Białystok

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Białystok
Rising bialystok.jpg
Białystok.jpg
flag of the city [1]
Flag
seal of the city [1]
Seal
shield of the city [1]
Coat of arms
Białystok is located in Poland
Białystok
Białystok
Coordinates: 53°07′N 23°09′E / 53.117°N 23.150°E / 53.117; 23.150Coordinates: 53°07′N 23°09′E / 53.117°N 23.150°E / 53.117; 23.150
Country Poland
Voivodeship Podlaskie
County city county
Established 1437
Town rights 1692
Districts
Government
 • City president Tadeusz Truskolaski (PO)
Area
 • City 102.12 km2 (39.43 sq mi)
Highest elevation 160 m (520 ft)
Lowest elevation 120 m (390 ft)
Population (2009)
 • City 294,399
 • Density 2,900/km2 (7,500/sq mi)
 • Metro 370,000
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 15-001
Area code(s) +48 85
Twin cities
 • Częstochowa Poland
 • Dijon France
 • Eindhoven Netherlands
 • Pskov and Kaliningrad Russia
 • Hrodna Belarus
 • Jelgava Latvia
 • Kaunas Lithuania
 • Milwaukee, WI United States
 • Tallinn Estonia
Car plates BI
Website http://www.bialystok.pl

Białystok ([bʲjaˈwɨstɔk] ( )) is the largest city in northeastern Poland and the capital of the Podlaskie Voivodeship.

Located in the Białystok Uplands (Polish: Wysoczyzna Białostocka) of the Podlaskie Plain (Polish: Nizina Północnopodlaska) on the banks of the Biała River, Białystok ranks second in terms of population density, eleventh in population, and thirteenth in area, of the cities of Poland. It has historically attracted migrants from elsewhere in Poland and beyond, particularly from Central and Eastern Europe. This is facilitated by the fact that the nearby border with Belarus is also the eastern border of the European Union, as well as the Schengen Area. The city and its adjacent municipalities constitute Metropolitan Białystok. The city has a Warm Summer Continental climate, characterized by warm summers and long frosty winters. Forests are an important part of Białystok'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. Białystok has traditionally been one of the leading centers of academic, cultural, and artistic life in Podlaskie and the most important economic center in northeastern Poland. In the nineteenth century Białystok was an important center for light industry, which was the reason for the substantial growth of the city's population. But after the fall of communism in 1989 many of these factories faced severe problems and subsequently closed down. Through the infusion of EU investment funds, the city continues to work to reshape itself into a modern metropolis. Białystok in 2010, was on the short-list, but ultimately lost the competition to become a finalist for European Capital of Culture in 2016. Over the centuries Białystok has produced a number of people who have provided unique contributions to 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. These include Ryszard Kaczorowski, the last émigré President of the Republic of Poland; L. L. Zamenhof, the creator of Esperanto; and Albert Sabin, the co-developer of the polio vaccine.

Etymology[edit]

The English translation of Białystok is "white slope".[2] Due to changing borders over the centuries, the city has been known as Belarusian: Беласток (Byelastok?, Biełastok? [bʲeɫaˈstok]), Yiddish: ביאַליסטאָק (Byalistok, Bjalistok), Ukrainian: Білосток (Bilostok), Lithuanian: Baltstogė (Balstogė), and Russian: Белосток (Belostok).

Linguist A. P. Nepokupnyj proposes that the language source for Białystok is Yotvingian. Names with the -stok suffix as a second element of a hydronym are localized in the basin of the upper Narew.[3]

History[edit]

For more details on this topic, see History of Białystok.
Branicki Palace at night
Branicki Palace

Archaeological discoveries show that the first settlements in the area of present day Białystok occurred during the Stone Age. Tombs of ancient settlers can be found in the district of Dojlidy.[4] In the early Iron Age a mix of Prussians, Yotvingians and Wielbark culture people settled in the area producing kurgans, the tombs of the chiefs in the area located in the current village of Rostołty.[5] Since then, the Białystok 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.[5]

The city of Białystok 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 Łabędź, received from Michael Žygimantaitis son of Sigismund Kęstutaitis, Duke of Lithuania, a wilderness area along the river Biała that marked the beginning of Białystok as a settlement.[6][7]

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. Extension of the castle was continued by Krzysztof Wiesiołowski, starost of Tykocin, Grand Marshal of Lithuania since 1635, and husband of Aleksandra Marianna Sobieska.[8] In 1637 he died childless, and as a result Białystok came under the management of his widow. After her death in 1645 the Wiesiołowski estate, including Białystok, passed to the Commonwealth to cover the costs of maintaining Tykocin Castle. In the years 1645–1659 Białystok was managed by the governors of Tykocin and was part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.[8][9]

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 Jan Klemens Branicki, thus passing into the hands of the Branicki family.[10][11] In 1692, Stefan Mikołaj Branicki, the son of Jan Klemens Branicki (Marshal of the Crown Court), obtained city rights for Białystok from King John III Sobieski. He constructed the Branicki Palace on the foundations of the castle of the Wiesiołowski family.[12] In the second half of the eighteenth century the ownership of the city was inherited by Field Crown Hetman Jan Klemens Branicki.[2] It was he who transformed the palace built by his father into a magnificent residence of a great noble.[13][14]

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 Białystok and the surrounding region during the third partition. The city became the capital of the New East Prussia province in 1795.[15] 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,[16] with the city as the regional center.[17]

Białystok circa 1900

At the end of the nineteenth century, 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).[18] This heritage can be seen on the Jewish Heritage Trail in Białystok.[19] The first Anarchist groups to attract a significant following of Russian workers or peasants, were the Anarcho-Communist Chernoe-Znamia groups, founded in Białystok in 1903.[20][21] The Białystok pogrom occurred between 14–16 June 1906 in the city. During the pogrom between 81 and 88 people were killed, and about 80 people were wounded.[22][23][24]

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.[25][26] At the end of World War I the city became part of the newly independent Second Polish Republic, as the capital of the Białystok Voivodeship (1919–1939).[27] 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 Białystok.

With the beginning of World War II, Poland was invaded by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, and initially the city came under Soviet control, as a result of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. It was incorporated into the Byelorussian SSR from 1939 to 1941 as the capital of the Belastok Voblast.[28][29] After the Nazi attack on Soviet Union in 1941, Białystok was occupied by the German Army on 27 June 1941, during the Battle of Białystok–Minsk, and the city became the capital of Bezirk Białystok, a separate region in German occupied Poland, until 1944.[30][31]

Map of the Białystok Ghetto
Białystok Ghetto, 1941–1943

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.[32] On August 15, 1943, the Białystok 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.[33]

The city was liberated by 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 Białystok Voivodeship (1945–1975) of the People's Republic of Poland.[34][35][36] After the 1975 administrative reorganization, the city was the capital of the smaller Białystok Voivodeship (1975–1998).[37] Since 1999 it has been the capital of the Podlaskie Voivodeship, Republic of Poland.[37]

Geography[edit]

the Biala River near the city
Biała River near Białystok

Białystok is situated in the Białystok Uplands (Polish: Wysoczyzna Białostocka) of the Podlaskie Plain (Polish: Nizina Północnopodlaska), part of what is known collectively as the Green Lungs of Poland.[38][39] The Biała River, a left tributary of the Supraśl River, passes through the city. The landscape of the Białystok 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.[39]

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%), Toruń (22.9%) and Gdańsk (17.6%).[40]

Part of Knyszyn Forest is preserved within the city limits by two nature reserves—a total area of 105 ha (260 acres).[41] 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.[42] 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 Białystok Upland, with a dominant mixed forest of hazel and spruce.[43]

Winter beach scene
Dojlidy Ponds Recreation Area

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 Białystok (Polish: Miejski Ośrodek Sportu i Rekreacji w Białymstoku – MOSiR). The Dojlidy Ponds recreation area includes a public beach, walking trails, birdwatching and fishing.[44]

Climate
The city has a Warm Summer Continental or Hemiboreal climate (Dfb) according to the Köppen climate classification system, characterized by warm temperatures during summer and long and frosty winters.[45] It is substantially different from most of the other Polish lowlands.[45] The region is one of the coldest in Poland, with the average temperature in January being −6 °C (21 °F).[45] The average temperature in a year is 7 °C (45 °F).[45] 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.[45] Mean annual rainfall values oscillate around 580 mm (22.8 in), and the vegetation period lasts 200 to 210 days.[45]

Climate data for Białystok
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 12
(54)
16
(61)
20
(68)
24
(75)
30
(86)
30
(86)
33
(91)
32
(90)
28
(82)
22
(72)
12
(54)
11
(52)
33
(91)
Average high °C (°F) −1
(30)
0
(32)
4
(39)
11
(52)
17
(63)
20
(68)
21
(70)
21
(70)
16
(61)
10
(50)
3
(37)
1
(34)
10.3
(50.5)
Average low °C (°F) −6
(21)
−6
(21)
−2
(28)
1
(34)
7
(45)
10
(50)
12
(54)
11
(52)
7
(45)
3
(37)
0
(32)
−3
(27)
2
(36)
Record low °C (°F) −34
(−29)
−25
(−13)
−23
(−9)
−7
(19)
−3
(27)
1
(34)
5
(41)
2
(36)
−4
(25)
−10
(14)
−16
(3)
−26
(−15)
−34
(−29)
Precipitation mm (inches) 30
(1.18)
20
(0.79)
30
(1.18)
30
(1.18)
50
(1.97)
70
(2.76)
70
(2.76)
70
(2.76)
50
(1.97)
40
(1.57)
40
(1.57)
40
(1.57)
580
(22.83)
Avg. precipitation days 8 7 8 8 8 10 10 9 9 8 10 10 106
Avg. rainy days 7 7 8 9 7 8 8 7 8 9 9 6 93
Avg. snowy days 9 10 7 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 7 41
Mean monthly sunshine hours 21 54 139 138 207 236 217 205 162 97 27 20 1,523
Source #1: Weatherbase[46]
Source #2: ClimateData.eu[47]

Districts and Metropolitan Region[edit]

Lipowa street at night
Lipowa Street in Białystok at night

Districts of Białystok

The city of Białystok is divided into 28 administrative units, known in Polish as osiedla.[48][49] The first 27 of these were created on October 25, 2004.[48] 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.[48]

The center of the city, Osiedle Centrum, surrounds Lipowa Street, the main street of the city. Lipowa Street extends from Rynek Kościuszki (the corner of Spółdzielczej Street) to Plac Niepodległości im. Romana Dmowskiego (the corner of Krakowska Street).[50] Over the centuries the name of this exclusive and elegant street has taken on a number of different names; Choroszcz, Nowolipie, Lipowa, Józef Piłsudski, Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, once again, to return, after the end of World War II, to its original name – Lipowa Street.

View of city street with a bicycle race
Popiełuszko Street, Białystok

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.[51] 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.[51]

Metropolitan Białystok

Metropolitan Białystok was designated by the Voivodeship of the Regulation No. 52/05 of 16 May 2005 [52] to help develop the region economically. In 2006, the metropolitan area population was 450,254 inhabitants.[53] The municipalities adjacent to Białystok are slowly losing their agricultural character, becoming residential suburban neighborhoods with single-family housing and small businesses.[54]

Demographics[edit]

In June 2009, the population of the city was 294,399,[54] among cities of Poland, Białystok is second in terms of population density, eleventh in population, and thirteenth in area.[55]

Historically, Białystok has been a destination for internal and foreign immigration, especially from Central and Eastern Europe. In addition to the Polish minority, there was a significant Jewish majority in Białystok. According to Russian census of 1897, out of the total population of 66,000, Jews constituted 41,900 (around 63% percent).[18] Białystok's pre-World War II Jewish population constituted about 63 percent of the city's total population of 107,000.[32] World War II changed all of this, in 1939, around 107,000 people lived in Białystok,[56] but in 1946 – only 56,759, and to this day there is much less ethnic diversity than in the previous 300 years of the city's history.[32] 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.[57] Most of the modern-day population growth is based on internal migration within Poland and urbanization of surrounding areas.[57]

Governance[edit]

Podlasie Voivodship Office in Białystok

City government
Białystok, like other major cities in Poland, is a city county (Polish: Miasto na prawach powiatu).[58] The Legislative power in the city is vested in the unicameral Białystok City Council (Polish: Rada Miasta), which has 28 members.[59] Council members are elected directly every four years, one of whom is the mayor, or President of Białystok (Polish: prezydent).[59] Like most legislative bodies, the City Council divides itself into committees which have the oversight of various functions of the city government.[59] Bills passed by a simple majority are sent to the mayor, who may sign them into law.[59] If the mayor vetoes a bill, the Council has 30 days to override the veto by a two-thirds majority vote.[59] The current President of Białystok, 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 Sprawiedliwość), receiving 67% of the votes cast (53,018 votes).[60]

Marshal's Office of Podlaskie

For the 2010–2011 fiscal year the city received revenue (taxes levied + investments) of 1,409,565,525 zł, expended 1,676,459,102 zł leaving a budget deficit of 266,893,577 zł.[61] The deficit was covered by short-term borrowing of 166,893,577 zł and the issuance of 100 million zł in municipal bonds.[61]

Other levels of governmental representation
It is also the seat of government for the Podlaskie Voivodeship.[62] The city is represented by several members of both houses of the Polish Parliament (Sejm and Senat) from the Białystok constituency.[63] Białystok is represented by the Podlaskie and Warmian-Masurian constituency of the European Parliament.[64][65]

International relations
There are two consulates in Białystok, Belarus has a Consulate General and Romania has an Honorary Consulate.[66] The City of Białystok is a member of several organizations such as Union of Polish Metropolises (Polish: Unia Metropolii Polskich),[67] Euroregion Niemen,[68][69] Polish Green Lungs Foundation (headquarters) [70] and Eurocities.[71]

Białystok is twinned with[72] Częstochowa, Poland,[72] Dijon, France:,[72][73][74] Eindhoven, Netherlands,[72] Hrodno, Belarus,[72] Jelgava, Latvia,[72] Kaliningrad, Russia[72] Kaunas, Lithuania,[72] Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, USA[72][75] and Tallinn, Estonia.[72]

Military units[edit]

The 18th Reconnaissance Regiment (Polish: 18 Pułk Rozpoznawczy) of the Polish Land Forces is based in Białystok. The heritage of the unit was the former 18th Territorial Defense Battalion (Polish: 18 Białostocka Brygada Obrony Terytorialnej) and prior to that the former 18th Mechanized Brigade.[76] 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 Białostocka Brygada Obrony Terytorialnej).[76]

Historical military units
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 Białystok.[76] The unit was formed from the 3rd Mechanized Regiment (Polish: 3 Pułk Zmechanizowany) and was subordinated to the commander of the 1st Warsaw Mechanized Division (Polish: 1 Warszawskiej Dywizji Zmechanizowanej im. Tadeusza Kościuszki).[76] 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.[76]

The Podlaska Cavalry Brigade (Polish: Podlaska Brygada Kawalerii) was a military unit of the Polish Army, created on April 1, 1937.[77][78] Its headquarters was located in Białystok and operated as part of Independent Operational Group Narew.[78] It was formed from the Cavalry Brigade "Białystok", which existed between February 1929, and March 30, 1937.[77] After the Soviet invasion of Poland, remnants of the Brigade fought both Wehrmacht and Red Army troops, capitulating on October 6, 1939.[78]

The Cavalry Brigade "Bialystok" (BK "Bialystok") of the Polish Army Second Republic was formed in February 1929. April 1, 1937 BK "Bialystok" was renamed the Podlaska Cavalry Brigade.[77]

Economy[edit]

Main article: Economy of Białystok
Large industrial building with gate
Chłodnia Białystok – frozen foods

In the nineteenth century Białystok 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 Białystok was 13.2%.[79] Which is about the average unemployment rate in Poland. The 2009 average household had a monthly per capita income of 1018.77 zł [80] and monthly per capita expenses of 823.56 zł[81]

The city has a number of nearby border crossings.[82] 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), Kuźnica Białostocka (road and rail crossing located 60 km (37 mi) from the city limits), Siemianowka (railway – freight traffic), Połowce (road) and Czeremcha (railway).[82] 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.[82]

grain silos
Silos of Podlaskie Zakłady Zbożowe (Podlaskie Cereal Industrial Plants)

Industry
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).[82] 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.[82]

Some notable major employers who are based in Białystok include:

  • Standard Motor Products Poland Ltd. headquartered in Białystok began manufacturing ignition coils for original equipment manufacturers 30 years ago.[85]
  • "Supon" Białystok is the leading Polish producer of fire fighting equipment.[86]
  • SavaPol, Sp.z o.o. is a manufacturer of stationary and mobile concrete mixing equipment based in Białystok.[87]
power station
Białystok Power Station (Elektrociepłownia Białystok S.A.)
  • Biazet S.A. is a large manufacture of household appliances, including vacuum cleaners, coffee makers, and LED lighting located in Białystok.[88]
  • Agnella, a major Polish producer of carpets and similar products is in Białystok, located in the district of Białostoczek.[89]
  • Rosti (Polska) Sp. z o.o., has provided for more than 60 years precision injection molded products for some of the world's leading brands.[90]
  • Biaglass Huta Szkla Białystok 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.[91]
  • Chłodnia Białystok S.A (Cold Store Białystok S.A.), established in 1952, is one of the largest Polish producers of frozen vegetables, fruits and ready-to-heat meals.[92]
  • Podlaskie Zakłady Zbożowe S.A. was established on 1 July 2000 as a result of privatizing The Regional Establishment of Corn and Milling Industry 'PZZ' in Białystok. It is one of the leading firms in Podlaskie region in the department of preservation and processing of grain with elevators in Białystok, Grajewo and Suwalki.[93]

Culture and tourism[edit]

Main article: Culture in Białystok
the front steps of the theater
Wegierko Drama Theatre

Białystok 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. Białystok in 2010 was on the short-list, but ultimately lost the competition, to become a finalist for European Capital of Culture in 2016.[94]

Performing arts[edit]

The city has a number of performing arts facilities including:

The Białystok Puppet Theater (Polish: Bialostocki Teatr Lalek), established in 1953, is one of the oldest Polish puppet theaters.[95] The facility is located at Kalinowskiego 1 in Białystok. The repertoire includes performances for both children and puppet adaptations of world literature for adults.[95] Because of the high artistic level of productions, the theater has been recognized as one of the best puppetry arts centers in Poland.[95]

The Aleksandra Węgierki Drama Theatre. Housed in a building designed by Jarosław Girina, built in the years 1933–1938.[96]

Museums[edit]

Historical Museum

There are a number of museums in the city including:

The Historical Museum in Białystok (Polish: Muzeum Historyczne w Białymstoku) is part of the Podlaskie Museum.[97] The facility has a rich collection of archival materials and iconography illustrating the history of Białystok and Podlasie, and a number of middle-class cultural relics, especially in the field of craft utility.[97] There are also the Numismatic Cabinet of the collection of 16 000 coins, medals and securities.[97] The museum is in possession of the only collections in the country memorabilia connected with the Tatar settlement on the Polish–Lithuanian–Belarusian region.[97]

The Army Museum in Białystok (Polish: Muzeum Wojska w Białymstoku) 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.[98]

The Ludwik Zamenhof Centre (Polish: Centrum im. Ludwika Zamenhofa w Białymstoku) offers the visitors 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[edit]

Around 32% of the city is occupied by parks, squares and forest preserves which creates a unique and healthy climate.[99] The green spaces include:

Branicki Palace (Polish: Pałac Branickich) is a historical edifice and 9.7 ha (24 acres) park in Białystok. 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.[100] 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).[101][102]

Planty is a 14.94 ha (36.9 acres) park created between 1930 and 1938, under the auspices of the then Voivode Kościałkowskiego Mariana Zyndrama in the areas adjacent to Branicki Palace.[103] The modernist composition of the park was designed by Stanislav Gralla.[104]

Kościuszko Square

Architecture[edit]

Lubomirski Palace

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 Białystok, 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 Białystok.[105]

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[edit]

Main article: Sports in Białystok
Jagiellonia Białystok soccer match
Jagiellonia Białystok – Ruch Chorzów

The city has both professional and amateur sports teams, and a number of venues where they are based. Jagiellonia Białystok is a Polish football club, based in Białystok, in the Ekstraklasa League that plays at the Białystok City Stadium.[106] Jagiellonia Białystok won the Polish Cup in 2010, Super Cup and qualified to play in the third round qualification of the UEFA Europa League.[107] A new 22,500 seat stadium is expected to be completed by the end of 2012.[108]

Hetman Białystok (formerly known as Gwardia Białystok) is a Polish football club based in Podlaskie Voivodeship.[109] They play in the Division IV or the (4th) League at the Białystok City Stadium.[110]

Lowlanders Białystok is a football club, based in Białystok, that plays in the Polish American Football League (Polish: Polska Liga Futbolu Amerykańskiego) PLFA I Conference.[111] 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.[111]

Media[edit]

office building on street corner
Offices of Kurier Poranny
Main article: Media in Białystok

Białystok has a wide variety of media outlets serving the city and surrounding region. There are two locally published daily newspapers, Gazeta Współczesna (36.3% market share) [112][113] and Kurier Poranny (20.3% market share).[112][114] 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 Białystok (Krynice) Mast, the seventh highest structure in Poland,[115] in addition to transmitter sites within the city. TVP Białystok 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; Radiosupeł at the Medical University of Białystok[116] and Radio Akadera at Białystok Technical University.[117]

Religion[edit]

In the early 1900s, Białystok was reputed to have the largest concentration of Jews of all the cities in the world.[118] In 1931, 40,000 Jews lived in the city, nearly half the city's inhabitants.[119] The city is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Białystok. Pope John Paul II on 5 June 1991, during a visit to Białystok, announced the establishment of the Archdiocese of Białystok 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.[120] The city is also the seat of the Białystok-Gdansk Diocese of the Autocephalous Polish Orthodox Church.[121] Białystok is the largest concentration of Orthodox believers in Poland.[121] In Białystok, 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.[122]

Białystok is home to more than two thousand Muslims (mainly Tatars). There is an Islamic Centre[123] a House of Prayer, and various organisations such as Muzułmańska Gmina Wyznaniowa, Stowarzyszenie Studentów Muzułmańskich and Muzułmańskie Stowarzyszenie Kształtowania Kulturalnego. There is magazine issued - "Pamięć i trwanie" ("Memory and persistence").

Transport[edit]

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)[124] and railways (Rail Baltica)[125] 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 Hrodno, Belarus.

Railways
Passenger trains connect from Suvalki, Hrodno 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)[126] 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.[127]

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

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 are partially owned by the city (KPKM, KPK and KZK) and each shares approximately a third of the lines and the bus fleet.[128]

Roads and highways
The National Roads (Polish: Droga krajowa) running through Białystok:

Airports
A civil airport, Białystok-Krywlany Airport, lies within the city limits, but does not provide regularly scheduled service.[129] There were plans in 2011 to build a new regional airport, Białystok-Saniki Airport, that would have provided flights within Europe.[130]

Education[edit]

the university of bialystok library
University of Białystok Library

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.[13] As a patron of the arts and sciences, Branicki encouraged numerous artists and scientists to settle in Białystok to take advantage of Branicki's patronage.[131] In 1745 Branicki established Poland's first military college, the School of Civil and Military Engineering, in the city.[131]

Since the fall of communism many privately funded institutions of higher educations have been founded and their number is still increasing. Currently Białystok is home to one principal public university (University of Białystok)[132] and two other public specialist universities (Białystok Technical University[133] and Medical University of Białystok[134]). Some institutions, such as Musical Academy in Białystok,[135] are branches of their parent institutions in other cities, usually in Warsaw.

Notable residents[edit]

portrait of Albert Sabin
Albert Sabin, co-developer of the polio vaccine

Over the centuries Białystok has produced a number of persons who have provided unique contributions to 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.[131] A list of recent notable persons includes, but is not limited to; Ryszard Kaczorowski, last émigré President of the Republic of Poland,[136] L. L. Zamenhof, the creator of Esperanto,[137] Albert Sabin, co-developer of the polio vaccine,[138] Izabella Scorupco, actress,[139] Max Weber, painter.[140]

See also[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

  • Łukasz Kaźmierczak, Trzy procent odmienności (Three percent of different) – article describing results of Polish census 2002 and minorities in Poland, citing census data (Polish)
  • Janusz Żarnowski, "Społeczeństwo Drugiej Rzeczypospolitej 1918–1939", Warszawa 1973 (Polish)
  • Eugeniusz Mironowicz, "Białoruś", Trio, Warszawa, 1999, ISBN 83-85660-82-8 (Polish)
  • Yvette Walczak, "Let Her Go!", Naomi Roth Publishing, London, 2012, ISBN 978-0-9537585-2-4

External links[edit]