11th November Street in Bielsko-Bia?a
|Town rights||1312 Bielsko|
|o Mayor||Jaros?aw Klimaszewski|
|o City||124.51 km2 (48.07 sq mi)|
|Highest elevation||1,117 m (3,665 ft)|
|Lowest elevation||262 m (860 ft)|
|o City||171,505 (22nd)|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC+2 (CEST)|
43-300 to 43-382
|Area code(s)||(+48) 033|
Bielsko-Bia?a ['blsk? 'b?awa] (Czech: Bílsko-B?lá; German: Bielitz-Biala; Hebrew: ) is a city in southern Poland with a population of approximately 171,505 (in 2018). The city is a centre of the 325,000-strong Bielsko Urban Agglomeration and is a major industrial (particularly automotive), transport, and tourism hub. Located north of the Beskid Mountains, Bielsko-Bia?a is composed of two former cities on opposite banks of the Bia?a River, Silesian Bielsko and Lesser Poland's Bia?a, which merged in 1951.
Both city names, Bielsko and Bia?a refer to the Bia?a River, with etymology stemming from either biel or bia?a, which means "white" in Polish.
The remnants of a fortified settlement in what is now the Stare Bielsko (Old Bielsko) district of the city were discovered between 1933 and 1938 by a Polish archaeological team. The settlement was dated to the 12th - 14th centuries. Its dwellers manufactured iron from ore and specialized in smithery. The current centre of the town was probably developed as early as the first half of the 13th century. At that time a castle (which still survives today) was built on a hill.
In the second half of the 13th century, the Piast dukes of Opole invited German settlers to colonize the Silesian Foothills. As the dukes then also ruled over the Lesser Polish lands east of the Bia?a River, settlements arose on both banks like Bielitz (now Stare Bielsko), Nickelsdorf (Mikuszowice ?l?skie), Kamitz (Kamienica), Batzdorf (Komorowice ?l?skie) and Kurzwald in the west as well as Kunzendorf (Lipnik), Alzen (Ha?cnów) and Wilmesau (Wilamowice) in the east. Nearby settlements in the mountains were Lobnitz (Wapienica) and Bistrai (Bystra).
After the partition of the Duchy of Oppeln in 1281, Bielsko passed to the Dukes of Cieszyn (Teschen). The town was first documented in 1312 when Duke Mieszko I of Cieszyn granted a town charter. The Bia?a again became a border river, when in 1315 the eastern Duchy of O?wi?cim split off from Cieszyn as a separate under Mieszko's son W?adys?aw. After the Dukes of Cieszyn had become vassals of the Bohemian kings in 1327 and the Duchy of O?wi?cim was sold to the Polish Crown in 1457, the Bia?a River for centuries marked the border between the Bohemian crown land of Silesia within the Holy Roman Empire and the Lesser Polish region of the Kingdom of Poland and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
With Bohemia and the Upper Silesian Duchy of Cieszyn, Bielsko in 1526 was inherited by the Austrian House of Habsburg and incorporated into the Habsburg Monarchy. From 1560 Bielsko was held by Frederick Casimir of Cieszyn, son of Duke Wenceslaus III Adam, who due to the enormous debts his son left upon his death in 1571, had to sell it to the Promnitz noble family at Pless. With the consent of Emperor Maximilian II, the Promnitz dynasty and their Schaffgotsch successors ruled the Duchy of Bielsko as a Bohemian state country; acquired by the Austrian chancellor Count Friedrich Wilhelm von Haugwitz in 1752, the ducal status was finally confirmed by Empress Maria Theresa in 1754.
The opposite bank of the Bia?a River, again Polish since 1475, had been sparsely settled since the mid-16th century. A locality was first mentioned in a 1564 deed, it received the name Bia?a in 1584, and belonged at that time to Kraków Voivodeship. Its population increased during the Counter-Reformation in the Habsburg lands, when many Protestant artisans from Bielsko (which did not belong to Poland) moved across the river. Though already named a town in the 17th century, Bia?a officially was granted city rights by the Polish king Augustus II the Strong in 1723.
In the course of the First Partition of Poland in 1772, Bia?a was annexed by the Austrian Habsburg Monarchy and incorporated into the crownland of Galicia. The Protestant citizens received the right to establish parishes according to the 1781 Patent of Toleration by Emperor Joseph II. BIALA was head of the district with the same name, one of the 78 Bezirkshauptmannschaften in the Galicia crownland.
With the dissolution of Austria-Hungary in 1918 according to the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, both cities became part of the reconstituted Polish state, though the majority of the population was ethnic German, forming a German language island.  The ethnic German citizens formed an aggressively anti-Polish, rabidly racist and anti-Jewish Jungdeutsche Partei sponsored financially by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Third Reich and trained in propaganda, sabotage and espionage activities against the Polish state. Its members smuggled military weapons, and waged a campaign of intimidating other members of the community to leave for Nazi Germany, with tangible incentives. A considerable number of young ethnic Germans joined the rank-and-file of the Party during the mid-1930s as a result of the Nazi indoctrination and aggressive recruitment. During World War II the city was annexed by Nazi Germany. Many of its Jewish population was sent aboard Holocaust trains to nearby Auschwitz extermination camp never to return. After the defeat of Nazism in 1945, the remaining of the German population, which had formed the majority of the town's population, fled westward or were expelled their home by the Soviet-installed communist government.
The combined city of Bielsko-Bia?a was created administratively on 1 January 1951 when the two cities of Bielsko, and Bia?a (known until 1951 as Bia?a Krakowska), were unified.
The city is situated on the border of historic Upper Silesia and Lesser Poland at the eastern rim of the smaller Cieszyn Silesia region, about 60 km (37 mi) south of Katowice. Administrated within Silesian Voivodeship since 1999, the city was previously capital of Bielsko-Bia?a Voivodeship (1975-1998).
Bielsko-Bia?a is one of the most important cities of the Beskidy Euroregion and the main city of the Bielsko Industrial Region (Polish: Bielski Okr?g Przemys?owy), part of the Upper Silesian metropolitan area.
|Climate data for Bielsko-Bia?a (1980-2012)|
|Record high °C (°F)||16.5
|Average high °C (°F)||1.7
|Daily mean °C (°F)||-1.3
|Average low °C (°F)||-4.2
|Record low °C (°F)||-27.4
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||28.6
|Average precipitation days||10.1||11.7||11.5||10.6||12.1||13.3||12.5||10.5||10.2||11.0||11.3||11.6||136.4|
|Source: climatebase.ru |
Bielsko-Bia?a is one of the most business friendly medium size cities in Poland. In the 2014 ranking of the 'Most Attractive Cities for Business' published yearly by Forbes the city was ranked 3rd in the category of cities with 150,000–300,000 inhabitants. About 2% of people are unemployed (compared 9,6% for Poland). Bielsko-Bia?a is famous for its textile, machine-building, and especially automotive industry. Four areas in the city belong to the Katowice Special Economic Zone. The city region is a home for several manufacturers of high-performance gliders and aircraft.
Bielsko-Bia?a is located within a short distance to Czech and Slovakian borders on the crossroads of two Expressways (S1 and S52) connecting Poland with Southern Europe:
It is planned to extend S1 north along the existing dual carriageway DK1 from Bielsko-Bia?a to Tychy and Katowice, thus building an expressway connection of the city with the national motorway network of Poland. National Road DK52 connects Bielsko-Bia?a with Kraków in the east. The most important interchange in the area is the cloverleaf north of Bielsko-Bia?a where S1, DK1 and S52 meet.
Bielsko-Bia?a is connected by direct train services with the following large Polish cities (November 2014): Bydgoszcz, Gda?sk, Gdynia, Katowice, Kraków (Cracow), ?ód?, Olsztyn, Opole, Szczecin, Toru?, Warszawa (Warsaw), Wroc?aw.
There are 3 international airports within the 90 km distance from Bielsko-Bia?a, all serving connections with major European cities: Katowice International Airport, Kraków John Paul II International Airport, Ostrava Leo? Janá?ek Airport.
Bielsko-Bia?a is a beautiful city, as are the surrounding landscapes. It is abundant in stunning Art Nouveau architecture and is often referred to as Little Vienna. It is also a vibrant student city with enjoyable nightlife, rich in both historical and natural sights, some of them listed below:
Apart from being an attractive destination itself the city is a convenient base for hiking in Silesian Beskids and ?ywiec Beskids as well as for skiing in one of the most popular Polish ski resorts Szczyrk (located 18 km (11 mi) from the city centre) and in a couple of smaller nearby ski resorts.
Senators from Bielsko-Bia?a constituency:
Members of Sejm from Bielsko-Bia?a constituency:
Zaneta Wille - formerly of Bielsko-Biala