Żarnowiec, Silesian Voivodeship
Church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary
|Coordinates: 50°29′4″N 19°51′47″E / 50.48444°N 19.86306°E|
Żarnowiec [ʐarˈnɔvjɛt͡s] is a village in Zawiercie County, Silesian Voivodeship, in southern Poland. It is the seat of the gmina (administrative district) called Gmina Żarnowiec. It lies in historic Lesser Poland, approximately 32 kilometres (20 mi) east of Zawiercie and 67 km (42 mi) north-east of the regional capital Katowice. Even though the village now belongs to Silesian Voivodeship, it has never been part of Silesia, and until 1975 it was administratively tied with Lesser Poland’s cities of Kraków and Kielce. The village has a population of 830.
The American writer Joel Barlow (1754–1812) died here on December 26, 1812, while fleeing Russian forces pursuing remnants of the French army after Napoleon's unsuccessful invasion of Russia.
Żarnowiec lies in northeastern corner of Silesian Voivodeship, on the Pilica river, among the hills of the Kraków-Częstochowa Upland. The distance to Zawiercie is 30 km, to Kraków 50 km, and to Katowice - 70 km. The village belongs to Lesser Poland.
The village was first mentioned in the Chronicle of Gallus Anonymus, who wrote that near Żarnowiec, Prince Władysław I Herman met with his sons Zbigniew of Poland and Bolesław III Wrymouth. Most probably this meeting took place in 1098. Originally, Żarnowiec was located in the area of today’s village of Łany Wielkie. Some time between 1326 and 1340, the town was moved 3 kilometers north along the Pilica, where it remains until now. The previous location of Żarnowiec was in 1388 renamed into Old Żarnowiec. In 1388 the name was changed to Łany, and in 1529 - to Łany Wielkie.
Żarnowiec was granted town rights by King Kazimierz Wielki some time between the 1320s and 1340s, but there are theories that it had been incorporated earlier, in the 1250s, by Prince Bolesław V the Chaste. First local church of Saint Wojciech was built here between 999 and 1243, and on its location now there is the parish church at Łany Wielkie. King Kazimierz Wielki contributed a lot to the development and prosperity of the town. It was due to his initiative that a castle was built here, as well as a church. In 1355-56, Kazimierz Wielki imprisoned at Żarnowiec Castle his wife Adelaide of Hesse. The king himself frequently visited Żarnowiec.
In the 14th century Żarnowiec emerged as a center of local administration. King Władysław Jagiełło also visited the town, confirming in 1396 its privileges. At that time Żarnowiec was the seat of a county, located in Lesser Poland’s Kraków Voivodeship. In the 16th century Żarnowiec was one of the most important urban centers of Lesser Poland, and the seat of a starosta. In 1570 it had 50 beer producers, and around 200 houses. Like most towns of Lesser Poland, Żarnowiec was destroyed by the Swedes in the deluge (1655 - 1660). Its population was decimated by the war, and furthermore, the great fire of 1697 destroyed what was left after the wars. In 1756 there were 129 houses at Żarnowiec, out of which 78 were empty. The population did not start to grow until the late 18th century, mostly due to Jewish settlers, whose number reached more than 50% of town’s population in the 1850s. In 1775, Żarnowiec castle burned, and in 1795, the town was annexed by the Habsburg Monarchy/Austrian Empire. The American writer Joel Barlow (1754–1812) died here on 26 December 1812, while fleeing Russian forces pursuing remnants of the French army after Napoleon's unsuccessful invasion of Russia. After 1815, Żarnowiec became part of the Russian-controlled Congress Kingdom. The town burned in 1816, and twenty years later, the construction of main road from Kraków to Warsaw bypassed Żarnowiec, which contributed to the town’s decline. During the January Uprising, Żarnowiec was one of the centers of rebellion, here a battle with the Russians took plac on Feb. 20, 1863. As a punishment, Russian government demoted Żarnowiec to the status of a village (June 1, 1869).
Points of interest
- market square, established in the 14th century,
- parish church from the 14th century,
- Tadeusz Kościuszko Mound (1918),
- 19th-century bell tower, with a bell from 1551,
- monument dedicated to Joel Barlow.
- Jewish Community in Żarnowiec on Virtual Shtetl
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