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Kalwaria Zebrzydowska

Polska / małopolskie

Synagogues, prayer houses and others Cemeteries Sites of martyrdom Judaica in museums Andere


Province:małopolskie / krakowskie (before 1939)
County:wadowicki / wadowicki (before 1939)
Community:Kalwaria Zebrzydowska / Kalwaria Zebrzydowska (before 1939)
Other names:Zebrzydów
Nowy Zebrzydów (do XIX w.)
קלווריה [j.hebrajski]
Kalwarya [j.niemiecki]
Кальваря-Зебжидовская [j.rosyjski]
49.8673° N / 19.6765° E
49°52'02" N / 19°40'35" E


Anna Rutkowski

Herb miasta Kalwaria Zebrzydowska | Poznaniak

Kalwaria Zebrzydowska is a small town bordering with Pogórze Wielickie (Wieliczka Foothills) and Beskid Makowski (Maków Beskids), at the foot of the Żar mountain (1100-1300 ft a.s.l.), east from Wadowice. Kalwaria Zebrzydowska has 4,524 inhabitants and covers the area of 27 sq. miles .



Anna Rutkowski

The first record of Jews in Kalwaria was found in a work of a Jewish historian, Dzieje Żydów w Galicji i Rzeczypospolitej Krakowskiej w latach 1772–1868 (History of Jews in Galicia and the Republic of Cracow in the years 1772-1868). The author mentions a Jew, Nachman (surname is unknown), delivering money and food to Jews from Cracow, imprisoned by members of the Bar Confederation. Yet, there is no verification of the fact in other sources .

The beginning of the settlement of Jews in Kalwaria Zebrzydowska is said to take place in the mid-19th century. On 20 June, 1789, Stanisław Staszic records: The town without Jews doesn’t stink, is fairly clean, but destitute, the people are impoverished and – like the Minorites – finding fault in faith. Earlier, Jews were not allowed to settle in the town because of its role in the cult of Mary. Thus, they lived mainly in the neighbouring Lanckorona and the adjacent villages: Harbutowice, Stryszów, Zakrzew, Zebrzydowice, and Brody. There were probably some isolated cases of Jews living in Kalwaria. In 1848, they were given permission to settle permanently in the town. Since that time, a systematic growth of the Jewish population in Kalwaria is observed. In 1870, there were 219 Jews living there, in 1880 – 269, in 1890 – 428, in 1900 – 444, and in 1910 – 521 , which constituted about 28% of the whole population. The Jews were the largest minority in the town (beside Ukrainians and Hungarians).

At first, Jews settled mainly in the market square and at the adjacent roads, because only Christians were allowed to live in the vicinity of the Monastery. The first brick houses in Kalwaria, which diversified the town’s landscape of wooden buildings, were owned by the Jews. They were predominantly small traders and craftsmen. Some of them traded in the market square on market days or took their products to markets in the neighbouring localities.

With the demographic and economic growth of Kalwaria, to which the appearance of furniture industry and the construction of the Cracow-Chabówka railroad (1984) greatly contributed, it started to function as a local trade and crafts centre. Jews (e.g. Icchak Natowitz) played a major role in this process, by financing local carpenters and lending them the materials needed to produce furn


Local history

Anna Rutkowski

Kalwaria Zebrzydowska. Panorama miejscowości. | nieznany

The beginnings of settlement in Kalwaria Zebrzydowska are linked with the activity of the province of Cracow and county of Lanckorona, Mikołaj Zebrzydowski. At the beginning of the 17th century, he founded the Sanctuary of the Passion of Mary on the hill Żarek, modelled on the Chapel on Golgotha in Jerusalem. He also founded a monastery of Minorites, who were supposed to look after a group of chapels and churches making up a Calvary – edifices inspired by the architecture of the Way of the Cross in Jerusalem. Soon, a settlement – Zebrzydowo – was set up at the foot of the monastery and granted town rights in 1617. Later, the name was changed to Nowy Zebrzydów, to differentiate it from Zebrzydowo. Eventually the town was called Kalwaria and the adjective, Zebrzydowska, was added to it . In the 17th century, the town was systematically expanding. With the inflow of a growing number of pilgrims, many new shops and inns – the main source of income for the town’s residents – were established. In 1640, the son of Mikołaj Zebrzydowski, Jan, carried out the second location of the town and granted it numerous privileges, allowing for the settlement of many nationalities, except for the Jews. A trade route – called the emperor’s route – probably led through the market square of the town since the Middle Ages. Caravans of German, Arab and Jewish traders travelled in from the West, through Vienna and Prague to Cracow and back. In the years 1772-1918, Kalwaria Zebrzydowska was under Austrian occupation. A furniture industry and various services were developing there at the time. In 1896, the name Nowe Zebrzydowice was officially changed to Kalwaria Zebrzydowska. In 1896, the Austrian government took away its town rights, which it regained only in 1934. In the years 1975-1998, Kalwaria was part of the Bielsko-Biała Province. 



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