Table of Contents
- Gorlice City of Light
- Gorlice Attractions
- Why and who should visit Gorlice?
- When to visit Gorlice?
- How to get to Gorlice?
- Where to stay in Gorlice?
- Where and what is Lower Beskids?
- Lower Beskids Attractions near Gorlice
- Why and for whom is Lower Beskids?
- When to visit Lower Beskids?
- How to get to Lower Beskids?
- Where to stay in Lower Beskids?
At the end of last month, I spent a great week in Gorlice and Lower Beskids. I must tell you I loved it there!
In addition to hiking, nature and adventure this region has a very rich cultural heritage and some of the finest wooden architecture in the country.
As a little kid, I explored all the mountain regions of Poland but it has been like 25 years ago or so. Yes, I’m that old!
It was amazing to be back to check this extremely interesting and still unspoilt by mass tourism part of Poland.
Gorlice City of Light
In the heart of Gorlice Land stands ”an unwritten capital of Low Beskids” the Gorlice city. The city of light.
Knight Dersław Karwacjan the First founded Gorlice in the 14th century. The town situated in the valley of Ropa and Sękowa Rivers.
But why Gorlice is the city of light? Mainly because Ignacy Łukasiewicz, who invented oil lamp, managed to clean up kerosene to the extent that it was possible to lit a first street oil lamp here, back in 1854.
As a result of that Ignacy Łukasiewicz is probably the most famous citizen of the city. He was a pharmacist and inventor who moved to Gorlice from Lviv.
First oil wells were created near Gorlice as well. For many years before America or the Persian Gulf, Gorlice was an oil industry power player.
For that reason, subjects of kerosene and Łukasiewicz are omnipresent in the city and the area. Consequently, even escape rooms here are all about Ignacy and stealing his secret recipe.
There are numerous attractions in Gorlice and it is hard to see and experience them all.
In the 17rh century, the troops of the Transylvanian Prince George II Rakoczi destroyed Gorlice.
The present building is a conglomeration of several houses from different periods and combined into one unit during the reconstruction in the 19th century.
The clock tower of the Gorlice town hall was added after World War I according to the design of Eng. Józef Baruta – urban architect and historian Gorlice. And it is the best place to watch a sunset in the city. As you can see in my picture.
Other interesting elements of the Gorlice Town Hall are: on the ground floor of the building, there is a fresco of the Greek goddess of health Hygieia – the patron of the pharmacy. The oldest corner of the building housed a pharmacy of Ignacy Łukasiewicz.
Main Square and Historic Tenement Houses
The market square in Gorlice is a genuine heart of the town and meeting place for the inhabitants.
The western part of the market square there are old, historic townhouses. It is worth paying attention to the corner with Narrow Street tenement house of Artwińskich – Rynek 6 and the neighbouring house at number 7, built in the 18th century.
House of Artwińskich dates back to the 17th century. And was completely rebuilt in the 19th century. Its entrance portal decorated with the original dolphin bas-relief under the “tree of life” and the windows decorated with eagles and a lion under a tree.
When strolling around the Gorlice market, it is worth venturing into the Wąska Streets running out of its corners of Wąska and Piekarska. At 7 Wąska Street, built in 1780, and rebuilt in a classic style in 1874, stands the house of a bourgeois tiler Grabiec – Grabczyński.
Currently, it is the seat of the Regional Museum of PTTK. The front wall of the building is decorated with the “Soldiers of the Battle of Gorlice” art.
In turn, 5 Piekarska Street you should pay attention to a tenement house from the end of the 18th century and a bas-relief of lions holding a coat of arms located above the window.
One of the most beautiful streets of the city runs from the Market Square – 3rd May Street – promenade of Gorlice.
The Minor Basilica of the Birth of the Virgin Mary
The first written mention of its existence comes from 1411. The first church was built before 1399, it was made of stone.
The present church – Birth of the Virgin was created in the years 1885-1892 in the Neo-Renaissance style. The priest, Marcel Żabicki, undertook the construction of the church.
In 1915, the temple was severely damaged as a result of hostilities. It was rebuilt in 1921-1932. In the years 2000-2003, the church was renovated.
The Karwacjans’ Manor
It is impossible to visit Gorlice and not visit the seat of the family founders of the city – Karwacjan’s Manor.
The ground-level part of the building displays remnants of the defensive court built by Dersław II Karwacjan at the beginning of the 15th century.
During the First World War, the mansion was almost completely destroyed and partly rebuilt in the 70s of the last century. In the years 1982 – 92 it was restored on the basis of archival photographs.
Today the Karwacjans’ Manor is the seat of the ‘Dwory Karwacjanów and Gładyszów Museum’.
There is a stylish cafe in the stone cellars, a few cosy hotel rooms and a large exhibition hall. In front of the building you can admire the monument to the founder Gorlice – Dersław I Karwacjan unveiled in 2005 on the 650th anniversary of the city’s location.
The Golgota Hill
The Golgota Mountain (357 m above sea level) which is rising just above the city centre, was an important item on the Russian defence line during the battle near Gorlice.
Those days it is a place with perfect views over the city and surrounding ranges of the Low Beskids and the top spot to watch a sunrise in this area.
The Gorlice Land has a very characteristic and unique landscape marked with masts, tripods and pumpjacks, such a typical view for oil-bearing land.
Polish petroleum industry started in Gorlice 150 years ago but people excavated ‘rock oil’ and ‘black gold’ for centuries before.
Carpathian Oil Rig Trail aims at saving the heritage of oil industrial associated with the extraction and processing of crude oil.
In Gorlice land the trail includes Ropica Polska, Szymbark, Ropa, Łosie, Bielanka, Siary, Sękowa, Kryg, Kobylanka, Lipinki, Libusza, Zagórzany and of course numerous sites in Gorlice city.
You can easily travel this trail by bike or by car. You can as well organize a little off-roading trip with Podroze4x4 and combine it with checking out the beautiful wooden architecture of the region.
The most interesting places on the trail are: Museum of Oil Industry Magdalena in Gorlice and ‘Zagroda Maziarnska’ in Łosie.
Museum of Oil Industry Magdalena
In the museum, you can see not only tools and devices that extracted oil from the earth over 100 years ago but also try to light the fire in the forge with your lover.
Bow down to Saint Barbara. See the beautiful panorama of the Low Beskids from a drilling tower. Bring out the “black gold”, which is carefully guarded by the head of a Gorlice (an oil worker).
It is a place everyone should visit to learn about the oil industry, consequently, you will be able to understand how the oil industry started in Poland.
Oiler’s House in Łosie
This was one of my favourite places on the whole trip. Łosie is a Lemko village whose inhabitants traditionally dealt with the travelling trade of fumes and lubricants.
In the beginning, mainly used for lubricating the axles of wooden carts. It was obtained in the process of dry distillation of pine wood waste.
From the mid-nineteenth century, as the oil industry developed in the region, Lemko people from Łosie began to develop international trade in technical lubricants and oils of purulent origin.
This occupation until the Second World War was the primary source of income for the majority of men from this village.
Zagroda Maziarska is a new branch of the Karwacjans’ Manor and Museum of Gładysz Family. It consists of a hut, a barn and a granary and exhibits a fascinating history of villages and metallurgy is presented.
You can admire, among others, the original carriages. Lemkos fairs, workshops and museum lessons are part of the museum’s mission.
The First World War’s Eastern Front Trail
The First World War’s Eastern Front Trail in the Lesser Poland region encompasses places, which in the years 1914-1915, were a theatre of key military operations between the Austro-Hungarian and German forces against the Russian army on the Eastern Front of the Great War.
Travelling along the trail you can see historic monuments such as museums, numerous military cemeteries, former military buildings, such as barracks, headquarters of the fighting armies, military hospitals and field fortifications.
In Gorlice you can admire area of the decisive Battle of Gorlice, which brought victory to the Austro-Hungarian and German forces in the early May of 1915.
Regional PTTK Museum
The permanent exhibition presented to visitors consists of five thematic sections: World War I and the Battle of Gorlice, the history of Gorlice, the oil industry and ethnography of Pogórzans and Lemkos. The exhibition about the Great War and the battle of Gorlice is the biggest interest to visitors.
In 6 rooms you can learn about the causes, course and effects of the events of May 2, 1915. The battle of Gorlice was one of the greatest and most important battles of the Eastern Front of the First World War.
In turn, the Gorlice Operation affected the fate of the war and, consequently, the possibility of the rebirth of the Polish state.
These events left a strong mark on the land of Gorlice and despite the passage of 100 years, they are still alive among local residents.
First World War’s Cemeteries
In order to commemorate the victory in a consistent and permanent manner, the Austro-Hungarian monarchy undertook the task of building military cemeteries, supranational necropolises.
In the area of Gorlice there was 86 cemeteries. All perfectly integrated into the landscape of the Low Beskids thanks to the projects of the Slovak architect Dusan Jurkovič – wooden cemeteries and Viennese sculptor Hans Mayr – stone cemeteries.
There is even the Military Cemeteries of World War I Trail, but the two most important ones which are part of First World War Eastern’s Front Trail.
Cementary nr 91 in Gorlice
Gustav Ludvig and Emil Ladewig designed the necropolis located on the Cemetery Hill. Surrounded by a sandstone wall, the cemetery area was divided into four grave fields.
The cemetery was originally the resting place of 427 Austro-Hungarian soldiers, 139 German soldiers and 287 Russian soldiers, the total number of soldiers buried here eventually increased to 1441.
Cementary nr 60 in Małastów
Dušan Jurkovič designed the necropolis on the Małastowska Pass. Surrounded by a wooden fence, the necropolis has been carefully restored. 174 killed by the Austro-Hungarian army, including many Poles.
Here you can see Jurkovič’s characteristic wooden gravestones, as well as the unusually original wooden “matzeva” on the grave of Mendel Broda, a soldier of Austro-Hungarian Jewish origin.
In the back of the cemetery, there is a soaring building with shingled roofs and a composition made of crosses, which at first resembles a chapel.
Why and who should visit Gorlice?
Generally, Gorlice city is for everyone, no wonder it became one of the Poland points of interest for many travellers. You love mountains, it is for you. You love small, cute and picturesque towns, it is for you. But if you love architecture, culture and history Gorlice is for you 200%.
When to visit Gorlice?
As most of the places in deep mountains summer months are the best time to visit Gorlice.
On the other side, I bet that seeing all this amazing architecture under the snow has its charm as well, but only if you are not afraid of Polish winter.
Top Tip: Visit Gorlice during one of many festivals that take place in the city of lights so you can make your stay more interesting.
Gorlice City Festivals
Usually celebrated over the first long May weekend with many music concerts and happening but as well some parades and events to commemorate the World War I battle that happened near Gorlice. The reconstitution battle takes place as well, so if you are a history buff, this is a time for you to visit.
Folk Music Festival that holds concerts of bands from all sides of Carpathians and more. Mainly Polish, Hungarian and Slovak artists but as well many groups from Balkan region.
All spectrum of folk music that combines traditional tunes mixed with jazz, rock and electronic sounds. But the festival is not only concerts but workshops, meetings with artists and folk dance shows. April 2019.
It is a literature/ theatre festival with some concerts, monologues and meetings with authors devoted to promoting forgotten Zygmunt Haupt who was a great Polish writer.
If you are a culture and theatre buff you gonna love it. On my stay in Gorlice, I attended the 4th edition of the festival and I highly recommend it. The 5th edition will take place between 26-29th of September 2019.
In July of 2019, Gorlice will be holding the 21st edition of the Ambient Festival. The event promotes modern ambient music to a bigger audience and combines concerts with visual shows.
If you loved Indian Holi you gonna love this event. Festival combines concerts with the splashing of colour powders are designed to create a super fun and positive day in mid-August in Gorlice.
How to get to Gorlice?
By car: From Krakow take road 75 east to Nowy Sacz, then you can continue to the east via road 28 to explore Low Beskids.
By public transport: It is best to get here by bus from Krakow, Rzeszow or Nowy Sacz. You can check bus schedules in the whole Poland here. To all those cities you can get by train.
The nearest international airports are in Krakow and Rzeszow.
Where to stay in Gorlice?
There are many accommodation options in Gorlice and Lower Beskids area but I highly recommend those two.
This amazing palace of Długosz Family is a perfect place to stay in Gorlice if you like a bit of luxury, history and chic.
The place belonged to one of the biggest oil tycoons in the region – Wladysław Długosza and is a big part of the history of the city and one of the attractions of the Kerosene Trail.
You can enjoy your days in Gorlice like an aristocrat for less than 50 Euro/night
You should choose this place if you do not care for a royal splendour but prefer a rustic style of countryside accommodations surrounded by Nature but still in the city!
There are 3 different cottages, all built in the same style, each of them can sleep 4 people for less than 50 Euro/night.
Oh, and if you are looking for places to eat, check out ‘Gęsia Skórka Restaurant’, a place where the food is to die for! Another great place is ‘U Połkii Allana Restaurant’ and best coffee is served in the Karuzela Cafe.
Where and what is Lower Beskids?
Low Beskids is the most eastern range of the Beskid Mountains, situated between the Beskid Sadecki and the Bieszczady Mountains.
Long, low massifs of an average height of around 700-800m, cut by winding valleys and serpentine rivers, spotted with deserted villages, wooden churches and traces of the local ethnic groups form the typical landscape of Low Beskids
Lower Beskids Attractions near Gorlice
This part of Poland is one of the most remote areas of my country, especially the southern part.
So if you find Bieszczady Mountains too crowded you know when you should come to properly rest in Nature alone without mass tourists. Tourist attractions in the Lower Beskid gonna steal your heart.
Lemkos People Cultural Heritage
Right in the Low Beskid Mountains, lies a land called Lemkivshchyna. This territory is the ancestral home of one of Europe’s most distinct minorities – the Lemkos.
Most significant traces of Lemko culture are their amazing Orthodox churches and characteristic houses called “chyża”.
Another intrinsic cultural element of the Lemko region are quite distinctive stone roadside crosses and richly carved gravestones, made by local stonemasons.
Lemkos people mainly engaged in farming and breeding cattle and sheep but as this part of Poland as not very favourable for agriculture people had to find other means.
Women cultivated flax for linen production, collected mushrooms and berries. Men produced shingles for roof construction, produced tar and smelt used in medicine and veterinary.
In Łosie near Gorlice, the inhabitants have specialized in the production of wood tar and they have developed large-scale international trade of those lubricants.
I must admit I came to this region a bit uneducated about Lemkos culture and history but left fully fascinated and full of knowledge.
Polish Uplanders Cultural Heritage
Polish Uplanders (also known as Western Pogorzans and Eastern Pogorzans), are a distinctive subethnic group of Poles that inhabited the central and the southern half of the Beskids in Poland.
With regard to cultural differences, Uplanders divides into two parts. Western (the area of Gorlice, Jasło and Strzyżów). Southern in Sanok, and eastern (Brzozów). The differences between western and eastern groups are especially visible in architecture and clothes.
Polish Uplanders in the area of Gorlice apart from weaving and very specific canvas production specialised in pottery, beekeeping, lace-making and basket making.
Those days mainly older generations, traditional circles of country housewives and folk dance groups such as “Pogórzanie” truly care and try to protect rich folk traditions of this region.
I was lucky enough to take part in a dance show, learn more about traditional dances, songs and outfits. Talk with people who are proud members of the band from the very beginning of its existence, 1965.
Being from the north of Poland I really appreciate people who invest their time and efforts into protecting and cultivating traditions.
I even get to wear a traditional dress, which somehow fit me perfectly haha. The typical women’s dress consisted of a dress called ‘piekielnica”, a corset, a white headscarf and a “rańtuch”.
In Lower Beskids, around Gorlice and in whole Lesser Poland area there is an amazing Traditional Craft Trail designed to cultivate traditional folk handicrafts and to show contemporary folk artists and their work.
Thanks to the Craft Trail you have a chance to meet artists for whom the craft is not only a profession but a great passion in life. People who cultivate old crafts and try to hand on their forgotten skills to next, younger generations.
I was lucky enough to visit Mrs Anna Dobrowolska who is making ‘krywulkas’ which are traditional Lemko jewellery. She managed to hand on her almost ‘dying’ skill to her daughter and grand-daughter.
This piece you can see in the picture took 140 hours of work. And 20 something thousands of tiny glass beads. Super impressive!
I love the idea of this route! Meeting interesting people who can teach you about amazing crafts and history of those crafts is something I love to do on my travels.
Wooden Architecture Trail
The Wooden Architecture Route came into existence in 2001 as a result of the efforts of Lesser Poland Voivodeship. It consists of 252 most valuable and highly interesting historic wooden buildings and sights.
Picturesque Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic and Orthodox churches, tall bell-towers, old Polish manor, detached houses and heritage parks are part of the trail. All of it is an invaluable legacy of the folk culture that stood the test of time.
You know me, I love hiking and Nature but this route has blown my mind. I’m a huge architecture enthusiast. Therefore, when I found out that around Gorlice I can easily see 6 UNESCO sights I was over the moon!
Please note that not every single sight is open to public every summer, but you can easily check this info on Wooden Architecture Trail website.
Magura National Park
It is the youngest national park in the Polish Carpathian Mountains, opened back in 1995. Park is one of the wildest and the most beautiful terrains in southern Poland. It is a part of the European Ecological Network Natura 2000.
Park is a home to many animals. Including wolves, bears, elks, fire salamanders and the rare Eurasian lynx. The king of them all is the elusive eagle – a symbol of the park.
Forest covers 90% of park terrain. You can learn about the park, its mission and values in the Educational Centre and Museum of Magura National Park in Krempna.
The Centre manages educational courses on topics like the environment, ecology, botany, zoology. You can arrange your trip around the National Park at the centre as well.
The best way to explore the park is on foot, hiking around, Magura National Park has numerous trails which you can check here. There is a lot of biking routes and even horse riding route here.
Please remember it is a national park and there is a set of rules you have to follow.
Lower Beskids Hiking Trails
Beskid Niski is full of amazing hiking trails, it is a perfect place for all Nature lovers. Nadia and I went to do some hiking as soon as we arrived.
We did Gorlice – PTTK Magura Małastowska Shelter, which leads via yellow and gree route. The whole trail was a bit more than 26km. We did it in five and half hours but there are hundreds of 1, 2 and multi-day treks in Low Beskids.
Krynica – Komańcza “Main Beskid Trail” via Krynica – Hańczowa – Wołowiec – Bartne – Kąty – Cergowa – Iwonicz Zdrój – Rymanów Zdrój – Puławy – Komańcza.
Grybów – Komańcza “Blue Trail” via Grybów – Wysowa – Konieczna – Barwinek – Jasiel – Garb Średni – szlak zielony – Komańcza
Krynica – Dukla via Krynica – Wysowa – Smerekowiec – Magura Małastowska – Bartne – Wołowiec – Radocyna – Huta Polańska – Baranie – Olchowiec – Tylawa – Stasiane – Piotruś – Cergowa – Dukla
Szymbark – Gorlice
Szymbark – Magura Małastowska – Banica – Konieczna – Przełęcz Regetowska – Regetów – Ropki – Homola – Magura Małastowska – Gorlice
Grybów – Tylawa
Grybów – Homola – Magura Małastowska – Bartne – Magura Wątkowska – Nowy Żmigród – Krempna – Ożenna – Baranie – Olchowiec – Tylawa
Those are only a few examples of multi-day treks in Lower Beskids. Marking of the trails is not perfect. From my experience, it is better to have a map or a hiking app.
For example, the yellow route was hard to keep track and green was super easy with marks everywhere. While finding the crossroad of yellow and green was almost impossible.
Therefore I highly recommend downloading and using Tourist Trails of Lesser Poland PTTK App which is a great and uses your location to navigate you properly around the all the trails. The app is in Polish and English.
Mineral Water Spas
Rich cultural heritage, wooden architecture and spectacular Nature are some superb things about Lower Beskid. Few people know of its health and spa waters.
There are 4 spa villages in Low Beskids: Rymanów-Zdrój, Iwonicz-Zdrój, Wapienne and Wysowa, which I had a chance to visit.
I know those waters are good for you. That drinking them have numerous health benefits but the taste is not easy to handle.
The spa waters in Wysow contain hydrogen carbonates, chlorides, sodium, bromine, iodine, calcium and iron. And are highly carbonated.
A very talkative gentleman working in the Spa House tried to make us love them. By showing us some of his favourite mixes and teaching us about right ways to drink those waters, but let’s say we left without taking any home.
But to be 100% honest those waters seems to work. I drank a lot of Józef II and my respiratory system, mainly throat were much better after it.
I wouldn’t mind little sanatorium vacations in Wysowa, just to chill, drink healthy waters and rest.
It is an artificial dam reservoir on the Ropa River. It is a beautiful place where you can enjoy sailing, windsurfing, swimming, biking and some great sunsets.
There is a 27km bike route around the lake, loved by many mountain bikers. And if you are into challenges you should check out Hawrana orientation bike rally taking place here.
Why and for whom is Lower Beskids?
When I talk about any place, the most common question is: Maria why should I go there? And every single time my answer is different.
Why should you travel to this part of Poland? Because even though Poland has more spectacular and higher mountains you won’t find another place that has so much to offer. History, culture, architecture and Nature wise.
If you are a person who likes to learn through their travels. You like to immerse yourself with culture. You find history or architecture fascinating than Lower Beskid is for you!
If you love hiking, biking, running, kayaking, off-roading, white water rafting, camping and just being in the Nature Lower Beskid is for you.
When to visit Lower Beskids?
Same as Gorlice, it is best to visit Low Beskids during summer months. It is the best time too fully enjoy everything that this region has to offer. From hiking to extremely rich cultural heritage.
Having said that, I never underestimate autumn colours in the Polish mountains. Therefore, if you love fall as much as me, late September and October will be perfect for you.
It is a series of concerts from the beginning of June till the end of August. Every year for the past 12 years.
Lemkos Culture Festival that is happening in Low Beskids. From 1983 and gathers Lemkos people from around the world in celebration of their culture and heritage.
3 day in late July of total Lemkos culture immersion from concerts and workshops to dances, outfits and food.
“Łemkowska Watra” is also the time of mutual intercultural dialogue with a cross-border dimension in the Poland-Slovakia-Ukraine triangle.
It is an ultramarathon of max 92 km which is a part of ‘Perły Małopolski Runs‘ and happens in Magura National Park. Lesser Poland’s Perls it is a series of runs in the national parks of Lesser Poland.
If you are a runner this is a great opportunity to stay a few extra days to discover this amazing region. And to challenge yourself with some of the most beautiful runs you will ever experience.
How to get to Lower Beskids?
Although the easiest way to explore this region of Poland is by car. It is doable with a public transport as well.
By car: From Warsaw through Rzeszow take road 9. From Krakow take E40 in a direction to Tarnow or road 75 east in a direction to Nowy Sacz. Then you can continue to the east via road 28 to reach Lower Beskids.
By public transport: Best to get to Gorlice by bus from Krakow, Rzeszow and Nowy Sacz and than continue by local buses to places of your interest.
The nearest international airports are in Krakow and Rzeszow.
Where to stay in Lower Beskids?
Beautiful place surrounded by greenery, only 150m from the Klimkówka Lake. The building combines regional Lemko architecture with modern amenities. Only 60 Euro/night with a fabulous breakfast.
A perfect place for people who prefer small towns. And for those who want to enjoy the health spa waters of Wysowa. A room here is less than 50Euro/night.
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