Much of the appeal of Tarnow comes from the Galician atmosphere of the city, which has been preserved since the time of the imperial monarchy. The winding streets of the mediaeval town remain, as do fragments of the fortified walls as well as many Gothic and Renaissance buildings, all helping to create a magical atmosphere that can be experienced in no other place in the country. Tarnow is often dubbed the “Pearl of the Renaissance” by historians, and has several fascinating museums to boot.
Although Tarnow underwent some tough times throughout the centuries, it at times appears that not much has changed since its early days. The most important part of this mediaeval-looking city is the Main Marketplace, lined with lavishly ornamented tenement houses, some of which still have Renaissance arcades. Wandering the streets of Tarnow gives one an intangible feeling, particularly when coming across the artistic treasures of the “Clerical Route”. Its chief masterpiece is the Cathedral Basilica where you can see splendid tombstones of the Tarnowscy and Ostrogscy dynasties. Nearby, the Diocesan Museum attracts visitors with its invaluable collection of sacral artefacts.
Tarnow is situated in the south-eastern part of the country (East Malopolska), 80 km to the east of Cracow, along an important communication route linking the south with the east. It has a population of more than 117,000.
Tarnow’s origins date from 1330, for it was in that year that a local village called Tarnowiec acquired the status of a town. Just when and how Tarnowiec came into existence is shrouded in mystery. The medieval layout of the city – an oval centre with a large square in its middle - is still visible when you look at the map of Tarnow.