SZCZYRK

Szczyrk is located in the north-eastern end of the Beskid Śląski range and has area approx. 40 km2. It is situated at the height from 450 to 960 m above sea level. The buildings in Szczyrk are spread along the Żylica river and its tributaries. The town is surrounded by mountain peaks with Skrzyczne (1152 m above sea level) as the highest peak. Two access roads lead to Szczyrk: from Bielsko-Biała and Żywiec as well as from Wisła.

The first references to settlements in Szczyrk date back to the 14th century when the Cistercian monks conducted a colonization campaign in these areas. Nomads from the Balkans reached this place around the 15th century.  The first census was made for Church taxes from the initiative of father Bartłomiej Kampkowicz. The census states that in 1631 Szczyrk was inhabited by 100 adult Catholics, 50 children and 2 heretics.  The inhabitants were occupied by land farming, forest grubbing, herding, breeding and hunting.  As the population increased, settlement moved further towards the mountains and highlanders developed other fields of economy. Wood production increased and herding developed. As early as in the 18th century  Szczyrk became economically connected with Upper Silesia, providing wood and other products for the local steelworks industry. Cloth from sheep fleece was also manufactured. The development of tourism started after World War I. This was prompted by many opened field hospitals where Austrian soldiers treated their war-time wounds.

Almost 10 guesthouses were built until World War II and the modernization of the main road commenced. It is going on until today, as a result of heavy weather conditions, prevailing in the Beskidy mountains.

In 1924 the first mountain hostel was erected on Skrzyczne and in 1935 another one at the Salmopolska Pass. In 1928 Salmopol, which was an independent village for more than 125 years, was annexed to Szczyrk and from that moment on it is its integral hamlet – Szczyrk. On January 1, 1973 Szczyrk was given civic rights. Currently the town is inhabited by around 5 800 inhabitants.