The medieval market square
A nearby building, just at the street, houses the famous traditional ice cream parlour “u Szymona”, which attracts gourmands not only from Lipnica, but also from the neighbouring Bochnia and even from Cracow.
From among 15 wooden arcaded houses only one has been preserved in its original structure and form. It stands in the western part of the northern frontage of the square. Built in 1848, it is probably the oldest wooden house of the type in the Małopolska Region.
There is a reminder of the great fire of 1828 in the shape of the statue of St. Florian, the patron of firefighters, raised at the spot where the square of the new city was planned to be located. The saint was supposed to protect the city from fires. The historical figure stands on a plinth, which features a relief depicting King Casimir III the Great. It was founded by the inheritor of the Lipnica estate, Kazimierz Bzowski. The inscription on the plinth reads as follows: “To commemorate the establishment of this square, 1837”. Eventually, the new city was not built, but part of the municipality of Lipnica Dolna kept the name Nowe Miasto (which means a new city).
Lipnica – a city of merchants
Fairs and markets were an important element of the life of Lipnica and its inhabitants. Privileges concerning the organization of trade on the square were granted to the city together with the location charter in 1326. They contributed to the intense development of trade and craft in the whole region. It should be noted that medieval fairs often lasted several to over a dozen days, because people’s mobility was much more restrained than today. In these terms, Lipnica was a special city because it had the privilege to organize as many as four fairs a year: two were allowed by the location charter, and further two were added by King John III Sobieski in 1684.
It is particularly important that the inhabitants of the city also received the right to launch butcheries, stalls for shoemakers and bakers, as well as to build mills and cultivate fish.
The singularity of trade spectacles that took place in Lipnica on trading days was remembered and passed on in many legends and tales.
Unfortunately, the events of the 18th and 19th centuries related to the gradual loss of independence by Poland had an adverse effect on the further development of Lipnica Murowana, which found itself on the outskirts of the Austrian Empire. The year 1846 was particularly severe for the citizens. The city was repeatedly flooded and suffered from crop failures, which led to the outburst of an epidemy that decimated the population. Further devastation was brought on by the I World War, during which Lipnica became the arena of fierce fights.
The splendour of this mercantile city has been impossible to return after Poland regained independence and consequently Lipnica lost its town privileges in 1934.
It should be emphasised, however, that the inhabitants tried to preserve the trading tradition in Lipnica Murowana. And they eventually succeeded, although nowadays trade is here conducted on a much smaller scale. The largest fair is held on Palm Sunday, accompanying the Lipnica competition of Easter Palms and Artistic Handicraft. Traditionally prepared food products and hand-made goods prevail during the fair. It is quite popular both among the locals and tourists coming to it from all over Poland.
Lipnica – a city of palms
The custom of making Easter palms is one the oldest in Lipnica Murowana. It is passed down from generation to generation in all local families. The palms are usually thin enough to fit in a hand. They are traditionally made of wicker sticks and tied with withe every 20—30 cm, depending on the palm’s height. Their tops are decorated with multicolour ribbons and pussy willows.
Formerly, a palm’s height reflected the size of a household and the wealth of its maker. Householders made the palms because their work on Palm Sunday was supposed to bring them luck and good harvest in the coming year. According to a local belief, the palms were supposed to protect their makers and their crop from diseases and plagues. Having no palm was considered a bad omen and an uncertain fortune for the next year.
The typical height of the palms is around 25 meters. The tallest palm ever made was prepared by a multiple winner, Zbigniew Urbański, whose work in 2015 measured 39 meters and 40 cm. It should be noted that a palm entering the competition needs to be set in a vertical position with human hands, ropes and supporting sticks only. The use of any lifts or cranes is forbidden. Only the tallest palms may lean against a tree to which the base of the palm is tied for security purposes.
Today, the competition is organized by the Municipal Cultural Centre, which cultivates this tradition preparing plenty of workshops, exhibitions and meetings dedicated to the Lipnica palms each year.
On the competition day, there is a number of accompanying events: artistic performances, tasting of regional delicacies, and exhibitions displaying the works of folk artists, which make Palm Sunday a major festivity in Lipnica.
The Shrovetide Review of Roma Groups
What remained from the old custom is not much, but the citizens of Lipnica Murowana are persistent in keeping it alive. Each year, a Shrovetide Review of Roma Groups is held in the Rural Community Centre in Lipnica Górna, during which various Roma groups present themselves and many competitions and plays are organized.