Bielsko-Biala – Poland

Quick Facts

  • Sister City Anniversary: October 1991 (through the assistance of local Polish Heritage Society)
  • Mayor: Jacek Krywult
  • Coutry: Poland
  • Province: Silesian
  • Population: 175,513
  • Currency: Zloty
  • Language: Polish
  • Food: There are plenty of wonderful traditional foods to try such as pierogi (small white dumplings), bigos (stew with various meats and sauerkraut) or kieblasa (sausage).
  • Size Compared to Michigan (97,990 sq mi): The total area of Poland is 120,726 sq mi, making it the 69th largest country in the world and the 9th largest in Europe. Bielsko-Biala is 48.1 sq mi, not much bigger than Grand Rapids (45.3 sq mi).
  • Bielsko-Biala Tourism website (available in English – click the British flag top right of the screen)

History

From 1975 to 1998 the city of Bielsko-Biala was the provincial capital. It lies mid-way between Warsaw and Vienna and is connected by modern road and rail systems. The city is beautifully situated between the peaks of Szndzielnia and Kozia Gora, 300-400 meters above sea level. It covers an area of 125 square kilometers and has a population of about 200,000.

Bielsko-Biala was formed with the merger of two towns. The older one, Bielsko, formed in 1263. Biala, the younger town, was recognized in 1723. Both towns, situated on opposite sides of the Biala River, were famous for their textiles. The trademark of Bielsko-Biala woolen cloth “BS” was well known in Europe. In the late 19th century, Bielsko-Biala became the third largest center of the textile industry in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. While both towns were developing separately, the ties between them were becoming stronger and stronger. Today nearly 5,000 historical sites remain, including the 12th Century Sulkowski castle, churches, cemeteries, parks, fortification walls, tenement-houses, and industrial buildings, of which183 are protected by law.

Economic Development

Historically, the predominant economy of the region has been industry. The oldest traditions, going back to the Middle Ages, are associated with the textile industry. But there is a diverse array of dynamic industries. Consequently, the area around Bielsko-Biala gained the reputation of a being a region of a hundred industries.
Today, the region around Bielsko-Biala is among the top industrial centers in Poland. The major share of domestic production belongs to the electro-equipment, textile and chemical industries, food processing, and forestry. The region’s enterprises offer cars, cranes, gliders, textile machines, tools, engines, paints and lacquers, wool and cotton fabrics, clothes, footwear, furs, food confectionery, meat, alcohol, and excellent beer. Many of these products are well known abroad.

The economy continues to restructure and privatize. This process continues throughout the whole voivodeship. This giant restructuring requires not only new ways of thinking but an enormous capital infusion as well. To this end, foreign partners are needed who are interested in cooperation and investments in the region. Many investors have already come. There are over 100 enterprises with foreign capital. The biggest of them is Fiat Auto Poland, a joint stock company created by the Italian Fiat and FSM. There are hundreds of future possibilities of cooperation. In order to match business partners, the Regional Development Agency SA has been established. SA possesses an extensive databank on local enterprises.
Every year the number of firms and enterprises operating in Bielsko-Biala enlarges. Bielsko-Biala cooperates with many communes throughout Europe, Asia, and America as well as international organizations (e.g. the World Bank) in the areas of energy and environmental protection. Flourishing private businesses are seen everywhere. Municipal authorities are working to increase economic development in the city, particularly in the area of tourism, including hotel facilities, sport and recreation facilities.

You won’t be disappointed if you decide to invest in the Bielsko-Biala voivodeship; you are bound to find something promising, no matter what your industry.

Tradition and Tourism

While in Poland, you must not miss coming to Bielsko-Biala. The city is a gateway to the beauties of the green, resin-scented Beskid mountains, a place where you can enjoy an unforgettable experience.

Whether your interest is in art, music, architecture, outdoor recreation, history, there is something to see in the region surrounding Bielsko-Biala. The Bielsko-Biala voivodeship is among the regions where folk culture, both material and spiritual, is still alive. These traditions are visible in buildings, sculpture, paintings, music, dances, and regional costumes. A very popular craft here is lace-making, unique traditional art. Laces from the village of Koniakow are famous not only in Poland but also in many distant countries.

Every two years Bielsko-Biala hosts the greatest world festival of puppet theaters organized by the world famous Banialuka Theatre. Also every May, the municipality organizes a festival of cultural and sporting events called Bielsko-Biala Days.
The Bielsko-Biala voivodeship is famous for its splendid nature. One-third of its area is covered with forests, especially in the Beskidy mountain region. The slopes of Mount Szyndzielnia offer a fabulous cable car ride to the summit, where one can enjoy beautiful vistas, hiking trails, and a cafe. To preserve the unique environment, the Babia Gra National Park has been created. It is now included in the UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Preservation.

The landscape of the region is mountainous, an area which covers two-thirds of its area. Many rivers originate here including the longest, the Vistula, has its spring on the slopes of Barania Gra. Dams, built in the mountain valleys, resulted in a few water reservoirs of which the largest are the lakes Miedzybrodzkie and Zywieckie. These lakes are ideal for all types of water sports.
The Bielsko-Biala region is one of the most attractive parts of Poland. Tourists who come here to admire its scenic landscapes and nature can make use of good transportation connections and its well-developed facilities. There are over 30,000 beds in hotels and hostels open all year long plus an additional 10,000 seasonal establishments. The season never ends and there are many possibilities to choose from: climbing, trekking, skiing, water sports, gliding, paragliding, horse riding. There are also excellent opportunities for hunters and anglers.

A popular tourist center is in the Beskid Slaski region. Szczyrk, Wisla, and Ustronie boast over 50 percent of all accommodations here. Like everywhere in the Beskidy area, the accommodations vary. As tourism is becoming more and more commercialized, private entrepreneurs are establishing new developments. Some are creating joint ventures with foreign partners.