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Collage of views of Kielce, Top left:Sienkiewicza Street, Top right:Kielce Bishops Palace, 2nd left:Kielce Cathedral, 2nd right:Artists Square, Bottom left:Monument of Home Homini, Bottom right:Night view of Kadzielnia nature reserve area
Collage of views of Kielce, Top left:Sienkiewicza Street, Top right:Kielce Bishops Palace, 2nd left:Kielce Cathedral, 2nd right:Artists Square, Bottom left:Monument of Home Homini, Bottom right:Night view of Kadzielnia nature reserve area
Coat of arms of Kielce
Coat of arms
Kielce is located in Poland
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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] [kee-ELT-sa]; 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 (1919–1939, 1945–1998). The city is located in the middle of the Świętokrzyskie Mountains (Holy Cross Mountains), at the banks of Silnica river, in northern part of the historical Polish province of Lesser Poland. Kielce was once an important centre of limestone mining.


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 Małopolska 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).[2]

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).[2] The earliest extant document referring to the settlement by the name of Kielce dates to 1213.[3]

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 a priest Piotr Ściegienny intended a local uprising to liberate Kielce from Russian rule, 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.

Sovereign Poland

Józef Piłsudski and his staff in Kielce, in front of the Gubernator' 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 (among them the Armia Krajowa (AK) and the 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, organised 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 officer 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.[4]

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 Swietokrzyskie Mountains Home Army District 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

Up until the Second World War, like many other cities in Europe, Kielce had a significant Jewish population: according to the Russian census of 1897, out of the total population of 23,200, Jews constituted 6,400 (around 27% percent).[5] On the eve of the Second World War there were 24,000 Jewish inhabitants in Kielce, around one-third of the population at the time. Immediately after the German occupation in September 1939 action was taken against the Jews in the form of fines, confiscation of property, forced labour, deportation to concentration camps, and genocide. In April 1941, the Jewish ghetto was established, and the Jews were forced to move into it. During this time, many of them were forced to work at a nearby German ammunition plant. In August 1942, the extermination of the Jewish ghetto began and in 5 days only 2,000 were left. Those who survived the massacre were sent to another forced labour camp before going to the Treblinka extermination camp.

Kielce pogrom

On July 4, 1946, the local Jewish community with some 200 Holocaust survivors gathered there at the time was attacked and 42 persons were killed. After the war, Jewish historians theorized that the pogrom became the cause of outward Jewish emigration from Poland immediately following the opening of the borders in 1947.[6][7] The circumstances surrounding the event are a subject of major controversy.


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.[8]

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)[9] and the lowest is −33.9 °C (−29 °F),[10] 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,[11][12] with a notably sunny spring and summer, and a cloudy late autumn and winter. Winds are generally very light throughout the year,[13] 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.

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)[14] 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),[15] 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 centimetres at a time over a protracted cold spell.

Summer is warm and lasts from June to early September, and is characterised 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[16]
Source #2: Weather Online (Sunshine statistics 2000-2013) [11]

Sources:[17],[18] Tutiempo [9][19][20][21]

Tourist attractions

Map of the centre of Kielce


  • Politechnika Świętokrzyska (Kielce University of Technology) [2]
  • Uniwersytet Jana Kochanowskiego (Jan Kochanowski University) [3]
  • Swietokrzyska Szkola Wyzsza
  • Wszechnica Swietokrzyska
  • Wyzsza Szkola Administracji Publicznej www
  • Wyzsza Szkola Ekonomii i Prawa im. prof. Edwarda Lipinskiego www
  • Wyzsza Szkola Handlowa im. Boleslawa Markowskiego
  • Wyzsza Szkola Umiejetnosci
  • Wyzsza Szkola Technik Komputerowych i Telekomunikacji
  • Wyzsza Szkola Zarzadzania Gospodarka Regionalna i Turystyka
  • Wyzsza Szkola Telekomunikacji i Informatyki www
  • Towarzystwo Wiedzy Powszechnej OR Kielce
  • Juliusz Słowacki High School www
  • Stefan Żeromski High School www
  • Jan Śniadecki High School [4]
  • Hanka Sawicka High School
  • św. Jadwiga Królowa High School
Building of Stefan Żeromski Theatre




  • Stefan Żeromski Theatre www
  • Kieleckie Centrum Kultury - KCK www
  • Teatr Lalki i Aktora "Kubuś" - Puppet and Actor Theatre "Kubuś" www
  • Kielecki Teatr Tańca - Kielce Dance Theatre [5]


Football stadium in Kielce
  • Korona Kielce - men's football team, currently plays in Poland's top football league, Ekstraklasa.
  • Vive Targi Kielce (Iskra Kielce) men's Handball team playing in Polish Ekstraklasa Men's Handball League, few times Champions and medalist of Poland (winner in 1993 1994 1996 1998 1999 2003 and 2009, second places in 1995 2004, third places in 1980 1997 2001 2005 ) and medalists of European Champions League
  • KKL Kielce (athletics) - Official website of KKL Kielce
  • Oficina da Capoeira Kielce - Capoeira Club in Kielce
  • Muay Thai Kielce
  • Żak Kielce (judo club)
  • Kielecki Klub Karate Kyokushin
  • Rushh Kielce (boxing club)
  • Gwardia Kielce (boxing club)
  • KS FART Kielce (volleyball club)
  • Orlęta Kielce (football club, IV league)
  • Polonia Białogon Kielce (football club)
  • Czarnovia Kielce (football club)
  • AZS Politechnika Kielce (football club)
  • AZS WSU Kielce (football club)
  • Jokers Kielce (American football)
  • Tęcza Kielce
  • Tor Kielce - circuit in Miedziana Góra
  • Mountain biking in Kielce
  • Contact Kielce billiards club from Kielce, Champion of Poland and medalist of Polish League



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 in 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 Gora, 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.


Exbud headquarters, symbol of today's Kielce City

Kielce constituency

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

Famous people


Twin Towns - Sister Cities

Kielce is twinned with:

Architectural monuments



External links

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