History of Kielce


Kielce is a city with more than 900 year-old history. At the turn of the 11th century, the city became the property of the Cracow bishops. In 1171 bishop Gedeon built the stone collegiate church at the site of the old saint Adalbert larch church. During the administration of Wincenty Kadlubek (1208-1218) the parish school was established. Civic rights were granted to the city before 1295 and since then it had its own coat of arms - a gold crown on red background with the letters C.K. (Civitas Kielcensis, which means inhabitants of Kielce).

The city, surrounded by a region rich in many raw materials (iron, copper, lead ores) was developing as the capital of an industrial and agricultural region. The middle of the 17th century saw the erection of two magnificent buildings in Kielce - the monastery on Karczowka hill and the Bishops' Palace in the French Renaissance style, which remained until today as the beautiful monument of manneristic and baroque architecture. In the middle of the 18th century there were four thousand inhabitants and in the city centre numerous stone buildings, such as tenement houses in Rynek, were built. In 1789 after the nationalization of the Bishops' properties, Kielce became a state city granted the right to choose representatives to Seym (Diet). In the 18th century a brewery, brickyard, riding school, st. Leonard's church hospital, high school and theological seminary were established. After the third partition of Poland the city went under the Austrian rule and in 1809 became a part of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw. After 1815 Kielce shared the fate of other territories included in the Congress Kingdom of Poland, becoming for some time the capital of the Cracov province. Together with the establishment of the Old Polish Industrial Region, as well as many coal mines, smelting works, industrial factories, Kielce also became the site of the first technical high school - the Mining Academy. Since the Kosciuszko Insurrection, Kielce took an active part in all national uprisings and struggles for independence. It was in Kielce where the famous plot organized by the priest Piotr Sciegienny took place in 1844. In 1905 the city joined a national school strike as well as various demonstrations and workers' strikes. In August 1914 Kielce became the first capital in independent Poland. The Rifles Detachment of Jozef Pilsudski marched into the city and the Polish Legiontook it over within three weeks. In 1919, in free Poland the Kielce province was created. Industrial, cultural and educational boom characterized the city in the first decades of the 20th century. Unfortunately, the process was cruelly stopped by the outbreak of the Second World War. During the German occupation every third city inhabitant was killed. In spite of that, Kielce managed to stay one of the strongest centres of resistance movement with numerous underground organizations. In January 1945 the city was liberated from the German occupation by the Red Army soldiers.

Contemporary Kielce is the city of 215 thousand inhabitants situated in the middle of Poland and surrounded by the oldest mountains in Europe - the Swietokrzyskie Mountains. It is the capital of one of the biggest provinces in Poland. The exploitation of raw materials, such as iron, copper and lead ores as well as marbles and sandstones, has been the basis of industrial development of the city since the 15th century. Kielce's favourable situation (the distance to the biggest metropolies such as Warsaw, Lodz, Katowice, Cracow, Lublin is not longer than 200 kilometres), availability of limestone, gypsum, brimstone, dolomite, marl and mineral waters, qualified working force, numerous high schools and colleges, development of business and trade centres, sports airport - they all make the city very attractive.

Electromechanical and building industries dominate in the city. Among the biggest companies are: "Exbud" SA (one of the biggest private building companies in Central and Eastern Europe), "Iskra" SA (the production of bearings, spark and glow plugs), "Polmo-SHL" with the production of specialistic cars, "Chemar" SA - chemical appliances and industrial fittings, "David S. Smith"- packaging, KPBP-BICK SA - building, "Bialogon" Pump Factory with tradition dated from 1817. There are also several thousands of small factories which represent light industry.

In the last years Kielce has experienced the steady development of trade and services such as: catering business, hotel trade, tourism, banking, finance, insurance and crafts. There are more than 20 banks, numerous insurance companies, which all guarantee the regular industrial and financial development of the city. One should pay special attention to the activities of the Kielce Trade Centre, the fifth such centre in Poland with the usable floor area almost as big as the Trade Centre in Poznan. Every year there are more than twenty national and international fairs and exhibitions. Well known, not only in Poland but also abroad, is the International Armament Fair.

For several years the "Exbud" Business Centre has been offering the complex services of conferences, symposiums and seminars as well as marketing and consulting services. The centre is situated in a modern office building with conference halls, audio-conference room with the possibility of simultaneous translations in five languages, two hotels, restaurant, drink bar, fitness centre and parking space.

Kielce is also an active educational centre and a site of six colleges (the biggest are: the Pedagogical University and Kielce University of Technology) which educate several thousand students. There are more than a hundred nursery schools, primary and high schools.

The cultural life in the city is both of regional, national and international character. The national scout festival, country music festival, organ and chamber music festival take place regularly every year. The city authorities organize numerous art exhibitions, fairs, concerts and other cultural events. The biggest cultural institutions in Kielce are: the National Museum in the Bishops' Palace, Kielce Cultural Centre (one of the most modern in Poland), Provincial Library, Oscar Kolberg Philharmonic Orchestra, Stefan Zeromski Theatre, "Kubus" National Puppet Theatre, Provincial Cultural Centre, Country Museum, Toy Museum, BWA Art Gallery, Museum of the School Years of Stefan Zeromski, Geological Museum and four cinemas.
Kielce is also the centre of tourism for the regions of Swietokrzyskie Mountains and Ponidzie with various monuments of architecture from the 12th century.

During the last few years the city developed international links with such towns as Herning (Denmark), Liepaja (Latvia), Orange (France), Gotha (Germany), Vinnitsa (Ukraine), Flint (USA), Gavle (Sweden) and Gorizia (Italy).
Contemporary Kielce is a big and important Polish center of industry, administration, education, culture and tourism. It is the city opened for all national and international investments welcoming economic, scientific, cultural and touristic cooperation. It guarantees advantageous investment conditions and friendly atmosphere for all kinds of enterprise. The city is hospitable, interesting and attractive for everyone.


Text: Tadeusz Wiącek
Translation: Hanna Mijas

Design by: Izabela Kurkiewicz

Translated by: Jaroslaw Kurkiewicz

Last update: 2013-08-11

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