Go_ciniec Salmopolski


.: Town of Szczyrk / History of Szczyrk
There are as many theories concerning the city name as centuries in the history of Szczyrk. Some say that it comes from the

It is difficult to say when the first settlers appeared in the valley of Żylica. Everybody knows however that Szczyrk became an international settlement because, next to Polish fugitives and convicts, around the 15th century this place was reached by nomads from the Balkans, namely Vlachs. Once we add to this a drop of noble German and Austrian blood, that of soldiers from Hungary and neighbourly Slovaks and Czechs, Szczyrk will manifest itself as a germ of integrated Europe.

The first census was made for Church taxes in the 1630, on the initiatives of priest Bartłomiej Kampkowicz. And let's praise him for that, because now many Szczyrk inhabitants can boast of surnames as old as from the 17th century: Kruczek, Donat (today: Dunat), Wieczorek, Przybyła.

Since Szczyrk people were a peaceful and God-fearing nation, they did land farming, forest grubbing, grazing, breeding and hunting. Also, they named the neighbouring mountains. This is how Zapalenica was created (formerly: Palenica), as the name originating from soil fertilization with the ashes of burnt trees, or Klimczok (before: Goryczna Rock), from the surname of a headman from Lipowa, well-known in the 17th century (he took away from the rich and gave to himself). It is also worth remembering the name Skrzyczne because one day there was a lake on this peak, in which frogs used to loudly croak. The lake disappeared, and the name has remained (formerly: Skrzecznia, or Skrzeczna).

Settlers were granted land in a truly rare and peculiar way. This was the so-called "zarębek", namely equivalent of "feud" . The difference was however that the steward turned up in the valley and "zarębek" was multiplied into both sides of the hills, and the future highlander received the land on the better and worse insolated slope. If at that time anyone had known that in 300 years plainsmen would invent skiing, today highlanders' fortunes would occupy first places in the rankings of financial magazines and tax revenue offices. In 1808 Szczyrk was inhabited by only 172 vassals!

As the population increased, settlement moved further towards the mountains, and highlanders developed other fields of economy. Wood production increased and grazing developed. As early as in the 18th century Szczyrk consolidated economic ties with the Upper Silesia, delivering wood and other products for the local steel industry. Also, cloth was manufactured from lamb's wool (and this was just that famous "clean, live wool").

The development of tourism started after World War I. This was prompted by many opened field hospitals where Austrian soldiers treated their war-time wounds. Almost 10 pensions were built until World War II and modernisation commenced of the main road, which has been going on until today, as a result of heavy weather conditions, prevailing in the Beskidy mountains. In 1924 the first lodge was erected on Skrzyczne. In 1928 Salmopol, which had been an independent place for more than 125 years, was incorporated into expansively developing Szczyrk. As mostly Evangelics lived there, the town became the symbol of ecumenical symbiosis of the two Christian religions. Let's hope that this fact will also accelerate the conversion of zlotys into euros.

Szczyrk was granted municipal rights on 1 January 1973.


Essentially, all monuments in Szczyrk are associated with religious worship. The oldest one, more than 200 years old, is St. Jacob's church. Entirely wooden, built from beams connected into framework. The church's pride is a baroque pulpit, baptismal font, and a stoup from 1800. The oldest monuments that can be found in the church come from St. Norbert sisters' convent in Nowy Sącz, which was liquidated. The church has undergone various ups and downs, and, expanded in the period 1937 - 1939, has remained unchanged until today. It is of course constantly restored and refurbished.

An important place of religious worship in Szczyrk is St. Mary's Sanctuary on The Hill.

On 25 July 1894 nobody yet knew in Szczyrk that this day would go down for good in the history of the town. This was known only to then twelve-year-old Julianna Pezda, to whom Heavenly Mother had showed up few days before, on the so-called "Przykra Kępka" , where one may find today the Sanctuary. How could these events occur that changed many people's course of life for good? Well, Julianna with her sisters were walking around the forest and picking mushrooms and berries. At one point Julianna noticed a strange Lady who was standing nearby and watching the girls walk with a smile on her face. The "oddity" of that Lady, according to Julianna's future account, resulted from dark skin complexion and a brown cloth that she was wearing. Frightened girls ran away home. But Julianna was attracted back to the forest. After a few days, in the company of her cousin Mary, she came back to the place where she had seen that Lady. She was still standing at the same place. Surprised and slightly frightened girls kneeled down and began to pray loud. And at that time that Lady appealed saying: "Do not be afraid, say my greeting".

Not surprisingly, the adults did not believe in the girls' story, and Julianna got an emphatic ban on going to "Przykra Kępka" .

Then came the dawn on 25 July. A church fete was taking place at that time in the Szczyrk parish. From the morning, inhabitants of the neighbouring towns were coming to the church. Masses were celebrated, and in front of the church some rushed to the stands, others debated in groups about daily events, women exchanged newest gossips, and kids were figuring how to get hold of fair sweets. But Julianna's visions that had spread around like wildfire were on everyone's lips. A big crowd of people went to the place of visions with Julianna and her parents. Julianna kneeled down beside one of five beech trees and began to pray loud. Because she saw her Lady again. And it was not only her who saw Heavenly Mother but the whole crowd. Silence fell around. Then Julianna heard Lady's words, ordering her to hand a scapular from Częstochowa. Julianna's uncle obediently handed it to the girl, and she hung it on Lady's hand. Scapular was hanging in the air for a few days. People believed in the miracle. The place was fenced, and people gathered around praying and singing religious songs. Julianna's visions continued for several days. Younger visionary, Marianna Pezda, asked Holy Lady for miraculous water to cure her father Józef Pezda. Mother of Jesus pointed to this place saying: "Here will be a source of my name" . Józef Pezda, under threat of death before the morning, was ordered in a dream by Heavenly Mother to dig a hole where the miraculous fountain was supposed to spring from. This happened, and in 1895 the people of Szczyrk built a wooden shrine around the memorable beech-tree. On the day when the works started, a stream sprang from the place indicated by Heavenly Mother. In 1912 construction was started of a church that has been there until today. After War World I Salesian priests have taken care of the shrine.

On 3 May 1994 the Bishop of Bielsko and Żywiec, Tadeusz Rakoczy, entered the temple in the register of local St. Mary's Sanctuaries. This was one of the most important days in the history of Szczyrk.

The first cemetery in Szczyrk was created in the early 19th century as a result of a typhus fever epidemic in the period 1801-2 and in 1806. As it was created on the ground of the Wałęga and Więziki families, the vernacular name is "Więzikowa Kępka" .

The cemetery is a place full of meditation and a true source of this land's history. The oldest ones include tombs from the second half of the 19th century, crowned with iron crosses, under which Priest Marcin Serwiński and Anna and Gustaw Wouda are in their last sleep. The cemetery also has graves of famous sportsmen: Antoni Łaciak, Antoni Wieczorek and Urszula Szkodziak. There is also a grave of well-known visionary Julianna Marek, maiden name Pezda.

Not far from the parish church "On The Hill", the oldest brick shrine from 1829 is situated, known as "At the Bieniek's Shrine" . In the middle there are three plates with the most important Holy Mass prayers, dating back to 1833; in the 1930s the shrine was looked after by a Jew named Marosz. And this Jew came up with an idea to store beer at the shrine, because he was also the owner of "Skalite" pension. The holy place was supposed to protect his valuable drink against theft.

Next to the "Senator" restaurant one may find the second brick shrine from 1830. An interesting thing about it is that there is a wooden missionary cross from 1730. This is the oldest monument in Szczyrk. The cross, and then the shrine are remnants after missions of Jesuit missionaries, preaching catholic faith to Szczyrk people. The shrine is opened for visitors.

Many old crosses and statues can be found in Szczyrk. They are hanging on roadside trees, next to paths leading to farms off the village. An educational legend is connected with one of them, a monument dating back to 1839, namely "the statue at the Byrdys", standing at ul. Myśliwska 102. Well, next to the place where the statue stands, the road steeply sloped upwards. Horses dragging loaded carts had a hard time and irritated wagoners whipped them swearing like hell at the same time. When they confessed their sins, the then parish priest ordered them as a penance to build a statue of Jesus at this place. From that time on, the wagoners fell silent at this place, because it was not right for them to swear anymore.

In front of the entrance to switchbacks of the Salmopolska pass one may find an Evangelical cemetery and church.

Salmopol used to be an independent settlement, established by Evangelical settlers, and it was incorporated into Szczyrk as late as in 1928. The cemetery was established in 1812. It is surrounded from three sides by a wooden fence, and at the top of the cemetery there is a wooden cross with a statue of "Black Christ". Most gravestones have already been damaged, nevertheless the oldest one comes from 1908.

The school building was consecrated in 1897, and it also became a place of service, that is an Evangelical church. Before, children had been taught by older people, and the Evangelical community had preserved its religious and cultural identity for almost a hundred years.


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