For other uses, see Kielce (disambiguation).
Left to right: Cathedral Basilica  Bishops' Palace 
Bristol Hotel  Market Square  Town Hall  Synagogue

Coat of arms
Coordinates: 50°53′N 20°37′E / 50.883°N 20.617°E / 50.883; 20.617
Country Poland
Voivodeship Świętokrzyskie
County city county
Established 11th century
Town rights 1364
  Mayor Wojciech Lubawski
  Total 109.65 km2 (42.34 sq mi)
Highest elevation 408 m (1,339 ft)
Lowest elevation 260 m (850 ft)
Population (2014)
  Total 199,475
  Density 1,800/km2 (4,700/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
  Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 25-001 to 25-900
Area code(s) +48 41
ISO 3166 code PL-KI
Car plates TK

Kielce ([ˈkʲɛlt͡sɛ]; Yiddish: קעלץ, Keltz) is a city in south central Poland with 199,475 inhabitants (June 2014).[1] It is also the capital city of the Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship (Holy Cross Voivodeship) since 1999, previously in Kielce Voivodeship (19191939, 19451998). The city is located in the middle of the Świętokrzyskie Mountains (Holy Cross Mountains), at the banks of the Silnica River, in northern part of the historical Polish province of Lesser Poland.

The history of Kielce dates back over 900 years and the exact date when the town was founded remains unknown.[2] The name of the city derives from the migrating Celts, who once stopped here during their journey across the European continent. The area was later inhabited at the beginning of the 11th century by hunters and beekeepers, who bartered the fruit of their work for seed grain. It was then that a marketplace was established, where forest products were exchanged for agricultural produce. At the turn of the 12th century, the bishops of Kraków became the owners of the settlement and began constructing a castle on a nearby hill.[3] Under the influence of Vincent Kadłubek, a parish school was established in the town. Kielce was mentioned in medieval documents for the first time in 1212 and obtained a city charter sometime before the year 1295. In the 13th century, Tatar raids on Poland destroyed the city completely, but it was soon rebuilt and surrounded by a high defensive wall, equipped with firing slots for archers.

At the end of 15th century, Frederick Jagiellon granted the town its official symbols: a golden crown on a red shield with the letters "CK" - Civitas Kielcensis; Latin for the City of Kielce.[4] Between 1637 and 1642, due to the initiative of bishop Jakub Zadzik, a Renaissance palace was erected, which survived to the present day and remains an icon.[5] The city was burned to the ground during the Swedish Deluge in the 17th century. After the Partitions of Poland, Kielce became part of the Austrian Empire. In 1809, the city was incorporated into the Duchy of Warsaw and after 1815 into the Congress Kingdom of Poland. During World War II, Kielce was the sight of Nazi atrocities and executions carried out on the Jewish population in the ghetto. After the war the city saw an outbreak of violence against the Jewish community,[6] which later became known was the Kielce pogrom.[7]

Kielce was once an important centre of limestone mining and the vicinity is famous for its natural resources like copper, lead and iron, which, over the centuries, were exploited on a large scale. There are several fairs and exhibitions held in Kielce throughout the year; the city and its surroundings are also known for their historic architecture, green spaces and recreational areas such as the Świętokrzyski National Park.[8]


The area of Kielce has been inhabited since at least the 5th century BC. Until the 6th or 7th century the banks of the Silnica were inhabited by Celts. They were driven out by a Slavic tribe of Vistulans who started hunting in the nearby huge forests and had settled most of the area now known as Lesser Poland and present-day Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship. The lands of Wiślanie were at first subdued by Bohemia, however they soon came under the control of the Piast dynasty and became a part of Poland. According to a local legend, Mieszko, son of Boleslaus II of Poland dreamt he was attacked by a band of brigands in a forest. In the dream he saw a vision of Saint Adalbert who drew a winding line which turned into a stream. When Mieszko woke up, he found the Silnica River whose waters helped him regain strength. He also discovered huge white tusks of an unknown animal. Mieszko announced he would build a town and a church to St. Adalbert at that site. According to this legend, the town's name Kielce commemorates the mysterious tusks (kieł in Polish).[9]

Various other legends exist to explain the name's origin. One states that the town was named after its founder who belonged to the noble family of Kiełcz, while another claims that it stems from the Kelts who may have lived in the area in previous centuries. Other theories connect the town's name to occupational names relating to mud huts, iron tips for arrows and spears, or the production of tar (pkielce, a settlement of tar makers).[9] The earliest extant document referring to the settlement by the name of Kielce dates to 1213.[10]

Bernardine Monastery 'na Karczówce' (pl), 1624

The area of the Holy Cross Mountains was almost unpopulated until the 11th century when the first hunters established permanent settlements at the outskirts of the mountains. They needed a place to trade furs and meat for grain and other necessary products, and so the market of Kielce was formed. In the early 12th century the new settlement became a property of the Bishops of Kraków, who built a wooden church and a manor. In 1171 a stone church was erected by bishop Gedeon Gryf. During the times of Wincenty Kadłubek a parochial school in Kielce was opened in 1229. By 1295 the town was granted city rights. In the mid-13th century the town was destroyed by the Mongol invasion of Ögedei Khan, but it quickly recovered.

The area around Kielce was rich in minerals such as copper ore, lead ore, and iron, as well as limestone. In the 15th century Kielce became a significant centre of metallurgy. There were also several glass factories and armourer shops in the town. In 1527 bishop Piotr Tomicki founded a bell for the church and between 1637 and 1642 Manierist palace was erected near the market place by Bishop Jakub Zadzik. It is one of the very few examples of French Renaissance architecture in Poland and the only example of a magnate's manor from the times of Vasa dynasty to survive World War II.

During The Deluge the town was pillaged and burnt by the Swedes. Only the palace and the church survived, but the town managed to recover under the rule of bishop Andrzej Załuski. By 1761 Kielce had more than 4,000 inhabitants. In 1789 Kielce were nationalised and the burgers were granted the right to elect their own representatives in Sejm. Until the end of the century the city's economy entered a period of fast growth. A brewery was founded as well as several brick factories, a horse breeder, hospital.

Foreign partitions of Poland

As a result of the 3rd Partition the town was annexed by Austria. During the Polish-Austrian War of 1809 it was captured by prince Józef Poniatowski and joined with the Duchy of Warsaw, but after the fall of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1815 it was joined with the Kingdom of Poland. For a brief period when Kraków was an independent city-state (Republic of Kraków), Kielce became the capital of the Kraków Voivodeship. Thanks to the efforts by Stanisław Staszic Kielce became the centre of the newly established Old-Polish Industrial Zone (Staropolski Okręg Przemysłowy). The town grew quickly as new mines, quarries and factories were constructed. In 1816 the first Polish technical university was founded in Kielce. However, after Staszic's death the Industrial Zone declined and in 1826 the school was moved to Warsaw and became the Warsaw University of Technology.

In 1830 many of the inhabitants of Kielce took part in the November Uprising against Russia. In 1844, priest Piotr Ściegienny began organizing a local revolt to liberate Kielce from the Russian yoke, for which he was sent to Siberia. In 1863 Kielce took part in the January Uprising. As a reprisal for insubordination the tsarist authorities closed all Polish schools and turned Kielce into a military garrison city. The Polish language was banned. Because of these actions many gymnasium students took part in the 1905 Revolution and were joined by factory workers.[11]

Sovereign Poland

Józef Piłsudski and with the Polish Legions in Kielce, in front of the Gubernator's Palace, 1914

After the outbreak of World War I, Kielce was the first Polish city to be liberated from Russian rule by the Polish Legions under Józef Piłsudski. After the war when Poland regained its independence after 123 years of Partitions, Kielce became the capital of Kielce Voivodeship. The plans to strengthen Polish heavy and war industries resulted in Kielce becoming one of the main nodes of the Central Industrial Area (Centralny Okręg Przemysłowy). The town housed several big factories, among them the munitions factory "Granat" and the food processing plant Społem.

Second World War

During the Polish Defensive War of 1939, the main portion of the defenders of Westerplatte as well as the armoured brigade of General Stanisław Maczek were either from Kielce or from its close suburbs. During the occupation that lasted for most of the Second World War, the city was an important centre of resistance. There were several resistance groups active in the town, including Armia Krajowa (AK) and Gwardia Ludowa (GL).

Notable acts of resistance included theft of 2 tons of TNT from the "Społem" factory run by the Nazis, which were then used by the partisans to make hand grenades. Also, the daring escape from jail in Kielce of a dozen or so AK members, organized in November 1942 by Stanisław Depczyński. Not to mention, a grenade attack by a unit of the GL on the Smoleński coffee shop, killing 6 Germans including a major in the SS (February 1943), as well as the assassination of the noted Gestapo informant Franz Wittek on 15 June 1944, by a unit under Second Lt. Kazimierz Smolak on the corner of Solna and Paderewski Streets. One of the attackers died during the attack and a further four lost their lives not long afterwards. This was not the first assassination attempt against Wittek. In 1942, Henryk Pawelec fired at him in the market square, but his pistol misfired. In February 1943, a unit under the command of Stanisław Fąfar shot at Wittek by the Seminarium building. Wittek, though wounded by 14 bullets, survived. Successful assassinations of local collaborators, including the shooting of Jan Bocian took place in broad daylight at a shop in Bodzentyńska Street. Similar was the attack on the factory of C. Wawrzyniak in March 1943, terrorizing and disarming the volksdeutscher workers and destroying the machinery, as well as the attack on the HASAG factory in May 1943 and the takeover of the Kielce Herbskie railway station.[12]

Moreover, the hills and forests of Holy Cross Mountains became a scene of heavy partisan activity. A small town of Pińczów located some 30 kilometres (19 miles) from Kielce became the capital of the so-called Pinczów Republic, a piece of Polish land controlled by the partisans. The "Jodla" Świętokrzyskie Mountains Home Army fought against the Germans long before Operation Tempest inflicted heavy casualties on the occupying forces and later took part in the final liberation of their towns and cities in January 1945. During the war, many of inhabitants of Kielce lost their lives. Today, Kielce is a rapidly developing city of growing regional importance.

Jewish history

Kielce Synagogue, built 1903-1909

Until World War II, like many other cities across the Second Polish Republic, Kielce had a significant Jewish population. Before the rebirth of sovereign Poland according to the Russian census of 1897 among the total population of 23,200 inhabitants, there were 6,400 Jews in Kielce (around 27 percent).[13] On the eve of the Second World War there were about 18,000 Jews in the city. Between the onset of war and March 1940, the Jewish population of Kielce expanded to 25,400 (35% of all residents),[14] with trains of dispossessed Jews arriving under the escort of Ordnungspolizei from the Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany.[15] Immediately after the German occupation of Poland in September 1939, all Jews were ordered to wear a Star of David on their outer garments. Jewish–owned factories in Kielce were confiscated by the Gestapo, stores and shops along the main thoroughfares liquidated, and ransom fines introduced. The forced labour and deportations to concentration camps culminated in mass extermination of Jews of Kielce during the Holocaust in occupied Poland.[16]

Kielce Ghetto

In April 1941, the Kielce Ghetto was formed, surrounded by high fences, barbed wire, and guards.[17] The gentile Poles were ordered to vacate the area and the Jews were given one week to relocate. The ghetto was split in two, along Warszawska Street (Nowowarszawska) with the Silnica River (pl) running through it.[14] The so-called large ghetto was set up between the streets of Orla, Piotrkowska, Pocieszka, and Warszawska to the east, and the smaller ghetto between Warszawska on the west, and the streets of Bodzentyńska, St. Wojciech, and the St. Wojciech square. The ghetto gates were closed on 5 April 1941; the Jewish Ghetto Police was formed with 85 members and ordered to guard it.[18] Meanwhile, expulsions elsewhere and deportations to Kielce continued until August 1942 at which time there were 27,000 prisoners crammed in the ghetto. Trains with Jewish families arrived from the entire Kielce Voivodeship, and also from Vienna, Poznań, and Łódź.[14] The severe overcrowding, rampant hunger, and outbreaks of epidemic typhus took the lives of 4,000 people before mid-1942.[14] During this time, many of them were forced to work at a nearby German munition plant run by Hasag. In August 1942, the Kielce Ghetto was liquidated in the course of only five days. During roundups, all Jews unable to move were shot on the spot including the sick, the elderly, and the disabled; 20,000–21,000 Jews were led into waiting Holocaust trains, and murdered in the gas chambers of Treblinka. After the extermination action only 2,000 Jews were left in Kielce, lodged in the labour camp at Stolarska and Jasna Streets (pl) within the small ghetto. Those who survived were sent to other forced labour camps. On May 23, 1943, the Kielce cemetery massacre was perpetrated by the German police; 45 Jewish children who had survived the Kielce Ghetto liquidation, were murdered by Orpo.[14]

Kielce pogrom

Former Planty 7 Street refugee centre in 1946

On July 4, 1946, the local Jewish gathering of some 200 Holocaust survivors from the Planty 7 Street refugee centre of the Zionist Union became the target of the Kielce pogrom in which 37 (40) Polish Jews (17–21 of whom remain unidentified) and 2 ethnic Poles were killed, including 11 fatally shot with military assault rifles and 11 more stabbed with bayonets, indicating direct involvement of the Stalinist troops.[19] During Cold War, many Jewish historians theorized that the pogrom became the cause of outward Jewish emigration from Poland immediately following the opening of the borders in 1947.[20][21] Nevertheless, the true reasons behind the dramatic increase of the Jewish emigration from Poland were far more complex.[22] The new government of the Communist Poland signed a repatriation agreement with the Soviet Union helping over 150,000 Holocaust survivors leave the Gulag camps legally.[23] Poland was the only Eastern Bloc country to allow free and unrestricted Jewish aliyah to the nascent State of Israel, upon the conclusion of World War II.[24] After the Kielce pogrom Gen. Spychalski of PWP signed a legislative decree allowing the remaining survivors to leave Poland without visas or exit permits.[25] Poland was the only Eastern Bloc country to do so, at war's end.[24] Britain demanded from Poland (among others) to halt the Jewish exodus, but their pressure was largely unsuccessful.[26]


Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm

Kielce is one of the relatively cooler cities in Poland. It experiences four distinct seasons and has a temperate oceanic climate bordering on a warm summer subtype humid continental climate, typical of this part of Europe. It has cool, cloudy winters with almost daily light snowfall and generally moderate temperatures within a few degrees of the freezing point, and moderately warm and sunny summers, with frequent but brief hot spells and abundant rainfall falling mostly during numerous and occasionally severe thunderstorms. Surrounded by the Holy Cross Mountains, however, the summer night time temperatures are somewhat cooler and the thunderstorms somewhat more frequent and severe than in surrounding areas of Poland.[27]

Both continental and maritime air masses can enter the area undergoing little modification, resulting in striking differences in the seasons from year to year, particularly in winter when the contrast between maritime and continental air is at its greatest. Maritime influences from the Atlantic typically bring cool, cloudy, damp and often foggy weather both in summer and in winter, whereas continental air masses often result in long periods of sunny and dry weather, hot in summer and on occasion, extremely cold in winter.

The highest temperature recorded in Kielce since 1971 is 36.4 °C (98 °F)[28] and the lowest is −33.9 °C (−29 °F),[29] giving the city a temperature range of 70.3 °C (126.5 °F), the second highest in Poland. The city receives 1720 to 1829 hours of sunshine annually, depending on the source,[30][31] with a notably sunny spring and summer, and a cloudy late autumn and winter. Winds are generally very light throughout the year,[32] with an abundance of calm days, and as a result, cool temperatures often feel much milder than expected due to a relative lack of windchill, especially during sunny spells in early spring, as well as during severe winter cold snaps, which are typically dominated by calm, anticyclonic weather. Föhn winds from the Carpathian mountains do occasionally reach the city, resulting in unusually mild temperatures for a semi-continental location at this latitude, on rare occasions reaching approximately 15 °C (59 °F) in the winter months.

Sienkiewicza Street, summer 2011

Winter conditions are highly dependent on the source region of the air mass that dominates during a particular month, resulting in tremendous variability from one year to the next. For example, in January 2006, the city experienced typically continental winter weather, resulting in an average daytime high of −3.7 °C (25 °F), recording a nighttime low of −30 °C (−22 °F)[33] on the 24th. The very next year, in January 2007, the weather was predominantly of the Atlantic type, resulting in an average high of 5.7 °C (42 °F) and occasional days above 10 °C (50 °F),[34] more typical of coastal locations in Western Europe. As a result of this variability, severe cold with temperatures below −20 °C (−4 °F) can be completely absent during some winters, and in others, it can occur with regularity, even as late as March. Heavy snowfall is rare, and significant snow accumulations typically occur gradually, a few centimeters at a time over a protracted cold spell.

Summer is warm and lasts from June to early September, and is characterized by abundant sunshine, but also severe weather, particularly early in the season. Though temperatures average in the low-to-mid 20s (70s Fahrenheit), they are rather variable with frequent hot spells reaching approximately 30 °C (86 °F) interrupted by cold fronts, which frequently bring violent thunderstorms and several days of cool and sometimes chilly weather. Although hot weather is frequent and many summers experience a few oppressively hot days of around 35 °C (95 °F), summer temperatures in the city are never extreme and have not exceeded 36.4 °C (98 °F) in recent decades.

The transitional seasons of spring and autumn are highly unpredictable and experience large temperature swings with periods of fine weather and temperatures around 20 °C (68 °F) as early as March and late into October, alternating with much colder periods. Sharp nighttime frosts can occur as early as September and as late as May, though on calm, clear days, it often warms up rapidly to approximately 20 °C (68 °F), especially in April. Occasionally, significant, accumulating snow can occur in October and April, though mild weather rapidly returns. The springtime month of May is notably the sunniest month of the year.

Climate data for Kielce
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 13.4
Average high °C (°F) 0.2
Daily mean °C (°F) −2.3
Average low °C (°F) −4.7
Record low °C (°F) −33.9
Average precipitation mm (inches) 34
Average snowy days 14 11 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 7 37
Mean monthly sunshine hours 46 68 122 191 241 232 225 233 162 111 52 37 1,720
Source #1: Weather Online[35]
Source #2: Weather Online (Sunshine statistics 2000-2013) [30]

Sources:[36],[37] Tutiempo [28][38][39][40]

Tourist attractions


Map of the centre of Kielce





Football stadium in Kielce


Kielce is an important transport hub, and is on international and domestic routes:

Provincial roads:

In addition, Kielce has a network of district roads, covering 109 streets with a total length of 114.9 km (71.4 mi) and a network of roads covering 446 streets with a total length of 220.9 km (137.3 mi). 57.5% of roads in the city has an improved hard surface, 8.4% of hard surface is not improved, while 34.1% are dirt.


Rail transport came to Kielce in 1885, when the construction of the line linking Iwanogród (Dęblin) and Dąbrowa Górnicza was completed. Currently, Kielce is an important intersection of railway lines, running to Częstochowa and Lubliniec, Warsaw, Kraków and Sandomierz. Within the administrative boundaries of the city there are the following railway stations: Kielce Piaski, Kielce Białogon, Kielce Herbskie.

Air travel

At present, air services are only available to the residents of Kielce at Kielce-Masłów Airport, a civilian airport located in nearby Masłów. It is not able to accommodate large passenger planes, because its runway is only 1,200 m. Its reconstruction is seen as not viable and in June 2006 the decision was made about the location of a new airport near the village of the Obice Morawica, able to handle regular airlines. At present, land has been purchased for the investment. The nearest international airports are located in Kraków-Balice, Warsaw-Okecie and Rzeszów-Jasionka.

Local transport

Official transport services were first established on 22 July 1951, when the local transport department was created.

After many changes today, the city operates 54 regular bus lines (1-54), 13 new low-decked bus lines with text&audio passenger-information system (102-114), four lines of special constants (C, F, Z, 100 (formerly TK)) and one night line (101). The lines are operated by the Municipal Transport Company and Kielce Bus Company Workers under an agreement signed with the Management of Urban Transport. In Kielce, there are two depots. The rolling stock is composed of about 165 buses.

In 2009/10 the Transport Authority in Kielce released the Polish Operational Programme Development of Eastern 2007 - 2013 project "Development of public transport system in Kielce Metropolitan Area." They bought 20 new buses - MAZ-203s and Solaris Urbino 12s, and another 20 were bought in 2010. These buses will support new lines. Part of the project, envisages installation of 24 electronic boards for bus departure times and 20 stationary ticket vending machines.

Long-distance travel

The history of communication dates back to coaches from Kielce in 1945, when the District was set up. Already in 1946, there were regular routes to Kraków, Warsaw, Jelenia Góra, Teplice and neighbouring towns.

After 1990, the Kielce Bus Station was renamed the PKS Station in Kielce, and has maintained regular passenger long-distance routes.

Kielce constituency

Exbud headquarters, symbol of today's Kielce City

Members of Parliament (Sejm) elected from Kielce constituency in 2005 included:

Notable people


Twin Towns - Sister Cities

Kielce is twinned with:

Architectural monuments


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Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Kielce.

Coordinates: 50°52′21″N 20°37′55″E / 50.87250°N 20.63194°E / 50.87250; 20.63194

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/29/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.