Tarnów is one of the biggest cities of Lesser Poland Voivodeship which is located on Dunajec river. The settlement is an important cultural and tourist centre in the region. In addition, the city serves as one of major railway junctions of Southern Poland. Besides, Tarnów is also known as a prominent industrial and economic centre. It is confirmed by the fact that in 2012 the city was recognized as the most innovative in Poland.
Tarnów has a rich history. In the IXth century on Tarnów St. Martin Hill which is located in 2.5 km from the center of today's city, a Slavik gord was established, with an area of 16 hectares. In 1124 the village Mały Tarnów was mentioned in documents for the first time which has become the "ancestors" settlement of the modern centre of Tarnów County. In 1309 the settlement got the name "Tarnów" and in March, 1330 the city was granted with Magdeburg rights.
For many centuries Tarnów remained privately owned and belonged to several families: Tarnowski, Zasławski and Ostrogski. The reign of Hetman Jan Tarnowski was the period of city's most notable prosperity. In 1467 the sewerage systems were completed in Tarnów with large cisterns filled with drinking water built on the main market square. In the XVIth century Tarnów had a school, a synagogue, a Calvinist prayer house and a Roman Catholic church. After the death of Jan Tarnowski, an Italian sculptor Jan Maria Padovano began creating one of the most beautiful headstones in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
In the XVIIIth century after the First Partition of Poland, Tarnów was annexed by the Habsburg Empire. In February, 1856 the railway system was constructed in Tarnów which contributed to the advancement of the city's development. During World War II the population of Tarnów was one of the first to suffer from the occupation regime of the Third Reich in Poland. In July, 1940 the first mass transport left city, carrying local residents to the concentration camp "Auschwitz- Birkenau" in Oświęcim. During the war period more than 50% of Tarnów's local population was killed.
Nowadays Tarnów is one of the most attractive cities for tourists who travel in Lesser Poland. It is unofficially called "The Pearl of the Polish Renaissance". This is due to the fact that numerous monuments are made in this architectural style. The most famous is Gothic-Renaissance Town Hall building with attic and mascarones. An outstanding Medieval architect Jan Maria Padovano contributed a lot to the creation of this sight, being known in Lesser Poland due to his contribution to the creation of Sukennice on the Market Square of Kraków.
Tarnowski Rynek (Market Square) is a real showcase of Renaissance-style buildings. An accurate rectangle of the Square is surrounded by elegant mansions with pictures on the walls. Previously the merchants lived here, their shops were situated on the first floors in the covered arcades. Tarnów is unique due to the fact that the medieval plan of city building is completely preserved here. Accordingly, many old bourgeois houses have preserved here, not every Polish city can boast of the same.