|• Total||8.65 km2 (3.34 sq mi)|
|• Density||260/km2 (670/sq mi)|
Bodzentyn [bɔˈd͡zɛntɨn] ( listen) is a town in Kielce County, Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship, Poland, with 2,271 inhabitants (2004). Bodzentyn Castle was built in the 14th century. Bodzentyn belongs to Lesser Poland, and was granted town charter in 1355. The town lies in the Świętokrzyskie Mountains, here main office of the Świętokrzyski National Park is located.
Bodzentyn (or Bodzentin, as it used to be called in documents) was founded in 1355 near the location of the ancient town of Tarczek, which belonged to the bishops of Kraków. Its charter was granted by King Kazimierz Wielki; the name of the town comes from bishop of Kraków, Jan Bodzanta. Bodzentyn was the center of land properties (see herrschaft) of the bishops of Kraków. In 1365 bishop Florian from Mokrsko built here a castle, and surrounded the town with defensive walls. In 1380 bishop Jan Radlica founded Holy Cross church, and in the late Middle Ages, Bodzentyn was one of the most important urban centers of northern Lesser Poland. In 1410 King Władysław Jagiełło spent a few days here, on his way to the Battle of Grunwald. Soon afterwards, the town burned in a fire, so bishop Wojciech Jastrzębiec managed to convince the king to grant new privileges to Bodzentyn. Another bishop who contributed to the development of the town was Piotr Wysz Radoliński. He granted Bodzentyn’s residents the rights to cut down forests, graze cattle, sell salt, meats and liquors. Furthermore, a marketplace was established. In 1450, Cardinal Zbigniew Oleśnicki founded here a Gothic collegiate church.
In the 16th century, Bodzentyn continued to prosper, with six fairs organized here every year. Numerous artisan guilds existed here at that time: blacksmiths, shoemakers, tailors, cloth makers, butchers and others. The town enjoyed several royal privileges (1468, 1533, 1575), and together with whole Lesser Poland, it prospered in the period of Polish Golden Age. In the second half of the 16th century, the castle was turned into a palace, and at approximately same time, a second market square was created. Due to efforts of mayor Jan Kołek, Bodzentyn received waterworks and a public bath. Among notable persons who lived here were royal secretary bishop Franciszek Krasiński (who died 1577), and Crown chancellor Jakub Zadzik. Since 1640, Bodzentyn sent one person to study at the Kraków Academy, who after graduation was employed at a local school. In 1670 the town got a large town hall with a tall tower and a clock, funded by bishop Andrzej Trzebicki.
Unlike most town of Lesser Poland, Bodzentyn was not destroyed in the Swedish invasion of Poland (1655 - 1660). Soon afterwards, however, several natural disasters and plagues decimated the population. In 1662, Bodzentyn had 134 houses and 850 residents. In 1674, the population shrank to 540. In the 18th and 19th centuries Bodzentyn emerged as a local center of industry, with forges and several factories. Last bishop of Kraków who owned Bodzentyn was Kajetan Sołtyk. In 1795, following the Partitions of Poland, the town, which had belonged to Sandomierz Voivodeship, passed into the hands of the Austrian government. Its situation quickly deteriorated. In 1832, the town hall was pulled down, and in 1836, parts of its ancient fortifications, together with Opatów Gate, were destroyed. In 1827 it had 203 houses and the population of 1,050. Between 1815 and 1915, Bodzentyn belonged to Russian-controlled Congress Poland.
Bodzentyn was one of major centers of the January Uprising in northern Lesser Poland. On the first night of the insurrection, it was attacked by the Polish rebels, and on 23 January 1864 a parade of rebel troops took place here, received by General Józef Hauke-Bosak. In 1870, Bodzentyn, whose population was 1500, lost its town charter and became a village. On 20 June 1917, most of Bodzentyn burned in a fire, and by 1921, the population was 3570, with almost 50% Jewish. During World War II, Bodzentyn was an important center of anti-German resistance. The hill of Wykus, a few kilometers from the village, served as a forest camp of local Home Army unit under Jan Piwnik. Germans were aware of it, and on 1 June 1943 they pacified Bodzentyn, killing 39 people. The village also had a Jewish ghetto, whose 700 residents were murdered in 1942 at Treblinka extermination camp. In 1960, the population of Bodzentyn was almost 3,000, and the village regained its town charter in 1994.
Points of interest
- Gothic parish church (1440–1452),
- Church altar (first half of the 16th century),
- ruins of the 14th-century castle,
- Holy Spirit church (17th century),
- medieval shape of streets, with two market squares and remains of the 14th-century fortifications,
- tenement houses (18th and 19th centuries).
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