The history of this city can be dated back to XII century when its good geographical location attracted merchants. The city rights were granted in XIV century and already one century later first Jewish families started to settle down in Tarnow. In the second half of XV century Konstanty Ostrogski, the city owner granted the Jews the privileges of trade from stalls, homes and on the marketplace, as well as production and sale of alcoholic beverages. Good economic conditions attracted Jews to come. In this way in XIX century Tarnow was the fourth highest Jewish populated city in Galicia after Krakow, Lwow and Stnislawow. Apart from some Hasidic influences, Tarnow was rather known as an strong Haskalah and later on Zionist center. Numerous newspapers and organizations were creating very rich and diversified cultural and political life. In 1939 Tarnow could boast of a Jewish community of 25.000 members. The Nazis established a ghetto for 40.000 people and from here in 1942 deported their victims to the extermination camp in Belzec and Auschwitz.
It is highly reccommended to follow a special Jewish interest sightseeing track. It starts on the city representative market square and takes visitors through places where there used to stand synagogues and praying houses. On Jewish Street you can search for traces of mezuzah in the doorframes and read the commemorative plaque in honor of the victims of Holocaust. Few steps further you can enjoy the bimah, the only remnant of the Old Synagogue. An empty square close by with after war residential buildings is the place where splendid New or Jubilee Synagogue used to be standing. The oriental looking building close by is Mikvah. Jewish cemetery in Tarnow is very well preserved and worth visitor’s attention.
Tarnow is linked with Auschwitz history because in June 1940 there was the first transport of prisoners organized at the very beginning of the camp existence. This event is commemorated by monument standing close to the city center in front of the former Mikvah building.
Jewish places worth visiting around Tarnow:
Biecz - synagogue and Jewish cemetery
Bobowa - synagogue and Jewish cemetery, Bobowa Hasidim
Brzostek – synagogue
Dabrowa Tarnowska - synagogue and Jewish cemetery
Debica - synagogue and Jewish cemetery
Grybow - synagogue and Jewish cemetery
Muszyna - Jewish cemetery
Nowy Sacz - three synagogues and Jewish cemetery
Pilzno - Jewish cemetery
Radlow - synagogue
Stary Sacz - synagogue
Szczucin - Jewish cemetery
Zabno - Jewish cemetery
Zakliczyn - War cemetery with Jewish tombstones
Zbylitowska Gora - monument on the mass execution site