History of the city

History of the city

Bielsko-Biała as a city has had its name since the first of January 1951 when officialy two places merged together which were located on opposite banks of the river Biała that was also theborder between Śląsk and Małopolska.


Coming before this is a long process of history. In the nineteenth century, two cities from different backgrounds were lead to the establishment of one integrated economy because they were from the same region. To understand this history and culture, we must remember the situation of the river, which from 1457, through many centuries, was a national border. Bielsko, the older city (from the 14th century), was a part of the Czech Kingdom, and later, from 1526, it became a part of the Franco-Habsburg Dynasty. Małopolska Biała at the beginning was a small hamlet, part of the village Lipnik; it was situated on the west frontier of Poland. After the First Partition in 1772, Biała was also situated in Austria, in a newly established province – Galicia. Just in 1918 both cities came back into the re-formed Republic of Poland. Bielsko having been removed from Polish authority in for six centuries.
The characteristic of the people of Bielsko-Biała and its surroundings before World War II was multinational. Together, the Polish, German and Jewish lived, and it was also possible to findMorawian, Czech, Hungarian, end even Italian. All these nationalities contributed elements of their culture, and created, in this way, a specific melting pot of nations. Most of the people used the German language, in this language there existed many Polish and Jewish words, but on the other side, people in the villages spoke Polish mixed with colloquial German.

The Protestant denomination had a strong influence on this region which from one side was dividing the local people and from another side was creating a very strong belief in the power of thought and the ethics of work which contributed to the economical strength of this city on theBiała. In the nineteenth century, the Catholic and Protestant churches were joined by Jewishsynagogues and houses of prayer.
The character of the city decided the development of the production of materials for makingclothing that started in Bielsko in the sixteenth century. One hundred years later, guilds came together on the Polish side in Biała. From the biginning of the nineteenth century, these guilds declined until they no longer existed because of the initiation of factories. They were completely discontinuedfrom the end of the last century. Until the time after World War II, the wool industry that belonged to the Bielsko-Biała region, was the biggest in this area of Europe.

In spite of a strong economical connection with the Polish region of centuries, the social and political conditions of Bielsko were influenced by the culture under the authority of Czech and Austria. After 1772, it was a characteristic phenomenon for Biała (Galicia Region) as well. This process wasespecially stronger in the second half of the nineteenth century when cultural patterns were broughtfrom the capital of Austria, Vienna. Evidence of this period can be found to this day in the architecture and the specific atmosphere of the cities, which was the same as those found in the ancientAustria – Hungarian monarchy.

The Second World War mainly changed the foundamental appearance of the city, and cancelled completely the multinational environment, also breaking many centuries of cultural connections as well as blotting out the background of its history.