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History of Krynica-Zdrój

Krynica-Zdrój is one of the oldest and prettiest Polish spa towns with rich history. It became popular as early as in the 18th century thanks to its mineral water sources. It is the highest-located Polish spa town (560-600 meters over sea level) and lies in the western part of the Carpathians.

Its mountainous surroundings are rich in coniferous forests and characterised by subalpine climate. Krynica was founded in 1547 by Danek of nearby Tylicz. The village was then part of the so-called Muszyna State ruled by Cracow bishops. In the 1790’s the lands came under the rule of the Austrian Empire and pioneering studies of local mineral waters began.

The spa owns its spectacular development to the work of Professor Józef Dietl. A number of spa houses were built around the 1850’s, and in the late 19th century the town could host as many as 6000 – 8000 clients per year. By the onset of World War I Krynica became the most important Polish spa town. Its growth was boosted by the construction of a railway line in 1911 which naturally further increased the town’s popularity. Also that year Krynica was granted civic rights. Right before the outbreak of World War II Krynica was visited by nearly 40 000 clients per year. Many of them came from abroad, as the future Dutch queen, princes Juliana.

The modern spa and holiday houses with up-to-date equipment in many cases had better standards than in foreign spa towns. Among famous visitors were Polish artists Władysław Reymont, Julian Tuwim, Konstanty Ildefons Gałczyński, Józef Ignacy Kraszewski, Henryk Sienkiewicz, Jan Matejko, Ludwik Solski, Helena Modrzejewska and Jan Kiepura.

The interwar period was very prosperous. Some historic buildings were renovated and new, spectacular ones were built, including Lwigród (named after the City of Lions, i.e. Lviv), Nowe Łazienki Mineralne (New Mineral Baths) and Patria.

In 1937 a cableway to Góra Parkowa (Park Mountain) started its operation. It was part of the spa town’s sporting ambitions, following a luge track at the same mountain in 1929. It was in Krynica in 1930 where the first Polish Luge Championships took place. The town also hosted lugers at European Championships and twice at World Championships. In the 1930’s there was an immensely popular ice stadium with spectator stands where international hockey matches were held. Krynica also boasted two ski jumps and a shelter at the summit of Jaworzyna Krynicka.

A significant part of Krynica’s history was Nikifor (Epifaniusz Drowniak) a primitivist painter whose works amounting to ca. 40 000 pieces are appreciated in Poland and abroad. Visitors and tourists may admire his work at the Nikifor Museum located in Villa Romanówka.

Unfortunately, the outbreak of World War II started a degradation and devastation of spa facilities as well as theft of valuable objects. It took Krynica up to about 1960’s to get reborn as a spa town.

Rzeźby Wejście do obiektu Balkony Widok z balkonów