The town is situated in the valley of river Skawa, at the feet of Beskid Mały. Within the town borders another river – Choszczenka (important for the city’s development) flows into Skawa.

Many beautiful tourist trails lead from Wadowice to the surrounding peaks. More about tourist possibilities is to be found further.

The etymology of the name Wadowice is not clear. There are two hypothesis. The first concerns a man named Wad – the founder if the place, his children were called Wadowice. The second concerns the duke of Oświęcim – Władysław, the suspected founder of Wadowice, who was under strong Czech influence. The Czech diminutive of his name is Wad or Wadec, so the initial name could be derivate from it.

First references about Wadowice come from church sources from the year 1325, where the town is mentioned as Wadowic and belongs to the nearby parish in Mucharz. In the following centuries Wadowice were a part of parish in Wożniki.

A parish in Wadowice was established in the year 1780 by the bishop of Kraków Kojetan Sołtyk.

Important dates from the town’s history:

24 Feb 1327 – Duke of Oświecim pays homage to the Czech king John of Luxemburg. The name Wadowicz is mention in the act. 

1400 – in a written German document the town Wadowice is mentioned as dowry of Jadwiga    wife of duke John II

10 Sep 1430 – after a huge fire, duke Kazimiesz grants the town city rights

1496 – after a great flood (river Skawa floods large part of Wadowice) duke Janusz confirms the city rights

1802 – City throws off its dependence from the nobility and becomes a royal fief.

1819 – District authorities are being moved by the Austrian authorities from Myslenice to Wadowice. Fast development of the town, new institutions are established and new buildings constructed.

1866 – middle school was established (the first such school in the area, its graduates make the city famous around the world)

1876 – establishment of a regional court (in a separate building since 1882)

01.06.1888 – The first train comes to Wadowice

1896 – a hospital was built

1900 – A Carmelite Monastery was built (the construction was supervised by St. Rafał Kalinowski, who died in Wadowice and was buried in Czarna)

1909 – Wafer production plan was built (MAFO) – today ZPC “Skawa”

1918 – Wadowice return to Poland and become the seat of district authorities

01.09.1939 – after the outbrak of WWII a border between the III Reich and the General Governement was marked out on river Skawa

1975 – after the administrative reform Wadowice are no longer the seat of local government (until another reform in 1999)

16.10.1978 – Citizen of Wadowice, graduate of middle school in Wadowice, bishop of Kraków and cardina Karol Wojtyła was elected pope John Paul II.

1979, 1991, 1999 – visits of John Paul II in Wadowice

What is worth seeing in Wadowice

1. The John Paul II Square

The John Paul II Square is a popular square was planned during the location of the town I 1430. After the fire in 1819 it changed it shape into more irregular form as the buildings on the east side were demolished. Once there was a town hall on the square *however it is not sure). Very important is the fact that after the fire the first brick buildings were constructed, the oldest come from the first half of the XIX century and are located on the east and west sides of the square. The most interesting structure is the building of the magistrate (no 23) from the beginning of the XIX century. 

The development of the local government is dated back since the gaining of city rights in 1430. The mayor and the town council gained in power. In the XVI century the town had about 1000 inhabitants. In the XVII century the town joined the Bar confederacy. The period of partitions is the time of Austro-Hungarian rule. In 1793 emperor Francisze II confirms all the privileges of the town. Since the year 1819 the town enters a period of rapid development.

Parish church of the Oblation of the Holiest Virgin Mary – the oldest monument in Wadowice. The first brick church in this place was built in 1440. The present name the church has since 1756 (earlier it was the All Saints’ church). In 1992 pope John Paul II granted the church with the title of a minor basilica.

The church was mostly destroyed by a fire in 1726 and it was rebuilt in the years 1792-98. The new church had three aisles and a central tower. The neo-baroque façade and tower were designed by an architect from Kraków – Tomasz Pryliński.

The church is filled with places relating John Paul II.

In the left aisle we may found a baptismal font where Karol Wojtyła was baptized. Next to it there is a sculpture of John Paul II and also a plaque outside the church, describing the pope’s pontificate.

In the chapel of the Heavenly Mother a painting, that was crowned by the pope during his visit in Wadowice in 1999, is situated.

The original painting is in a church in Rome. The chronicles claim that one of the last Piast descendents – Jadwiga was buried in the church.

The house on Kościelna street

One of the oldest residential buildings in Wadowice. Built in classicistic style at the turn of XVIII and XIX century. In the interwar period family Banaś run a eatery here, where Karol Wojtyła and his father used to eat.

Nowadays this building contains the Historical Collection of the Wadowice Land and an exhibition devoted to American aviators  called “Hell’s Angels” (it’s a private collection of Zygmunt Kraus).

High School of Marcin Wadowita

Mickiewicza street 16

The building was built in 1875 according to the project of T. Żebrowski in order to locate there a newly established school (initially it had only one floor and was expanded on the beginning of the XX century).

The school soon became an important place for the history of Wadowice. Students from this school published, at beginning of the XX century, a magazine “Nasz Łan” and later “Lutnia Szkolna”. Karol Wojtyła was one of the students from 1930 to 1938.

Many famous Poles graduated from this high school, including: Adolf Graczyński, Tadeusz Szantroch, archbishop Józef Bilczewski, generałowie: dr Tadeusz Zapałowicz, dr Józef Zając, Walerian Czuma , Bruno Olbrycht, artists: Emil Zegadłowicz, Stefan Essmanowski, Janina Brzostowska, Gustaw Studnicki.

The statue of Emil Zegadłowicz

The statue, created by Franciszek Sukanarowski was unveiled in the year 1968.

The courthouse

Initially it was the town hall where the trials took place. The present courthouse was built in the years 1880-1882 for the district court. Simultaneously a lawyer company was established.

The building still has its primal façade with attics above the entrance. The main hall is about two stocks high and has an internal balcony. Behind the building a small prison is situated, where for some time Rudolf Hess, the commander of the Auschwitz camp was kept.

Carmelite monastery

The structure was built in the years 1897-1899 and is related with the person of St. Rafał Kalinmowski. The church is neo-roman and has three aisles. On the main altar a painting created by F. Bergmann. The altar and the pulpit were designed in the workshop of master Stuplesser in Tyrol. Many keepsakes of Rafał Kalinowski are to be found in his cell. In the interwar period the church was used as a garrison church for the 12th infantry regiment.

Town Park

After purchasing the terrain on the so called Górnica by the town council a town park was planned there. The terrain was given to the new company, called the Company of Beautifying the Town Wadowice and the Surroundings. In 1913 a hostel was built and other constructions, such like arbors soon followed. Many exotic trees were planted in the park. Responsible for this task were Wałdysław Kuzia and Antoni Drozdowski.

During the WW I the park was expanded using the labor of Italian prisoners of war. In 1934 water supply was built so a pond and a fountain could be added to the park. Furthermore an electric lighting was installed.

In 1979 the hostel was given to the ZHP (Polish scout organization). The early beginnings of the scout movement in Wadowice can be dated back to 1911, when the first team was started. At the end of this year the team counted 7 patrols and 80 members who participated in the first scout gathering in England.

Opposite to the park was the atelier of a sculptor Wincenty Bałys, who is commemorated by a plaque on the wall of the building.

Saint Peter’s Church

The church was built as a token of gratitude for electing Karol Wojtyła as the pope and for miraculous saving him from the assassin on the Saint Peter’s Square in 1981.

The construction was started in 1984, in 1988 a cornerstone brought from the Saint Peter’s Basilica was placed and in 1985 a new parish was established there. The church was consecrated by the pope himself on the 14th August 1994.

The church, built with a substantial financial support of the parishioners, was designed by Przemysław Szafer,  Jacek Gyurkovich and Ewa Węcławicz – Gyurkovich as a postmodern and symbolic construction. Its particular elements refer to buildings in Wadowice, Kraków and Rome and symbolize the path of Karol Wojtyła.

Inside the church, on the floor a mosaic showing contours of Saint Peter’s Square with marked the site of the assassination attempt was placed.

In the back of the church, on a hill a symbolic Golgotha was made public for the pilgrims.

A controversial statue of the pope made by Luciano Minguzzieg stays in the front of the church.

Parish Cemetery

The entrance to the cemetery is a grand classicistic gate. The cemetery was planned in 1822 and till then many deserving citizens of Wadowice were buried there. Moving around the cemetery is easier after studying a monograph by Gustaw Studnicki entitled “Cmentarz Wadowicki”.




Old Barracks

After moving the seat of the local government from Myślenice to Wadowice in 1819 the town became also the place wgere the 56th infantry battalion stationed. A new barracks  were built for the purpose of this unit in 1822 (a square building with a vast internal yard). Barracks for the cavalry were built on the opposite side of the street. Most of the solders were Poles from Wadowice and the surrounding districts. They fought and died on almost every front of the First World War. 124 solders lie on the cemetery number 123 in Łużna.

After regaining independence in 1918 the 12th infantry battalion stationed here and after the Second World War it served as quarters for the 18th infantry battalion from Kołobrzeg.

Father of Karol Wojtyła was a solder of the 12th infantry battalion and after the war of the 18th infantry battalion.

After abandoning the building by the army it was adopted by the Herbapol company.


Monument of the solders of the 12th infantry battalion

On the 11th November 1928 a monument of the solders from the 12th infantry battalion was unveiled next to the barracks. The statue was designed by Józef Jura. The statue was removed in 1939 and in 1974 the rest of the monument was moved to the military cemetery. In 1981 it was placed once again in the front of the barracks.


Monastery of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth

The order of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth began its activity in Wadowice in 1894. The estate where the monastery is located was purchased by Lauretta Lubowidzka – mother superior of the order. Sisters were famous for their charitable and social activity.

A short history of the order:

1897 –  the Congregation of the Charitable Sisters of St. Vincent a Paulo was established (the first orphanage opened)

1905 - begins the construction of the monastery (supervised by mother superior Anastazja Gralewska and designed by Adam Kozłowski)

1910 – dormitory for girls was opened

1913 – the new chapel was consecrated

1938-39 – construction of the second floor (a Tailor Vocational School was located there)

Source : http://www.wadowicki.iap.pl/



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