Bia%C5%82ystok
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Bia%C5%82ystok

Bia?ystok
Bia?ystok.jpg
flag of the city [1]
Flag
seal of the city [1]
Seal
shield of the city [1]
Coat of arms
Bia?ystok is located in Poland
Bia?ystok
Bia?ystok
Bia?ystok is located in Podlaskie Voivodeship
Bia?ystok
Bia?ystok
Coordinates: 53°08?07?N 23°08?44?E / 53.13528°N 23.14556°E / 53.13528; 23.14556Coordinates: 53°08?07?N 23°08?44?E / 53.13528°N 23.14556°E / 53.13528; 23.14556
Country Poland
Voivodeship Podlaskie
Countycity county
Established1437
Town rights1692
Districts
Government
 o MayorTadeusz Truskolaski[2] (PO)
Area
 o City102.12 km2 (39.43 sq mi)
Highest elevation
160 m (520 ft)
Lowest elevation
120 m (390 ft)
Population
(31 December 2018)
 o Urban
297,338 Increase (10th)[3]
 o Metro
430,000
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 o Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
15-001
Area code(s)+48 85
Car platesBI
Websitewww.bialystok.pl
Rising bialystok.jpg

Bia?ystok (,[4],[5][6][7]Polish: [bja'w?st?k] ; Belarusian: , romanizedBielastok, pronounced [b?eä's?tk]; Lithuanian: Balstog?) is the largest city in northeastern Poland and the capital of the Podlaskie Voivodeship. Bia?ystok is the tenth-largest city in Poland, second in terms of population density, and thirteenth in area.

Bia?ystok is located in the Bia?ystok Uplands of the Podlaskie Plain on the banks of the Bia?a River. It has historically attracted migrants from elsewhere in Poland and beyond, particularly from Central and Eastern Europe. This is facilitated by the nearby border with Belarus also being the eastern border of the European Union, as well as the Schengen Area. The city and its adjacent municipalities constitute Metropolitan Bia?ystok. The city has a warm summer continental climate, characterized by warm summers and long frosty winters. Forests are an important part of Bia?ystok's character, and occupy around 1,756 ha (4,340 acres) (17.2% of the administrative area of the city) which places it as the fifth-most forested city in Poland.

The first settlers arrived in the 14th century. A town grew up and received its municipal charter in 1692. Bia?ystok has traditionally been one of the leading centers of academic, cultural, and artistic life in Podlachia and the most important economic center in northeastern Poland. Bia?ystok was once an important center for light industry, which was the reason for the substantial growth of the city's population. The city continues to reshape itself into a modern metropolis. Bia?ystok, in 2010, was on the short-list, but ultimately lost the competition, to become a finalist for European Capital of Culture in 2016.

Etymology

The English translation of Bia?ystok is "white slope".[8] Due to changing borders and demographics over the centuries, the city has been known as Belarusian: (Byelastok?, Bie?astok?[b?e?a'stok]), Yiddish: ‎ (Byalistok, Bjalistok), Lithuanian: Baltstog?, Balstog?, and Russian: (Byelostok).

Linguist A. P. Nepokupnyj proposes that the language source for Bia?ystok is Yotvingian. Names with the -stok suffix as a second element of a hydronym are localized in the basin of the upper Narew.[9]

History

Branicki Palace, also known as the "Polish Versailles".

Archaeological discoveries show that the first settlements in the area of present-day Bia?ystok occurred during the Stone Age. Tombs of ancient settlers can be found in the district of Dojlidy.[10] In the early Iron Age, people settled in the area producing kurgans, the tombs of the chiefs in the area located in the current village of Rosto?ty.[11] Since then, the Bia?ystok area has been at the crossroads of cultures. Trade routes linking the Baltic to the Black Sea favored the development of settlements with Yotvingia-Ruthenian-Polish cultural characteristics.[11]

The city of Bia?ystok has existed for five centuries and during this time the fate of the city has been affected by various political and economic forces.

Surviving documents attest that around 1437 a representative of the Raczków family, Jakub Tabutowicz of the coat of arms ?ab?d?, received from Michael ?ygimantaitis son of Sigismund K?stutaitis, Duke of Lithuania, a wilderness area along the river Bia?a that marked the beginning of Bia?ystok as a settlement.[12][13] Bia?ystok administratively was part of the Podlaskie Voivodeship, after 1569 also part of the Lesser Poland Province of the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland.

From 1547, the settlement was owned by the Wiesio?owski family, which founded the first school.[14] The first brick church and a castle were built between 1617 and 1826. The two-floor castle, designed on a rectangular plan in the Gothic-Renaissance style, was the work of Job Bretfus [pl]. Extension of the castle was continued by Krzysztof Wiesio?owski, starost of Tykocin, Grand Marshal of Lithuania since 1635, and husband of Aleksandra Marianna Sobieska.[15] In 1637 he died childless, and as a result Bia?ystok came under the management of his widow. After her death in 1645 the Wiesio?owski estate, including Bia?ystok, passed to the Crown to cover the costs of maintaining Tykocin Castle. In the years 1645-1659 Bia?ystok was managed by the starosts of Tykocin.[15][16]

Garden of the Branicki Palace in the 18th century

In 1661 it was given to Stefan Czarniecki as a reward for his service in the victory over the Swedes during the Deluge. Four years later, it was given as a dowry of his daughter Aleksandra, who married Marshal of the Crown Court Jan Klemens Branicki, thus passing into the hands of the Branicki family.[17][18] In 1692, Stefan Miko?aj Branicki [pl], the son of Jan Klemens Branicki, obtained city rights for Bia?ystok from King John III Sobieski. He constructed the Branicki Palace on the foundations of the castle of the Wiesio?owski family.[19] In the first half of the eighteenth century the ownership of the city was inherited by Field Crown Hetman Jan Klemens Branicki.[8] It was he who transformed the palace built by his father into a magnificent residence of a great noble,[20][21] which was frequently visited by Polish kings and poets.[22] In 1745 the first military technical school in Poland was founded in Bia?ystok,[23] and in 1748, one of the oldest theaters in Poland, the Komedialnia, was founded in the city.[24] New schools were established, including a ballet school in connection with the foundation of the theater.[25] In 1749, King Augustus III of Poland extended the city limits.[14] In 1770, under the auspices of Izabella Poniatowska, a midwifery school was founded, based on which the Institute of Obstetrics was established in 1805.[23]

One of the former textile factories, now a shopping mall

The end of the eighteenth century saw the division of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, in three steps, among the neighboring states. The Kingdom of Prussia acquired Bia?ystok and the surrounding region during the third partition. The city became the capital of the New East Prussia province in 1795.[26] Prussia lost the territory following Napoleon Bonaparte's victory in the War of the Fourth Coalition as the resultant 1807 Treaties of Tilsit awarded the area to the Russian Empire, which organized the region into the Belostok Oblast,[27] with the city as the regional center.[28] Schooling and higher learning in Bia?ystok, which was intensively developed in the 18th century, was stopped as a result of partitions.[23] Later in the 19th century, Bia?ystok grew into a significant center of the textile industry, the largest after ?ód? in then-partitioned Poland. In 1862 a railway connection was launched, connecting Bia?ystok with Warsaw, Grodno, Wilno and Saint Petersburg. After the failed November and January uprisings, Russification policies and anti-Polish repressions intensified, and after 1870 a ban on the use of Polish in public places was introduced.[22]

At the end of the nineteenth century, as a result of the influx due to Russian discriminatory regulations, the majority of the city's population was Jewish. According to Russian census of 1897, out of the total population of 66,000, Jews constituted 41,900 (so around 63% percent).[29] This heritage can be seen on the Jewish Heritage Trail in Bia?ystok.[30] The Bia?ystok pogrom occurred between 14-16 June 1906 in the city. During the pogrom between 81 and 88 people were killed by the Russians, and about 80 people were wounded.[31][32][33]

Monument to soldiers of the 1st Legions Infantry Regiment who died in the Battle of Bia?ystok in 1920, Antoniuk district

The first Anarchist groups to attract a significant following of Russian workers or peasants, were the Anarcho-Communist Chernoe-Znamia groups, founded in Bia?ystok in 1903.[34][35]

Józef Pi?sudski's visit to Bia?ystok in 1921

During World War I the Bialystok-Grodno District was the administrative division of German-controlled territory of Ober-Ost. It comprised the city, as the capital, and the surrounding Podlaskie region, roughly corresponding to the territory of the earlier Belostok Oblast.[36][37] At the end of World War I the city became part of the newly independent Second Polish Republic, as the capital of the Bia?ystok Voivodeship (1919-1939).[38] During the 1919-1920 Polish-Soviet War, possession of the city by the Red Army and the Provisional Polish Revolutionary Committee occurred during the lead up to the Battle of Warsaw. During the resultant counteroffensive, the city returned to Polish control after the Battle of Bia?ystok.

Bia?ystok in the interbellum

After the wars and the reestablishment of independent Poland, Polish education in Bia?ystok was restored and the textile industry was revived.[22] A municipal public library was established, sports clubs were founded, including Jagiellonia Bia?ystok, and in the 1930s a dramatic theater was built.[22]

With the beginning of World War II, Poland was invaded by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, and initially the city came under Soviet occupation, as a result of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. It was incorporated into the Byelorussian SSR from 1939 to 1941 as the capital of Belastok Region.[39][40] Polish people were subject to deportations deep into the USSR (Siberia, Kazakhstan, Far North).[41] After the Nazi attack on Soviet Union in 1941, Bia?ystok was occupied by the German Army on 27 June 1941, during the Battle of Bia?ystok-Minsk, and the city became the capital of Bezirk Bia?ystok, a separate region in German occupied Poland, until 1944.[42][43] The Great Synagogue was burnt down by Germans on June 27, 1941, with an estimated number of 2,000 Jews inside.

From the very beginning, the Nazis pursued a ruthless policy of pillage and removal of the non-German population. The 56,000 Jewish residents of the town were confined in a ghetto.[44] On August 15, 1943, the Bia?ystok Ghetto Uprising began, and several hundred Polish Jews and members of the Anti-Fascist Military Organisation (Polish: Antyfaszystowska Organizacja Bojowa) started an armed struggle against the German troops who were carrying out the planned liquidation of the ghetto with deportations to the Treblinka extermination camp.[45]

The city fell under the control of the Red Army on 27 July 1944 and on 20 September 1944 transferred to Poland. After the war, the city became capital of the initial Bia?ystok Voivodeship (1945-1975) of the People's Republic of Poland.[46][47][48] After the 1975 administrative reorganization, the city was the capital of the smaller Bia?ystok Voivodeship (1975-1998).[49] Since 1999 it has been the capital of the Podlaskie Voivodeship, Republic of Poland.[49]

Geography

the Biala River near the city
Bia?a River near Bia?ystok

Bia?ystok is situated in the Bia?ystok Uplands (Polish: Wysoczyzna Bia?ostocka) of the Podlaskie Plain (Polish: Nizina Pó?nocnopodlaska), part of what is known collectively as the Green Lungs of Poland.[50][51] It is the biggest Polish city close to Belarus and Lithuania. The Bia?a River, a left tributary of the Supra?l River, passes through the city. The landscape of the Bia?ystok Upland is diverse, with high moraine hills and kame in excess of 200 m (660 ft) above sea level. Vast areas of outwash, a glacial plain formed of sediments deposited by meltwater at the terminus of a glacier, are covered by forests.[51]

Forests are an important part of the city character, they currently occupy approximately 1,756 ha (4,340 acres) (17.2% of the administrative area of the city) which places it as the fifth most "wooded" city in Poland; behind Katowice (38%), Bydgoszcz (30%), Toru? (22.9%) and Gda?sk (17.6%).[52]

Part of Knyszyn Forest is preserved within the city limits by two nature reserves--a total area of 105 ha (260 acres).[53] The Zwierzyniecki Forest Nature Reserve (Polish: Rezerwat przyrody Las Zwierzyniecki), which is contained within the city limits, is a fragment, 33.48 ha (82.7 acres), of the riparian forest with a dominant assemblage of oak and hornbeam.[54] The Antoniuk Nature Reserve (Polish: Rezerwat Przyrody Antoniuk) is a 70.07 ha (173.1 acres) park in the city that preserves the natural state of a forest fragment characteristic of the Bia?ystok Upland, with a dominant mixed forest of hazel and spruce.[55]

The 40 ha (99 acres) of forests lying in the vicinity of the Dojlidy Ponds are administered by the Central Sports and Recreation Center in Bia?ystok (Polish: Miejski O?rodek Sportu i Rekreacji w Bia?ymstoku - MOSiR). The Dojlidy Ponds recreation area includes a public beach, walking trails, birdwatching and fishing.[56]

Climate

The city has a mild-summer continental or hemiboreal climate (Dfb) according to the Köppen climate classification system, characterized by warm temperatures during summer and long and frosty winters.[57] It is substantially different from most of the other Polish lowlands.[57] The region is one of the coldest in Poland, with the average temperature in January being -3.7 °C (25 °F).[57] The average temperature in a year is about 7 °C (45 °F).[57] The number of frost days ranges from 50 to 60, with frost from 110 to 138 days and the duration of snow cover from 90 to 110 days.[57] Mean annual rainfall values oscillate around 567 mm (22.3 in), and the vegetation period lasts 200 to 210 days.[57]

Climate data for Bia?ystok, 1980-2012 normals
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 12.0
(53.6)
16.4
(61.5)
20.0
(68.0)
27.8
(82.0)
31.1
(88.0)
32.6
(90.7)
36.1
(97.0)
35.2
(95.4)
31.1
(88.0)
23.9
(75.0)
17.2
(63.0)
13.9
(57.0)
36.1
(97.0)
Average high °C (°F) -1.0
(30.2)
-0.2
(31.6)
4.9
(40.8)
12.4
(54.3)
18.4
(65.1)
21.4
(70.5)
23.2
(73.8)
22.6
(72.7)
17.4
(63.3)
11.5
(52.7)
4.5
(40.1)
0.3
(32.5)
11.3
(52.3)
Daily mean °C (°F) -3.7
(25.3)
-3.4
(25.9)
0.7
(33.3)
7.0
(44.6)
12.4
(54.3)
15.7
(60.3)
17.6
(63.7)
16.9
(62.4)
12.3
(54.1)
7.4
(45.3)
2.0
(35.6)
-2.2
(28.0)
6.9
(44.4)
Average low °C (°F) -6.4
(20.5)
-6.6
(20.1)
-3.5
(25.7)
1.6
(34.9)
6.4
(43.5)
9.9
(49.8)
11.9
(53.4)
11.1
(52.0)
7.1
(44.8)
3.3
(37.9)
-0.5
(31.1)
-4.6
(23.7)
2.5
(36.4)
Record low °C (°F) -34.6
(-30.3)
-31.1
(-24.0)
-23.6
(-10.5)
-8.0
(17.6)
-5.0
(23.0)
-0.2
(31.6)
-1.1
(30.0)
0.1
(32.2)
-5.1
(22.8)
-11.1
(12.0)
-19.3
(-2.7)
-29.0
(-20.2)
-34.6
(-30.3)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 22.0
(0.87)
26.9
(1.06)
29.8
(1.17)
36.9
(1.45)
60.3
(2.37)
67.9
(2.67)
80.3
(3.16)
54.4
(2.14)
59.1
(2.33)
51.2
(2.02)
44.1
(1.74)
34.3
(1.35)
567.2
(22.33)
Average precipitation days 11.3 11.2 10.8 10.5 10.6 12.2 13.1 10.4 11.4 10.2 12.2 14.1 138
Average rainy days 7 7 8 9 7 8 8 7 8 9 9 6 93
Average snowy days 9 10 7 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 7 41
Average relative humidity (%) 90 90 80 70 70 75 75 75 85 85 90 95 82
Mean monthly sunshine hours 36.1 58.0 124.6 190.1 252.6 255.3 258.0 250.7 158.6 96.1 36.5 24.5 1,741.6
Source: WeatherBase,[58] Climatebase.ru[59] and meteoblue.com[60]

City layout

Bialystok is built in a round shape, centered around the old city Church Square and Branicki Palace. Originally, the city's territory was around 50 hectares. Throughout the years it expanded and accumulated nearby villages: In the mid eighteenth century Bojary which was located on the right bank of the Biala River was incorporated to it. On May 10, 1919, in according with the decision of the Sejm, Bialostoczek, Horodniany, Zwierzyniec-Letnisko, Starosielce, S?oboda (which was founded at the end of the 17th century, between the current Pogodna and ?wierkowa Streets), Ogrodniki, Pieczurki, Wysoki Stoczek were incorporated also, as well as too mill villages Marczuk and Antoniuk. By the onset of World War II the city's territory amounted to 40km².[62] The reconstruction of the city following the end of World War II and establishment of the People's Republic of Poland saw further expansion: The villages Bacieczki, Bacieczki Kolonia, Korycin and part of the village Klepacze, Krupniki, Fasty, Za?cianki and Zawady were incorporated to the city. The 70s saw another wave of expansion with the villages of Bagnówka, area of Zak?ady Silikatowe, areas of state forests, Dojlidy ponds and orthodox cementery Dojlidy. At the onset of the millennium, in 2002, the village Zawady was included in the city's limits and in the last enlargement, in 2006, the villages Dojlidy Górne, Zagórki and Kolonia Halickie were incorporated and the city has reached its current territory of 102km².[63]

Districts

One of the remaining tenements in Centrum, the central district of Bia?ystok

The city of Bia?ystok is divided into 28 administrative units, known in Polish as osiedla.[64][65] The first 27 of these were created on October 25, 2004.[64] The 28th, Dojlidy Górne, was created by on October 23, 2006, out of three settlements which had been incorporated into the city: Dojlidy Górne, Kolonia Halickie, and Zagórki.[64]

The center of the city, Osiedle Centrum, surrounds Lipowa Street [pl], the main street of the city. Lipowa Street extends from Rynek Ko?ciuszki (the corner of Spó?dzielcza Street) to Plac Niepodleg?o?ci im. Romana Dmowskiego (the corner of Krakowska Street).[66] Over the centuries the name of this street has taken on a number of different names; Choroska, Nowolipie, Lipowa, Józef Pi?sudski, Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, once again, to return, after the end of World War II, to its original name - Lipowa Street.

A public square dedicated to Constantine the Great

The city covers 10,212 ha (25,230 acres) of which 3,210 ha (7,900 acres) is agricultural land, 4,889 ha (12,080 acres) is urbanized areas, 85 ha (210 acres) is surface waters and 65 ha (160 acres) is wasteland.[67] The composition of the districts vary from residential near the city center, with a combination of multi-story apartment buildings and individual houses on small parcels, to industrial and agricultural at the city edges.[67]

Metropolitan Bia?ystok

Metropolitan Bia?ystok was designated by the Voivodeship of the Regulation No. 52/05 of 16 May 2005 [68] to help develop the region economically. In 2006, the metropolitan area population was 450,254 inhabitants.[69] The municipalities adjacent to Bia?ystok are slowly losing their agricultural character, becoming residential suburban neighborhoods with single-family housing and small businesses.[70]

Demographics

In June 2009, the population of the city was 294,399.[70] Among the cities of Poland, Bia?ystok is second in terms of population density, tenth in population, and thirteenth in area.[71] Historically, Bia?ystok has been a destination for internal and foreign immigration, especially from Central and Eastern Europe. In addition to the Polish minority, there was formerly a Jewish majority in Bia?ystok. The Jewish share in the population of Bia?ystok grew from 22.4% (761) in 1765 to 66.6% (6,000) in 1808 and 76% (47,783) in 1895.[72] According to the Russian census of 1897, out of the total population of 66,000, Jews constituted 41,900 (around 63% percent).[29] According to the German census of 1916, Jews comprised about 72% of the inhabitants (no less than 40,000). The demographic situation changed due to the influx of Polish repatriants, intelligentsia and civil servants, the outflow of Jews, and the enlargement of the city after the World War I.[72] According to the 1931 census, the population of Bia?ystok totalled 91,101: 45.5% (41,493) Roman Catholics, 43% (39,165) Jews (by religion), and 8.2% (7,502) Eastern Orthodox believers.[73][74]

In 1936, Bia?ystok had a population of 99,722, of whom: 50.9% (50,758) were Poles, 42.6% (42,482) Jews, 2.1% (2,094) Germans and 0.4% (359) Russians; 46.6% (45,474) adhered to the Catholic religion, 43% (42,880) to Judaism, 8.2% (8,177) to Eastern Orthodoxy and 2.9% (2,892) to Evangelicalism.[72] World War II changed all of this: in 1939, around 107,000 people lived in Bia?ystok,[75] but by 1946, the population had dropped to 56,759, with much less ethnic diversity than it had had previously.[44] Currently the city's population is 97% Polish, 2.5% Belarusian and 0.5% of a number of minorities including Russians, Lipka Tatars, Ukrainians and Romani.[76] Most of the modern-day population growth is based on internal migration within Poland and urbanization of surrounding areas.[76]

Governance

City government

Bia?ystok, like other major cities in Poland, is a city county (Polish: Miasto na prawach powiatu).[77] The Legislative power in the city is vested in the unicameral Bia?ystok City Council (Polish: Rada Miasta), which has 28 members.[78] Council members are elected directly every four years, one of whom is the mayor, or President of Bia?ystok (Polish: prezydent).[78] Like most legislative bodies, the City Council divides itself into committees which have the oversight of various functions of the city government.[78] Bills passed by a simple majority are sent to the mayor, who may sign them into law.[78] If the mayor vetoes a bill, the Council has 30 days to override the veto by a two-thirds majority vote.[78] The current President of Bia?ystok, elected for his first term in 2006, is Tadeusz Truskolaski won the elections as the Civic Platform's candidate, however, he has no official connection with the party. In the first round of the elections he received 49% of the votes (42,889 votes altogether). In the later runoff he defeated his rival candidate Marek Kozlowski from Law and Justice (Polish: Prawo i Sprawiedliwo), receiving 67% of the votes cast (53,018 votes).[79]

For the 2010-2011 fiscal year the city received revenue (taxes levied + investments) of 1,409,565,525 z?, expended 1,676,459,102 z? leaving a budget deficit of 266,893,577 z?.[80] The deficit was covered by short-term borrowing of 166,893,577 z? and the issuance of 100 million z? in municipal bonds.[80]

District Court in Bia?ystok

Other levels of governmental representation
It is also the seat of government for the Podlaskie Voivodeship.[81] The city is represented by several members of both houses of the Polish Parliament (Sejm and Senat) from the Bia?ystok constituency.[82] Bia?ystok is represented by the Podlaskie and Warmian-Masurian constituency of the European Parliament.[83][84]

International relations

There are two consulates in Bia?ystok, Belarus has a Consulate General and Romania has an Honorary Consulate.[85] The City of Bia?ystok is a member of several organizations such as Union of Polish Metropolises (Polish: Unia Metropolii Polskich),[86] Euroregion Niemen,[87][88] Polish Green Lungs Foundation,[89] and Eurocities.[90]

Bia?ystok is twinned with Cz?stochowa, Poland, Dijon, France,[91][92]Eindhoven, Netherlands, Hrodno, Belarus, Jelgava, Latvia, Kaliningrad, Russia Kaunas, Lithuania, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, USA,[93] and Tallinn, Estonia.[94]

Military units

Military Drafting Office located in the historical Nowik Palace

The 18th Reconnaissance Regiment (Polish: 18 Pu?k Rozpoznawczy) of the Polish Land Forces is based in Bia?ystok. The heritage of the unit was the former 18th Territorial Defense Battalion (Polish: 18 Bia?ostocka Brygada Obrony Terytorialnej) and prior to that the former 18th Mechanized Brigade.[95] December 31, 2001, as a result of the restructuring of the Armed Forces, 18th Mechanized Brigade (Polish: 18 Brygada Zmechanizowana) was disbanded and in its place created the 18th Territorial Defense Battalion (Polish: 18 Bia?ostocka Brygada Obrony Terytorialnej).[95]

During December 1993 an order of the Chief of the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces created the 18th Mechanized Brigade (Polish: 18 Brygada Zmechanizowana) at the garrison in Bia?ystok.[95] The unit was formed from the 3rd Mechanized Regiment (Polish: 3 Pu?k Zmechanizowany) and was subordinated to the commander of the 1st Warsaw Mechanized Division (Polish: 1 Warszawskiej Dywizji Zmechanizowanej im. Tadeusza Ko?ciuszki).[95] On December 31, 2001, as a result of the restructuring of the Armed Forces, the 18th Mechanized Brigade was disbanded and in its place was created the 18th Territorial Defense Battalion.[95]

The Podlaska Cavalry Brigade (Polish: Podlaska Brygada Kawalerii) was a military unit of the Polish Army, created on April 1, 1937.[96][97] Its headquarters was located in Bia?ystok and operated as part of Independent Operational Group Narew.[97] It was formed from the Cavalry Brigade "Bia?ystok", which existed between February 1929, and March 30, 1937.[96] After the Soviet invasion of Poland, remnants of the Brigade fought both Wehrmacht and Red Army troops, capitulating on October 6, 1939.[97]

The Cavalry Brigade "Bia?ystok" (BK "Bia?ystok") of the Polish Army Second Republic was formed in February 1929. April 1, 1937 BK "Bia?ystok" was renamed the Podlaska Cavalry Brigade.[96]

Economy

High-rise building in the city center

In the nineteenth century Bia?ystok was an important center for light industry, which was the reason for the substantial growth of the city's population. The tradition continued with many garment factories established in the twentieth century, such as Fasty in the district of Bacieczki. However, after the fall of communism in 1989 many of these factories faced severe problems and subsequently closed down.

The unemployment rate for February 2011 in Bia?ystok was 13.2%.[98] The 2009 average household had a monthly per capita income of 1018.77 z? [99] and monthly per capita expenses of 823.56 z?[100]

The city has a number of nearby border crossings.[101] The border with Belarus is only 50 km (31 mi) away, the nearest border crossings are located in; Bobrowniki (road crossing located about 50 km (31 mi) from the city limits), Ku?nica Bia?ostocka (road and rail crossing located 60 km (37 mi) from the city limits), Siemianówka (railway - freight traffic), Po?owce (road) and Czeremcha (railway).[101] Since the border with Belarus is also the eastern border of the European Union, as well as the Schengen Area the city is a center for trade in mainly from the east.[101]

grain silos
Silos of Podlaskie Zak?ady Zbo?owe (Podlaskie Cereal Industrial Plants)
The bison grass vodka called "?ubrówka" is made in Bia?ystok at the Polmos Factory

The leading industries in the city's economy are: food processing (production of meat products, fruit and vegetable products, the production of spirits, the production of frozen food, grain processing), electrical engineering (production tools and equipment for machine tools, production of electric heaters, manufacture and production mixers household appliances).[101] There is also a developed machine industry (electronics, machinery and metal), plastic processing (production of household appliances), textiles (textiles and upholstery, manufacture of underwear, clothing accessories, footwear and backpacks), Wood (production plywood and furniture) building materials.[101]

Some major employers who are based in Bia?ystok include:

  • Dojlidy Brewery in the district of Dojlidy produces the second most popular beer in Poland, ?ubr.[102]
  • Polmos Bia?ystok, the biggest vodka manufacturer in Poland, is located in the city district of Starosielce.[103] The company produces Absolwent and ?ubrówka (bison grass vodka) - both major exports abroad.[103]
  • Standard Motor Products Poland Ltd. headquartered in Bia?ystok began manufacturing ignition coils for original equipment manufacturers 30 years ago.[104]
  • "Supon" Bia?ystok is the leading Polish producer of fire fighting equipment.[105]
  • SavaPol, Sp.z o.o. is a manufacturer of stationary and mobile concrete mixing equipment based in Bia?ystok.[106]
  • Biazet S.A. is a large manufacture of household appliances, including vacuum cleaners, coffee makers, and LED lighting located in Bia?ystok.[107]
  • Agnella, a major Polish producer of carpets and similar products is in Bia?ystok, located in the district of Bia?ostoczek.[108]
  • Rosti Poland Sp. z o.o., has provided for more than 60 years precision injection molded products for some of the world's leading brands.[109]
  • Biaglass Huta Szkla Bia?ystok Sp. z o.o., established in 1929, produces mouth blown glass lampshades and related products. Biaglass belongs to elite group of Glass Works in Europe, where 100% of the lighting glass is mouth-blown.[110]
  • Ch?odnia Bia?ystok S.A (Cold Store Bia?ystok S.A.), established in 1952, is one of the largest Polish producers of frozen vegetables, fruits and ready-to-heat meals.[111]
  • Podlaskie Zak?ady Zbo?owe S.A. was established on 1 July 2000 as a result of privatizing The Regional Establishment of Corn and Milling Industry 'PZZ' in Bia?ystok. It is one of the leading firms in Podlaskie region in the department of preservation and processing of grain with elevators in Bia?ystok, Grajewo and Suwa?ki.[112]

Culture and tourism

the front steps of the theater
Interior of the Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic

Bia?ystok is one of the largest cultural centers in the Podlaskie Voivodeship. The attractions include performing arts groups, art museums, historical museums, walking tours of architectural / cultural aspects and a wide variety of parks and green spaces. Bia?ystok in 2010 was on the short-list, but ultimately lost the competition, to become a finalist for European Capital of Culture in 2016.[113]

Performing arts

The city has a number of performing arts facilities including:

The Bia?ystok Puppet Theater (Polish: Bialostocki Teatr Lalek), established in 1953, is one of the oldest Polish puppet theaters.[114] The facility is located at Kalinowskiego 1 in Bia?ystok. The repertoire includes performances for both children and puppet adaptations of world literature for adults.[114] Because of the high artistic level of productions, the theater has been recognized as one of the best puppetry arts centers in Poland.[114]

The Aleksandra W?gierki Drama Theatre, housed in a building designed by Jaros?aw Girina, was built in the years 1933-1938.[115]

The Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic - European Art Centre in Bia?ystok is the largest institute of arts in Northeastern Poland, and the most modern cultural center in this region of Europe. In its amphitheatre every year in the end of June Halfway Festival takes place.[116]

Museums

Historical Museum

There are a number of museums in the city including:

The Historical Museum in Bia?ystok (Polish: Muzeum Historyczne w Bia?ymstoku) is part of the Podlaskie Museum.[117] The facility has a rich collection of archival materials and iconography illustrating the history of Bia?ystok and Podlasie, and a number of middle-class cultural relics, especially in the field of craft utility.[117] There are also the Numismatic Cabinet of the collection of 16 000 coins, medals and securities.[117] The museum is in possession of the only collections in the country memorabilia connected with the Tatar settlement on the Polish-Lithuanian-Belarusian region.[117]

The Army Museum in Bia?ystok (Polish: Muzeum Wojska w Bia?ymstoku) was established in September 1968 as a branch of the Podlaskie Museum to house the research and collections of many people connected with military history of north-eastern Poland.[118]

The Ludwik Zamenhof Centre (Polish: Centrum im. Ludwika Zamenhofa w Bia?ymstoku) has a permanent exhibition, "Bialystok of Young Ludwik Zamenhof", and various temporary exhibitions, concerts, film projections, and theatre performances. The Centre has a branch of Lukasz Gornicki's Podlaska Library dedicated to the Esperanto language.

Planty park during the day
Planty park

Parks and green spaces

Around 32% of the city is occupied by parks, squares and forest preserves which creates a unique and healthy climate.[119] The green spaces include:

Branicki Palace (Polish: Pa?ac Branickich) is a historical edifice and 9.7 ha (24 acres) park in Bia?ystok. It was developed on the site of an earlier building in the first half of the eighteenth century by Jan Klemens Branicki, a wealthy Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth hetman, into a residence suitable for a man whose ambition was to be elected king of Poland.[120] The palace complex with gardens, pavillons, sculptures, outbuildings and other structures and the city with churches, city hall and monastery, all built almost at the same time according to French models was the reason why the city was known in the eighteenth century as Versailles of Podlaskie (Polish: wersalem podlaskim).[121][122]

Planty is a 14.94 ha (36.9 acres) park created between 1930 and 1938, under the auspices of the then Voivode Ko?cia?kowskiego Mariana Zyndrama in the areas adjacent to Branicki Palace.[123] The modernist composition of the park was designed by Stanislav Gralla.[124]

Architecture

A tenement on Sienkiewicz Street, one of the main boulevards in the city

The various historically driven changes have had a very significant influence on the architectural space of the city. Most other Polish cities have suffered similarly, but the processes in Bia?ystok, have had a particularly intense course. Numerous historic works of architecture no longer exist, while many others have been rebuilt to their original configuration. Very few historic buildings of the city have been preserved - the sights are merely an echo of the old historical shape of Bia?ystok.[125]

Main sights include:

  • Palaces: Branicki Palace, Branicki Guest Palace, Lubomirski Palace, Hasbach Palace, Nowik Palace
  • Town hall
  • Catholic Cathedral
  • St. Roch Church
  • St. Adalbert Church
  • Orthodox Cathedral
  • Daughters of Charity Monastery
  • Former Arsenal
  • Former Masonic Lodge

Sports

The city has both professional and amateur sports teams, and a number of venues where they are based. Jagiellonia Bia?ystok is a Polish football club, based in Bia?ystok, in the Ekstraklasa (Poland's top division) that plays at the Bia?ystok City Stadium.[126]Jagiellonia Bia?ystok won the Polish Cup in 2010, Super Cup and qualified to play in the third round qualification of the UEFA Europa League.[127] A new 22,500 seat stadium was completed at the beginning of 2015.[128]

Hetman Bia?ystok (formerly known as Gwardia Bia?ystok) is a Polish football club based in Podlaskie Voivodeship.[129] They play in the Division IV or the (4th) League.[130]

Lowlanders Bia?ystok is a football club, based in Bia?ystok, that plays in the Polish American Football League (Polish: Polska Liga Futbolu Ameryka?skiego) PLFA I Conference.[131] The Lowlanders were the champions of the PLFA II Conference in 2010 with a perfect season (8 wins in eight meetings). Because of the win they were advanced to the upper conference (PLFA I) in 2011.[131]

Media

office building on street corner
Offices of Kurier Poranny

Bia?ystok has a wide variety of media outlets serving the city and surrounding region. There are two locally published daily newspapers, Gazeta Wspó?czesna (36.3% market share) [132][133] and Kurier Poranny (20.3% market share).[132][134] In addition two national papers have local bureaus. There are a number of national and locally produced television and radio channels available both over-the-air from the nearby RTCN Bia?ystok (Krynice) Mast, the seventh highest structure in Poland,[135] in addition to transmitter sites within the city. TVP Bia?ystok is one of the locally produced, regional branches of the TVP, Poland's public television broadcaster. There is also a cable television system available within the city. The city has two campus radio stations; Radiosupe? at the Medical University of Bia?ystok[136] and Radio Akadera at Bia?ystok Technical University.[137]

Religion

In the early 1900s, Bia?ystok was reputed to have the largest concentration of Jews of all the cities in the world.[138] In 1931, 40,000 Jews lived in the city, nearly half the city's inhabitants.[139] The city is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Bia?ystok. Pope John Paul II on 5 June 1991, during a visit to Bia?ystok, announced the establishment of the Archdiocese of Bia?ystok which ended the period of the temporary church administration of the portion of the Archdiocese of Vilnius that had, after World War II, remained within the Polish borders.[140] The city is also the seat of the Bia?ystok-Gdansk Diocese of the Autocephalous Polish Orthodox Church.[141] Bia?ystok is the largest concentration of Orthodox believers in Poland.[141] In Bia?ystok, the following Protestant churches exist: a Lutheran parish, two Pentecostal churches, Baptist church, a congregation of the Church of God in Christ and a Seventh Day Adventist church.[142]

Bia?ystok is home to more than two thousand Muslims (mainly Tatars). There is an Islamic Centre[143] a House of Prayer, and various organisations. There is magazine issued - "Pami i trwanie" ("Memory and persistence").

The city is the site of the Divine Mercy Sanctuary with the main relics of Micha? Sopo?ko.[144]

Transport

The city is, and has been for centuries, the main hub of transportation for the Podlaskie Voivodeship and the entire northeastern section of Poland. It is a major city on the European Union roadways (Via Baltica)[145] and railways (Rail Baltica)[146] to the Baltic Republics and Finland. It is also a main gateway of trade with Belarus due to its proximity to the border and its current and longstanding relationship with Hrodna, Belarus.

Railways

Passenger trains connect from Suwa?ki, Grodno and Lithuania to Warsaw and the rest of the European passenger network. Passenger services are provided by two rail service providers, PKP Intercity that provides intercity passengers trains (express, intercity, eurocity, hotel and TLK)[147] and Przewozy Regionalne that operates only regional passenger trains financed by the voivodeship. Passenger trains are mostly run using electrical multiple units (on electrified lines) or rail buses.[148]

Example picture of public bus service in the city
Solaris Urbino 18 W29 bus operated by BKM in Bia?ystok

Buses

There is an extensive bus network that covers the entire city by three bus services, but no tram or subway exists. The three bus operators (KPKM, KPK and KZK) are partially owned by the city and each shares approximately a third of the lines and the bus fleet.[149]

Roads and highways

The National Roads (Polish: Droga krajowa) running through Bia?ystok:

Airports

A civil airport, Bia?ystok-Krywlany Airport, lies within the city limits, but does not provide regularly scheduled service.[150] There were plans in 2011 to build a new regional airport, Bia?ystok-Saniki Airport, that would have provided flights within Europe.[151]

Education

the university of bialystok library
Library of the Bia?ystok University

Higher education in the city can be traced back to the second half of the eighteenth century, when the ownership of the city was inherited by Field Crown Hetman Jan Klemens Branicki.[20] As a patron of the arts and sciences, Branicki encouraged numerous artists and scientists to settle in Bia?ystok to take advantage of Branicki's patronage.[152] In 1745 Branicki established Poland's first military college, the School of Civil and Military Engineering, in the city.[152]

Since the fall of communism many privately funded institutions of higher educations have been founded and their number is still increasing. Currently Bia?ystok is home to one principal public university (University of Bia?ystok)[153] and two other public specialist universities (Bia?ystok Technical University[154] and Medical University of Bia?ystok[155]). Some institutions, such as Musical Academy in Bia?ystok,[156] are branches of their parent institutions in other cities, usually in Warsaw.

Notable residents

L. L. Zamenhof, the creator of Esperanto

Over the centuries, a number of people from Bia?ystok have been prominent in the fields of science, language, politics, religion, sports, visual arts and performing arts. This environment was created in the mid eighteenth century by the patronage of Jan Klemens Branicki for the arts and sciences.[152] These include Ryszard Kaczorowski, last émigré President of the Republic of Poland,[157]L. L. Zamenhof, the creator of Esperanto,[158]Albert Sabin, co-developer of the polio vaccine,[159]Izabella Scorupco, actress,[160]Max Weber, painter.[161]Tomasz Bagi?ski illustrator, animator and director Oscar nominee in 2002 for The Cathedral

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Further reading

  • ?ukasz Ka?mierczak, Trzy procent odmienno?ci (Three percent of different) - article describing results of Polish census 2002 and minorities in Poland, citing census data (in Polish)
  • Janusz ?arnowski, "Spo?ecze?stwo Drugiej Rzeczypospolitej 1918-1939", Warszawa 1973 (in Polish)
  • Eugeniusz Mironowicz, "Bia?oru?", Trio, Warszawa, 1999, ISBN 83-85660-82-8 (in Polish)
  • Yvette Walczak, "Let Her Go!", Naomi Roth Publishing, London, 2012, ISBN 978-0-9537585-2-4

External links


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