square we proceed to a small cemetery at the Church of St Sophia (Kościół św. Zofii). This charming single-aisle stone church was built in the 15th century and manifests all characteristic features of Gothic architecture. On the way back from the Church, stop by the Bobbin Lace Gallery (Galeria Koronki Klockowej) in the Bobowa Commune Culture and Promotion Centre at 18 Grunwaldzka Street. While there, pay attention to the mural presenting bobbin lace made on the wall of the Centre in 2015 by an artist who uses the nickname NeSpoon. From here, the synagogue at Żydowska Street is just a step away. It was erected in 1756. The brick structure in Baroque style with a wooden annexe is one of the most valuable facilities of Jewish sacral architecture in Poland. After the fire of 1889 and the destruction brought by WWII, the synagogue was restored. Inside, fragments of polychrome of 1778 have been preserved. Today, it is an important site of worship for Hasidic pilgrims who come to Bobowa from all over the world (primarily the USA) to the Jewish cemetery (‘kirkut’) established in the 17th century, where the worshipped tomb of the Bobowa tsaddiks is located; Salomon ben Natan Halberstam (1847–1906) was buried there; Halberstam was a rabbi and a founder of the local yeshiva and the Hasidic Bobov dynasty. The cemetery lies at a distance of approx. 1.5 km from the Market Square. Reaching it on foot takes approx. 30 minutes.

5. Art and Mineral Stroll in Krynica-Zdrój

Main Pump-Room Old Concert Shell – Old Spa House (Stary Dom Zdrojowy) – New Spa House (Nowy Dom Zdrojowy) – Nikifor Museum – Spa Church of the Holy Transfiguration and Our Lady of Częstochowa – Nikifor Monument – ‘Patria’ Villa

It is best to start the stroll in Krynica at its very heart, i.e., the Krynica pedestrian precinct. The Main Pump Room (Pijalnia Główna) is located at Nowotarskiego Avenue. This is a modernist building with glazed walls, built between 1969 and 1971 according to the design of StanisławSpyta and Zbigniew Mikołajewski and partially rebuilt during the last modernisation between 2012 and 2014. At the beginning of the stroll, definitely try the Krynica mineral waters, including the famous Zuber, i.e., water with a strong hydrogen sulphide smell. It is worth adding that the building also has a concert hall, and next to it is a small concert shell with a plaque commemorating Jan Kiepura (1902–1966), an opera singer and actor related the Krynica. The Old Spa House (Stary Dom Zdrojowy) is located opposite the concert shell. This characteristic neo-Renaissance building and distinguishing trait of the Krynica mineral waters was built in the 1880s according to the design of Julian Niedzielski and Jan Zawiejski. Going back to the other side of the pedestrian area, we will see the New Spa House (Nowy Dom Zdrojowy) erected between 1938 and 1939 in the modernist spirit. It was designed by Witold Minkiewicz. From here, we will go to the Dietl Boulevard once again and cross the Kryniczanka Brook in order to reach the Nikifor Museum, devoted to the life and works of Nikifor Krynicki. The Museum is located in the wooden ‘Romanówka’ spa villa from the 19th century that was originally located at Piłsudskiego Street. The fairy-tale blue villa forms a part of the Małopolska Trail of Wooden Architecture (Małopolski Szlak Architektury Drewnianej). It was used as a guest house. It is an eclectic timbered building with a Swiss-style log frame structure.

Nikifor Krynicki

Real name: Epifaniusz Drowniak (1895-1968), a painter related to Krynica. Son of a Pole and a Lemko woman, Nikifor was hearing- and speech-impaired. He lived in solitude and poverty and was treated as a misfit all his life. Nikifor was a self-taught artist whose works are classified as the finest examples of primitivism and naïve art. The Ukrainian painter Roman Turyn discovered Nikifor and his talent and showed it to the world. Over time, Nikifor and his work came to be appreciated in the country and abroad. In the 1950s and 1960s his paintings were displayed at exhibitions in Poland and around the world. Nikifor was a prolific artist who created thousands of works: he painted self-portraits, portraits, Orthodox church motifs, landscapes, architecture on scraps of paper or cardboard. Nikifor mainly used water colours and later crayons. The largest collection of his works is held by the Regional Museum in Nowy Sącz, which has been exhibiting them together with the items connected to the artist since 1995 in the Nikifor Museum in Krynica in the historical ‘Romanówka’ Villa.

When on Dietl Boulevard, let us pay attention to other buildings. Make a detour from the pedestrian area in order to see the old wooden Spa Church of the Holy Transfiguration and Our Lady of Częstochowa (Kościół Zdrojowy Przemienienia Pańskiego i Matki Bożej Częstochowskiej) of 1863, which resembles an Orthodox church, designed by Feliks Księżarski in a Baroque style. It is also known as the ‘Dietlówka Chapel’. From here, the monument in honour of Nikifor is very close. The artist is holding a brush in his hand and is accompanied by his dog. It was made by the sculptor Czesław Dźwigaj in 2005. You can walk from the monument to the lower station of the funicular that has been transporting tourists atop of Mount Parkowa in the Zdrojowy Park since 1937 or alternately proceed along Nikifora Avenue and Pułaskiego Street in order to see the modernist building of ‘Patria’ Villa. The villa was funded by Jan Kiepura. It was erected between 1932 and 1934 according to the design of Bohdan Pniewski. Before WWII, several films were shot there.

6. Ski Tours for Beginners in the Jaworzyna Krynicka Range

Jaworzyna Krynicka (1114 m a.s.l.) – red trail – Czubakowska (1082 m a.s.l.) – blue trail – Przysłop (941 m a.s.l.) - upper station of the Słotwiny lift - lookout tower in the crowns of trees

We suggest a short ski tour with the use of the gondola lift to Jaworzyna Krynicka. Ski tour equipment or snowshoes can be rented in the Mondo Sport rental store by the lower station of the lift. The trip is also an ideal proposal for a ski tour excursion with kids. You can also climb Jaworzyna Krynicka on skis (this extends the route by approx. 1.5 hours).

From Jaworzyna Krynicka, we will wander through fields and beautiful forest along the red and blue trail to the upper station of the Słotwiny Arena lift. A great adventure awaits us there ˗ a lookout tower in the tree crowns, opened in 2019. A special gradually ascending path of 1030 m leads to the wooden structure with a height of almost 50 m. Boards and installations along the path inform the tourists about the natural and cultural resources of Krynica and the neighbouring area.

In the Beskid Sądecki Mountains, five ski trails of PTTK were set out in the Jaworzyna Krynicka and Radziejowa Range, which made this Carpathian nook a true mecca for ski-tour lovers (cf. www.zima.pttk.pl).

7. Along Traces of Mineral Waters In the Poprad Valley

Muszyna – Legnava (Slovakia) – Milik – Andrzejówka – Mały Lipinik (Slovakia) – Żegiestów-Zdrój – Szczawnik – Jastrzębik – Podjastrzębik – Muszyna

The route of the trip takes us along the main bike routes in the Poprad Valley, among others VeloKrynica, VeloNatura, AquaVelo and the Bike Trail of Mineral Waters (Rowerowy Szlak Wód Mineralnych). The last trail is really true to its name: you don’t have to worry about filling your water bottles before the trip: along the way there are lots of free water stations with fresh mineral water straight from the spring (the location of all of them is presented on the map: bit.ly/velomaps in the layer ‘Shelters, ferries, water, other’).

It is a good idea to start the trip from Zapopradzie in Muszyna; apart from sizeable parking sites, there are also a number of thematic gardens there, which may, however, delay our departure from there. The trip is not going to be super-flat, and we are going to feel it when cycling from Muszyna to the so-called Borysów, where we will cross the border between Poland and Slovakia. At the border, there will also be a section where –given the steepness of the road –it’s a good idea to comply with the road marks and walk with the bikes. Having left the forests, we will move along riverside routes, running close to the Poprad River, crossing it on pedestrian and bicycle bridges (in Milik, Andrzejówka and Żegiestów-Zdrój). In relation to this, we will go back and forth on both the Polish and the Slovakian banks of the river (remember that helmets are mandatory in Slovakia).

After crossing the bridge in Żegiestów-Zdrój, we recommend taking the new pedestrian route towards the nice spa resort before going up to Palenica. The view to the Poprad River from the platform near the Church of St Kinga (Kościół św. Kingi) is very impressive.

Returning to the uphill ride that awaits us on the way to Szczawnik, you will learn that a good-quality gravel road was made here during the construction of the Trail of Mineral Waters (Szlak Wód Mineralnych). On this leg of the journey, it is worth taking a look back at the pass, because when visibility is good, views of the Tatra Mountains are guaranteed. After reaching Szczawnik, we recommend a stop at the Orthodox Church of St Dmitri (Cerkiew św. Dymitra), behind which are some resting places and a spring.

Ahead of us is the last uphill ride during the trip, i.e., a short climb to the beautiful wooden Church of Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Kościół Narodzenia Najświętszej Marii Panny) in Złockie. This is a former Greek Catholic Church from 1867–1872, with a timbered log frame structure. Inside, there are polychrome paintings, as well as an iconostasis from the second half of the 19th century made by the renowned masters Antoni and Michał Bogdański. In Złockie, let us also stop by the famous bubbling mofetta of Professor Henryk Świdziński. From cracks in the soil, called Bulgotka and Dychawka, volcanic fumes are released, primarily containing carbon dioxide. The mofetta is a monument of inanimate nature and the largest geological form of this type in Poland. It occupies an area of approx. 25 m2.

Moving on, we only have a super-pleasant ride through Jastrzębik to the Kryniczanka Valley and along the smooth asphalt roads forming a part of the VeloKrynica and AquaVelo routes, we will reach the start line. According to the description, you can find proposals for leisurely stops more often than active cycling, so we heartily encourage you to plan the whole day for the trip and do it in a truly snail-like fashion, discovering at your own speed all the attractions that you’ll encounter. Those who liked the route by the Poprad River may also find useful to know that it stretches from Krynica-Zdrój to Stary Sącz; you can read more about it on website: https://narowery and in the Eco-Trip titled ‘Water, Mountains and Princess: Micro-trips on Foot and by Bike’.


Gorlice Oil Valley

The area of Gorlice is one of the oldest sites of extraction and processing of oil in the world. Wood tar traders, in Polish called ‘maziarze’, ‘łybacy’ or ‘ropiarze’, were engaged in collecting the naturally-occurring crude oil. ‘Bęsie’, i.e., shallow holes where oil would collect, were also dug. In 1530, oil flooded the mine of Seweryn Boner, who was searching for gold, and this led to the adage ‘gold prospecting in the Ropa drenches you in oil’. In 1852, the first oil shaft was built in Siary and its operation was started by Prince Stanisław Jabłonowski. A year later, Ignacy Łukasiewicz moved to Gorlice and started to work in the local pharmacy. At the same time, he was improving his accomplishments from the last year in Lviv in cooperation with Jan Zeh: the technique of oil distillation and an oil lamp. He also set up companies and mines with the owners of oil-bearing lands in the vicinity of Gorlice, Krosno and Jasło, including the first oil mine in Bóbrka launched in 1854. In the same year, thanks to his efforts, the first street oil lamp was lit in Gorlice.

Professor R. Reinfuss Pogórze Rural Areas Open Air Museum (Skansen Wsi Pogórzańskiej im. Prof. Romana Reinfussa) in Szymbark

The Museum presents the traditional buildings and folk culture of the residents of the Gorlice area. You can see several structures with accessories there, transferred from the neighbouring villages (cottages and farm facilities such as barns, stables, windmills, oil mills and beehives). The Museum also presents historical vehicles and agricultural machines along with a display of figures related to the Battle of Gorlice from the time of WWI. The lower part of the complex features the ‘Educational Park of the History of Folk Development and Machines at the Polish-Slovakian Border’, where adults and children can learn the functioning of old machines and tools. Furthermore, a picturesque Renaissance defence manor house (fortlet) from the 16th century is located near the museum, which was the seat of the Gładysz family and is now open for visitors.

Biecz and Barrels with Hungarian Wine

Biecz is a picturesque town located on a hill at the border of Małopolska and Podkarpacie. Its beginnings date back to the Middle Ages. Given its convenient location, it had an important defence and trade function throughout the ages. The town was located on a route that was used to transport Hungarian wine and the first pharmacy in the Podkarpacie area was set up here. The remnants of these times are the parts of impressive defence walls and beautiful architecture. Thanks to these assets, Biecz tends to be called ‘tiny Kraków’ or ‘Polish Carcassonne’. The town, on account of the presence of many bandit-thieves in the area who attacked merchants, also had the ‘right of the sword’, i.e., the right of capital punishment. This sparked the legend about the Biecz school of executioners, who were taught methods of torture and killing.

Biecz is also famous for the gingerbread cookies, which were made in Wytwórnia Pieczywa Cukierniczego ‘Kasztelanka’. The legendary flavour of the cookies was recreated in 2015 by means of a baking competition. An outstanding person related to Biecz is Marcin Kromer (1512–1589), a Renaissance humanist, diplomat, historian and music theoretician born in the town, who is the patron of the festival of former music held here in the summer. Kromer Festival Biecz attracts throngs of music lovers every year.

Gems on the Trail of Wooden Architecture

  • Church of the Holy Apostles Philip and Jakub in Sękowa (Kościół św. Apostołów Filipa i Jakuba)
  • Church of St Michael the Archangel (Kościół św. Michała Archanioła) in Binarowa
  • Greek Orthodox Church of St Cosmas and Damian (Cerkiew grekokatolicka św. Kosma i Damiana) in Bartne. Erected in 1842, the church is a typical wooden Western-Lemko tripartite log frame structure with a tower with a post-frame structure. Inside is a late-Baroque iconostasis. Since 1970, a museum has been operating here, nowadays a branch of the Museum of the Karwacjan and Gładysz Manor House in Gorlice (Muzeum Dworu Karwacjanów i Gładyszów). During the inter-war period, Biecz was famous for stone masonry, hence it is worth paying attention to the granary with a display about the history of folk stone masonry in the area and a Lemko cemetery with tombs executed by the local stone masons. In Bartne, there is also the Orthodox Church of St Cosmas and Damian, which was built between 1928 and 1929. The church, representing the East Lemko style, has a log frame structure with a single aisle; the building is timbered and covered with metal sheeting.
  • Greek Catholic Church of St Demetrius in Bodaki (cerkiew grekokatolicka św. Dymitra)
  • Greek Catholic Church of St Paraksevi in Nowica (cerkiew grekokatolicka św. Paraksewa)
  • Greek Catholic Church of St Jacob the Younger the Apostle in Powroźnik (cerkiew grekokatolicka św. Jakuba Młodszego Apostoła)

Mineral Waters and Bottling Industry in the Beskidy Mountains

Kryniczanka, Piwniczanka, Muszynianka, Wysowianka… given the specific geological structure of the Beskid Sądecki Mountains, the Poprad Valley features a lot of natural water springs. It is estimated that they represent approx. 60% of the Polish resources. The most common such waters are the natural mineral waters. They are used in the bottling industry and in spa treatments. They have a beneficial effect on the alimentary and urinary tract, the circulatory and the motor system (in particular rheumatic ailments). The presence of mineral waters, beneficial micro-climate and vast green areas are the ideal conditions for spas. It should not come as a surprise then that the largest spa complex had developed in this area in the 19th century, including the well-known resorts of Krynica-Zdrój, Piwniczna-Zdrój, Żegiestów-Zdrój, Muszyna, Wysowa-Zdrój, and at a slight distance away, Wapienne.

Beskidy Spas and Resorts


The beneficial properties of the Krynica springs of medicinal and mineral waters were discovered already in the 17th century, yet the spa character of Krynica was shaped at the turn of the 18th and the 19th century, when the first baths were set up and the town was officially called a spa. In 1808, the first bottling plant of mineral water in Poland was launched here. The true flourishing of Krynica took place in the second half of the 19th century on account of the publicity given to it by Józef Dietl – a physician, rector of the Jagiellonian University and mayor of Kraków. At the end of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century, the place was particularly popular among famous Poles. The Krynica waters are available from natural springs and boreholes: Kryniczanka, Jan, Józef, Zuber, Słotwinka, Mieczysław and Tadeusz. They are primarily used in the treatment of the urinary tract, the alimentary tract and the circulatory system diseases.


A picturesque summer holiday destination located at the border of the Beskid Sądecki and Beskid Niski Mountains, in the vicinity of a border crossing with Slovakia, within the borders of the Krynica-Zdrój commune. It also functions as a spa with mineral waters and numerous hospitable agriculture farms. In the Spa Park by the banks of the Muszynka Brook, a stylish Tyliczanka Pump Room is located, where patients can try the bicarbonate-calcium and manganese water with a high content of iron. It is used for the treatment of ailments of the alimentary tract, stomach problems and all types of anaemia.

At the Market Square is the wooden Church of St Apostles Peter and Paul (Kościół św. Apostołów Piotra i Pawła) of 1612. It has a log frame structure and inside, there are Rococo altars from the second half of the 18th century. In the main altar, we will see the painting of Our Lady of Tylicz from the end of the 16th/ beginning of the 17th century. The second monument is the former Greek Catholic Church of St Cosmas and Damian (Cerkew grekokatolicka św. Kosmy i Damiana) from 1743, a typical Lemko church with a preserved iconostasis from the 18th century.


Muszyna is located in the valley of the Poprad and its tributaries: the Szczawnik and the Muszynka. Its history goes back to the Middle Ages, yet it became a spa only in the inter-war period. The first boreholes of mineral waters were made in 1932. In Muszyna, respiratory and alimentary tract diseases are treated. The local mineral waters include: Muszyna, Józef, Stanisław, Antoni, Milusia, Anna and Grunwald.

Sensory Gardens in Muszyna

The Sensory Gardens were set up in Muszyna, which are used for therapeutic and educational purposes and are adjusted to the needs of persons with disabilities. They were divided into eight zones: the health zone (with equipment for outdoor exercises), the olfactory zone (compositions of aromatic plants), the sound zone (sounds of nature: birds’ songs, rustle of trees, burbling of water), the olfactory and tactile zone (garden full of flowers, picnic sites), the taste zone (fruit bearing bushes and trees), the visual zone (compositions of flower carpets, a sightseeing platform), the zone of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love (newly-weds can plant a tree here) and the zone of fairy-tales and legends about Muszyna (stories of the former Muszyna State).


Żegiestów is a village by the Poprad River established in the 16th century. It has had the status of a spa town since 1924, and was the epitome of elegance and luxury during the inter-war period. The remnants of the former glory are the outstanding examples of Polish modernism: the New Spa House of 1929 designed by Adolf Szyszko-Bohusz and the ‘Victor’ sanatorium of 1936 designed by Jan Bagieński and Zbigniew Wardzała. In Żegiestów-Zdrój, patients can treat alimentary tract, urinary tract and rheumatic diseases. The most popular waters are Anna, Zofia II and Andrzej II.


A town established in 1348 by the Poprad River. In the subsequent centuries, it developed rapidly due to the beneficial location by the road to Hungary. At the end of the 19th century, deposits of the ‘Piwniczanka’ mineral water were discovered here. The first patients arrived soon afterwards. Alimentary, respiratory and rheumatologic ailments are treated here (more information is available in the ‘Water, Mountains and Princess: Micro-Trips on Foot and by Bike’ Eco-Trip).


A spa village whose beginnings date back to the 14th century, the small resort developed here in the 19th century. In the spa park, you can try waters from the following springs; Henryk, Franciszek, Anna, Aleksandra, Słone, Józef I, Józef II and Bronisław. Treatment in Wysowa is offered to persons suffering from respiratory tract, alimentary tract and urinary tract diseases (more information is presented in the ‘Four Seasons of the Year in Beskid Niski’ Eco-Trip).


Wapienne in the Sękowa Commune in Gorlice Poviat (powiat gorlicki) is one of the smallest and youngest Polish spas. Even though the medicinal properties of water were already being used in the 17th century, the status of a spa was conferred on the town only in 1986. At the present moment, the Marta and Kamila intake points are used to extract sulphide water and mud. In the town, rheumatic diseases, dermatological ailments, motor system and circulatory system ailments are treated.


  • Kromer Festival Biecz
  • Bee-keeper's Feast, Bee-keeping Museum
  • Łosie Wood Tar Traders’ Feast
  • Jan Kiepura Festival
  • International Festival of Bobbin Lace in Bobowa
  • Ethnographic Bike Rally Following the Traces of Professor Roman Reinfuss
  • Oil Weekend and Race


  • mineral waters from the famous spas in Beskid Sądecki and Beskid Niski; the acidic waters from Tylicz are used for cooking and baking, e.g., puffy pancakes, coffee with mineral water, etc.;
  • prouzoki or prozioki pies with baking soda;
  • Lemko cuisine and dishes such as homiłky, kisełyca, tertianyk, matyło, fuczki and many others;
  • Kasztelan Biecki gingerbread cookies from Biecz;
  • honey and honey-based products from Sądecki Bartnik from Stróże.


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