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Top: Town Hall, Sanctuary of Divine Mercy
Middle: Courthouse, "Gołębnik" tenement
Bottom: "Noce i Dnie" fountain, City Park
Flag of Kalisz
Coat of arms of Kalisz
Latin: Poloniae urbs vetustissima (The oldest city of Poland)
Kalisz is located in Greater Poland Voivodeship
Kalisz is located in Poland
Coordinates: 51°45′27″N 18°4′48″E / 51.75750°N 18.08000°E / 51.75750; 18.08000
Country Poland
Voivodeship Greater Poland
Established9th century
Town rightsafter 1268
 • MayorKrystian Kinastowski
 • Total69.42 km2 (26.80 sq mi)
 (31 December 2019)
 • Total100,246 Decrease (38th)[1]
 • Density1,472/km2 (3,810/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
62-800 to 62-810
Area code(s)(+48) 62
Car platesPK

Kalisz ([ˈkalʲiʂ] (About this soundlisten)) is a city in central Poland and the second-largest city in the Greater Poland Voivodeship with 100,246 inhabitants (December 2019).[1] It is the capital city of the Kalisz Region. Situated on the Prosna river in the southeastern part of Greater Poland, the city forms a conurbation with the nearby towns of Ostrów Wielkopolski and Nowe Skalmierzyce.

Kalisz is an important regional industrial and commercial centre with many notable factories. The city is also a centre for traditional folk art. The town was also the site of the former 'Calisia' piano factory, until it went out of business in 2007. The building was transformed into the Calisia One Hotel which opened in 2019.


The name Kalisz is thought to stem from the archaic kal, meaning swamp or marsh.

There are many artefacts from Roman times in the area of Kalisz, indicating that the settlement had once been a stop of the Roman caravans heading for the Baltic Sea along the trade route of the Amber Trail.[2] Calisia had been mentioned by Ptolemy in the 2nd century AD, although the connection is doubted by some historians who claim that the location mentioned by Ptolemy was situated in the territory of the Diduni in Magna Germania.


Middle Ages[edit]

Mediaeval seal of the city of Kalisz

Archaeological excavations have uncovered early medieval settlement from the Piast dynasty period, c. 9th–12th centuries.[3] Modern Kalisz was most likely founded in the 9th century as a provincial capital castellany and a minor fort. In 1106 Bolesław III Wrymouth captured the town and made it a part of his feudal domain. Between 1253 and 1260 the town was incorporated according to the German town law called the Środa Śląska Law [pl] (after Środa Śląska in Silesia), a local variation of the Magdeburg Law, and soon started to grow. One of the richest towns of Greater Poland, during the feudal fragmentation of Poland it formed a separate duchy ruled by a local branch of the Piast dynasty. After Poland was reunited, the town became a notable centre of weaving and wood products, as well as one of the cultural centres of Greater Poland. There are also records of Khalyzian settlements from 1139.

Jews first settled there as early as the twelfth century, where they minted coins for the prince.[4]

In 1282 the city laws were confirmed by Przemysł II of Poland, and in 1314 it was made the capital of the Kalisz Voivodeship by king Ladislaus the Short. Located roughly in the centre of Poland (as its borders stood in that era), Kalisz was a notable centre of trade. Because of its strategic location, King Casimir III the Great signed a peace treaty with the Teutonic Order there in 1343. As a royal city, Kalisz managed to defend many of its initial privileges, and in 1426 a new town hall was built. The Polish Duke Mieszko III the Old was buried in Kalisz.[2]

Modern era[edit]

Polish King Sigismund II Augustus confirms the old privileges of Kalisz, 1552

In 1574 the Jesuits came to Kalisz and in 1584 opened a Jesuit College, which became one of the most notable centres of education in Poland; around this time, however, the importance of Kalisz began to decline somewhat, its place being taken by nearby Poznań.

The economic development of the area was aided by a large number of Protestant Czech Brothers, who settled in and around Kalisz after being expelled from Bohemia in 1620.

In the 18th century, one of two main routes connecting Warsaw and Dresden ran through the town at that time, and Kings Augustus II the Strong and Augustus III of Poland often traveled that route.[5] In 1792, a fire destroyed much of the city centre. The following year, in the second partition of Poland, the Kingdom of Prussia absorbed the city, called "Kalisch" in German. In 1801, Wojciech Bogusławski set up one of the first permanent theatre troupes in Kalisz.

In 1807, Kalisz became a provincial capital within the Duchy of Warsaw. During Napoleon's invasion of Russia, following Yorck's Convention of Tauroggen of 1812, von Stein's Treaty of Kalisz was signed between Russia and Prussia in 1813, confirming that Prussia now was on the side of the Allies.

Kalisz Tribunal and Courthouse

After the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte, Kalisz became a provincial capital of Congress Poland and then the capital of a province of the Russian Empire. Prussia and Russia held joint military exercises near the town in 1835. The proximity to the Prussian border accelerated economic development of the city and Kalisz ("Калиш" in Russian Cyrillic) started to attract many settlers, not only from other regions of Poland and other provinces of the Russian Empire, but also from German states. In 1902, a new railway linked Kalisz to Warsaw and Łódź.

Rynek (Market Square)

With the outbreak of World War I, the proximity of the border proved disastrous for Kalisz; it was one of the first cities destroyed in 1914. Between 2 and 22 August, Kalisz was shelled and then burned to the ground by German forces under Major Hermann Preusker, even though Russian troops had retreated from the city without defending it and German troops – many of them ethnic Poles – had initially been welcomed peaceably. Eight hundred men were arrested and then several of them slaughtered, while the city was set on fire and the remaining inhabitants were expelled. Out of roughly 68,000 citizens in 1914, only 5,000 remained in Kalisz a year later. By the end of the Great War, however, much of the city centre had been more or less rebuilt and many of the former inhabitants had been allowed to return.[6]

After the war Kalisz became part of the newly independent Poland.[7] On December 13, 1918, the First Border Battalion, composed of volunteers from Kalisz and Ostrów Wielkopolski, was sworn in Kalisz, before joining the ongoing Greater Poland uprising (1918–19) against Germany.[7] The reconstruction continued and in 1925 a new city hall was opened. In 1939 the population of Kalisz was approximately 89,000.

World War II[edit]

Execution of a Polish priest by the Germans in 1939

After the German invasion of Poland in September 1939, the proximity of the border once again proved disastrous. Kalisz was captured by the Wehrmacht after Polish resistance,[8] and the city was annexed by Germany. In revenge for resistance, the Wehrmacht carried out massacres of Polish defenders, who were executed both in the city and in the nearby settlement of Winiary (today a district of Kalisz).[8] Over 1,000 people were arrested as hostages.[8] Numerous Poles were arrested and murdered during the Intelligenzaktion aimed at annihilation of the Polish intelligentsia. Around 750 Poles from Kalisz, Ostrów Wielkopolski and other nearby settlements were imprisoned in the Kalisz prison from September 1939 to March 1940, and most were murdered in large massacres in the Winiary forest.[9] In November 1939, the Einsatzgruppe VI murdered 41 Poles at the local Jewish cemetery, among the victims was pre-war Polish mayor of Kalisz, Ignacy Bujnicki.[10] In April and May 1940, many Poles arrested in the region, especially teachers, were imprisoned in the local prison, and afterwards deported to the Mauthausen and Dachau concentration camps, where they were murdered.[11]

Memorial at the site of a massacre of 150 Poles in Winiary

In Kalisz, the Germans established a Germanisation camp for Polish children taken away from their parents (Gaukinderheim).[12] The children were given new German names and surnames, and were punished for any use of the Polish language, even with death (e.g. a 14-year-old boy Zygmunt Światłowski [pl] was murdered).[12] After their stay in the camp, the children were deported to Germany, only some returned to Poland after the war, while the fate of many remains unknown to this day.[12]

By the end of World War II approximately 30,000 local Jews had been murdered, and 20,000 local Catholics (Poles) were either murdered or expelled to the German-occupied territories (General Government) or to Germany as slave workers. In 1945 the population of the city was 43,000 – approximately half the pre-war figure.

Following the war, Jewish Holocaust survivors returned to the city, by 1946 numbering some 500. By the late 1940s only some 100 remained, and those few who stayed blended into Polish society.[13]

Recent period[edit]

In 1975, after Edward Gierek's reform of the administrative division of Poland, Kalisz again became the capital of a province – Kalisz Voivodeship; the province was abolished in 1998, however, and since then Kalisz has been the county seat of a separate powiat within the Greater Poland Voivodeship. In 1991 the city festival was inaugurated on 11 June to commemorate the confirmation of the incorporation of the city in 1282. In 1992, Kalisz became the seat of a separate diocese of the Catholic Church.[2] In 1997 Kalisz was visited by Pope John Paul II.[2]

City neighborhoods[edit]

Market Square at dusk
Collegiate Basillica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Calisia One - the former Arnold Fibiger Piano Factory
Neighborhoods of Kalisz
Name Population Area (km2) Area (mi2)
Asnyka 5697 0.44 0.1698849
Chmielnik 3612 3.28 1.266415
Czaszki 7130 0.67 0.2586884
Dobro 597 1.96 0.7567602
Dobrzec 867 8.62 3.328201
Dobrzec P 8599 1.51 0.5830143
Dobrzec W 5503 0.38 0.146719
Kaliniec 4685 0.36 0.1389968
Korczak 4459 0.73 0.281855
Majków 3311 2.96 1.142862
Ogrody 2073 2.06 0.7953704
Piskorzewie 1915 1.99 0.7683433
Piwonice 2660 8.72 3.366811
Rajsków 1884 3.43 1.32433
Rogatka 2720 0.27 0.1042476
Rypinek 3708 4.48 1.729738
Sulisławice 835 4.68 1.806958
Sulisławice Kolonia 164 1.19 0.4594616
Szczypiorno 1529 5.87 2.26642
Śródmieście 17258 1.76 0.6795398
Tyniec 4189 3.02 1.166029
Widok 6516 0.44 0.1698849
Winiary 2491 5.40 2.08495
XXV-lecia 5094 1.02 0.3938242
Zagorzynek 2773 3.89 1.501937


Saint Nicholas Cathedral

There are 19 Catholic Churches, 5 Protestant Churches, and one Orthodox Church in Kalisz. Before World War II there were 25,000 Jews in Kalisz,[citation needed] but most of them were murdered by Germans and by the summer of 1942 the Jewish community in Kalisz was entirely destroyed.


Kalisz is a notable centre of education in the region. It is home to twenty-nine primary schools, fifteen junior high schools, and five high schools. Seven colleges and a dozen or so vocational schools are also located there. The city is also home to branches of Poznań University, Poznań University of Economics, and Poznań University of Technology, as well as several other institutions of higher education. It is a home to the Henryk Melcer Music School.


Although there is little heavy industry within the city limits, Kalisz is home to several of large enterprises. It is notable for the Winiary (part of the Nestlé group) and Colian food processing plants and the Big Star jeans factory. Two plane engine production factories, WSK-Kalisz and Pratt & Whitney Kalisz (a branch of Pratt & Whitney Canada), are located in Kalisz.



Kalisz railway station was built in 1902 as the destination of the Warsaw–Kalisz Railway. It is currently served by Przewozy Regionalne and PKP Intercity.

Notable people from Kalisz[edit]

Stanisław Wojciechowski, president of Poland from 1922 to 1926
Adam Asnyk, a Polish positivist poet

International relations[edit]

Twin towns — Sister cities[edit]

Kalisz is twinned with:[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Local Data Bank". Statistics Poland. Retrieved 30 June 2020. Data for territorial unit 3061000.
  2. ^ a b c d Anna Woźniak (2013), "Historia miasta Kalisz" (History of Kalisz) from the city's Official website. Internet Archive.
  3. ^ Tadeusz Chrzanowski, "Kalisz", Sport i Turystyka, Warszawa 1978, Polish, German, English, French, Russian.
  4. ^ Kalisz
  5. ^ "Informacja historyczna". Dresden-Warszawa (in Polish). Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  6. ^ Maciej Drewicz: Kto zniszczył Kalisz (Who destroyed Kalisz). Dziennik Wielkopolski; Internet Archive Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ a b Krystyna Dobak-Splitt; Jerzy Aleksander Splitt. "Odzyskanie niepodległości / powstanie wielkopolskie". Kalisz poprzez wieki. Dawny Kalisz. Retrieved October 3, 2012. Kalisz poprzez wieki, Wydawca: Towarzystwo Miłośników Kalisza, 1988
  8. ^ a b c Maria Wardzyńska, Był rok 1939. Operacja niemieckiej policji bezpieczeństwa w Polsce. Intelligenzaktion, IPN, Warszawa, 2009, p. 92 (in Polish)
  9. ^ Wardzyńska, p. 205-206
  10. ^ Wardzyńska, p. 206-207
  11. ^ Wardzyńska, p. 212-213
  12. ^ a b c Krystyna Dobak-Splitt; Jerzy Aleksander Splitt. ""Dom wychowawczy" dla polskich dzieci w Kaliszu". Kalisz.info (in Polish). Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  13. ^ Krzyzanowski, Lukasz. "An Ordinary Polish Town: The Homecoming of Holocaust Survivors to Kalisz in the Immediate Aftermath of the War." European History Quarterly 48.1 (2018): 92–112.
  14. ^ "Kontakty zagraniczne Miasta". bip.kalisz.pl. Retrieved 2018-06-29.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°46′N 18°05′E / 51.767°N 18.083°E / 51.767; 18.083