We have the honor and pleasure of presenting to you the biggest and one of the most beautiful in Poland – the District of Kielce. We would also like to invite you to take a closer look at this interesting region of Poland. You will meet cheerful and hospitable people here as well as enchanting landscapes with the oldest mountains in Europe and numerous curiosities of animate and inanimate nature. The wealth of this land comes from abundant mineral resources, the proper extraction of which does not influence the condition of the natural enviroment. The additional advantage of the istrict of Kielce is its attractive location at the junction of major traffic routes of the country and the vicinity of Kielce – capital of the Świętokrzyskie Province, important academic, industrial and commercial centre. For tourist there are numerous routes, monuments, museums, sports facilities and a good tourist base and for investors- a variety of offers from the communes and favourable attitude of local self-governments. We hope that this informations encourage you to visit the beautiful district of Kielce and perhaps to start a fruitful cooperations.
Chairman of the District Council,
Starosta of Kielce
The location of the county
The Kielce county is situated in the Middle-Little Poland Upland, and it covers the macro-region of the Kielecko-Sandomierska Upland and the following meso-regions: central, i.e.: the Świętokrzyskie mountanins, northern, i.e.: the Suchedniowski Plateau, and southern – the Szydłowskie Foothills. On the southern edge of county encompassing a part of the Chmielnik commune, runs the border between the macro-region of the Nidziańska Basin an the sezo-region of Połaniecka Basin. The Łopuszno commune, the northwestern part of Piekoszów commune and the southwestern part of the Starwczyn commune are located in the macro-region of Przedborska Upland, within the reach of the Łopuszańskie Hills meso-region. The county lies in an upland and hilly area, in the central part of the Świętokrzyskie province. It is characterized by high degree of woodiness, rich natural resources of various minerals, harsh climate and relatively poor soils.
The peculiarities of the Kielce region
The Kielce county has strongly diversified surface features which result from the complex geological processes of the region. Nearly the entire area of Świętokrzyskie mountains along with the Łysogóry mountain range and the highest mountain top Łysica (612 m a.s.l.) lies in the Kielce county area, with the exception of the northern and eastern edges going beyond its borders.
Large differences on heights and land morphology determine the uniqueness of the local climate, because the area of the Świętokrzyskie mountains creates the so-called island of coldness in the region with the lowest temperature in January (-4.5 degrees Celsius). Annual isotherms show that the average temperature in the Świętokrzyskie mountain district is 6 degrees Celsius and is lower by 1.5-2 degrees Celsius than the average temperature at the southern and western borders of the cointy.
The Kielce county is located in the picturesque region of the Świętokrzyskie mountains, one of the oldest mountains ranges in Europe. The diversified layout of the land reflecting the diverse geological structure constitute their uniqueness. Numerous deposits of valuable minerals, the largest in central Poland forest complexes with rich fauna and flora can be found here. In varied ecosystem: forest, meadow, peat swamp exist numerous protected plants and animals. The rich form of animated and inanimate nature of significant scientific, didactic, scenic and tourist values contributed to establishing the Świętokrzyski National Park, which covers the most precious areas of the Świętokrzyskie mountains.
The history of the Świętokrzyski region
The region of the Świętokrzyskie mountains has a rich and exceptional history. It dates back to the times when over five hundred million years ago the restless land began to form here the first mountains on the European continent. Over the centuries was formed their shape, many times they were flooded by the sea leaving limestone deposit- today’s richness of that region – with the seals of primeval creatures, which once lived here.
The glacier reached this land , once it was gone the primitive man appeared. It happened nearly fifty thousand years ago. The traces of the presence of the Neardenthal man were found in a beautifully decorated carstic cave “Raj” (“Paradise”) which lies near an old town Chęciny. They were tools, the feast leftovers and bones of animals, such as: the rhinoceros, mammoth and reindeer antlers. Beyond the northern border of the Kielce county, in the Rydno area, 13 thousand years an inhabitant of the land dug for hematite –red iron ore, used as a dye applied in magic practices. From far away people travelled here for the ore.
In the Neolithic Age, five thousand years ago, the flint stone quarries came into being near today’s Ostrowiec. The tools and weapons made from the flint stone had wide applications.
In the Fir Primeval Forest two thousand years ago the primitive furnaces burned during the process of iron ore smelting which attracted merchants even from the Roman Empire.
The monuments of former technology
The remains of these furnaces are scattered over an area of many hundred square kilometers, a large part of this area belongs today to the Nowa Słupia commune, where in September for over thirty years, in a reconstructed Pre-Slavic hamlet, has been organized an outdoor event entitled “Dymarki” (primitive smelting furnaces), during which iron smelting in one-metre high, single-usage, clayey furnaces is shown. The Cistercian monks from Wąchock continued iron smelting. Pitmen of many generations dug for copper and lead ores leaving their traces in Chęciny, Miedziana Góra, and on the Karczówka Hill in Kielce. At the beginning of the 19th century Stanisław Staszic – an activist, political writer, and patriot, established by the Mining Management the first in the country technical school of higher education, i.e. The Mining Academy. The aim of the school was to educate experts on local mining industry. Thus were created the foundations of the Old Polish Industrial Basin, the roots of the contemporary economic potential of the region.
In many places of the Kielce region one can find high class historical monuments of former technological and engineering ideas, an example of which is the ruins of the blast furnace in Samsonów, an impressive retaining wall in Bobrza, numerous forges, and hydraulic engineering buildings.
For the national freedom
The Kielce region has strong historic links to Poland. Many a time its inhabitants fought for the national independence. The insurgents of General Tadeusz Kościuszko, armed with scythes, sacraficed their lives for freedom of their homeland, here died Bartosz Głowacki, the insurgent of the year 1794, who fought against the Russian cannons in the battle of Racławice. The insurgents of the year 1830, later the January Uprising showed their dedication and courage, here lived aand worked the priest Piotr Ściegienny (1801-1890), revolutionary and democratic activist and the organizer of the so-called Peasants’ Union in the Kielce area. In August 1914 the Kielce region received Józef Piłsudzki’s first cadre company of roflrmrn marching from Cracow, who became the origin of the I Infantry Regiment of Legions and set off to fight for the independence of their homeland. During Word War II the Świętokrzyskie forests became the seat and shelter of the guerrillas. Numerous graves of murdered civilians commemorate those times, the most reknown on is in Michniów where by the grave of 203 victims of annihilation was built a monument with 800 crosses coming from the Polish villages, afflicted by the crimes of war and occupation
The administrative structure of the county
The above-mentioned aspects of the Kielce county constitute only a small part of all its richness and beauty. It belongs to the uplandish and hilly area of the central part of the Świętokrzyskie province. It covers an area of 2246 square km constituting nearly 20 % of the entire area of the province. It includes 19 communes: Bodzentyn, Chęciny, Chmielnik, which are small towns, and Bieliny, Daleszyce, Górno, Łagów, Łopuszno, Masłów, Miedziana Góra, Mniów, Morawica, Nowa Słupia, Piekoszów, Pierzchnica, Raków, Ssitkówka-Nowiny, Strawczyn, and Zagnańsk.
The county is inhabited by approximately 194.5 thousand people.
The polulation density, which is 86 people per 1 square km, is lower than the provincial average (114 people per 1 square km).
The inhabitants of the county constitute 14.5% of the whole population in the province and only in Kielce the index is 16.1%. The participation of individual communes is the total number of inhabitants of the county is diversified
Tourist amenities and agro-tourism
The Kielce county situated in the Świętokrzyskie mountains is a special place on the geographical map of Poland. Most of all, it is distinguished for its rich topographic features. The Świętokrzyski National Park was established here in 1950.
The area if the Park was divided into partial and strict reserves. The strict protection is based on the complete rejection of human interference in the protected area. Having in mind the natural, historic and cultural as well as landscape values the Complex of the Lanscape Parks of the Świętokrzyskie mountains was establishes in 1988.
The following parks were included along with protection zones encompassing partial territories of several communes:
- The Suchedniowko - Oblęgorski Landscape Park – Strawczyn, Miedziana Góra, Zzagnańsk and Bliżyn, and Suchedniów lying beyond the county boundary.
- The Sieradowski Landscape Park – Bodzentyn
- The Lisowsko-Orłowiński Landscape Park – Bieliny, Daleszycce, Górno, Łagów, Pierzchnica and Raków
- The Jeleniowski Landscape Park – Łagów, Nowa Słupia
- The Chęcińsko - Kielecki Landscape Park established in 1996 – Chęciny, Piekoszów, Sitkówka – Nowiny
The landscape parks
The landscape parks of the Świętokrzyskie mountains cover the total area of 80 thousand ha; along with the protection zone – over 84 thousand ha. The
25 nature reserves, 104 monuments of nature, 4 nature and landcape complexes, 23 ecological grasslands and many other documentation stations show richness and uniqueness of the natural word of the Świętokrzyskie mountains. The parks became the areas of specilised tourism – qualified (angling, can-eying, horse-riding, hiking, cycling and motoring) and sightseeing tours. In the montane parks the recreation is made easier owing to numerous marked tourist tracks, holiday resorts and various tourist attractions. The most attractive tourist regions of the county are:
- The Klonowskie, Masłowskie, Łysogóry, and Jeleniowskie mountain range
- The Posłowickie, Zgórskie mountain range, the surroundings of the Raj cave and the Red mountains
- The Chęciny region
- The surroundings of Kielce with the reservoirs in Cedzyna and Borków
- The Chańcza reservoir region and others
The Świętokrzyskie Mountains Communes Association
Taking into consideration widely understood ecological protection of the attractive areas of the swiętokrzyskie mountains, the authorities of 9 communes – Bieliny, Bodzentyn, Górno, Łagów, Masłów, Nowa Słupia, Zagnańsk and two communes outside the county – Łączna and Waśniów along with the Świętokrzyskie National Park established the Świętokrzyskie Mountains Communes Association. By protecting nature and investing in the tourist services (ski lift, horse-riding centres, aquatic sports centres etc.) the Association authorities wish to display the landscape and recreation advantages of the region and make it available to tourists. In recent years the interest in county tourism development has increased. Its initiator and coordinator is the Tourist Association of the Świętokrzyskie and Ponidzie Communes, supported from dues of the involved communes. The Association cooperates with the agro-tourist farms, the number of which is around 70 in the county and is still increasing. The village Śladków Mały (within the Chmielnik commune) deserves particular attention as it was the first village to be nominted a tourist village. It was selected and granted aid by the European Union within the confines of the PHAARE-TOURIN project. Several farms received a standard mark and categories consistent with the requirements of the European Union. Owing to thee diligence of the villagers, European aid and various initiatives of the Association, a village once of no tourist significance, has begun to gain profits from tourism all year around. Various canferences are held there. Agro-tourist farms function also in the following communes: Daleszyce, Chęciny, Raków, Bodzentyn, Pierzchnica, Morawica, Łopuszno, Łagów and Masłów.
People , things and places of the Kielce region
The Kielce region can be proud of its beautiful landscapes and precious monuments of the past. On the north-western boundry of the county spreads the main range of thee oldest mountains in Europe, with the highest mountain to the north of the Tatra, Łysica (611 m a.s.l.). To the east of Łysica overlooks the surroundings Łysa Góra (Bare Mountain), according to a legend, for ages remaining under the rule of the pagan deities the mountain has also been a place of withes’ gatherings. Holy Cross along with the Benedictine monastery complex (founded in the 12th century) and a late baroque Holy Cross church (18th ) with some Romanesque traces (12th century) are famous all over Poland. The Benedictine crest – a double cross – is the county crest nowadays. The Benedictine monks has possession of a relic of the Holy Cross, which changed the contemplative character of the monastery into a major pilgrimage destination in the county at the beginning of the 14th century.
Going on pilgrimages to Łysica became common especially in the 15th century.
GAUDE MATER POLONIA
Numerous manuscripts, valuable for the Polish culture, were written in the monastery, e.g. the copy if the Swedish St. Brigida “Revelations”, a great mystic work. The monks were very active preachers. Prior Andrew from Słupia was an outstanding preacher. The monks stayed in contact with Crakow university and priest who were at court. The monastery became the cradle of literature. The famous Łysa Góra songs were written here as well as a series of other religious writings published by Mikołaj Bobowski in the 15th century. Andrew from Słupia wrote one of the masterpieces of medieval poetry, “Listen, dear brethren...”. Well known are the sermons, music and mission works of the monks. From the monastery on Łysa Góra come the oldest Polish monumental writings, the famous “Świętokrzyskie Sermons” of the mid- 14th century. In the vault of the Kielce collegiate church one can admire a collection of beautifully illuminated codices. The oldest of them, dating from 1372, contains the first Polish anthem Gaude Mater Polonia. In Raków, the main Arian (Polish Protestant brethren) centre in the 17th century (printing houses, academies since 1602, protestant church, synods), is situated and early baroque church from the 17th century and the so-called Arian house.
The Kielce region...
Great freedom fighters and writers come from this region. In Strawczyn, a village in the vicinity of Kielce, was born Stefan Żeromski, a great Polish writer devoted with all his heart to the Świętokrzyski region, which was shown in his writing. He praised his “little homeland” and demanded proper care for the Fir Primeval Forest.
Another outstanding literary figure whose roots are in Świślina, nearby Łysogóry, was Witold Gombrowicz. From Kielce towards Italy through the Soviet labour camps began his march Gustaw Herling-Grudziński.
The Reverend Włodzimierz Sedlak worded here on his discoveries and in his works on paleobiochemistry, paleophysics and bioelectronics presented his electromagnetic life source theory.
The country manor in Oblęgorek commemorate the Nobel Prize winner Henryk Sienkiewicz, who received the property as a gift from the Polish people. The old Polish chronicle writers traversed the Świętokrzyski region, Wincenty Kadłubek and Jan Długosz.
The monuments of architecture
Many monuments of architecture have been preserved in the Kielce area. The donjons of a monumental ruined castle from the 13th and 14th centuries tower over Chęciny. Here the kings’ windows spent their last days of life. It is worth visiting the monastery complex and churches from the 14th-18th centuries., and a synagogue from the 17th century. In Bodzentyn as well one can visit the ruined castle of the Cracows’ bishops (14th-18th centuries). Also it is worth seeing the collegiate church (15th, 16th, 17th centuries) with a rich inertior decor. Visiting route includes also little wayside shrines, emerging from the green landscape country manors and little towns with typical marketplaces in the middle. The natural beauty if the region, well taken care of by the inhabitants and the local authorities ( reserves, parks, monuments of nature), magnetizes tourists avid for silence and peaceful rest.
The legendary oak named „Bartek”
On the way from Zagnańsk to Samsonów, in the vicinity of the once massive Fir Primeval Forest, grows the legendary oak named “Bartek”.
In the most famous and oldest tree in the country, according to some researchers over thousand years old. Thus “Bartek” living even a longer life than the history of the Polish state, has been its silent witness.
The surroundings of “Bartek” have a truly historic character. Needless to mention the Holy Cross monastery, the earliest and prior to Jasna Góra national sanctuary; Strawczyn, the birth place of Stefan Żeromski, or famous copper pits in Miedziana Góra and Samsonów with the most valuable monuments of technology in the country, belonging to the Old Polish Industrial Basin, to realize the historical and cultural richnessof the region. The Oak viability is shown by the tree measurements carried out once by foresters now by learned dendrologists. Between WWI and WWII the height of Bartek was estimated at 23.25 m, the circumference of the tree trunk at its foot was 13.40 m. According to measurements carried out in 1993 “Bartek” is 30 m high, the samecircumference at the foot as it had before the war, but 72 cubic meters of tree volume, which is smaller by 10 cubic meters. The diameter of the tree-crown is 40 meters. The etymology of its name dates back to early ages.
A long time ago in the vicinity of “Bartek” wild bees’ built their nests (Polish name: barć), mainly on coniferous trees. Perhaps the bees’ nests were alsopresent in the oak and thus the name was derivedfrom the Polish word: barć. According to Józef Wierzba from Podlasie, a great lover of “Bartek”, it was an old custom to give the name Bartek to wise men.
The contemporary Kielce county
The economic nature of the County is closely linked to its natural resources. Along with the beginning of the industrial development the interest in ore and minerals increased. The Świętokrzyski region became rich in deposits of iron ores, copper, lead, zinc, silver, limestone and quartz. Shafts, adits, workings and buildings (numerous churches) are the traces of the former extraction of minerals.
Nowadays, the ores (deposits) in the Świętokrzyski region have no industrial significance, however other mineral resources are becoming important, which is connected with the development of different industrial branches, after WW II the minerals used in building and road materials production gained cosiderable popularity, such as: limestone, quratz and sandstone.
Within the Kielce county area therre 165 km of national roads, 262 km of provincial roads, 1124.6 km of county roads and approximately 1500 km of communal roads. Three railway lines cross the county area: Warsaw - Cracow, Kielce - Chęstochwa, and Kielce – Busko-Zdrój
In the Masłów commune is located a state-owned airfield covering an area of 73 ha. The airfield has one 900-metre-long and 30-metre-wide runway, which is appropriate for landing of medium-sized passenger planes, with a capacity of thirty.
At the end of 1998 about 23781 thousand telephone subscribers were registered within the county. That gives a ratio of 122 subscribers to 100 inhabitants and an average position in the county.
The project of extending telephone network has not been completed yet, however its range is unknown due to the total information blockade on the part of the Polish Telecommunications Jsc – Telecommunication Plant in Kielce. The Ground Centre for Satellite Services TP Jsc have their headquarters in Psary, the only such establishment in Poland and the most modern in Europe. Their technical background and the staff of engineers make it an active, European cetre for developing new ideas.
Good quality water, taken from the deep well, is supplied to the majority of villages. The water meets all the sanitary requirements and is distributed via a water supply system, with cross connections to each property. All communes are provided with a sewerage system, which collects and carries to the receiving water municipal sewage from households, various institutions and production plants.