Niepołomice – English
Niepołomice is situated just 25 kilometers away from the centre of Cracow. Apart from the town itself, the municipality comprises twelve surrounding villages: Chobot, Ochmanów, Podłęże, Słomiróg, Staniątki, Suchoraba, Wola Batorska, Wola Zabierzowska, Zabierzów Bocheński, Zagórze, Zakrzowiec and Zakrzów. The municipality has an area of 95 square kilometers, less than one third of which is occupied by the town. The municipality’s population surpassed 28,000 people, half of them living in Niepołomice. The town is situated at an intersection of major roads: No. 94 road running from the south, No.75 road running from Kraków to Krynica, and A4 east-west motorway.
The town dates back to the 13th century, however the oldest surviving buildings in the area were built in the mid-13th century during the reign of King Casimir the Great. The history of Niepołomice was closely related to the Polish royal court and frequent visits of monarchs to Niepołomice castle.
Today Niepołomice is one of the most rapidly developing municipalities in Poland. Thanks to its favourable location, good infrastructure and the initiatives of local self-government, it has become a place where over twenty large corporations including Coca-Cola, MAN, Royal-Canin, Nidec, DHL or Oknoplast run their business. Apart from that, there are over 1500 businesses registered in Niepołomice.
Niepołomice also provides numerous opportunities for active recreation for its residents and the wider community. Niepołomice Forest with the total area of about 12,000 hectares of wooded land is very popular among, hikers, joggers, and equestrians. Its well-developed recreational infrastructure attracts swimmers, tennis players, as well as football or martial arts enthusiasts.
The history of Niepołomice is closely related to the history of the castle which used to be a favourite summer residence of several Polish kings, often being referred to as “the other Wawel”, and Niepołomice Forest which was a royal hunting ground.
The exact date of foundation of Niepołomice is not known. The original village came into being as a settlement outside the walls of the hunting castle built here in 1340-49 by King Casimir the Great. In 1350 the parish of Niepołomice was established. In October 1358 it was consecrated by Archbishop Jarosław Bogoria Skotnicki in the presence of the king himself. In this area there was also a royal inn which the king gave to the first parson of Niepołomice when the parish church was consecrated.
The settlement began to flourish under the reign of Władysław Jagiełło who apparently liked visiting Niepołomice. The royal visits attracted many guests who had to be provided with accommodation and meals. According to the census of 1564 the village of Niepołomice had a population of 200, including 11 freemen, 17 inn-keepers, 5 potters and several foresters who protected the royal forests.
Niepołomice was granted the town charter after the partition of Poland. On 11th April 1776 the Austrian authorities established there a county court, treasury office, customs office. A large market square was built and the town received a coat of arms: white castle with five windows and an outline of the gate, supported on either side by two golden griffons facing each other, on a blue shield. In the interwar years the town’s coat of arms was changed into an oval shield with a crowned eagle and the inscription “The Town of Niepołomice”. However, the current coat o arms was inspired by the original version.
Niepołomice as an important location east of Cracow became in the mid-19th century a part of Galicia’s railway system connecting Cracow with Dębica and Lwów.
1888 brought the election of Władysław Wimmer as the town’s mayor. He gained the reputation as an able administrator, builder and… manufacturer of excellent roof tiles which to this day cover roofs of many houses in Vienna and Berlin.
After the end of World War 1, the Austrians left Niepołomice without delay. To celebrate this fact, on 7th November 1918, the town’s inhabitants planted the Oak of Freedom which to which still stands in the Municipal Park.
After World War 2, the situation of the town was very hard. Many inhabitants lost their lives during the war, and economic activity slumped. Only after the construction of Nowa Huta in the late 1950s did Niepołomice begin to develop again.
Following the end of communist era, Niepołomice started to be ruled by people elected in democratic elections. On 7th June 1990 the Town Council elected Stanisław Kracik as mayor. In 1993 he became the first inhabitant of Niepołomice to win a seat in the Polish Parliament. His term of office marked the beginning of the town’s rapid development. Today Niepołomice has a population of 26,000 and is regarded as a model of good management.
The neo-Gothic town hall in Niepołomice was built in 1903 by a famous architect Jan Sas-Zubrzycki.
Its construction was commissioned by the then mayor Władysław Wimmer. The two-storey red brick town hall – with its pinnacles and arches and a polygonal tower topped with a pyramid-shaped roof – is one of the town’s most outstanding buildings. In 2003 for the 100th anniversary of the town hall its façade was thoroughly renovated. On the inside wall of the arcade there is a memorial plaque commemorating one of the town’s most eminent citizens – Brigadier General Walerian Czuma.
The construction of a stone castle in Niepołomice was started in the mid 14th century on the order of King Casimir the Great. It soon became the king’s favourite residence but its heyday came with the reign of Władysław Jagiełło. It was a meeting place of the royal council, a place where court judgments were passed and where royal hunts for foreign guests were held. In the mid-15th century Władysław III of Varna pledged the castle and until the end of 18th century it remained in the hands of the Czuryło, Branicki and Lubomirski families.
In 1506 Zygmunt Stary ordered the castle to be rebuilt. It received it present Renaissance shape under the reign of Zygmunt August. The Swedish invasion in the mid-17th century put an end to the golden age of the royal residence. In 1655 the Swedish troops sacked Niepołomice, destroyed the parish church and turned the severely damaged castle into a forage depot. After the partition of Poland in 1772 the castle fell under Austrian rule. The Austrians converted the castle into army barracks and removed part of the 2nd floor. In the interwar period and after World War 2 it was a public building. It housed council flats, a telephone exchange and even a hospital labour ward. In 1991 it became the property of Niepołomice municipality which financed its renovation.
The renovation work was very extensive and costly. Apart from cosmetic renovations, the whole structure of the building needed to be strengthened and dried. Beautiful Renaissance architectural details adorning the windows, rooms, entrance gate have all been painstakingly renovated. So has the flowery courtyard which still continues to amaze tourists and guests. Today the castle serves as a cultural and business centre. It is a venue for concerts, exhibitions, business conferences, weddings and banquets. In the attic there is a 3 star hotel with 24 rooms. The castle also houses the Lech Wałęsa Conference Centre.
The parish church is the oldest building on Niepołomice dating back to the town’s origins. It was founded in 1350-1358 by King Casimir the Great and consecrated on 4 October 1358.
Originally it had a hall nave with a vault supported by two central pillars. The chancel with long narrow Gothic windows and the so-called “old vestry” are the sole remnants of the original building.
In 1690, after a fire, it was rebuilt. The central pillars were removed and the Gothic vault was replaced with a Baroque one. Lancet-shaped entrances to side chapels were converted into arched ones made in black “Dębica marble”.
In the late 18th century the church received some major changes to its interior such as the addition of stucco decorations depicting the Garden of Eden, Moses with Tablets, and the Evangelists St. John and St. Luke to the inside walls.
Worth mentioning are also the chapels on either side of the main nave. On the southern side is the late-Renaissance Blessed Virgin Mary’s Chapel built in 1596, also known as the Branicki Family Chapel. On the other side is an even more impressive Baroque St. Carolus Boromeus Chapel founded by Stanisław Lubomirski in 1640. Cardinal Karol Wojtyła, future pope, had special reverence for this chapel as St. Carolus Boromeus was his patron saint. A 25,000-piece mosaic depicting Pope John Paul II was unveiled in the church on the 650th anniversary of its consecration.
According to Jan Długosz’s Chronicle, on 11th November 1411, a year after the battle of Grunwald (1st Battle of Tannenberg), King Władysław Jagiełło arrived at Niepołomice where on 25th November he held a review of his army before the triumphant return to Cracow.
In 1902 a small mound was erected on top of Wężowa Hill in tribute to the children of Września. Eight years later members of the Sokół (Falcon) Gymnastic Society took the initiative of restoring the mound to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the battle of Grunwald. The mound was to be 6 meters high, but the enthusiasm with which the idea was received led to the height being increased to 14 meters and the diameter to 30 meters. Upon completion of construction work in 1915, a concrete obelisk was placed on top of the mound.
The top of the mound offers a great panoramic view of the Niepołomice Industrial Zone with the skyline of Cracow in the background.
Niepołomice Forest occupies an area of about 120 square kilometes between the Vistula and Raba river which makes it the seventh largest forest complex in Poland. It is just a small remnant of the primeval forest which once extended from Grzegórzki near Cracow as far as today’s Sandomierz Forest.
The name „Niepołomice Forest” is thought to derive from the Old Polish word “niepołomny” which meant “impassable” or “indestructible”. Therefore it can be assumed that the original forest was very dense and impenetrable.
Up to 1393 it was called “Kłaj Forest” or “Big Forest”. As at that time at its southern edge there was a village of Kłaj it is almost certain that this village was the centre of administration of royal forests and hunting frounds that today’s Niepołomice Forest used to be part of.
“Niepołomice Wood” was first mentioned in a document from 1393, but the current name “Niepołomice Forest” was first used in 1441.
In the following centuries the resources of Niepołomice Forest were indiscriminately exploited, the worst period being the 20th century. During both world wars the animal population decreased considerably and the pine web-spinning sawfly (one of the most dangerous parasitic insects) wreaked havoc among the trees. Sulphur dioxide and other pollutant emissions from the Lenin Steelworks built nearby in the 1950s added to the destruction.
Since 1972 the entire forest complex is supervised by the Niepołomice district forest office. Thanks to the continuing efforts of many people Niepołomice Forest is regaining its former glory. It has been declared a Nature 2000 site. There are many footpaths and equestrian trails as well as a 7 km long cycling route.
Among the tourist attractions of Niepołomice, the most prominent one is the Royal Castle. Its renovated interior provides a venue for concerts, exhibitions, theatrical performances and competitions. Another place of interest is the Benedictine Convent in Staniątki founded in1216. An unmissable site on the tourist map of Niepołomice is the Ten Thousand Martyrs Parish Church. In 2008 we celebrated the 650th anniversary of its consecration. One should also not miss the Grunwald Mound which marks the historic connection between King Władysław Jagiełło and Niepołomice.
In 2007 the Gallery of 19th-Century Polish Art was temporarily relocated from Cracow’s Sukiennice (Cloth Hall) to the Royal Castle in Niepołomice. This was an unprecedented event in the history of the national museum in Cracow and the town of Niepołomice. The exhibition, presented in 17 newly renovated display rooms at the Royal Castle in Niepołomice, comprises 450 paintings and 48 sculptures, nearly 250 items more than were previously on display at Sukiennice. The Castle also houses a large collection of Wodzimierz Puchalski’s nature and wildlife photographs.
When in Niepołomice, be sure to take a trip to Niepołomice Forest, Poland’s seven largest forest complex. Niepołomice Forest covering an area of 12,000 hectares, has many walking and cycling trails.
Niepołomice was the first commune in Poland to take over the management of educational units, including secondary schools. The commune built a modern Complex of Secondary Schools, with a professionally sized sports hall. Niepołomice attach special importance to working with disabled persons. The Mayor initiated the organisation of holiday camps for disabled persons, the construction of an indoor arena for horse therapy and a Community House. Niepołomice have numerous sports and cultural associations. Ochmanów has one of Poland’s few golf clubs, providing full facilities.
Most of cultural events in Niepołomice are arranged in the Royal Castle. The Opera of Kraków performed there the Haunted Manor by Polish composer Moniuszko, the Comedy Theatre of Warsaw staged there its Chicago musical, not to mention numerous performances by various pop groups and singers. The Castle houses also the Cultural Centre and the Museum of Niepołomice; one of its collections features more than 100 slides and photographs of nature donated by the family of Włodzimierz Puchalski, a renowned Polish photographer of nature. The Hunting Club presents the its trophies in the Museum as well and the Astronomical Observatory of the Young People displays telescopes, and other astronomical apparatus. At the end of May each year, the town becomes an unbelievably busy place, as thousands of visitors come to participate in the Days of Niepołomice event.
Niepołomice brings associations not only with an old growth forest, bisons or its glorious and eventful past. The pride of the town are also large and spectacular business investments. They provide jobs not only for the town’s population but also for many people from neighbouring villages. Council tax revenues constitute the main contribution to the municipality’s budget. Thanks to these funds and the assistance from business sector long-term investment programmes can be planned and cultural events can be organized.
Since 1990 our municipality has been pursuing an active investment procurement policy. Good location, infrastructure and atmosphere are the reasons why entrepreneurs are willing to invest their money here. Since 1992 Niepołomice has attracted a number of large companies and industrial corporations such as Coca-Cola, HMS (now Staco), Oknoplast (Poland’s largest manufacturer of windows), Royal Canin (producer of animal food), Nidec (manufacturers of micromechanisms for automotive industry) or DHL, well-known German forwarding company. The greatest success came with the opening of a MAN (one of the world’s largest manufacturers of commercial vehicles) plant.
Currently the Niepołomice Industrial Zone, along with two smaller industrial zones in Ochmanów and Wola Batorska, occupies an area of more than 500 hectares.
However, Niepołomice’s economic landscape is made of not only large companies. Apart from them there are over 1500 smaller businesses: shops, service providers, banks and small-scale producers which altogether provide a considerable source of revenue and provide many jobs.
In Niepołomice every sports enthusiast can find something to their taste. One can choose from a wide variety of sports facilities, clubs and societies.
Swimmers can hone their skills at the indoor swimming pool. There are 10 football clubs, and the most successful of them – Puszcza Niepołomice plays in the III Division. Martial arts fans can practice karate, judo, Thai boxing or kung fu. There are aerobic, fitness, dance or gymnastics classes. If you don’t mind rivalry, you can try your mettle in the Indoor Football League, Volleyball League or join STACO MNLK Niepołomice Basketball Team. There is a jumper course and a hippodrome with stables for horse riding enthusiasts. Golfers, bridge players and aglers can also pursue their favourite sport.
Those interested in family and leisure cycling as well as mountain biking will not be disappointed either. Niepołomice Forest is ideal for cycling in all its forms.