Kielce is a city of over 900 years of history. The bloom of the city took place in the 15th and 16th century, when Kielce became the administrative centre of the region. Kielce is a voivodship city, located in the southern part of the central Poland. It is the capital city of the Świętokrzyski region, the regional centre of economy, science, tourism, and trade fairs. The city has 200,938 inhabitants.
Multiethnicity of the city
Multiethnicity in Kielce dates back to Jewish settlements. Before World War II Jews made up one third of the city population. After the war Kielce were inhabited mainly by Poles. The situation started to change at the beginning of the 1990s, when citizens of the former USSR, mainly Armenians and Russians, began to come to the city. Currently, there are two or three thousand foreigners (e.g. a large group of Ukrainians, Armenians and Bulgarians) living in Kielce. This number is steadily growing.
The so called dialect of Kielce are characteristic of the speech in this region. It is used by the inhabitants of the southern and central parts of the region. Although the dialect contains some words that cannot be found in other Polish dialects, the language does not differ much from the official Polish language.
The city can be characterised by a significant difference in levels – from 260 to 408 metres above sea level (the highest point: Telegraf, the lowest place – the valley of the Silnica River).Kielce is located in the valley, surrounded by e.g. the peaks Telegraf and Karczówka, the hills of Zagórze and the estate Osiedle na Stoku. They are located on the area of one of the oldest mountain ranges in Europe – the Świętokrzyskie Mountains. There are five nature reserves in Kielce, including four geological reserves. Within the city, there are two mountain ranges: the Kadzielniańskie Range and the Dymińskie Range. The city is crossed by the small Silnica River, which is the right tributary of the Bobrza River. There is a number of animate and inanimate nature reserves, e.g. Kadzielnia, Karczówka, Ślichowice, Wietrznia, Biesak-Białogon. Moreover, administrative borders of the city include a substantial part of the Chęcińsko-Kielecki Landscape Park.
The legend about the founding of Kielce and the ethymology of the name
The legend about the founding of Kielce connects the fact with the name of prince Mieszko, son of the king Bolesław the Bold. Over 900 years ago, in the place where now the city is located, there were impassable forests, full of game, which attracted the hunters. One of them was prince Mieszko. Once, while chasing the game, he lost his companions; he reached an unknown glade and weary, fell asleep in the grass. In his dream, he was attacked by bandits, who tried to poison him. Once he was losing his strength, he saw Saint Wojciech (Adalbert of Prague), who raised his crosier and drew a winding path which turned into a stream of water. Mieszko woke up and noticed a source nearby. The water was tasty and clear, just like in his dream. He felt a surge of strength and quickly found his retinue. Leaving the glade, Mieszko noticed huge white tusks of an unknown animal, probably wild boar. He promised to build a town and a church there. Shortly afterwards, the town was built in the heart of the forest. The Church of Saint Wojciech was built on the glade, and the stream whose water restored the prince’s strength was named Silnica (Polish “siła” = strength). The town was named Kiełce in remembrance of the mysterious tusks that were found on the glade (Polish “kieł” = a tusk). Over time, the name transformed into Kielce.
Religious associations in Kielce
Religious associations that are active in Kielce are Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox churches, Buddhist religious association and Jehova’s Witnesses.