Gorlice – city located in the green areas of Beskid Niski, on the border of Poland and Slovakia. It is a place you can’t visit just once. Everybody, who has been enchanted by the local landscape, history and people, will always come back here. Everybody will find something of interest: there is something for history and nature lovers, ecologists and poets, children, teenagers and adults, who are looking for little R&R.
Gorlice has a rich and fascinating past, great present and interesting future. The city located on the old trade route to Hungary has always been friendly to merchants and visitors as well as contemporary tourists and business people.
History of the town dates back to mid-14th century. Gorlice was founded in approx. 1355 by Dersław Karwacjan – a councilor and banker from Krakow. The city was granted its city rights based on Magdeburgian Law in 1417 by the king, Władysław Jagiello. It was famous for its fairs, attended by merchants from Biecz, Sącz, Krakow, Bardejowo, Peszt and Debreczyn. In the period of Reformation the town became the centre of Arians and Calvinists. In the time of the Swedish Deluge it was nearly burnt to the ground by the troops of George I Rákóczi, the prince of Transylvania. In early 19th century, Gorlice was called “the little Gdańsk” as it was granted the privilege to organize weekly fairs and twelve large fairs a year. The city has had its share of good and bad times. It grew dynamically after the discovery of the “black gold”, i.e. rich oil deposit in late 19th century and then suffered during WW1.
Gorlice will always be associated with Ignacy Łukasiewicz, an inventor of the kerosene lamp, who lived and worked here in 1853 – 1858. Łukasiewicz worked as a dispenser in a pharmacy located in the building of the current town hall and at the same time he conducted experiments with petroleum. This is commemorated by the memorial portal located in the hall on the ground floor of the Municipal Office. A Hygea mural in the hall of the City hall is the remnant from Ignacy Łukasiewicz pharmacy A spectacular effect of the scientific work of Ignacy Łukasiewicz was the lighting of the first kerosene street lamp at the road crossing in the district of Zawodzie in 1854.
Gorlice and its population suffered during tragic events of 1915. On 2 May 1915, a great offensive started against the Russian army. The battle of Gorlice, called “a little Verdun” was named the largest battle on the Eastern front, where over 20 thousand soldiers were killed. The remnants of these tragic events are beautiful military graveyards, including necropolis at Góra Cmentarna, where over 800 Austrian, Hungarian, Prussian and Russian soldiers were buried. The city area comprises six World War I cemeteries with nearly 1,600 soldiers of various nationalities and denomination resting in individual and collective graves.
A beautiful renovated 16th century manor of the Karwacjan family, is the symbol of Gorlice greatness and home to the Małopolska Art Gallery. The ground part of the building is a remnant of the fortified manor built by Dersław II Karwacjan at the beginning of the 15th century. The manor was nearly completely ruined during the World War I and partially reconstructed in the 70’s of the 20th century and later restored in 1982 to 1992 basing on archive photographs of 1916. The stone cellars of the Manor host a stylish cafe while the upper storeys comprise several cosy hotel rooms and two exhibition halls. In front of the building there is a monument of the founder of Gorlice - Dersław I Karwacjan unveiled in 2005 on the 650th anniversary of the town foundation.
Gorlice has also beautiful, old chapels: a chapel dating back to 1664 at ul. Kręta and Jezus Frasobliwy chapel in Zawodzie, where first, historic kerosene lamp built by Łukasiewicz was lit in 1854.
The chapel located at Kręta Street is the oldest chapel of Gorlice, funded as a votive offering by one of the inhabitants for saving his life during the invasion of the troops of George II Rákóczi on 2 May 1657. The fire started by the enemy troops fully consumed 85 houses, three manors, town hall and a church.
Gorlice has the following historical monuments: 200-year old parish cemetery and partially renovated Jewish cemetery at ul. Stróżowska.
The parish graveyard rivets the attention of visitors with two family chapels built at the beginning of the 20th century of the families of Płoccy and Miłkowscy, two wooden crosses located at the main gate with urns containing soil of the Polish martyr’s places, Katyń and Auschwitz as well as the Monument to 1863 Insurgents, the inhabitants of Gorlice who participated militarily in the Polish January Insurrection.
The Jewish cemetery was founded at the beginning of the 18th century and men and women of Jewish nationality were buried there until 1942. The upper part of the cemetery comprises a separate section No. 90 of the World War I with bodies of 6 soldiers of Mosaic religion who served in the Russian and Austrian armies. One can also see monumental matzevas there i.e. tombstones with inscriptions in Hebrew and an ohel which means a chapel.
Visitors of the old town should see Gorlice Parish church of St. Mary and climb up the city hall tower to see the city panorama. The church was erected in neo-Renaissance style between 1875 and 1890 following the design of Franciszek Pavoni and Maksymilian Nitsch. The characteristic part is the facade referring to classical forms, ornamented with stone sculptures of 4 evangelists and an inscription saying „GORLICENSES VIRGINI DEIPARAE” which means: “From inhabitants of Gorlice to Mother of God, Virgin”. As regards the interior of the church of particular interest is the painting of the Assumption of Heavenly Mother by Jan Styka located in the high altar and the, famous for its grace, statue of Lord Jesus in Jail probably dating back to 16th or 17th century.
The town hall of Gorlice is located in the place of the original town hall mentioned as early as in 1608 later destroyed in the 17th century. Its oldest, corner part of 1780-90 used to host a pharmacy where Ignacy Łukasiewicz worked.
It is also recommended to visit one of the oldest Polish city parks named after Wojciech Biechoński, founded in 1900. The park is the part of sports-recreational facility with the stadium, ice rink, sports hall, and indoor/outdoor swimming pool.
Gorlice is an unofficial capital of Beskid Niski and Pogórze. It makes an attractive tourist base, with numerous tourist trails in Magurski National Park, scenic parks, old orthodox churches, Middle Age Biecz, unique necropolis dating back to WW1 and numerous spas.
It is worthwhile to come here and spend some time to discover the charm, traditions and monuments of the borderland. Of all the places of Gorlice Land which are a must to see the major are wooden Orthodox churches with well-preserved iconostasis and accessories e.g. those at Kwiatoń, Bartne or Owczary. A pearl of the church architecture is the Gothic St. Philip’s and James’s church at Sękowa of the first half of the 16th century. That larch wood temple erected around 1520 was included in the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage List in 2003. The visitor’s eye is caught by the characteristic shape of the church featuring a steeple shingle-tiled roof and arcatures which had provided a shelter from wind, rain and snow to people who were coming there from remote villages, frequently on Saturdays, to take part in the Saturday church service.
Another unique sacral structure of Gorlice Land is the St. Michael Archangel’s church at Binarowa. The temple dates back to around 1500. The interior of the church contains unique 16th and 17th century paintings and Gothic sculptures of the 14th century. The building was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2003.
The town of Biecz, located 12 kilometres away from Gorlice, delights with the richness of monuments and specific charm of narrow streets, old ramparts and the steeple-shaped town hall. Biecz has preserved the medieval urban arrangement featured by the centrally located, rectangular market square with a town hall in the middle. The more important structures include also the parish Corpus Christi’s church of the early 16th century, preserved part of town walls with a 15th century fortified bell tower, a house with a donjon (now containing the Museum of Biecz Land), town hall with a tower built in the second half of the 15th century, baroque St. Anne’s church with a monastery of Franciscans who settled at Biecz in 1624.
Land of Gorlice is also about monumental secular structures – manors and burgher houses of people who created the history of that land. Located at the market square of Gorlice or the adjacent streets are small 17th and 18th century tenement houses such as e.g. tenement house of Artwińscy located at 6 Rynek with a beautiful entrance portal and a bas-relief depicting dolphins under the tree of life. What attracts attention at 7 Wąska Street is a burgher house of a tilemaker Grabiec-Grabczyński erected in 1780 which now contains the Regional Museum of the Polish Tourist Country Lovers’ Society. The front wall of the building is decorated with sgraffito of “Soldiers of the Battle of Gorlice” while the stone cellars comprise an exhibition of wax sculptures – figures of the time of the Battle of Gorlice.
Beautiful example of manors is a secession palace of Długoszowie at Siary near Gorlice (now a private property). The palace is surrounded by a beautiful park with old-growth forest, fountain, pergola and garden sculptures.
The oldest manor in Gorlice area is the castle at Szymbark dating back to the end of the first half of the 16th century. It is a renaissance manor of Gładysz family the shape of which is decorated with an ornamental arcaded attic and four square oriels.
The pass of time has left its stamp on the estate of Skryńscy family at Zagórzany, the neo-Gothic palace constructed between 1834 and 1839 the ruins of which are now a private property.
Land of Gorlice offers also leisure at the health resorts of Wysowa Zdrój and Wapienne. Wysowa is famous for the mineral water drawn there. It is alkaline acidic water which supports the treatment of illnesses of respiratory system, digestive system, urinary system and ulcers. While staying at Wapienne you can try the benefits of mineralized sulphur water used mainly for bathing.
Land of Gorlice is not only about monuments but it is also a place of active leisure. Due to numerous bicycle trails, horse rides in one of the largest Hucul horses stud in Europe as well as great sailing or swimming opportunities on an artificial lake in Klimkówka, Gorlice makes a great living and working area. Lovers of tourism and cultural souvenirs can travel around Land of Gorlice along trails. One of them is the Carpathian-Galician Oil Trail which runs from Klęczany near Nowy Sącz across the Lesser Poland Voivodship and Subcarpathian Voivodeship all the way to the Ukraine. The trail offers the possibility to learn the history of oil industry in that region and see original machinery used for oil extraction.
Another trail crossing the Land of Gorlice is the Lesser Poland Trail of Timber Architecture with about a dozen of monumental structures located along it e.g. Orthodox churches, Catholic churches and farmsteads.
Important souvenirs of the past are numerous World War I cemeteries scattered over the hills of Beskid Niski with mortal remains of anonymous heroes. It is worthwhile to visit at least some of them to admire the interesting architecture e.g. that of the cemetery No. 60 at the Małastowska Pass, cemetery No. 123 at Łużna-Pustki, or cemetery No. 118 at Staszkówka
Beside its beautiful location in Beskid Niski, which makes the city a tourist attraction, Gorlice is also the center of industry and small businesses. Many of businesses operating in the area have a long tradition; have survived Polish economic transformation and are doing great on a free market. Also newer businesses have found their place on the market - they produce and render service not only on a local, but also national and European scale. In Gorlice, a nearly 30 ha area is occupied by Euro-Park Mielec operating within the Special Economic Zone. There are already 7 businesses operating in the Zone. They enjoy friendly investment climate, assistance of professional institutions from business environment as well as tax reliefs and exemptions, with qualified workforce on top of all that.
Number of inhabitants of Gorlice (status as of 31 Decmeber 2006):
28645, including 14981 women
Population of Gorlice (status as of 31 Decmeber2006):
- working age: 18982, including 9476 women
- pre-working age: 5297, including 2537 women
- post-working age: 4366, including 2968 women
Natural persons conducting economic activity (status as of 31 Decmeber2006):
2266, including those active in the selected following areas:
- trade and repairs: 679,
- real estate service and servicing of companies, science: 307.
- industrial processing: 266,
- construction industry: 227,
- hotels and restaurants: 62,