Mszana Dolna


Mszana Dolna is located in the Małopolska (Lesser Poland) region, in the Limanowa powiat (district), right in between the Gorce and Island Beskids mountain ranges, in the valley of the rivers Raba and Mszanka, the tributary of the Raba river.

Early history of Mszana Dolna

The first records mentioning the town come from the 13th century. The earliest record from 10 May 1254 mentions a number of villages, including ones on the banks of river “Mschena,” which probably lent its name to the town of Mschena. It is said to have been founded by the Cistercians Catholic religious order on the basis of a settlement privilege issued by Władysław I Łokietek, king of Poland. 1345 saw the formal location of the town under the so-called German (Magdeburg) laws by another Polish king, Casimir III the Great.

According to one legend, the present-day Mszana Dolna was once a significant city called Rosenberg, later destroyed in the Swedish invasion of Poland (1655–1660). It is also said that the town as such consisted of two parts: the so-called Mieścisko (“Burgh”) in the vicinity of today’s main square, which had been the original Cistercian settlement, and Mszana, the town or village established by Casimir III on the left bank of river Raba.
As time passed, the two parts became one settlement. The town’s municipal charter was originally established under the so-called German laws, i.e. modelled after the Magdeburg rights.

The second part of the contemporary name of the town, Mszana Dolna (“Lower Mszana”) was added after the location of the nearby Mszana Górna (“Upper Mszana”) in 1365.

The coat of arms of Mszana Dolna

The coat of arms of Mszana Dolna is a quartered shield, the respective four fields representing: 1) three mitres, which alludes to the Cistercian origins of the town; 2) a defensice wall, reminding of the defensive ditch and walls protecting the historical settlement; 3) an eagle bearing the crown, reminiscent of the coat of arms of the Piast dynasty and the present-day coat of arms of the Republic of Poland, alluding to the granting of the urban rights by Casimir III, including the right to organise a market weekly and five fairs every year, and 4) a lamb alluding to the pastoralism-based economy and culture.

As given by local historian and ethnographer Sebastian Flizak (no dating, 20), “in mid-19th century Mszana Dolna was an impoverished highland village whose entire intelligentsia included a parson, a teacher, a tax collector,
and  a pharmacist. It was only after 1850 that people of some education started to settle down in Mszana, drawn by the developing industry and opening state institutions.”

1880 saw the establishment of a single-employer post agency in Mszana Dolna, which was transformed into a full-fledged post office in 1895. In addition to that, the district court, formerly located in nearby Skrzydlna, was transferred to Mszana Dolna. An official advertisement from 11 April 1883, published in Lviv-based Gazeta Lwowska reads, “The decision (id no. 4559) of His Majesty the Emperor’s Ministry of Justice from 23 March 1883 on establishing a District Court in Mszana Dolna, Galicia, hereby comes into force” (Prażak, 1883: 1).

It was also about that time that Michał Ader founded a Mszana Dolna branch of his bentwood furniture company, originally based in Jazowsko. And so industrial development in Mszana Dolna was started by a Jewish businessman, with the famous post-WW2 Meblomet company being a continuation of Ader’s business. The area
in the vicinity of this factory has been called Aderówka (“Ader’s place”) up to this day. The company employed
ca. 100 workers, and “as they say, the salaires were not bad at all” (Flizak, 21).

In 1883, a station of the Galician Transversal Railway, under construction at the time, was established in Mszana Dolna, contributing to a rapid development of the town. This provided one of the reasons for which a few prominent Jewish families moved there, including the Weissbergers.

To date, there is no published historical monograph of Mszana Dolna, the main available sources being the unpublished typescript chronicles by S. Flizak and O. Illukiewicz.


Prażak, m.p. (1883). Część Urzędowa [Official state advertisement section]. Gazeta Lwowska, 11 April.

Flizak, S. (n.d.) . Kronika Miasta Mszana Dolna [Mszana Dolna chronicles]. Unpublished typescript.