The earliest mentions of Limanowa appear around 1476, but the settlement in that region dates back to the Neolithic Age[1.1], At the very beginning Limanowa 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 town was bought by a court official from Kraków Achacy Jordan from the Słupski family. The village was granted town rights in a location privilege issued by King Zygmunt August on 12 April 1565. The town was exempted from paying state tax for thirty years. Initially, Limanowa had an agricultural character, but markets and fairs also played an important role in the town’s life. 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 district. The Austrian administration proved beneficial for the development of the town and the whole region. The Limanowa county was created in 1866. 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 brick buildings constructed in the centre. In 1885 the development was further boosted by the opening of a railway station on the Galician Transversal Railway, which connected many towns of Podkarpacie, from Czadca in Slovakia to Husiatyń in the distant Podole; Limanowa was situated along the route from Nowy Sącz to Chabówka. A large crude oil refinery was launched in Swoliny near Limanowa by a French company in the years 1907-1909. Around that time the local brewery was modernized, and the sawmill enlarged. Prior to World War I several cultural organizations were active in the town: The Society for Public School, a library and the Landowner’s Choir and Theatre.
In 1914, at the beginning of military actions, 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” (2-12 December) by the historians. Approximately 42,000 soldiers died in the battle.
During the interwar period, Limanowa was the county seat in Krakowskie Province. Small-scale industry, mainly food processing, developed in the town and its surroundings, but the majority of inhabitants still dealt with farming. The road network was extended and roads from Kraków to Zakopane and from Lublin to Nowy Sącz were constructed, so the region became more accessible and as a result its tourist value increased. It helped to take the rising unemployment under control, as the first guesthouses for tourists were opened. However, it did not stop social unrests from erupting. The first Polish peasant strikes, involving cutting off food supply from towns, took place in the vicinity of Limanowa.
On 6 September 1939, with the German troops entering 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 World War II, the town began to develop quite intensively. New industrial establishments were created, housing estates, roads, waterworks, a hospital and many other buildings were constructed. As a 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. In 1999, the Limanowa county was re-established.
- Limanowa: dzieje miasta, F. Kiryk (ed.), vol. I, Kraków (1999).
- J. Wielek, O początkach miasta Limanowa, „Almanach Ziemi Limanowskiej”, no. 21 (2005).
[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 23 April 2008].
[1.2] Limanowa, [in:] Słownik etymologiczny miast i gmin PRL, S. Rospond (ed.), Kraków-Wrocław-Warszawa (1984).
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