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Rabka Zdroj, a Spa Near Krakow  

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Rabka Zdroj in Malopolska: Spa Town and a Vacation Spot.

Town of Rabka Zdroj is an old Malopolska health resort situated in Beskid Mountains sixty kilometers south of Krakow. Since the early 20th century it has acquired a reputation of the ‘child spa’ whose microclimate and mineral waters are particularly beneficial to minors, notably those with respiratory problems. 

Today Rabka Zdroj cultivates its image of children’s capital of Poland. At the same time the town has reinvented itself as an all-year-round family holiday resort for all generations, from toddlers to octogenarians.

17th-century wooden church in the town of Rabka

The old larch church in Rabka Zdroj dates from 1606 and has been turned to a local museum in 1936.

Geography of Rabka Zdroj.

The town is situated roughly halfway between Krakow and Zakopane. It lies on both banks of Raba river, in a valley between two ranges of Beskidy mountains, Gorce and Beskid Wyspowy. Its elevation ranges between 500 meters and 600 meters above sea level. 

Rabka Zdroj consist of a downtown area in the valley and a number of settlements on the lower slopes of Gorce Mountains. The municipality also includes former villages of Zaryte and Zabornia. 

Gorce National Park (Gorczanski Park Narodowy), stretches close to the southeast border of Rabka Zdroj.


Health resort of Rabka

Rabka’s hospitals and clinics specialize in the medical treatment of children with diseases of respiratory tracts, asthma, and diabetes; also adults with heart condition and circular deficiencies. The spa’s mineral waters and brines help to heal bronchitis, rhinitis, and the like, to overcome rheumatoid arthritis, and the generally strengthen the body and reinforce its resistance to illnesses.

History of Rabka

In the 13th century the village of Rabka belonged to the Cistercian monastery in Ludzmierz. In 1364 King Casimir III the Great established it as a royal estate. From the 15th century on it was property of various landed gentry. Curative properties of Rabka’s brines rich in bromine and iodine were recognized in 1721. In the 1860s the town began its career as a popular health resort. In 1953 Rabka has been granted a city charter.

park in Rabka Zdroj, Poland

Contemporary Rabka.

Now Rabka Zdroj is a town of 13,000-plus permanent inhabitants, incorporated as a city. It lies in Powiat Nowotarski county, part of Wojewodztwo Malopolskie province whose capital is Krakow.  

The local economy is traditionally based on health services and tourist industry but the town’s small businesses also venture into other branches of the service sector as well as construction and the like. 

Rabka Zdroj, a mountain resort. 

Rabka is an important gateway to Beskid Mountains for hikers as a number of trails meet in the town. Some of them lead to Gorce range and its national park, the other to Beskid Wyspowy. Most interesting treks link Rabka Zdroj with Turbacz peak (red trail, 4h30) and with Lubon Wielki peak (3 hours, blue trail). 

Also, Rabka Zdroj can boasts three decent if modest ski slopes - complete with lifts, lighting, snow cannons, ski instructors, snowboard and ski rentals, car parks and cafes. 

Recreation and entertainment in Rabka. 

The town’s main recreation area consists of the central park and its facilities. It contains two adventure playgrounds for children, a couple of tennis courts, a court for beach volleyball, a skatepark, a fitness trail, and a band shell for live performances. A graduation tower with a covered path round it provides air saturated with mineral salts, free of charge, on the park’s western edge. On summer weekends varied special events and festivities take place in the park. 

Rabka’s other sports facilities are concentrated on the bank of a stream alongside Jana Pawla II street where an artificial ice-skate rink (winter only) and a skate park sit next to a stadium which is home to the local Wierchy soccer team. Also, there is a public open-air swimming pool in Rabka plus a couple of indoor swimming baths. 

Rabka boasts a cinema, a professional puppet theater that has been very popular with children for decades, and an amusement park. Concerts take place from time to time in an open-air amphitheater, in the park, or in churches and other improvised venues. Nightlife consists of a few dinner dances and discos on Fridays and Saturdays.

Points of interest in Rabka Zdroj 

Former Kosciol Sw. Marii Magdaleny (church of Mary Magdalene) was built of larch wood in 1606. It underwent a reconstruction in the years 1744 to 1778 during which its impressive tower was added. The church’s baroque decor together with a rococo altarpiece and choir dates from the second half of the 18th century. Polychrome wall painting date back to 1802 with older parts of 1628. Surrounding oaks and limes have been planted in 1637. Since 1936 the old wooden church has been housing a local museum (Muzeum Regionalne im. Wladyslawa Orkana, 6 Sadecka street) with one of Poland’s biggest collections of village art. 

Period wooden architecture of Rabka. Besides the 400-year-old larch church Rabka Zdroj can boasts many timber buildings of the 19th century, usually boarding houses and sanatoriums. Several of them stand on the edges of the central park popular with strollers. 

One of Rabka Zdroj’s magnets for children is its Rabkoland amusement park at 2 Podhalanska street (note: paid parking with a separate entrance is situated on the opposite, northern side accessible from Rynek square). The funfair operates from May to October. It contains a routine set of attractions complete with a Ferris wheel and a small roller-coaster yet many of the merry-go-rounds and other machinery are old enough to qualify as museum pieces. 

The bronze monument to Santa Claus (Pomnik Swietego Mikolaja) in front of the 19th-century train station is possibly Santa’s only memorial outside Scandinavia.

An open-air railway museum (Skansen Taboru Kolejowego) is situated on the southwest outskirts of Rabka Zdroj, in the village of Chabowka. Its proudest possessions are old steam locomotives, the most ancient steam engine dating from 1878. The museum offers short train journeys. 

Travel from Krakow to Rabka Zdroj.

Rabka Zdroj is located at important crossroads, near international road no. 7 from Krakow to Slovakia’s border crossing in Chyzne and road 28 from Bielsko-Biala to Nowy Sacz. A railway links Rabka with Krakow end Zakopane. 

Buses to Rabka Zdroj depart from Krakow’s central depot at 18 Bosacka street (Regionalny Dworzec Autobusowy). Also independent minibus services are available. Journey by either bus or minibus takes some ninety minutes barring massive tailbacks. 

Several trains a day that leave for Zakopane from Krakow Glowny central station have a stop in Rabka and the journey lasts about two hours and half. 

Motorist may take several different routes but most popular (and often congested) is Road 7, a divided highway, via Myslenice to Skomielna Biala where one should turn left at traffic lights to Road 28.

In the proximity of Krakow 

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