Niepołomice Forest occupies an area of about 120 square kilometes between the Vistula and Raba river which makes it the seventh largest forest complex in Poland. It is just a small remnant of the primeval forest which once extended from Grzegórzki near Cracow as far as today’s Sandomierz Forest.
The name „Niepołomice Forest” is thought to derive from the Old Polish word “niepołomny” which meant “impassable” or “indestructible”. Therefore it can be assumed that the original forest was very dense and impenetrable.
Up to 1393 it was called “Kłaj Forest” or “Big Forest”. As at that time at its southern edge there was a village of Kłaj it is almost certain that this village was the centre of administration of royal forests and hunting frounds that today’s Niepołomice Forest used to be part of.
“Niepołomice Wood” was first mentioned in a document from 1393, but the current name “Niepołomice Forest” was first used in 1441.
In the following centuries the resources of Niepołomice Forest were indiscriminately exploited, the worst period being the 20th century. During both world wars the animal population decreased considerably and the pine web-spinning sawfly (one of the most dangerous parasitic insects) wreaked havoc among the trees. Sulphur dioxide and other pollutant emissions from the Lenin Steelworks built nearby in the 1950s added to the destruction.
Since 1972 the entire forest complex is supervised by the Niepołomice district forest office. Thanks to the continuing efforts of many people Niepołomice Forest is regaining its former glory. It has been declared a Nature 2000 site. There are many footpaths and equestrian trails as well as a 7 km long cycling route.