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Józef Bem Square (Polish: Plac Bema)
Józef Bem Square (Polish: Plac Bema)
Flag of Ostrołęka
Coat of arms of Ostrołęka
Coat of arms
Ostrołęka is located in Poland
Coordinates: 53°4′N 21°34′E / 53.067°N 21.567°E / 53.067; 21.567
Country  Poland
Voivodeship Masovian
County city county
Established 11th century
Town rights 1373
 • Mayor Janusz Kotowski
 • Total 29.00 km2 (11.20 sq mi)
Elevation 92 m (302 ft)
Population (2008)
 • Total 53,982
 • Density 1,900/km2 (4,800/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 07-400 to 07-417
Area code(s) +48 029
Vehicle registration plates WO, WOS, OKO
Website http://www.ostroleka.pl
Town Hall
The Madalinski Bridge
Głowackiego Street

Ostrołęka [ɔstrɔˈwɛŋka] ( ) is a town in northeastern Poland on the Narew river, about 120 km (75 mi) northeast of Warsaw, with a population of 53,982 (2008) and an area of 29 km2 (11 sq. mls). Situated in the Masovian Voivodeship (since 1999), previously capital of Ostrołęka Voivodeship (1975–1998). Currently capital of both Ostrołęka County and Ostrołęka City County. Until late 1980s, it used to be a local railroad junction, with four lines stemming from Ostrołęka railway station - eastwards to Łapy and Białystok, southwestwards to Tłuszcz and Warsaw, northwards to Wielbark and Olsztyn, and southwards to Małkinia.



Ostrołęka lies on a sand-mud plain on the left side of the Narew River. The name comes from a plain that was once flooded by the Narew during the spring. A small island is located about 1 kilometer (half a mile) from today's town centre. In the 11th or 12th century, there was a fort built on it, making it one of the few fortifications on or near the Narew. The fort was surrounded by a village now known as Ostrołęka. Ostrołęka was first mentioned in the Province Act of 1373, signed by Prince Ziemowit III. The actual date of the town's foundation is not precisely known, but it is known that by 1373, Ostrołęka was one of the biggest towns in the surrounding area.[citation needed]

15th and 16th centuries[edit]

In the beginning of 15th century, Ostrołęka was a center of economic activity in the trade with the Teutonic Order. Traders from the town were selling wood, amber, honey, and other products. In the year of 1526, the rest of the Masovia Principality was introduced to the Polish Crown. This was the beginning of Ostrołęka's Golden Age, which lasted for over 40 years. During this time, Queen Bona Sforza founded a folwark in Pomian, an area situated within Ostrołęka's city borders today. In 1564, two major catastrophes devastated Ostrołęka. An epidemic struck the city, killing a sizeable population off and a fire which tore through the city burning and destroying everything to the ground. In 1571, another epidemic depopulated the town and counties nearby, ending the town's Golden Age. However, the town was quickly rebuilt and in the 1590s, the first school was built in Ostrołęka. At the end of the 16th century, the town was the centre of a big administration district (1,980.5 km2).

During the wars with Sweden[edit]

After the disaster the town quickly recovered. In the middle of the 17th century, the town passed through a period of impoverishment and stagnation. On July 25, 1656, the town resisted a Swedish attack and was laid waste by the Swedes. In 1665 Tomasz Gocłowski founded a monastery to settle the Bernardine monks in the town. The Bernardine monastery of St. Anthony of Padua was built in a late Baroque style. In 1676, with only 400 inhabitants left, it was the most populous town in the Łomża region. In the 18th century, through a span of 35 years, Ostrołęka was destroyed numerous times by foreign armies such as the (Swedish, Russian, and Saxon).[citation needed]

Prussian rule (1796-1806)[edit]

On March 12, 1794 the first brigade, stationed at Ostrołęka started marching towards Kraków, with A. Madaliński, a member of the conspiracy, in command. This hastened the outbreak of hostilities. In consequence, Prussian forces advanced as far as the Narew, but did no overtake Ostrołęka. Following the Third Partition of Poland, Ostrołęka was situated within Prussia's borders. After 1802, the first German and Jewish families settled in and around Ostrołęka.

The Warsaw Duchy[edit]

From the end of 1806 through June 1807, Ostrołęka was occupied by French troops. On February 15 and 16 February the battle took place on the banks of the Narew outside of Ostrołęka where the French, under the General Nicolas Charles Oudinot, prevailed. Due to this success of the French Army, Ostrołęka appears on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. In May 1807 the first map of Ostrołęka was made (now located in Bibliothéque du Génie in Paris).

Development during the period of the Polish Kingdom[edit]

As part of a comprehensive plan of industrializing Poland, an extensive settlement for linen and cotton craftsmen was begun on the right bank of Narew in 1826. The number of craftsmen increased, and workers trained in new crafts. The town also built two bridges, one permanent. The new route connecting Warsaw and St. Petersburg ran through Ostrołęka. Although the town's citizens were eager and proud to take part in the November Uprising, they worried that their city, as in every previous war, would be destroyed. However they did not expect that the heaviest fighting would take place on near Ostrołęka.

According to the plans, the Polish Army was supposed to attack Russian Infantry Corps of the Tsar's Guard, which camped at the territory between Augustów and Ostrołęka. On May 18, Ostrołęka was conquered by General Henryk Dembiński. But General Jan Zygmunt Skrzynecki didn't make a use of his temporary superiority and he couldn't make up his mind if to attack the Russians situated near Łomża. As a result, Łomża was destroyed.

On May 26 a cannonade was heard. Jan Zygmunt Skrzynecki couldn't believe that Hans Karl von Diebitsch (a Russian general) had already reached the suburbs of the city. He ordered the Fourth Infantry Regiment to defend the city. The main defending forces fortified themselves in the Bernadine Monastery. Unfortunately the Russians had brought cannons with them, quickly overpowering the Polish and forcing their surrender.[citation needed]

Von Diebitsch took over the city center, but the battle continued on the right side of the Narew. Skrzynecki and his troops valiantly defended the bridge wanting to hold back the Russian forces from crossing over to the other side of the river. Lieutenant-Colonel Józef Bem and his Fourth Battery were called in to help defend the bridge. Bem was able to hold back the Russians, but the battle is often referred to as a Polish defeat. The defeat began the end of the Uprising. As a result of the battle, 6000 Polish soldiers died including many Kurpie. Bem, for his bravery, was nominated as Commander-in-Chief of Artillery and was honoured with a Virtue Militari Cross. The battle was the greatest and the most bloodiest in the November Uprising.[citation needed]


After the Polish-Russian War, Ostrołęka became one of the most destroyed cities. Although it suffered great losses, Ostrołęka stayed a district city of Płock's Province. Ostrołęka's economy greatly declined. Nearly all the city's craftsmen became bankrupt. Only products of Ostrołęka's amber works were still supplied all over Europe. Ostrołęka got refunds from the Tsar's Treasury. However, it took a long time before it rose from its downfall. In 1847 a monument commemorating Russian Army's victory in the battle of Ostrołęka was raised on 26 May 1831. At the time of January's insurrection, no battles took place nearby Ostrołęka, as the Tsar placed a quite large Russian detachment in the city worrying of another Kurp Uprising. In 1864, after the Russian government's order, the Benedictines left Ostrołęka and the monastery buildings were placed under the parish-priest authority.[citation needed]

Until the First World War, the city managed to develop, but it was still a relatively unremarkable small town. The First World War destroyed its peaceful and monotonous character. Confiscation and forced labor devastated the economy caused rising prices for essential products, and generally caused the city to decline. In 1915, military operations in the territory of Polish Kingdom intensified. By July, the city was situated on the front line, and in August 1915, Germans crossed the river Narew and entered the ruined city. At the time of the German occupation, life in Ostrołęka was as hard as in the time of Russian occupation. Between the years of 1916 and 1918, the Germans greatly exploited the forests for timber. To make transporting the wood easier, they built 40 km (25 mi) of road from Ostrołęka to Myszyniec and a narrow-gauge railway line.

During the interbellum[edit]

After the First World War, the city became a part of Białystok's province. 75% of the city and population was devastated. New schools and departments were opened as the city was rebuilt. During the Polish-Soviet War, Ostrołęka once again became a center for military operations. During the night of August 5, 1920, Soviet forces entered the city. However, the Soviet occupation was short lived as Polish forces thundered east towards the former Polish-Soviet border. After the Polish-Soviet War, Ostrołęka began to industrialize. A cinema was opened in 1923, and a power plant in 1928. During the summer of 1939, both sides of the Narew beachhead were fortified.

Ostrołęka at the time of the Second World War[edit]

On September 10, 1939, German forces reached Ostrołęka. Its name was changed to Scharfenwiese and the city was integrated into the Third Reich. Quickly, a resistance movement was established with a substantial presence of local Kurpes. Churches and schools were changed into workshops and factories controlled by the Underground. Underground Partisans started attacking and destroying German fortifications in and around Ostrołęka. A minority of citizens of Ostrołęka declared themselves as Volksdeutsche and signed the Volksliste. The majority of the Jewish population in Ostrołęka was murdered in Treblinka.[citation needed] Those that survived the Holocaust emigrated to Israel.[citation needed]

People's Republic of Poland[edit]

Ostrołęka recovered very slowly from the war. A plan created by communist authorities, which allowed for an improvement of the economic situation in Poland, gave Ostrołęka a chance for redevelopment. Ostrołęka became a central city of Warsaw's region. In 1959, a cellulose and paper factory was built. Next, a sewage refinery was built along the banks of the Narew, which was supposed to keep water in the Narew clean without destroying its biological life. In 1973 a cellular concrete factory was built in the district of Wojciechowice. New jobs brought people to the city and caused a development of alimentary industry. During the 1970s a new factory, "Future", producing wooden articles was opened. A new swimming pool, a stadium for 5000 people, and a holiday resort were built. A new hospital was built.

Ostrołęka since 1989[edit]

In 1989 the city entered a new era of capitalism, which has lasted until the present day. The same year Ostrołęka was granted provincial rights. The paper factory Cellulose downsized en masse after privatisation. The factory Future went bankrupt but small service establishments were opened for average people to invest their money. A new hospital was built in the new century. The economy also developed. Three new trade pavilions were built. "Cellulose" changed its name to "Intercell", and the cellular concrete factory was bought by the Ytong company. The centre of the city began to fulfill trade functions.[citation needed]

In 1996, a second permanent bridge, "Most im. Antoniego Madalińskiego", was built. In 1999 the city became a district city. A new aquapark is currently being built and is planned to be opened by September 2010. A modernisation of the city stadium or even a completely new stadium is planned to be built early in the next decade, while two new modern training grounds for football are currently being built. A new power plant is currently being built and planned to open by 2015, generating 1,000 MW of power.[1][2] Also, the existing power plant is planned to undergo modernisation in the next decade.[citation needed]



  • Wyższa Szkoła Administracji Publicznej
  • Wyższa Szkoła Ekonomiczno-Społeczna



  • Narew Ostrołęka - Soccer team established in 1962. Currently playing in the 3rd Masovian-Łódż league
  • Korona Ostrołęka - Soccer team established in 1998. Currently playing in the 4th Masovian league


  • Pekpol Ostrołęka - Male volleyball team currently playing in the 1st Polish league
  • OTPS Nike Ostrołęka - Female volleyball team currently playing in the 2nd Polish league


  • Trójka Ostrołęka - Male handball team currently playing in the 2nd league


  • OTK Ostrołęka - Male basketball team
  • OKK Ostrołęka - Male basketball team
  • MUKS Unia Basket Ostrołęka - Female basketball team


Ostrołęka-Siedlce constituency[edit]

Members of Parliament (Sejm) elected from Ostrołęka-Siedlce constituency

  • Chrzanowski Zbigniew, PO
  • Deptuła Zbigniew, PSL
  • Dziewulski Zbigniew, Samoobrona
  • Filipek Krzysztof, Samoobrona
  • Janowski Gabriel, LPR
  • Kalinowski Jarosław, PSL
  • Krutczenko Zbigniew, SLD-UP
  • Kurpiewski Stanisław, SLD-UP
  • Oleksy Józef, SLD-UP
  • Piłka Marian, PiS
  • Prządka Stanisława, SLD-UP
  • Sawicki Marek, PSL

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Energa upgrading Ostroleka power station". Construction Sector in Poland (PMR). 2008-06-30. Retrieved 2010-12-04. 
  2. ^ "Polish coal miner Bogdanka to supply Ostroleka power plant". Platts. 2010-10-20. Retrieved 2010-12-04. 

Coordinates: 53°05′N 21°35′E / 53.083°N 21.583°E / 53.083; 21.583