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For other places with the same name, see Tarnów (disambiguation).
For Tarnow in Germany, see Tarnow, Germany.

Town Hall, Cathedral, Waterworks Building, Bima, Railway Station, Wladyslaw I monument
Town Hall, Cathedral, Waterworks Building, Bima, Railway Station, Wladyslaw I monument
Template:Infobox settlement/columns

Coordinates: 50°00′45″N 20°59′19″E / 50.01250°N 20.98861°E / 50.01250; 20.98861{{#coordinates:50|00|45|N|20|59|19|E|type:city(112478)_region:PL | |name=

Country 23x15px Poland
Voivodeship Lesser Poland
County city county
Town rights 7 March 1330
 • President Roman Ciepiela
 • City 72.4 km2 (28.0 sq mi)
Population (2013)
 • City 112,478
 • Density 1,600/km2 (4,000/sq mi)
 • Metro 269,000
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 33-100 to 33-110
Area code(s) +48 014
Car plates KT

Tarnów (Polish pronunciation: [ˈtarnuf]) (German: Tarnau, Yiddish: טארנא‎, Torna) is a city in southeastern Poland with 115,341 inhabitants (metro area 269,000 inhabitants) as of June 2009. The city has been situated in the Lesser Poland Voivodeship since 1999, but from 1975 to 1998 it was the capital of the Tarnów Voivodeship. It is a major rail junction, located on the strategic east-west connection from Lwów to Kraków. Also, from Tarnów two additional lines stem - a southwards main line to the Slovak border via Stróże, as well as a minor northwards line to Szczucin (now defunct).

Etymology and location

Tarnów lies at the Carpathian foothills, on the Dunajec and the Biała rivers. The area of the city is 72.4 km2, and it is divided into 16 districts, known in Polish as osiedla. A few kilometers west of the city lies the district of Moscice, built in the late 1920s, together with a large chemical plant. The district was named after President of Poland, Ignacy Mościcki.

In first documented mention of the settlement (1105), it was spelled Tharnow. The name later evolved - Tarnowo (1229), Tarnów (1327), Tharnow (1473). The place name Tarnów is widely used in different forms across Slavic Europe, and lands which used to be inhabited by Slavs, such as eastern Germany, Hungary, and northern Greece. There is a German town Tarnow, Greek Tyrnavos (also spelled as Tirnovo), Czech Trnov, Bulgarian Veliko Tarnovo and Malko Tarnovo, as well as different Trnovos/Trnowos in Slovenia, Slovakia, Serbia, Bosnia, and Macedonia. The name Tarnów comes from an early Slavic word trn/tarn, which means a thorn, i.e. an area covered by thorny plants.


Tarnów is an important road and rail hub. It lies at the intersection of two major roads - the A4 motorway European route E40, and National Road nr. 73, which goes from Kielce to Jasło. Furthermore, the city is a rail junction, with four lines - three main electrified routes (westwards to Kraków, eastwards to Dębica and southwards to Nowy Sącz), as well as secondary importance local connection to Szczucin. The history of rail transport in Tarnów dates back to the year 1856, when Galician Railway of Archduke Charles Louis reached the city.[citation needed] The complex of Tarnów Main Station, patterned after the Lviv railway station was completed in 1906. Since 2010, Tarnów station houses a gallery of modern art, the only such gallery located in a rail station in Poland. Tarnów also has three additional stations - Tarnów Moscice, as well as Tarnów Polnocny and Tarnów Klikowa, both of which are currently out of service.

The city's public transport system keeps 29 municipal bus routes, which provide convenient transport to all districts. Furthermore, in 1911-1942 Tarnów had a tram line, with the length of 2,500 meters.[citation needed]


Tarnów is an important center of economy and industry. The city has chemical plants (Zakłady Azotowe w Tarnowie-Mościcach S.A., Becker Farby Przemysłowe Sp. z o.o., Summit Packaging Polska Sp. z o.o.), mechanical industry), food plants Chłodniczego "Fritar", building materials (Leier Polska S.A., Bruk-Bet), textiles (Spółdzielnia "Tarnowska Odzież, Tarnospin, Tarkonfex"), and several warehouses, as well as a distribution center of the Lidl chain. Furthermore, Tarnów is an important center of natural gas industry, with headquarters of three gas corporations.[citation needed]


File:Tarnow City Hall Tower view.jpg
Panorama of the Old Town in Tarnów

Early history

In the mid-9th century, on Tarnow’s St. Martin Hill (Gora sw. Marcina, 2,5 kilometes from the center of today’s city), a Slavic gord was established, probably by the Vistulans. Due to efforts of local archaeologists, we know that the size of the gord was almost 16 hectares, and it was surrounded by a rampart. The settlement was probably destroyed in the 1030s or the 1050s, during either a popular rebellion against Christianity (see Baptism of Poland), or Czech invasion of Lesser Poland. In the mid-11th century, a new gord was established on the Biala river. It was a royal property, which in the late 11th or early 12th century was handed over to the Tyniec Benedictine Abbey. The name Tarnow, with a different spelling, was for the first time mentioned in a document of Papal legate, Cardinal Gilles de Paris (1124).

In 1264 Daniel of Galicia and Bolesław V the Chaste met in the town to establish the borders of their domains (Lesser Poland and Red Ruthenia). Next documented mention of Tarnów comes from the year 1309, when the list of miracles of Kinga of Poland specifies a woman named Marta, who was resident of the settlement. In 1327, a knight named Spicymir (Leliwa coat of arms) purchased a village of Tarnów Wielki, and three years later, founded his own private town. On March 7, 1330, King Władysław I the Elbow-high granted Magdeburg rights to Tarnow. In the same year, construction of a castle on the St. Martin Hill was completed by Castellan of Kraków, Spycimir Leliwita of Leliwa coat of arms (its ruins can still be seen).

Tarnow remained in the hands of the Leliwita family, out of which in the 15th century the Tarnowski family emerged. In the 13th century, numerous German settlers immigrated from Kraków and Nowy Sącz (see Walddeutsche, Ostsiedlung). During the 16th century Scottish immigrants began to come in large numbers (Dun, Huyson, and Nikielson). In 1528 the exiled King of Hungary János Szapolyai lived in the town.[1] The town prospered during the Polish Golden Age, when it belonged to Hetman Jan Tarnowski (1488-1561). In the mid-16th century, its population was app 1,200, with 200 houses located within town’s defensive wall (the wall itself had been built in the mid-15th century, and expanded in the early 16th century). In 1467, the waterworks and sewage systems were completed, with large cisterns filled with drinking water built in the main market square. In the 16th century, during the period known as Polish Golden Age, Tarnów had a school, a synagogue, a Calvinist prayer house, Roman Catholic churches, and up to twelve guilds

Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

File:Ostrogscy, Tarnów.JPG
Tarnów Cathedral preserved one of the most beautiful examples of renaissance and mannerist tomb monuments in the country.[2]
After the death of Jan Tarnowski (16 May 1561), Italian sculptor Jan Maria Padovano began creating one of the most beautiful examples of Renaissance headstones in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The monument of hetman Tarnowski is almost 14 meters tall, and stands in St. Anne Chapel, which is located in northern nave of the Tarnów Cathedral. Padovano completed his work in 1573; furthermore, he designed the Renaissance town hall, and oversaw its remodeling in the 1560s. At that time, in 28 niches of the town hall were portraits of members of the Tarnowski family - from Spicymir Leliwita to Jan Krzysztof Tarnowski, who died in 1567. In 1570 Tarnów became property of the Ostrogski family, after Zofia Tarnowska, the daughter of the hetman, married prince Konstanty Wasyl Ostrogski. In 1588, after Konstanty’s death, the town changed hands several times, belonging to different families, which slowed its development. Until the Partitions of Poland, Tarnów belonged to the County of Pilzno, Sandomierz Voivodeship. The town, like almost all locations of Lesser Poland, was devastated in October 1655, during the Swedish invasion of Poland, and as a result, its population declined from 2,000 to 768. In 1723, the town became property of the Sanguszko family, which purchased it from the Lubomirski family.

Habsburg Empire

After the first partition of Poland (1772), Tarnów was annexed by the Habsburg Empire, and remained in Austrian Galicia until late 1918. Austrian rule initially brought positive changes, as the town ceased to be private property, became the seat of a county (German: kreis), and of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tarnow (1783). On March 14, 1794, Józef Bem was born at Tarnow. In the 1830s, under the influence of events in Congress Poland (see November Uprising), Tarnów emerged as a center of Polish conspirational organizations. Plans for a national uprising in Galicia failed in early 1846, when local peasants began murdering the nobility in the Galician slaughter. The massacre, led by Jakub Szela (born in Smarżowa), began on February 18, 1846. Szela’s peasant units surrounded and attacked manor houses and settlements located in three counties - Sanok, Jasło, and Tarnów. The revolt got out of hand and the Austrians had to put it down.

Tarnow went through the period of quick development in the second half of the 19th century, due to the program of construction of railway system. In 1852, the town received rail connection with Kraków, due to the Galician Railway of Archduke Charles Louis, and in 1870, its population was 21,779. In 1878, gas lighting was introduced, and three years later, first daily newspaper appeared. In 1888, the Diocese Museum was founded by Rev. Jozef Baba, and in 1910, Tarnów received modern waterworks, a power plant and a new complex of the main rail station. The city remained a hotspot of Polish conspirational activities, with up to 20% of all members of the Polish Legions in World War I coming from Tarnów and its area. On November 10, 1914, units of the Russian Imperial Army captured Tarnow, and remained in the city until May 6, 1915 (see Gorlice–Tarnów Offensive). In the early stages of the offensive, Tarnów was shelled by German-Austrian heavy artillery, which brought destruction to some of its districts.
File:PL Tarnów Rynek w tle Katedra.JPG
Market Square with the cathedral in the background
In the night of October 30–31, 1918, Tarnów was first Polish city to be freed.

1918 to the present

In the Second Polish Republic, Tarnów belonged to Krakow Voivodeship, and gave the newly established country many outstanding figures, such as Franciszek Latinik and Wincenty Witos. In early 1927, construction of a large chemical plant was initiated in the suburban village of Swierczkow, which now bears the name of Moscice, and is a district of the city. Before the outbreak of World War II, the population of Tarnów was 40,000, of which almost half were Jewish. On August 28, 1939, the Tarnow rail station bomb attack took place.

On June 14, 1940, first mass transport left the Tarnów station to Auschwitz concentration camp, with 728 Polish political prisoners. All throughout the German occupation of Poland Tarnów was an important center of the Armia Krajowa (AK) and other resistance organizations. In the mid-1944, AK’s 16th Infantry Regiment “Barbara” took part in Operation Tempest. The Wehrmacht retreated from Tarnów on January 18, 1945, and the city was captured by the Red Army. A few months later, the Museum of Tarnów Land was opened, and Tarnów began a postwar recovery. In 1957, State Theatre of Ludwik Solski was opened, and in 1975 Tarnów became the capital of a voivodeship.

The Jews of Tarnów

File:2006 06 19 Beskid Niski 100.jpg
Existing remains of the old synagogue

Before World War II, about 25,000 Jews lived in Tarnów. Jews, whose recorded presence in the town went back to the mid-15th century, comprised about half of the town's total population.[citation needed] A large portion of Jewish business in Tarnów was devoted to garment and hat manufacturing. The Jewish community was ideologically diverse and included religious Hasidim, secular Zionists, and many more.

Immediately following the German occupation of the city on September 8, 1939, the persecution of the Jews began. German units burned down most of the city's synagogues on September 9 and drafted Jews for forced-labor projects. Tarnów was incorporated into the Generalgouvernement. Many Tarnów Jews fled to the east, while a large influx of refugees from elsewhere in occupied Poland continued to increase the town's Jewish population. In early November, the Germans ordered the establishment of a Jewish council (Judenrat) to transmit orders and regulations to the Jewish community. Among the duties of the Jewish council were enforcement of special taxation on the community and providing workers for forced labor.[citation needed]

During 1941, life for the Jews of Tarnów became increasingly precarious. The Germans imposed a large collective fine on the community. Jews were required to hand in their valuables. Roundups for labor became more frequent and killings became more commonplace and arbitrary. Deportations from Tarnów began in June 1942, when about 13,500 Jews were sent to the Belzec extermination camp. The first major act in the extermination of the Jews of Tarnów was the so-called "first operation" from 11–19 June 1942. The Germans gathered thousands of Jews in the Rynek (market place), and then they were tortured and killed. During this time period, on the streets of the town and in the Jewish cemetery, about 3,000 Jews were shot; in the woods of Zbylitowska Góra a few kilometers away from Tarnów a further 7,000 were murdered.[3] A panel of the Batorego Foundation [4] placed at the entry of the Bimah publishes a document from Michal Borawski, born in 1926, witnessing that the stairsteps (małe schody or little stairs) from the town center to the Bernardynski street where the Bernardine Monastery is located, had to be cleaned of the blood by the local fire brigade during three days.

After the June deportations, the Germans ordered the surviving Jews in Tarnów, along with thousands of Jews from neighboring towns, into a ghetto. The ghetto was surrounded by a high wooden fence. Living conditions in the ghetto were poor, marked by severe food shortages, a lack of sanitary facilities, and a forced-labor regimen in factories and workshops producing goods for the German war industry. In September 1942, the Germans ordered all ghetto residents to report to Targowica Square, where they were subjected to a "Selektion" (selection) in which those deemed "unessential" were selected out for deportation to Belzec. About 8,000 people were deported. Thereafter, deportations from Tarnów to extermination camps continued sporadically; the Germans deported a group of 2,500 in November 1942.

In the midst of the 1942 deportations, some Jews in Tarnów organized a Jewish resistance movement. Many of the resistance leaders were young Zionists involved in the Hashomer Hatzair youth movement. Many of those who left the ghetto to join the partisans fighting in the forests later fell in battle with SS units. Other resisters sought to establish escape routes to Hungary, but with limited success. The Germans decided to destroy the Tarnów ghetto in September 1943. The surviving 10,000 Jews were deported, 7,000 of them to Auschwitz and 3,000 to the Plaszow concentration camp in Kraków. In late 1943, Tarnów was declared "free of Jews" (Judenrein). By the end of the war, the overwhelming majority of Tarnów Jews had been murdered by the Germans. Although 700 Jews returned in 1945, some of them soon left the city. Many moved to Israel.[5]

File:Tarnow - mural.jpg
Mural representing the culture of Tarnów


  • market place in the Old Town, with medieval urban layout of streets and tenement houses, some from the Renaissance period,
  • 14th century Town Hall,
  • Mikolajowski House (1524), the oldest tenement house in Tarnow,
  • ruins of the Tarnowski family castle,
  • remains of the old synagogue,
  • remains of the 14th - 16th century defensive wall,
  • two fortified towers (16th century),
  • complex of a Bernadine Abbey,
  • Florecki House (late 16th century),
  • 18th and 19th century manor houses in the suburbs,
  • Jewish cemetery, founded in 1583,
  • Old Cemetery (late 18th century),
  • Sanguszko Palace at Gumniska,
  • Rail Station (1855),
  • City Park (1866),
  • Mausoleum of Józef Bem,
  • several Roman Catholic churches, such as the Tarnów Cathedral (14th century, renovated in 1889-1900), and Holy Trinity church (16th century.


Tarnów is one of the warmest cities in Poland. It has one of the highest annual mean temperatures in the country at Script error: No such module "convert".. The average temperature in January is Script error: No such module "convert". and Script error: No such module "convert". in July.[6] It is claimed that Tarnów has the longest summer in Poland spreading from mid May to mid September (above 118 days).

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Besides Catholics other Christian denominations are also present in Tarnów including: Seventh-day Adventist Church, Baptist Church, Methodist Church, Free Brothers Church, Pentecostal Church and the non-denominational Evangelical Movement "The Lord is my Banner" and Jehovah's Witnesses.[7] Before World War II there was a large population of Jews comprising half of the city's population, but now there remain just monuments of their past presence.

According to Church statistics, Tarnów is the most religious city in Poland, with 72.5% of the faithful of the Diocese of Tarnów attending Mass weekly.[8]


Tarnów constituency

Members of Parliament (Sejm) elected from Tarnów constituency:

Member of the European Parliament

Notable residents

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Tarnów is twinned with:[15]




  1. ^ Zdzisław Spieralski, Jan Tarnowski 1488-1561, Warszawa 1977, p. 124-125.
  2. ^ Invalid language code. "Volume 24". The Penny cyclopædia of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. C. Knight. 1842. p. 66. 
  3. ^ Adam Bartosz, In the footsteps of the Jews of Tarnów, 2007[dead link]
  4. ^ "Batorego Foundation english homepage". Retrieved 2013-04-24. 
  5. ^ "Tarnow". Retrieved 2013-04-24. 
  6. ^ "TARNW, Weather History and Climate Data". 2007-02-04. Retrieved 2009-05-06. 
  7. ^ Find a Meeting of Jehovah’s Witnesses (
  8. ^ Art4net "Tygodnik Katolicki - Gość Niedzielny - Wydanie Internetowe". Retrieved 2009-05-06. 
  9. ^ "Löb Judah B. Isaac". Retrieved 2013-04-24. 
  10. ^ a b "Kellner, Leon". Retrieved 2013-04-24. 
  11. ^ (José Krakover.
  12. ^ "Lipiner, Siegfried". Retrieved 2013-04-24. 
  13. ^ "Öttinger, Joseph". Retrieved 2013-04-24. 
  14. ^ "Weissmann-Chajes, Marcus". Retrieved 2013-04-24. 
  15. ^ "Miasta Partnerskie". Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  16. ^ "Testvértelepülések". Retrieved 30 April 2014. 
  17. ^ "Miasta partnerskie i zaprzyjaźnione Nowego Sącza". Urząd Miasta Nowego Sącza (in Polish). Archived from the original on 2013-05-23. Retrieved 2013-08-01. 

External links

Coordinates: 50°00′45″N 20°59′19″E / 50.01250°N 20.98861°E / 50.01250; 20.98861{{#coordinates:50|00|45|N|20|59|19|E| |primary |name= }}

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