The oldest sources mention Limanowa around 1476, but the settling in that region dates back to the Neolithic ages.[1.1] Limanowa, at its very beginnings, was called “Ilmanowa”, from the name of a German settler – Ilman.[1.2] The influx of German settlers there was closely connected with the Tatar invasions that decimated the local population. Around 1520 the village was bough by the Cracow Stolnik (a court office in Poland, responsible for serving the royal table, later a honorary office) Achacy Jordan of the Słupsk family. The village was granted town rights by the location privilege of King Zygmunt August on April 12th, 1565.[1.3] The town was exempted from state tax paying for thirty years. It had an agricultural character at the beginning, but markets and fairs played an important role in the life of the town. The majority of inhabitants lived exclusively from farming. Small crafts, mainly connected with clothing, food, metal works and woodworks also developed. Trade was an important branch of the economy, especially export of the local beer to Hungary. Numerous fires and wars halted the development of the town, but the biggest damage was done by epidemics, especially cholera.
After the partitions of Poland Limanowa was incorporated into the Nowy Sącz cyrkuł (Austrian county). The Austrian administration proved beneficial for the development of the town and the whole region. The Limanowa county was created in 1866, giving the town more prestige. In 1883 the court administration of the county was divided into two separate counties , one with the seat in Limanowa and the latter one in Mszana Dolna. In the 19th century Limanowa developed into a typical town, with the first brick houses built in the center. In 1884-1885 the development was further boosted by the opening of the railway line from Nowy Sącz to Chabówka and Sucha, with Limanowa situated along the route. A large crude oil refinery was launched in 1907-1909 in Swoliny near Limanowa by a French company. Around that time the local brewery was modernized, and the sawmill enlarged. Prior to the First World War several cultural organizations were active in town: The Society for Public School, a library and the Landowner’s Choir and Theatre.
At the outbreak of the First World War, in the region of Limanowa, bloody clashes between Russian and Austro-Hungarian armies occurred. Józef Piłsudski’s Polish Legions also participated in those fights, which were later named “Battle of Limanowa” by the historians.
During the interwar period small-scale industry developed in town and its surroundings, mainly food processing, but the majority of inhabitants still dealt with farming. The roads from Cracow to Zakopane and from Lublin to Nowy Sącz were added to the road network, so the region became more accessible and as a result its tourist value increased. It helped to take the rising unemployment under control, the first guesthouses for tourists were opened. It did not stop, however, social unrests from erupting. The first Polish peasant strikes, cutting off food supply from towns, took place in the vicinity of Limanowa.
On September 6th, 1939, with the Nazi troops had entered Limanowa, the occupation of the town started. The Limanowa county was incorporated into the occupied Nowy Sącz county, with some outposts of the county authorities (so called Komisariat Krajowy) created in the town.
After the Second World War the town begun to develop quite intensively. New industrial establishments were created, housing estates, roads, waterworks, a hospital and many other projects built. As the result of the 1975 administrative reform, Limanowa was downgraded to a municipal town status, which negatively influenced its importance in the field of economy and culture.[1.4]
[1.1] J. Wielek, O początkach miasta Limanowa, „Almanach Ziemi Limanowskiej”, No. 21 (2005), p. 4; http://www.limanowa.pl/?id=30859&location=f&msg=1 [accessed on 23.04.2008].
[1.2] Słownik etymologiczny miast i gmin PRL, St.Rospond (editor), Wyd. Ossolińskich, Kraków-Wrocław-Warszawa 1984, keyword: Limanowa.
[1.3] http://www.limanowa.com.pl/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=184&Itemid=46 [accessed on 23.04.2008].
[1.4] See in: Limanowa: dzieje miasta, Feliks Kiryk (editor), volume I, Kraków 1999.
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