Mszana Dolna is a picturesque small town in the Lesser Poland Voivodeship, surrounded by the Beskid and the Gorce mountains. It is commonly called a “capital of Zagorzanie,” i.e. a group of gorals from the Carpathian Mountains with interesting customs and folklore. A unique climate of the town surrounded by mountain ranges attracts thousands of tourists every year. You will find here numerous tourist centres that will encourage you to spend at least one day in this enchanting place.
Mszana Dolna is a town with the area of 27,1 km2 and the population of approximately 7,000. Although it is quite small, it constitutes an important financial, education and administration centre of the region. It is here that the seats of the town hall, commune and county office of employment are located. Mszana is also a famous local trade centre. Every Tuesday there is a fair organised here and it is visited by hundreds of traders and farmers from the town’s neighbourhood.
The location of Mszana Dolna makes it an ideal destination both for active and leisure travellers. The mountain ranges with beautiful water streams are an unquestionable attraction for anglers as well as for hiking and skiing enthusiasts. Mountain trails and ski runs of different difficulty levels attract both Polish and foreign visitors. Mountain climate will make your stay in the local spas and rehabilitation centres really pleasant. An unquestionable advantage of this place is its location within the Gorce National Park and a close proximity to Krakow encourages tourists to sightsee. Mszana Dolna may also boast of many interesting monuments. One of them is the neo-gothic Saint Michael the Archangel Church. It is a building from the 19th century but it has also monuments from the earlier centuries, for example, a stone holy water font from 1668. Another interesting place in Mszana is a manor park with beautiful old oaks, lime trees, poplars and maples. History enthusiasts may also visit a Jewish cemetery from the 18th century and a parish cemetery where the WW1 and WW2 victims were buried.
There are many bars, restaurants and accommodation places in Mszana Dolna. You may book a room in numerous private guest houses or pensions. Tourists can go swimming in an indoor pool or in the Mszanka river or play tennis in modern courts. Numerous cultural and cyclical events connected with local traditions are held in Mszana.
Mszana Dolna lies in the Island Beskids Basin, by the Raba and the Mszanka marshes. The basin is surrounded by such Gorce and Beskid’s peaks as: Kobyla Glowa, Mogielica and Grunwald. Many of them are higher than 1,000 meters above sea level. The town lies approximately 50 km north from Zakopane, 50 km south from Krakow and quite close to the Poland-Slovakia boarder. In the neighbourhood of Mszana there are such tourist resorts as: Wadowice, Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, Szczawnica and Wieliczka. It is quite easy to get to Mszana for one of the arterial roads (called the Karpatian route) is running through the town.
The first records about Mszana Dolna are from 1254. Mszana burgwall was founded probably by Cistercians from Szczyrzyc after 1308. Another settlement with the same name was located by King Casimir III the Great in 1345. The town that is now known as Mszana Dolna was probably created by the juncture of both these burgwalls. Only after Mszana was given town rights by King Casimir III the Great, it began to develop.
In 1639 Mszana was given the privilege of the organisation of a weekly market and five fairs a year. A convenient town’s location in the Raba and the Mszanka valley boosted local trade. It was in Mszana that the royal route was running; the route served for the goods exchange between Hungary and Poland. Silver, lead, sulphur and salt from Wieliczka were transported here on the trade routes. Plums, wine, horses and beautiful cloths, on the other hand, were imported from Hungary. Mszana Dolna was famous for the production of alcohol (especially beer and vodka) and glass. The Deluge in the 17th century completely destroyed the town. After the First Partition of Poland in 1772, the town was joined to Austria. At that time also a railway infrastructure began to develop and the so called transversal railway from Chabowka to Lvov was built.
During the First World War the Mszanka and Slona rivers were the foreground to the battles between Polish Legions and Russians. After Poland’s regaining independence, small industry began to develop. There was a tourism boom and first pensions were built. In 1939 Mszana Dolna was attacked by German armoured corps and air forces. During German occupation of Poland, there was a guerrilla warfare in the town and in its neighbourhood radio watch and secret teaching were conducted. Unfortunately, as a result of the Second World War, the town lost as many as one third of its inhabitants. In 1945, after Mszana Dolna was freed from the German occupation, the town became a significant financial and cultural centre. New industrial works and roads were built.
The Gorce and Beskid mountain ranges became again attractive for tourists. More and more accommodation places, bars and restaurants came into existence. In 1952 Mszana Dolna regained the town rights. Urbanisation, the building of new dwelling and guest houses helped the town develop. Nowadays Mszana Dolna is one of tourists’ favourite Polish mountain resorts.