|• Total||25.68 km2 (9.92 sq mi)|
|• Density||170/km2 (450/sq mi)|
Żarki [ˈʐarki] (German: Zarki) is a town in Myszków County, Silesian Voivodeship, Poland, with 4,387 inhabitants (2004). The history of Żarki dates back to the early 14th century, as the village was first mentioned in documents from the 1320s. For centuries, Żarki belonged to Lelow County, Kraków Voivodeship, historic province of Lesser Poland.
It is not known when the village of Żarki received town charter: it happened before 1382, most likely during the reign of King Kazimierz Wielki. By 1406, Żarki already was a well established private town, governed by a vogt. Żarki belonged to several noble families, and was a local centre of craft and trade. In 1556, fairs were established on every Tuesday. Żarki had a market square, and its population in 1662 reached 620 residents. In 1664, the town burned in a great fire.
In 1720, Żarki was moved to a new location. At that time, the town became a center of iron ore mining, with a blast furnace. By 1791, its population grew to over 1200, and in 1793, the town was annexed by the Kingdom of Prussia (see Partitions of Poland). In 1807, Żarki became part of the Duchy of Warsaw, and in 1815, Russian-controlled Congress Poland, in which it remained until World War One. Due to efforts of Piotr Steinkeller, Żarki was an industrial center, where agricultural machinery was manufactured. In the 1850s, a cotton plant was opened here as well. Following the January Uprising, Żarki lost its town charter.
In 1914, the population of Żarki was app. 5000. In the Second Polish Republic, Żarki belonged to Zawiercie County of Kielce Voivodeship. On September 4, 1939, Żarki was burned to the ground by the Wehrmacht, which also shot 102 residents.
In 1949, Żarki regained its town charter.
Among local points of interest there are:
- sanctuary of Mary, Saint Patron of Families,
- St. Simon and St. Jude church, built in 1522, and remodelled in the 17th century,
- wooden St. Barbara church (17th century),
- ruins of an 18th-century manor house, with walls and tower,
- ruins of St. Stanislaus church (1782),
- Leśniów Sanctuary devoted to the cult of the virgin mary.
- Jewish Community in Żarki on Virtual Shtetl