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Szklarska Poreba history is closely related to the development of the manufacture of glass, with the exploration of precious stones and metals, and - since the mid-nineteenth century - with tourism.

At the end of the 13th century, the areas of today's Szklarska Poreba had been bought by the Order of the Knights of Teplice in order to search for gold and precious stones. In the mid-fourteenth century, the first glass factory was built. The next owner of the land, who initiated the establishment of yet more glassworks, was the Schaffgotsch family, whose assets included the area of mountains and foothills. At that time, Karkonosze were penetrated by treasure hunters, calledWalloons, who came here from Western Europe. The traces of their presence - still found today - are tunnels, pits, shafts and mysterious signs carved on the rocks, which also shows the mineral wealth of the area.

The development of the manufacture of glass was associated with intensive logging. As timber was needed for melting the glass, the works "wandered" along the stream valleys into the mountains, and so did the settlement steelworkers, lumberjacks and smelters. The name Szklarska Poreba (literally: glass clearing) is associated with the 'wandering glassworks', because the pastoral settlements were created in the clearings, which gave rise to today's town. The name has been determined by the Silesian Institute in 1946 and published in the Official Journal of Regained Lands No. 5. Following glass factories were founded in the years - 1575 by Czeska Struga, in 1617 in the White Valley, in 1754 in the Orle settlement and in 1842 by the Kamienna River valley; the latter mill still exists today - it has originally been named "Josephine," and after 1945 renamed to "Julia". For several hundred years, glass industry was the leading area of local economy. The history of Szklarska Poreba was largely influenced by the arrival area in 1578 of a group of Czech Protestants - religious emigrants, who were allowed to settle on the Silesian side of the mountains by Count Schaffgotsch, known for religious tolerance; thus the Marysin settlement was established at the foot of Szrenica. Out of the group of Czech immigrants lab workers, experts in natural medicine, who were producing the famous herbal specifics, turned out particularly outstanding in the history of the region. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, subsequent settlements were created, and so in the early nineteenth century, Szklarska Poreba, has become one of the largest villages of the Sudetes. It consisted of 26 settlements and hamlets with 336 houses, two churches (Catholic and Protestant), four schools, two glassworks and sixteen glass grinding houses, three mills and a sawmill. The main source of income for local people was working in the forest (wood-cutters, etc.), glass melting (smelters), farming and shepherding. It is the shepherds' huts on the mountain halls that have given rise to today's mountain shelters.

Since the mid-nineteenth century, tourism began to develop vigorously. The willingness to learn and experience personally the charm of mountain hiking, and above all the beauty of the area resulted in the Szklarska Poreba becoming a well-known climatic and tourist station in Lower Silesia. The breakthrough came when the road from Piechowice through the Szklarska Pass to Harrachov was built in 1847 and the railway line from Jelenia Gora to Tanvald in 1902. Since then, Szklarska Poreba - further developing its tourist functions - has consolidated its position as a well-known center for tourism and winter sports. Another important event for tourism development was the construction of the cable railway "Szrenica" (chair lift) in 1962.

At the end of the 19th century, news of the village's charm and the beauty of the area have drawn artists to Szklarska Poreba - writers, poets, painters and sculptors. It was a kind of art colony, whose traditions are continued by contemporary artists.

After 1945, most of the accommodation in Szklarska Poreba became the property of the Workers' Holiday Fund, and Szklarska Poreba has become one of the most famous resorts in Poland

Szklarska Poreba received city rights in 1959.