Bielsko-Biała is a city located in the Silesian Province in the south of Poland. The city lies at the foot of the Beskid Mountains and it is often referred to as a capital of a region that is informally called Podbeskidzie, which can be translated as Below the Beskids. Additionally, it is the main administrative, industrial and trade center in this part of the province.
Bielsko-Biała was officially formed in 1951 by combining two neighbor towns Bielsko and Biała. However, the history of those two villages goes back to the 12th (Bielsko) and 16th (Biała) centuries. They were both trade centers and settlements of weavers.
By the XIX century, Bielsko was one of the largest industrial centers in the Austro-Hungarian Empires (for 123 years, up to 1919, Poland ceased to exist as a result of being partitioned by the neighboring states). Textile production and numerous related industries is what brought power and economic independence to the city. Even now, Bielsko-Biała has a high position on varius lists that rank the most economically developed Polish cities. With booming industries and services, and low unemployment rate the city is standing strong.
Throughout the centuries characteristic features of Bielsko-Biała was multiculturalism and religious diversity. Poles, Germans and Jews lived alongside and worked together towards creating their city. Unfortunately most of it was lost during the World War II.
Nevertheless, Bielsko-Biała still has one of the largest Protestant population in Poland and being situated at the border of two culturally diverse Polish provinces Silesia and Małopolska, and close to the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the city has a blend of a rather unique culture. As a result, various traditions, diverse cuisine and numerous annual events are testimonies of this cultural diversity.
Surrounding mountains and green areas are additional assets, making the city an attractive base for tourists. Skiing, hiking, mountain biking are only examples of outdoor activities available to visitors. For that reasons, Bielsko-Biała offers a unique combination of nature inspired activities and comforts of the urban facilities.
Movie by Tomasz Walczak
The name Bielsko-Biała
The name Bielsko-Biała derives from the river Biała that separates two towns. Both names are a form of the word ‘white’. In the past centuries the German name Bielitz was also in use.
Is it Biala or Biała? What’s wrong with the letter l in the name Biała?
The Polish alphabet, above the standard Latin one, has additional 9 letters with diacritics. Letter ł or Ł is one of them. It is basically ‘l’ with a stroke. It should be pronounced as letter ‘w’ in the word will.