Pearl of the Renaissance
“Pearl of the Renaissance” – that's how outstanding art experts speak about Tarnów and its Old Town. The most outstanding Italian architects and sculptors such as Bartolommeo Berrecci, Giovanni Maria Padovano and Santi Gucci created here. Wandering the streets of Tarnów, we can admire the Renaissance tenement houses, located in the heart of the market square, the Mikołajowski House built in the 16th century, the Florentine House or the centrally located Town Hall with a 30-meter tower and the oldest hand-winding clock in Poland.
You cannot miss the elements of Jewish culture, such as the bimah, cemetery and mikvah with the monument dedicated to the First Transport to KL Auschwitz (14 June 1940). In Tarnów you will find also a monumental railway station from 1910, renovated in 2007-2010, which was bombed in 1939. History enthusiasts should also visit military cemeteries from the First World War.
Tarnów is famous for the monumental tombstones of the Tarnowski and Ostrogski families (the highest in Europe) located in the Cathedral Basilica. The ruins of the Tarnowski family's castle tower over the city, being a symbol of the importance of this influential family.
For lovers of modernism, we recommend a visit to the industrial part of the city, namely Mościce. The rich history of this district fascinates not only historians, but also tourists visiting it, and its buildings are a true legacy of past times. Architects and builders were guided by an overarching goal – residents were supposed to live comfortably here, the buildings had to be functional and optimally located on the city plan. The combination of architecture with green areas was of particular importance, thanks to which the design perfectly fitted into the idea of the “city of gardens”. Villas surrounded by greenery refer to manor houses from the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries, the building of the local nitrogen plant, a factory estate (entered in the register of monuments), the artistic installation of Wilhelm Sasnal – Mościce is certainly one of the most interesting districts of Tarnów, it is worth spending some time at discovering it!
Places of worship
There are several important places of worship in Tarnów and the surrounding area. One of them is the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Sorrows (Cathedral Basilica), which houses the statue of Our Lady of Sorrows made in wood in the 17th century and considered miraculous. Equally charming is the wooden church of Our Lady of the Scapular, where the beautiful Rococo high altar gives the interior a unique character. On the altar you can see the painting of the Mother of God with the Child, famous for many favours, decorated with a crown and embroidered dresses.
The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima is noteworthy as well – the relics of Blessed Francisco and Jacinta are surrounded here with special devotion. In addition, near Tarnów you can admire the unique monuments of sacred art, i.e. the wooden church in Zawada, the wooden church in Skrzyszów or the sanctuary in Odporyszów. In the local Sanctuary there is a wonderful painting with the image of Our Lady of Odporyszów, as well as a spring that, according to legend, saved the lives of thirsty soldiers. Many people owe their health to its water.
It is worth visiting the Sanctuary of Saint Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr in Szczepanów and the Sanctuary of the Visitation of the Virgin Mary in Tuchów – the largest Marian centre in the Tarnów region. It is a one-nave church with side chapels and a beautiful Baroque altar, in which you will find the image of Madonna and Child, famous for many favours.
Other sacred places of interest are the former synagogue in Dąbrowa Tarnowska, the church in Dębno near Tarnów and the village of Wał-Ruda, where Bl. Karolina Kózkówna was born.
Let's go back in time
When wandering around Tarnów and its surroundings, you cannot pass by numerous museums reminding about old times. When you're leaving the cathedral, take a look to the right and you will see the oldest church museum in Poland – the Diocesan Museum. The nearly 500-year-old building hides numerous religious treasures and more. Masterpieces of painting, sculpture, liturgical vestments attract the attention of many art connoisseurs.
When you're on the Sobieski square, just turn left into the Krakowska street and you will... feel like you are in Vienna - it is a real pearl among the city streets. One of the tenement houses on this most important street in Tarnów once housed the seat of the Ukrainian government in exile. Between the buildings you can see a manor, which is currently the seat of one of the most interesting Polish museums – the Ethnographic Museum, known for the only exhibition on the history and culture of the Roma in Europe. In its courtyard, during the events organised by this institution, you can take part in a gypsy bonfire, and also admire the dances of Gypsy women dressed in colourful costumes.
When visiting Tarnów, it is also worth getting to Zalipie, a charming village with Felicja Curyłowa Farmstead Museum. In this village takes place the oldest folk art competition “Painted Cottage”, organised by the District Museum in Tarnów and the House of Painters in Zalipie. The House of Painters is a centre of creative work with mission of disseminating knowledge about the art of the region.
If you have enough time, it is also worth going to Wierzchosławice and Szczucin. A large dose of knowledge and inspiration awaits us in both these places. In Wierzchosławice, situated on the south of Zalipie, you will find the Wincenty Witos Museum, i.e. the farm of the first Polish prime minister originating from the peasantry. In Szczucin, on the other hand, awaits you the Museum of Road Building, one of the most interesting museums of technology in Poland. It contains old road building machines and devices, as well as a rich collection of road signs or kilometre columns. It's really worth attention!
Numerous parks and playgrounds in Tarnów encourage to take a Sunday family walk and play with children outside. The possibility of having some rest on kayaks or bikes are additional attractions. The Vistula Cycling Route runs through the most picturesque parts of the valley of Vistula and its tributaries. The VeloDunajec route is also very popular. For people who value hiking in the woods, we recommend walking in the nearby forests, where in the season you can find beautiful mushroom specimens. Green parks and wooded paths in Tarnów are perfect for nordic walking. People who like active leisure can try in Tarnów numerous sports facilities: swimming pools, gyms or climbing centres.
At the corner of the Krakowska and Nowy Świat streets there is a painting of an elephant painted by children..., and on gen. J. Bem's square toy can see a monument commemorating the exceptional figure of Organ Grinder, who used to play in Tarnów before the war ad was most often seen in this place. The sculpture has a special musical mechanism, which means that when you're standing near the Organ Grinder, he “starts his concert” and from a short distance you can hear a characteristic melody. We also recommend seeing the monument of King Władysław I the Short at ul. Wałowa. According to the legend touching the royal shoe with your right hand brings luck, so there is no time to lose. Let the luck come to you!
At ul. Wałowa there is the “Poets Bench” with figures of Agnieszka Osiecka, Jan Brzechwa and Zbigniew Herbert. In the boxes next to the sculptures, with a bit of luck, you can find books they wrote.
Cultural life of the Tarnów region
Culture and entertainment lovers will also find something for themselves and will certainly not get bored while staying in this charming city. Gourmets will enjoy delicious regional dishes such as siuśpaj, i.e. barley porridge with prunes and kręciołki cookies. It is also worth taking part in the Pleśnieński Bacchus, which is the edition of the Festival of Fruit and Bee Products, and for connoisseurs of good wine we recommend Tuchovinifest – International Wine Festival. You can’t miss the Tarnowskie Dionizje event either, during which local winemakers run a traditional wine procession in the Old Town.
Life is not only about food. When you plan to visit Tarnów, it is worth to first carefully study the calendar of cultural events that take place in the city. The long list of events that you cannot miss includes the TALIA National Comedy Festival, during which you'll see the best comedy performances from all over Poland. In your free time, it is also worth visiting the Art Exhibition Bureau, Panorama Gallery and Mościce Art Centre.
Fort Wapiti, or Indian Village in Zalasowa, next to Tarnów, also guarantees some interesting entertainment. This peaceful place with views on the Brzanka range is rich in unusual attractions and play zones, especially for children. This is where you can see the unique exhibition of 19th-century Indian handicrafts, Indian costumes, listen to amazing stories and feel the smell of smoke from the fire.
We also have good information for enthusiasts of long trips and history – when you're in Tarnów, remember to check out the First World War's Eastern Front Trail, which leads through several voivodeships, including the Małopolskie voivodeship and the Tarnów region. It includes, among others, the memorabilia of war operations with beautiful cemetery areas, for example in Łowczówek.
Tarnów is full of magic and secrets, you have to see it with your own eyes! Take your loved ones with you and spend unforgettable moments, among the monuments with soul, enjoying family entertainment.