The city of Bielsko-Biala is included to the province Silesian Voivodeship and to the neighborhood Bielsko-Biała
Presentation of the destination
Bielsko-Biała is a city in southern Poland composed of two former cities on either side of the Biała River, which were amalgamated in 1951. It is located at the foot of the Beskids Mountains, on the border of historic Upper Silesia and Lesser Poland, just 60km south of Katowice. It is a relatively large city, with a population of 175,513. Bielsko dates back to the 12th century, in the 1930s architects discovered remains of a fortified settlement in what is now Stary Bielsko. The current centre dates to the 13th century when the castle was built. In the 13th century Bielsko was colonised by German settlers, this is when settlements first arose on the banks surrounding the river. For centuries the river marked the border between the Bohemian crown land of Silesia and the Kingdom of Poland, from 1526 it was inhabited by the Habsburgs and then sold to the House of Promnitz, finally, it was acquired by the Austrians in 1752. Biała has a different history as it had been only sparsely inhabited since the mid 16th century; the locality was first mentioned in 1564, although its population increased during the Counter-Reformation in Habsburg lands. With the dissolution of Austria Hungary (1918) both cities became part of the reconstituted Polish State, even though more than 50% of its residents were actually German. During WW2 the two cities were annexed by Nazis and all of the local Jews were sent to Auschwitz.
Points of interests / things to see
The town’s main museum is located in the castle in the centre of Stary Bielsko. The castle itself is the oldest and largest building in the old part of Bielsko, the oldest part of the castle dates back to the 14th century. Initially the castle formed part of Bielsko’s fortifications, however, in the 16th century there was no longer need for a stronghold and it was transformed into a nobleman’s mansion. The castle was reconstructed in the 19th century. It was taken over by the Polish State after WW2 and has housed the museum since 1983. The museum dates back to the early 1900s when both towns opened their museums. Now the castle contains exhibitions relating to the history of the two towns, and of the castle. There is also a hunting room and armoury, a room displaying and art history exhibitions (15th-17th century), a concert hall, and 19th and 20th century art. Address: Muzeum w Bielksu-Białej, ul. Wzgórze 16, 43-300 Bielsko-Biała. Website: www.muzeum.bielsko.pl Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org Telephone: +48 33 8168 686. Opening Hours: Saturday to Tuesday 09:00-15:00 Wednesday to Friday 09:00-16:00. Entrance Fee: Adults 15zł Children/Seniors 8zł.
Probably the most well-known concentration camp, Auschwitz is located just 40 minutes away from Bielsko-Biała and so is something you really shouldn’t miss on your visit to the area. Auschwitz is a network of concentration and execution camps that were originally constructed to hold Polish political prisoners, but that which went on to become the “final solution for the Jewish problem” for the Nazis. The first execution was in 1941 and from 1942-44 transport trains brought Jews from all over German occupied Europe to their gas chambers. It is said that at least 1.1 million people died at Auschwitz, 150,000 of those being Poles. 1/6 of all Holocaust victims died at Auschwitz, and those who didn’t die in the gas chambers died of starvation, forced labour, disease, and medical experiments. This particular concentration camp is a dominant symbol of the Holocaust, and in 1947 the Polish government passed a law establishing the site as a memorial to the victims, an exhibition then opened on the site in 1955. Finally in 1979 UNESCO added the camp to the list of World Heritage Sites. Address: Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, ul. Stanisłowy Leszczyńskiej 11, 32-603 Oświȩcim. Website: www.auschwitz.org Telephone: +48 33 8448 100. Opening Hours: December to February 08:00-15:00, March and November 08:00-16:00, April and October 08:00-17:00, May and September 08:00-18:00, June to August 08:00-19:00, Entrance Fee: Entrance to the museum is free, there is however, a fee for guided tours.
The cathedral is the main Roman Catholic Church in the city; it was founded in 1443 and overlooks the market square. The cathedral was first built in a gothic style, however due to several fires and reconstructions it now bares a Neo-Romanesque façade. It burned down in 1659 and was rebuilt with baroque furnishings, but unfortunately it was robbed in 1682. The cathedral suffered another fire in 1750 after being struck by lightning, it was then rebuilt in 1756, it suffered another fire in 1808. What you see now is the reconstruction from 1912 which was designed by Viennese architect Leopold Bauer, the cathedral walls are decorated with stylised vine branches which represent God’s love, the Stations of the Cross date back to 1860, and there is beautiful stained glass designed by Rudolf Hartlinger (also Viennese) which dates back to the time of reconstruction. Address: Parofia Katedralna Pw. Św. Mikołaja, 43-300 Bielsko-Biała. Website: www.katedra.bielsko.pl Email Address: You can email directly through the website. Telephone: +48 33 8292 600. Opening Hours: Weekdays 07:00, 08:00, 09:00, 18:30 Sundays 06:00, 08:00, 09:30, 11:00, 12:30, 17:00, 19:00, 20:00. Entrance Fee: Free.
The Weaver’s House is a reconstruction of the interior of a weaver’s house and workshop owned by a guild master. The museum opened in 1992, and aims to show people what the living and working conditions were like in a house at the turn of the 20th century. The house is split into two sections, on the left a workshop, and on the left the living quarters, with a kitchen and bedroom. The history of this particular working house dates back to the 18th century, and is an original example of wooden town housing not just in this region but throughout Poland. The workshop is the biggest part of the museum and contains all objects necessary for a draper’s work, including a loom which dates back to the 18th century. Address: ul. Jana II Sobieskiego 51, 43-300 Bielsko-Biała. Website: www.muzeum.bielsko.pl Email Address: email@example.com Telephone: +48 33 8117 406. Opening Hours: Wednesday to Friday 09:00-16:00 Tuesday and Saturday 09:00-15:00. Entrance Fee: Adults 10zł, Children/Seniors 6zł.
As the city is located at the foothills of the Beskids Mountains, you would be mad not to experience them whilst on your trip. Szyndzielnia is the highest point in Bielsko-Biała at 1062 metres; from the summit you can see the entire city. The cable cars to the top of the mountain have been operational since 1953, although they were renovated in the 90s. You can take a bus from the city centre to the cable car station, and then you’re only a 6 minute ride away from the top. Once at the top you can enjoy the view, and hiking trails. Address: al. Armii Krajowej, 43-316 Bielsko-Biała. Website: www.ziad.bielsko.pl/kolej-szyndzielnia/english Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org Telephone: +48 33 8144 481. Opening Hours: April to September 10:00-19:30 (Mondays), 09:00-19:30 (Tuesday to Sunday), September to April 10:00-17:30 (Mondays), 09:00-17:30 (Tuesday to Sunday). Entrance Fee: Return 20 zł, One Way 15 zł.
Prior to WW2, when the Nazi’s annexed the area and sent the Jews to Auschwitz, there was a significant Jewish population in the city. Both synagogues in the city were destroyed by enemy fire during the war so you cannot visit Jewish history there; however, the cemetery still remains. The cemetery was established in 1849, and although it was partially destroyed by the Nazis in WW2 about 400 tombstones survived. There is a war cemetery section with a memorial to 53 Jewish soldiers who died in WW1, and in the year 200 a commemorative tablet was unveiled honouring the local Jews who died in WW2. Address: ul. Cieszyńska 92, 43-300 Bielsko-Biała.
Rynek is the old market square in Stary Bielsko. The buildings surrounding the square date back to the 17th and 18th centuries. In the 1990s archaeologists discovered traces of a wooden town hall dating to the 16th century. Although in years gone by market squares were the hearts of cities, in the 19th century the old town was losing importance and many buildings were relocated elsewhere in the city, such as the town hall and the post office. The market square is a nice place to just sit and watch the world go by for an hour or so. Address: Rynek, Stary Bielsko, Bielsko-Biała.
This wooden church is one of the few remaining in the Beskids Mountains. It was built in 1690 and has a spacious nave and a cemetery. It is worth visiting just to see the architecture as wooden churches are not very common anymore. There are also some treats inside: paintings by Johann Mentil (1723), 17th century painting and sculptures, and a lime wood gilded statue of the Virgin and Child which dates back to the 1420s. Address: ul. Cyprysowa 25, 43-310 Bielsko-Biała. Website: http://parafiamikuszowice.pl Email Address: email@example.com Telephone: +48 33 8190 150 Opening Hours: Sunday – 07:00, 08:30, 10:00, 11:30, 18:00 Saturday – 18:00 Weekdays 07:00, 18:00 Entrance Fee: Free.
The Frog House is an interesting example of art nouveau architecture in the city. The building, which used to house a winery, is older itself than the attraction which was founded in 1903 and designed by Emmanuel Bialski Rotsa. The big attraction is the façade of the building which shows two frogs sitting over the entrance, one of them is smoking a pipe, the other is playing the mandolin, and there are beetles roaming all over the walls. Address: Plac Wojska Polskiego, 43-300 Bielsko-Biała.
Vacation rentals in Bielsko-biala (Silesian Voivodeship)
How to get there ?
Getting There Air – Katowice Airport is located just 80km away from the city and has regular shuttle busses to Bielsko-Biała. http://www.katowice-airport.com/en/ Balice Airport (Krakow) is bigger, the second largest in Poland, and located just 100km away from the city. http://www.krakowairport.pl/en/ Train – Trains from all parts of Poland, and neighbouring countries pass through the city. http://rozklad-pkp.pl/bin/query.exe/en Bus – There are busses which run to and from Krakow, Warsaw, Lublin and to the coastal towns in the summer season. Road – Although not served by a motorway the city is served by Expressway S1 which runs from Bielsko-Biała to Cieszyn on the Czech border, and the national road DK1 connects the city to Krakow. Getting Around There is a public transport system in the city, however, it is said that it doesn’t really run a very regular service. It is probably better to hire a car, especially if you want to visit small towns in the surrounding mountains.
Hotels in Bielsko-biala (Silesian Voivodeship)