A small and rather quiet town situated in southeastern Poland, Sanok has long attracted many tourists by its proximity to the Bieszczady Mountains and the Bieszczady National Park. It is also the region’s major cultural, industrial and transport centre, managing to draw in people keen on mountain activities as well as luring historians with Poland’s biggest and most precious collection of religious icons. The town forms a natural gateway to the Bieszczady, which is the most uninhabited region in the country.
Among the main attractions the town has on offer is white water kayaking from Sanok to Przemysl, as well as the famed Icon Trail. The latter is a 70 km loop starting in Sanok and running through the villages of Tyrawa Solna, Ulucz and Wujskie. Depending on your fitness and perseverance, the trail can be done on foot, by bike, or even by horse.
An old historic town, Sanok is studded with a plethora of historical buildings. Numbered among the most prominent is the Castle, built in the Gothic style during the reign of King Kazimierz the Great on the site of a former Ruthenian stronghold and later transformed into the Renaissance style in 1523-1548. Equally good is the Orthodox Cathedral-Church of the Holy Trinity, built in the neo-Classical style in 1784. Another attraction of Sanok is its open-air folk museum (skansen), one of the largest and most interesting of Poland. The fact that the town is still developing and becoming increasingly tourist-oriented means competitive prices when it comes to accommodation as well as a wide choice of good bars and restaurants.
Situated on the river San in the Subcarpathian Voivodship, Sanok has one of the region’s best-developed service sectors. Choose one of the three signposted tourist trails to discover more about this part of Poland. All the trails are well marked and can be easily followed by bicycle, by motorbike, or simply on foot. You will very likely be amazed by the picturesque views and tranquil hideaways you will discover along one of the chosen trails leading either over the Slonne Mountains to Przemysl; across the Pohary and Sulila Mountains to Chryszczata; or to the main trail near Orli Kamien. When in doubt, go to the tourist information point in Sanok in Rynek Street 14, where they are always eager to help.
The first written mention of the town dates back to 1150. Granted a town charter in 1339, Sanok developed to become an important trade centre and home to the offices of the town starosty and the chatelaine. Sanok, which had burgeoned under the Jagiellonian rule, was afflicted by numerous conflagrations and was left in a state of dilapidation following the invasions by the Tatars (1626), Swedes (1655-1660), and the army of Hugarian prince Gyorgy Rakoczi (1657). After the Partition of Poland in 1772 the town fell under Austrian rule and remained so until 1918. In the years of the German occupation during World War II it was home to a ghetto for a thousand or so people; a German prison for around ten thousands prisoners (Poles, Russians, Czechs and Slovaks).