Świątniki Górne

Świątniki Górne lies on Płaskowyż Wielicki (Wieliczka Plateau), of which a smaller plateau, Płaskowyż Świątnicki,  is a part. A beautiful panorama stretches from here.
Świątniki Górne is one of the oldest settlements  in southern Poland. The original name of the village was Górki. According to historical documents, a servant village was here already in the 11th century, which was clearly connected with the establishment of the bishopric in Kraków and the first Wawel Cathedral. A couple of Church-owned villages, known as “świątnicze”, were assigned to serve the cathedral”. People who served at the Cathedral were known as świątnicy. In return for full freedom and tax releases, they were expected to provide their services every week. They also opened and closed the Cathedral, so they were also known as Wawel stewards. In 1521 they received yet another privilege – ringing the most famous Polish bell – the Sigismund Bell. Their duty was also to protect the Cathedral against thieves, which involved the need to do minor repairs of locks, padlocks and metal door fittings. In this way they became proficient locksmiths, and that which for long centuries their basic occupation. On the turn of the 16th/17th centuries, when Poland entered a stormy period of wars and conflicts, the demand for arms, suits of armour and other war equipment grew. Residents of Świątniki also manufactured this type of equipment, as there were numerous workshops around, ready to meet this challenge. The Bishop of Kraków Jerzy Radziwiłł brought Italian  armourers to Świątniki. Their task was to train local craftsmen in their profession. Soon excellent suits of armour began to be manufactured in forty Świątniki workshops for the newly created cavalry – winged hussars. Świątniki specialised in the manufacture of cold steel, horseman’s picks, sabres, broadswords, koncerz blades,  but  also   suits of armour, bracers,  stirrups and helmets. The so-called Polish sabre (hussar’s sabre) was invented at that time, considered to be the best such weapon in the world. In the late 18th century fire arms replaced cold-blade, and so Świątniki residents’ adventure with armoury came to an end.. They focused on the manufacture of locks and padlocks, or artistic smithery. These traditions are still cultivated, though on a smaller scale.  
In 1887, the Austrian government decided to establish the Locksmithery School in Świątniki. Its first headmaster was  Kazimierz Bruchnalski, who spared no effort to educate well his pupils but also to establish close links between the school and the local industry. On his initiative a Locksmiths’ Company was set up in 1888. He also initiated a collection devoted to the history of Świątniki crafts. During the First World War the school  was taken by the army to house an artillery storage area, a hospital and chief headquarters of the command of Pogórze Wielickie defence. The building was surrounded by earthwork trenches.   In December 1914, one of the battles of Kraków was fought in the area. After Poland regained her independence, and later, after the Second World War, industry developed intensely in Świątniki. New workshops and cooperatives sprang up. In 1970, on Marcin Mikuła’s initiative, the Regional History Chamber was created at the local cooperative Przyszłość. Later the chamber was transformed into the Museum  named after its founder. In 1997 Świątniki Górne obtained a town charter.
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