Biecz

The Land of Biecz is a picturesque area in South-Eastern Poland situated in the hilly Carpathian Plateau, by the Ropa River. Due to its rich history, the town of Biecz is often referred to as ‘’little Kraków’’. Owning to the partially preserved medieval city walls and buildings, as well as to the unchanged urban layout, Biecz is also called ”Polish Carcassonne’’. Biecz is the town of the Executioner – the Master of Holy Justice, who taught many successors of the executioner’s profession.
Thanks to Bolesław Wstydliwy, Biecz gained its civil rights in the 13th century. Defensive walls with the barbican and towers surrounded the city. Moreover, the city was known of its defensive function. In that time, Biecz was one of the largest and most important cities in Poland with many trading routes passing through the area, in which over 30 kinds of skilled craftsmanship thrived and developed. Amongst many other crafts the fastest developing businesses were linen and drapery industries and the trade in Hungarian wines. The town was a royal property. During their visits, the kings organized political meetings and signed important documents here. Over the course of its history, in Biecz there were three castles, which were visited by kings and princes especially from the Jagiellonian and Piast dynasty.
Cultural advancement followed the development of industry and trade. The first school was set up in Biecz in the late 14th century. Biecz has been home to many important figures in the Polish history, including: Marcin Kromer – a historian, geographer, diplomat and bishop of Warmia, Wacław Potocki – the greatest Polish 17th century poet, a deputy of the District Governor, and a judge in county court. In Biecz, he wrote ‘Wojna Chocimska’.
Biecz experienced its major development between the 14th and 17th century. During this period, the town was the seat of the Judge of the German Law and county court. In 1616 Biecz was granted the ‘right of the sword,’ that was a right to sentence prisoners and carry out public executions. In that time, Biecz had its own office for the executioners. The period of apprenticeship for an executioner was short. A lot of thieves and robbers were caught in the whole area of Biecz. They lived in the mountains and robbed merchants – travelers to Hungary and Poland. Captured criminals were immediately executed. This allowed the executioners from Biecz to practice and get experience. For this reason they were employed and paid by other towns. According to the legend, there lived an executioner named “Jurko” (his surname is unknown). Jurko was thought to have aristocratic roots. He was well educated and spoke several languages. Jurko was an authority on medical and law cases. He had a great passion for collective executions. He quoted Homer, Ovid and Horace while torturing people.
In the 17th century, Biecz started losing its prominence, due to the development of new trading routes and the deteriorating economic situation of the country. Biecz was under Austrian rule after the First Partition of Poland. The authorities abolished the county of Biecz and all the courts. In the 18th century Biecz came under private ownership and lost its royal status.

Tourist attractions the Land of Biecz

-Carpathian bike trail
The trail leads through the most beautiful corners of the region where many attractions await tourists, both natural and cultural: interesting sights, workshops of folk artists, galleries and local activities. The trail offers a chance to get to know the traditions and folklore of the region. Two trails run through the Biecz district. The first one, Wine Bike Trail, is 12 kilometers long and it leads through the medieval wine trading areas. The other one is called the Royal Bike Trail. It is 5 kilometers long and it leads through historical places visited by kings.

-Carpathian-Galician oil trail
On the trail you can see the machinery, which was used as drilling equipment in the area surrounding Gorlice. The drilling tradition has always been present in the history of Biecz. In the second half of the 19th century Tadeusz Skrzyński established a crude oil mine. The Nobel family bought the refinery in Libusza. The refinery belonged to A. Skrzyński. Later the company joined the international Rockefeller Standard Oil Company. One of the attractions in Libusza is the Museum of the Oil Industry and Ethnography, which was established thanks to Anna and Tadeusz Pabis. In the museum you can see an open-air exhibition and historical mine objects such as: distillery, forge and a modern oil well.
There were numerous oil wells in Biecz: near the Castle Hill on the so-called ‘Harta’ hill, in ‘Załawie’, Korczyna and Belna. The names of those mines were: ‘Piłsudski’, ‘Merkury’, ‘Romania’, Długosz- Załawie’. The mines were a source of petrol-paraffin crude oil.

-Corpus Christi Church

-Dungeon under the town hall

-Grod Staroscinski
Next to the hospital there is a building, which was originally the seat of the Mayor of the town from the beginning of the 16th century. In the 17th century the building was converted into the seat of the District Governor and county court. It was also an office of Wacław Potocki. The buildings are presently in use by School Number 1 in Biecz.




– Holy Spirit Hospital
In the east part of the town there is a late 14th century building (from 1395), which was founded by Queen Hedwig, who often stayed in Biecz. In the past, the building was used as a hospital (Hospital of the Holy Spirit), a beneficiary of generous feudal founds, until the 19th century.

– House of Biecz
On the west side of the main square there is Chodor Tenement House. The house, which belonged to the Chodor family, is one of the most interesting bourgeois houses with an ancient hall. According to the legend it is a house of the knight-bandit “Becz”, who was a founder of the town.

– Medieval city walls
Medieval city walls located next to the church are the remnant of the medieval defensive walls that surrounded the fortified settlement on the hill. Unfortunately, over time the defensive walls fell into ruin and only several parts have been preserved until this day. There is a walking path along the city walls.

– Private Muzeum of oil industry and ethnography in Libusza

– Saint Andre’s Church in Rożnowice
Saint Andrew’s Church in Rożnowice – one of the most outstanding examples of the use of the Baroque forms in the sacred wooden architecture. The church was erected in the 18th century. The interior is decorated with the 18th century decorative painting of geometric and floral patterns. Flattened arcades as well as the sinuously bent rood screen which are supported by wood-imitated columns, emphasise the late Baroque interior design.
Inside, there are three Rococo altars: the main altar (with a revolving niche with the sculptures of: Mother Mary with Jesus, Sorrowful Jesus, Resurrected Jesus and St. Andrew), the altar of St. Anne and the altar of Black Madonna from Częstochowa (19th century). The tower of the church consists of a few tiers separated with roofs. The church’s tower burnt down in 1992, however, the walls of the church as well as the interior survived.

– Saint Michael’s the Archangel Church in Binarowa
Saint Michael’s the Archangel Church in Binarowa – one of the oldest and most precious monuments of the wooden architecture. The church in Binarowa, with its shingled fir log construction, was erected around the year 1500. It is one of the oldest and the most precious wooden sacral buildings in Poland. The interior of the church, covered with paintings, makes a long-lasting impression. The numerous paintings were supposed to depict Biblical scenes to the people. There are also valuable paintings with views of the 17th century Biecz as well as some details showing the imagination of the artists e.g. an angel with moustache. The angels in Binarowa are everywhere, which creates a special character. The most precious furnishings are the Gothic sculptures and low reliefs in the altars, as well as the stone baptismal font. On the left side of the altar there is a painting of Saint Mary, which is a gift from the king Jan Kazimierz. Also stunning are the door fittings, which have been preserved from the original construction of the building. In 2003, in appreciation of the church’s uniqueness, it was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

– Market Square
The urban layout of Biecz has more or less remained unchanged since its creation in the Middle Ages. The city walls that surrounded the city, served its main purpose that was to protect the inhabitants from the enemy. The houses inside the city walls had porches where the commodities were bought and sold, as well as the cellars that served as storage rooms for products such as Hungarian wines. Therefore, Biecz played a major role in the Hungarian wine trade.
Due to numerous privileges granted to the town by the kings, trading was possible.Over the centuries, the market square in Biecz has always been one of the most representative and eye-catching monuments. Throughout the years, many various events and celebrations took place there. Even nowadays, the market square astonishes the tourists as well as the inhabitants with its beauty. It also serves as a remainder of the former glory of the city of Biecz.

-Franciscan Monastery
There is also another significant church in Biecz – it is a church and a 17th century Church and Monastery, belonging to the first Reformed Franciscans Monastery in Poland. The church was made in the baroque style with simple and uniform interiors. Near the main altar there are glass panes designed by Stanisław Matejko. Wacław Potocki is buried in the undergrounds of the church. The monastery is the owner of a valuable book collection which dates back to 1624. The collection of books in the library of the monastery numbers over 2000 volumes, including incunables from the 15th century.

– Cemeteries from the first war
The First World War did not damage the town extensively, but a huge number of cemeteries in an area of Biecz are the evidence of the war’s impact. Thousands of soldiers of the battle of Gorlice are buried here. In Biecz you can find 5 cemeteries from the First World War: Cemetery no. 105 – on the hill, near the shrine from 1812, Cemetery no. 106 – near the Corpus Christi Church, Cemetery no 107 – on the Tysiąclecia street, was originally a Jewish cemetery, Cemetery no. 108 – on the Kazimierza Wielkiego street, Cemetery no. 109 – close to the road connecting Biecz and Jasło, near the railway station. Soldiers of Austro-Hungarian, German and Russian armies are buried there.

– School of Executioners
Biecz is known of its ‘right of the sword’, that was a right to sentence prisoners and carry out public executions. Moreover, Biecz had its own office of the executioner. The time of apprenticeship for an executioner was short. A lot of thieves and robbers were caught in the whole area of Biecz. They lived in the mountains and robbed merchants – travelers to Hungary and Poland. Captured criminals were immediately killed. This allowed the executioners from Biecz to practice and get experience. For this reason they were employed and paid by other towns. According to the legend, there lived an executioner named “Jurko” (his surname is unknown). Jurko was thought to have aristocratic roots as he was well educated and spoke several languages. Jurko was an authority on medical and law cases. He had a great passion for collective executions. He quoted Homer, Ovid and Horace while torturing people.


– Smith’s Tower
The Smith’s tower, after the restoration works in the 1980s was given to the Museum. Since its opening in 1990, the tower holds exhibitions about contemporary art, (especially paintings) and the exhibition about the Scout Movement in Biecz.

– Synagogue

-The House of Kromer
The branch of the Museum named The House of Kromer is located in a Renaissance tenement house from 1519. Inside, a lot of antique architectural details from the Renaissance period has been preserved. On the ground floor, there is a Renaissance portal with a house mark of a wealty merchant family of Chodor from 1519. In the 17th century, Jan Januszewicz – a prominent burger poet, became the owner of the tenement house. In 1612, the House of Kromer was thoroughly rebuilt for the last time.
The exhibition inside the House of Kromer presents the rich history of the city of Biecz and its land as well as the intellectual and material culture of people of Biecz. A biographical exposition about Marcin Kromer and Wacław Potocki occupy an important place amongst the museum’s exhibitions.

– The house with a tower
The House with a Tower is a branch of the museum located in a tenement house from 1523. The first pharmacy in the land of Podkarpacie was established in this building in 1557 by a pharmacist Marcin Barian Rokicki. The pharmacy existed here until the end of the 17th century. The tenement house is rich with Renaissance components that were rediscovered during conservation works in the years of 1968-1978. It was then, when a Renaissance attic and sgraffito frieze that decorate the facade of the building were reconstructed. Inside, a lot of Renaissance lintels and a layout of rooms have stayed original. The 14th century defensive tower named ‘Radziecka’ is adjacent to the house. (rajca- a municipal commissioner)
In the House with a Tower, an exhibition devoted to the history of pharmacy and apothecary is located. On all five floors of the Radziecka Tower,there is located an exhibition of musical instruments and handicraft from the land of Biecz.

– The Railway Station in Biecz

– Town Hall
Primarily, the town hall in Biecz had the construction of a long, one-storey building, covered with steepy roof in the Gothic style. Judging from the preserved until this day doorway on the western side of the building, the main entrance must have been situated there. The fundaments of the town hall on the eastern side were discovered during archeological excavations. They are marked with decorative brick tiles.
Wooden stars lead to the top of the tower, from where you can see beautiful views of Biecz and its surroundings. You can see the Valley of the Ropa River, Beskid Niski and the hilly lndscape of Carpathian Plateau. In the undergrounds of the town hall, there is a dungeon, known as ‘turma’, where the criminals were sent. On the walls of the dungeon you can still find the inscriptions and calendars made by the prisoners. In the old cell you can see reconstructions of medieval instruments of torture.

Contact

email
um@biecz.pl
address
ul. Rynek 1, 38-340 Biecz
phone
13 447 11 13
Fax: 13 447 11 13,