The earliest mention of the village of Góra dates back to 1252, when it was recorded as the seat of an extensive parish. It was destroyed in 1657 during the Swedish Deluge by the Swedish allies – the armies of Transylvania and Cossacks. In 1666, the Górski brothers sold the village to the Bishop of Poznań, Stefan Wierzbowski, for 6,000 zlotys. The bishop then founded a sanctuary of the Passion of the Christ modelled on Jerusalem, along with Dominican and Piarist monasteries. The sanctuary was one of the first religious institutions in Góra, which would gradually develop into a religious centre.
In 1670, King Michał Korybut Wiśniowiecki chartered the town under Magdeburg Law and named it Nowe Jeruzalem (“New Jerusalem”), reserving the right to settle there exclusively for Catholics. Another privilege granted by the Bishop of Poznań in 1672 allowed the town to expand further. During the period of its greatest development, the sanctuary boasted 35 chapels, 6 churches and 5 monasteries. A Piarist college and monastic school were built. In 1755, Franciszek Bieliński, the Grand Marshal of the Crown, founded a parish church there.
The growth of the town, fuelled primarily by it being a pilgrimage site, was short-lived. Its situation started to deteriorate towards the end of the 18th century, with the Kosciuszko Insurrection of 1794 completely destroying the city, including the Dominican convent and monastery.
After taking hold of Góra Kalwaria during the Third Partition of Poland in 1795, the Prussians secularised church properties and the town became the property of the state. Thus Góra Kalwaria gradually became more multicultural, as German, Jewish (an important Hasidic centre and the seat of a tzaddik dynasty) and Russian settlers started to immigrate and settle in the town. In 1807, it was a part of the Duchy of Warsaw and in 1815 it was included in the Kingdom of Poland (Mazowieckie Province, later Warsaw Governorate).
A municipal court was moved to Góra Kalwaria from Czersk in 1815. The streets were regulated and paved, town gates were built. In 1834, a Classicist building of the Town Hall was constructed. The Piarist college was closed. The Dominican monastery was transformed into barracks. An Orthodox Catholic church was built. In the middle of the 19th century, the street network was reorganised and its original Baroque layout was destroyed. The calvary ceased to exist; only the Bernardine monastery survived until 1864.
In the years 1867–1879, Góra Kalwaria was a county capital. In 1898, the town gained access to a narrow-gauge railway connecting it with Warsaw, which existed until 1971. In 1883, Góra Kalwaria lost its town rights and would only regain them in 1919. Half of the town was destroyed by a fire in 1901. In the Second Polish Republic, Góra Kalwaria was electrified and equipped with water and sewage systems.
German air raids of the town in 1939 destroyed the bridge over the Vistula river. The Jewish population was expelled to Warsaw in 1941. In mid-1944, Germans displaced the entire Polish population as well.
After World War II, several large agricultural, light industry, construction, and chemical enterprises were established in Góra Kalwaria. In 1954, a railway connected the town with Łuków and Skierniewice. Today, it is the centre of the agricultural region that supplies the Warsaw area. Góra Kalwaria has been a part of Piaseczno County (Mazowieckie Province) since 1951, with the exception of the 1975–1998 period.
- Borkowska M., Dzieje Góry Kalwarii, Kraków 2009.
- Marchocki E., Góra Kalwaria, Warsaw 1986.
- Tripplin L. T., Góra Kalwaria czyli Nowe Jeruzalem..., Warsaw 1854.