The history of the city dates back to the early 17th century and is linked with Kraków's voivode Mikołaj Zebrzydowski, who in1602 commissioned the construction of a calvary, i.e. Roman Catholic monastery and the trails of the Passion of Christ modelled on the Calvary outside the city walls of Jerusalem. Soon after, at the foot of the monastery, a settlement Zebrzydowo came into being. In 1617, it was granted city rights. Later, the name was changed to Nowy Zebrzydów, to differentiate it from Zebrzydowice. Eventually, at the end of the 18th century, the town was called Kalwaria and the adjective, Zebrzydowska, was added to it[1.1]. In the 17th century, the town was systematically expanding. Due to the inflow of a growing number of pilgrims, many new shops and inns – the main source of income for the town’s residents – were established. In 1640, the son of Mikołaj Zebrzydowski, Jan, carried out the second location of the town and granted it numerous privileges, allowing for the settlement of many nationalities, except for the Jews. A trade route – called the emperor’s route – probably led through the market square of the town from the Middle Ages. Caravans of German, Arab and Jewish traders travelled from the West, through Vienna and Prague to Kraków and back. In 1715, after the big fire, there was another location of the town. In the following years, there was an entirely new development.
In 1772 (First Partition of Poland), Kalwaria Zebrzydowska came under Austrian occupation. A furniture industry and various services were developing there at that time. In the years 1786 - 1790, a road connecting Biała with Lviv was built. The road was crossing through Kalwaria and it was the main reason for local trade and craft development. Soon another connections were opened, in 1884 with Kraków and Sucha Beskidzka and in 1888 with Bielskie. In 1890, the name Nowe Zebrzydowice was officially changed to Kalwaria Zebrzydowska. In 1896, the Austrian government deprived Kalwaria Zebrzydowska of its city rights.
After World War I, in 1918 Kalwaria Zebrzydowska returned to Poland. In 1934, it regained city rights.
During the World War II, in September 1939, Kalwaria was conquered by the German soldiers. On 25 January 1945, the town was captured by the Soviet soldiers. Subsequently, Kalwaria returned to Poland.
In the years 1975-1998, Kalwaria was a part of the Bielsko-Biała Province.
- [1.1] K. Iwańska, Diaspora Żydowska w Kalwarii Zebrzydowskiej od XVIII wieku do II wojny światowej in: A. Nowakowski (ed.), Miscellanea historio – regionalia Galliciensia, (2000),10.