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Szlak samochodowy: Śladami Łemków

Car trail: In the footsteps of the Lemkos

Rynek Gorlice
Gorlice Tourist region: Beskid Sądecki i Niski
The Beskid Niski is a real gem hidden in the Małopolska chest of tourist treasures. Silence, tranquillity, amazing but also difficult history, unique architecture and, above all, lack of crowds, make it one of the best destinations for a car trip. If you are looking for a land beyond time, an experience that will enthral you completely, we guarantee this route will certainly not disappoint you!

Piktogram długości trasy48 kilometres

Piktogram przedstawiający miejsce startu trasyGorlice

Piktogram przedstawiający dojazd  from the east and west by road no. 28, and from the north by road no. 977.


Gorlice – the City of Light

Piktogram parkinguA convenient car park is located by the Ropa River, right at the crossing of the aforementioned routes (on the northern side of road no. 28). Alternatively, you can park near a nearby shopping centre or look for free space on the streets in the centre.

Before you set off to explore the region in the footsteps of the Lemkos, we suggest a short walk in Gorlice, a town which is rarely visited by tourists, and this is a grave mistake! Gorlice is the town of Ignacy Łukasiewicz, a pharmacist and, above all, pioneer of the petroleum industry and inventor of the paraffin lamp. The lamp was lit for the first time in history in Gorlice, in 1854.

On the way to Gorlice Market Square, we suggest visiting the Chapel of Our Lady, built in 1664 (the oldest object of its kind in Gorlice). Legend has it that an enchanted manor is hidden under it, where courtiers guard treasures. Someone may manage to utter a spell that will bring them to the surface....

After a short walk from the car park (beware, there are a few stairs to climb on the way!), you turn into Wąska Street, and after a while, you find yourself in Gorlice Market Square, which has retained its character and urban layout since the town was founded by Dersław Karwacjan around 1355. The stately town hall once housed a pharmacy run by Ignacy Łukasiewicz. Today, you can sit on Ławeczka Łukasiewicza / the Łukasiewicz Bench situated nearby.

We suggest walking around Market Square clockwise to look at the streets diverging from it and, from the opposite side, to fully appreciate the architectural values of the Town Hall and the Basilica Minor of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Sanctuary of the Lord Jesus in Prison standing right next to it. The temple history dates to the 14th century, and it has been repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt over the centuries. Inside, the most noteworthy features are the main altar with the painting 'The Assumption of the Virgin Mary' by Jan Styka and the miraculous Baroque statue of the Lord Jesus Scourged (measuring 164 centimetres) by an unknown artist, which originally stood in the Prison Chapel of Christ in the churchyard.

Continuing north along Wróblewskiego Street, after about 100 m, you will reach the  Karwacjan Manor House, the seat of the town's founders, where the Karwacjan and Gładysz Manor House Museum is now located.

Return to the car park via Market Square and Mickiewicza Street.

From the car park, take road no. 977 heading for the border crossing in Konieczna. A short section of the route takes you along national road no. 28. As you turn off the road, you will see on your left the Chapel of Christ the Sorrowful, standing where the first paraffin lamp in the world was lit in 1854. It is to this event that the town's promotional slogan cited earlier refers: Gorlice the City of Light. It is also connected with the history of the oil industry in the area, which is also recalled by the ‘Magdalena’ Open-Air Museum of Oil Industry in Lipowa Street.

Through Siary, Sękowa and Ropica

The village of Siary, bordering Gorlice, is home to the world's oldest oil well, from which this valuable resource began to be extracted in 1852.

Passing through the village, on the left, one's attention is drawn to the Palace of Władysław Długosz, a Polish oil tycoon and senator in the first term of the Second Republic. In the cemetery in nearby Sękowa is the magnificent Mausoleum of the Długosz Family. To see it, you need to turn left from the main road at the beginning of the village, just after the bridge over the Sękówka river.

Another object worth visiting is in Sękowa (4 km from Gorlice). To see the local Church of St.Philip and St. James the Apostles, whose history dates back to 1520, turn right at the very beginning of the village, just after crossing the bridge over the Sękówka River.

The temple is one of the most picturesque in Małopolska. It has long been admired by artists, with drawings by Stanisław Wyspiański, Józef Mehoffer and Włodzimierz Tetmajer, among others. Its exemplary restoration contributed to the Church being included in the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage List in 2003.

Piktogram opcji trasy.

In Sękowa, the road diverges to the left to the village of Wapienne (8 km), one of the oldest and, at the same time, the smallest spa in Poland. The local sulphurous waters were known as early as the 17th century, and the first spa was established in the 18th century.

Continuing your journey along road no. 977, you will pass another interesting church after a few minutes in Ropica. The Greek Catholic Church of St. Michael the Archangel was built in the early 19th century. After the deportation of the Lemkos as part of the Wisła Operation after World War II (we will mention this in more detail when we reach Zdynia), it is now a Roman Catholic church in the parish of nearby Małastów.

Piktogram przedstawiający wycieczkę pieszą

After 11 km, you come to a crossroads with the road to the village of Bartne, where there are two Orthodox churches and a small, charming World War I cemetery. The village is the starting point of the ‘Around Bartne’ hiking tour.

In Małastów (13 kilometres), one of the few brick Orthodox churches dedicated to Saints Kosma and Damian was erected in 1805. Today, it is the Roman Catholic Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. On the slopes of Magura Małastowska is the Magura Ski Park, with one of the most beautiful ski runs in Małopolska.

The Małastowska Pass: a historic chapel and cemetery from World War I

Just after the village, the ascent to the Małastowska Pass begins. Here, you quickly gain altitude, and the road ascends in a series of sharp bends (beware of tight and sharp turns!) It is worth stopping for a few minutes. Why? We'll explain!

Piktogram parkingu on both sides of the road.

Start with a short walk to the 18th-century chapel. Its location is no accident. Centuries ago, the route you are taking led along an important trade route from Małopolska to Bardejov. Right next to the car park is the War Cemetery No. 60 from World War I, where 174 soldiers were buried, 36 of whom have not been identified.

A visit here is an excellent opportunity to reminisce about the bloody battles in 1914-1915 in the Beskid Niski. One of the most critical skirmishes was the Battle of Gorlice, which started on 2 May 1915 and was the beginning of the Central Powers' offensive against the Russian army. More than 20,000 soldiers fell there and were buried in several cemeteries in and around Gorlice.

During the First World War, many battles were fought in Małopolska, in which thousands of soldiers died. Initially, they were buried in field graves and makeshift cemeteries. Pressure from the public led to providing the fallen with a dignified burial. As a result, on 3 November 1915, the War Graves Department was established in the Vienna War Ministry, which was entrusted with the supervision of the entire campaign. It was subordinated to field units, whose task was to register fallen soldiers, exhume corpses, and collect them at selected sites, as well as to design and build war cemeteries. The territory of the Beskid Niski was included in the Cemetery District No. I, whose manager, and the author of most projects, was the well-known Slovak architect Dušan Jurkovič.

Piktogram opcja trasy.

After crossing the road and heading into the forest along the blue trail, after about 40 minutes, you will reach the family recreation ground, which includes a playground for children, exercise equipment, and a viewing platform.

Lemko Watra

The initial section of the descent towards Konieczna is very steep with several sharp bends. It would help if you were careful, as finding yourself in the lane in the opposite direction is effortless.

The sharp bends soon end, and a long, straight line begins. A traffic light (21 km) has been installed at the junction with the road to Uście Gorlickie to curb the urge to drive fast and to ensure safety in Gładyszów. Before heading to the village mentioned above, take a few minutes to visit Zdynia (4 kilometres in the direction of Konieczna). The village is known for the Lemko Watra, which takes place here in July. The three-day event has the character of a social gathering of the Lemkos. It is also a festival of the culture of this community, one of the four legally recognised national minorities in Poland.

The aim of the meetings, held in a purpose-built centre (to the left of the main road), is to integrate the Lemkos dispersed worldwide after World War II. Exhibitions, competitions, concerts, and demonstrations of traditional crafts are organised. The bonfire (watra) lit at the beginning of the meeting should last in the hearts of the event participants until the following year.

The Lemkos are one of the groups of Ruthenian highlanders who lived from Krynica to Komańcza (further east, the Boykos lived in the Bieszczady, and in the territory of present-day Ukraine - the Hutsuls). In the 1930s, their number was estimated to be over 100,000 people. The Lemkos had an extreme sense of separateness from their Polish and Ruthenian neighbours, having formed their own culture, costumes, customs, and language. Their distinctiveness became the cause of the persecution they were subjected to after World War II. About 60% of the Lemkos left their villages under voluntary resettlement in 1944-46. In April 1947, the Wisła Operation began. The forced resettlement to the Recovered Territories included around 25% of the people living here before the war. The once populous villages became almost deserted, and this state of affairs lasted for many years. It was not until the end of the 20th century that the area began to revive, with the establishment of agri-tourism farms and tourist infrastructure and an increase in the number of tourists.

In Zdynia, there is the 18th-century wooden Orthodox Church of the Protection of the Mother of God. The Orthodox Church hosts it, but Roman Catholic services are also held here. Lovers of wooden sacral architecture can drive another 4 km towards the border to see the Orthodox Church of St. Basil the Great  in Konieczna.

Return to Gładyszów along the same route. At the above-mentioned traffic lights, turn off the road no. 977 in the direction of Uście Gorlickie (leaving Zdynia to the right and going from this village to the left).

From one Orthodox church to another

After a while, you will pass a small cemetery, next to which there is an even smaller war cemetery with original crosses. After about 300 metres from here, in Smerekowiec, you turn left, heading for Regietów.

Note: For the next eight kilometres, you follow narrow, winding roads. A low speed will ensure your safety and allow you to look around and notice numerous old houses (chyże) and roadside crosses, many of which are different from those known in central Poland.

Passing through Regietów, you will pass the Hucul stud farm ‘Gładyszów’ on the right. Huculs are small mountain horses, one of the oldest Polish breeds. They are characterised by remarkable intelligence and perseverance.

In Regietów, turn right, passing the Orthodox Church of St. Michael the Archangel, and after about 2 kilometres, you reach the village of Skwirtne, where there is a small wooden Orthodox Church of Saints Kosma and Damian. Reaching the main road, which you left in Smerekovec, head to the left to the small Orthodox Church of St. Paraskevi in Kwiatony.

Piktogram parkingu.on the left side of the road or right next to the Church.

Continue west towards Uście Gorlickie, which you will reach after about 5 minutes (34 kilometres). Straight ahead, you will see the small Greek Catholic Church of St. Paraskevi, used as a Roman Catholic church until 1997.

From here, you can choose two options for the further trip, continue along the main route via Klimkówka, where you will find Lake Klimkowskie (Klimkówka Reservoir) and have a rest by the water or take the optional route. By choosing it, you will get to know the spa town of Wysowa Zdrój and see the beautiful historic Orthodox churches in Czarna and Brunary Wyżne.

PIktogram opcji wycieczki

Uście Gorlickie – Wysowa – Czarna – Brunary – Ropa

Map of the option:


From the roundabout in Uście Gorlickie, you head south to Wysowa, from which you are ten kilometres away.

Piktogram parkingu. It is best to stop at the large car park on the left. It is easy to spot, located just behind the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, standing on the right, the architecture of which refers to traditional sacral buildings of the region. It was built in the 1930s to cater for the growing number of visitors coming to Wysowa.


Wysowa Zdrój is an intimate spa resort without the hustle and bustle typical of larger towns. Before you go to the spa park, walk about 600 m further on the road you came from to the Orthodox Church of St. Michael Archangel with a complete Baroque iconostasis. At the temple, turn left and walk gently uphill before turning left again to the spa park. The wooden pump room and the beautiful old Spa House are wonderful places to catch some rest and nostalgia.

Refreshment points are located in the park and at the car park (inns with regional cuisine on both sides of the street), where you leave your car.

Piktogram wycieczki pieszej.

Wysowa Zdrój is the starting point for the hiking tour ‘On the trails around Wysowa Zdrój’, which leads along the trails around this village, through Kozie Żebro, Hańczowa and Ropki.

Return from Wysowa to the direction of Uście Gorlickie along the same road. In Hańczowa, on the right, you can see the Orthodox Church of the Protection of the Mother of God  among the trees. Before Uście Gorlickie, turn left following the signposts indicating the way to the Orthodox churches in Czarna and Brunary Wyżne. You reach the first one about 4 kilometres after the turn. Be careful not to miss it, as it is hidden among the trees a few dozen metres from the road. The best landmark is the car park located at the gentle curve of the road to the left.

The temple was built as the Orthodox Church of St. Dmitri in 1764. Today, it is the Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

Continue to Śnietnica. If you want to see the local 18th-century Orthodox Church of St. Dmitri, you have to turn left where the main road sharply turns right. The small church stands about 1.5 km from the exit, near the St. Andrew Bobola Church.

In the next village – Brunary Wyżne – you will find one of the most valuable monuments on your route: the Orthodox Church of St. Michael Archangel, now the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Its interesting architecture and rich interior, including a beautifully decorated pulpit, choir, and rococo bench, made the church a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After passing the temple, turn right and head to the village of Ropa, where the tour ends. Turning right, you can get to Lake Klimkowskie (a description provided on the main route).

If you decide to stay on the main road, from the roundabout in the centre of Uście Gorlickie, head towards Ropa. At the exit from the village, on the right, there is a parish cemetery and, next to it, another war cemetery. Soon, you will start an uphill climb, which you will follow for several kilometres, with views of Lake Klimkowskie, also known as the Klimkówka Reservoir, on your right. A keen cinema-goer's eye will recognise the setting of the hit film 'With Fire and Sword', directed by Jerzy Hoffman. Yes, yes, this is where Skrzetuski sails down the Dniester River.

Your attention will also be drawn to the church in Klimkówka (40 kilometres) with its tower and porch on the left. Slightly behind the church is a slope leading directly to the water.

Piktogram opcji wycieczki

2 kilometres after Klimkówka, a road to the right leads to the villages of Łosie (2 kilometres) and Bielanka (4 kilometres).

In the first is the wooden Greek Catholic Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, dating back to the beginning of the 19th century and the nearby Maziarska Farm. Its name refers to the occupation the villagers had centuries ago; they traded in grease and lubricants obtained in the dry distillation of pine waste, mainly used to grease the axles of wooden carts. In the second half of the 19th century, with the development of the oil industry in the area, the producers began to switch to the production and trade of technical lubricants and oils of petroleum origin.

In Bielanka, you can admire the Orthodox Church of the Protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the upper part of whose tower is painted blue. Interestingly, the church hosts Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic and Orthodox services.

In Ropa, on the other hand, there is the attractive Church of St. Michael the Archangel. It is impossible to miss, as the two brick chapels topped with towers added decades after the temple was built are opposite.

A few hundred metres after the church, you reach road no. 28 (48 kilometres), which you left in Gorlice. This is the end of the Lemkos' trail, and the picturesque area of the Beskid Niski is behind you.

We encourage you to return here and discover the traces of history. In almost every village, you will find original chapels and roadside crosses erected years ago by Roman Catholics, Greek Catholics and Orthodox Christians, who lived together for centuries and discover traces of the ancient layout of houses and fields. The area has its unique atmosphere, which many people have fallen in love with, escaping from the big cities.

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