Skawina lies in the Lesser Poland Voivodeship, only 15 kilometres south-west of Krakow. The town covers an area of about twenty square kilometres and is within easy reach of international motorways, the railway, Krakow ring road and Balice Airport. The advantage of Skawina is not only its convenient location, making it a ideal starting point for Krakow tours, but also the beauty of the landscape. It’s worth a stop on your way to Zakopane, Bielsko-Biala or Oswiecim.
The best place to start looking around Skawina is the Rynek, which is the market square and which dates back to the 14th century – it is even on the heritage register. Since the days of Casimir IV the Jagiellon there have been Thursday markets held there every week. The nearby town hall, still the seat of the local authorities, was built at the beginning of the 20th century.
Skawina boasts two historic churches – the Apostles Simon and Jude Thaddaeus Church built on the initiative of Casimir III the Great in 1364, and the Church of the Offering of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is estimated to have been built in the 17th or 18th centuries.
Once in Skawina, you should take a walk around the town park, where you will find a palace called “Sokół” (meaning “falcon”), which was built in 1904-06 as home to the Gymnastics Fellowship. Centuries earlier, a fortified castle stood here that had been built by the time of Casimir III the Great. Moreover, this district has many other precious monuments, such as the little church in Wola Radziszowska and the Renaissance manor house in Korabniki.
There is a plateau known as Pogórze Wielickie to the south of Skawina, while to the north the town is surrounded by the wooded limestone hills of the Krakowsko-Czestochowska Upland, while to the west, along the Vistula River, is the Oswiecim Valley.
The known history of Skawina dates back to 1364, when the last king of the Piast dynasty, Casimir the Great, gave it city rights and held it under his patronage. The town was fortified during this period, and a castle was built along with a church and schools. The most crucial factor for the development was the merchant’s salt road connecting Wieliczka with the Krakow Royal Route.
The 15th century was a time of success for various crafts, with two water mills being built on Skawinka River. This heyday lasted for the next two centuries, and then at the end of the 19th century the town began to revive and grow rapidly with the arrival of the railway. At that time there were a brewery, a refinery and two factories. The connection with Krakow, Żywiec, Sucha and Oswiecim has remained a constant encouragement for industrial growth.