Culture & Society News Poland

Poland: Tarnów ranked among “Europe’s most beautiful towns”


Warsaw, Poland – The south-eastern Polish city of Tarnów has been ranked among the most beautiful towns in Europe in CNN’s new travel ranking.

“Paris, Rome, Barcelona… Europe’s cities are bucket list destinations, and rightly so,” CNN writes. “But the continent’s small towns are a dream, too, with all the beautiful architecture and much of the culture you’ll find in the big hitters, only with fewer crowds to share them with.”

“From humble fishing towns to hilltop medieval power bases,” CNN’s small-town ranking might prove a useful guide for laid-back urban visitors who wish to travel a bit more off-the-beaten track and avoid the big crowds of Europe’s tourist hubs.

For those of you who have already been to Tarnów, its inclusion in the most beautiful small towns ranking might seem odd.

“First things first, this is a city,” CNN travel writers admit right from the start.

“But wander in the Old Town and you’ll find it still has that small-town feel, with pretty medieval buildings that give a feel of how nearby Krakow was before mass tourism arrived.”

in Tarnów, CNN writers advise potential travellers to visit the Old Town Square, its beautiful gothic church and discover the city’s rich Jewish heritage. Even though Tarnów’s Jewish community was virtually wiped out during the Holocaust, Jews are thought to have settled in the city in the mid-15th century, accounting for almost half of the local population at some point.

Located some 90 km east of Krakow, Tarnów’s name first appeared in a document in the 12th century. Destroyed by fire, it was later rebuilt and became an important cultural and industrial centre in the 16th century under the avant-garde nobleman Jan Tarnowski, a golden age which earned it the nickname of “Pearl of the Renaissance”.

Passing under Austrian rule following the first partition of Poland in 1772, it became the first Polish city to reclaim independence in 1918 after over a century of foreign occupation. Some historians also claim that Tarnów is where World War II really started, a few days before Nazi Germany’s actual invasion of Poland, when German forces detonated explosives in the city’s train station killing 20 people and injuring dozens more, on August 28, 1939.

The other “most beautiful towns in Europe”, according to CNN, are:

  • Giethoorn, Netherlands
  • Guimarães, Portugal
  • Roscoff, France
  • Anghiari, Italy
  • Nafplio, Greece
  • Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Mazaro del Vallo, Italy
  • Clovelly, UK
  • Dinkelsbühl, Germany
  • Korčula, Croatia
  • Kenmare, Ireland
  • Piran, Slovenia
  • Reine, Norway
  • Regencos, Spain