Kazimierz Dolny
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History of KAZIMIERZ DOLNY                ENGLISH VERSION   
View of the Market according to Z. Vogel (1794)
Short history of Kazimierz Dolny
The history of Kazimierz Dolny goes back to the beginnings of Poland as a state. A famous historian, Jan Długosz, mentioned the area of Kazimierz as a property of a Benedictine monastery at Łysa Góra in the 11th century. He also wrote that in about 1170, King Casimir the Just (Kazimierz Sprawiedliwy) gave several villages, including Wietrzna Góra (Windy Hill) to a convent of Norbetine nuns based in Zwierzyniec, Cracow. The grateful nuns changed the name of Wietrzna Góra to Kazimierz. The original village developed near to the crossing of the Vistula River. Kazimierz grew thanks to the duty paid by people crossing the river. At the beginning of the 14th century Kazimierz was returned into the kings hands. The then king, Casimir the Great (Kazimierz Wielki), gave Kazimierz the right to be a town. Most probably he built the parish church and the castle. The donjon, a fortified tower situated further up the hill than the castle, had been built some time earlier.
From the middle of the 16th century, Kazimierz enjoyed prosperity thanks to the transportation of corn down the Vistula to Gdansk. The most prosperous period was the first half of the 17th century, a time when the most important buildings were built in the town. The town got its new architectural shape after 2 fires in about 1565 and 1585. Wooden buildings were replaced by ones built of brick. The first was the rebuilding of the parish church (Fara), completed in 1613, by an Italian master Jakub Balina. He influenced the design of many other churches in Eastern Poland. Soon after that, 2 richly decorated houses, belonging to the Przybylo family, were built in the market place. St Anna's hospital was rebuilt and the Reformat's church was built in 1626. After 1625 the families of Celej and Górski built their houses. The goods transported on the Vistula were stored in many beautiful granaries placed on the river banks. The number of citizens was then about 5000. For comparison, Lublin had 10 000 at the same time.
The Swedish wars (Potop, The Flood), brought fires, damage and robbery, and consequent economical failure. Kazimierz was never to return to its former prosperity, in spite of many efforts. The corn market was taken over by the nobility, and the town market by the Jews. Kazimierz became poorer and poorer, and the buildings decayed. The partition of Poland at the end of the 18th century was also the end of Kazimierz's importance in the Polish economy. After the January Uprising in 1863, Kazimierz first lost its status as the head of a powiat (county) and then, in 1866 after half the town was burnt down, it lost its rights to be a town. In the years that followed, Kazimierz started its career as a holiday resort. Thanks to some artists, who were fascinated with the beautiful area and who had started coming here at the beginning of the 17th century, Kazimierz was becoming more popular and fashionable.
Zygmunt Vogel, the last Polish king's artist, was the first, then J.F.Piwarski, Wojciech Gerson, Aleksander Gierymski, Josef Pankiewicz, Ferdynand Ruszczyc, Władysław Ślewiński, and many others painted here. During the First World War, Kazimierz suffered great damage - Senatorska Street was burnt down. A society taking care of the monuments of the past (Towrzystwo Opieki nad Zabytkami Przeszłości) took care of the renovation of the town. In 1923 Tadeusz Pruszkowski, a professor of the Academy of Art in Warsaw, brought his students to Kazimierz and they dominated the town. Many tourists followed them, and this has continued to the present. After the damage suffered during the Second World War, the town was rebuilt, mostly thanks to the architect Karol Siciński. Artists still work in Kazimierz, and form part of the town's identity.
dr Waldemar Odorowski
Translated by Anna & Trevor Butcher



Parish Church

Celej House

Przybylo family houses