From 1975 to 1998, the city of Bielsko-Biała was the provincial capital of Poland, since it lies midway between Warsaw and Vienna. The city’s unique name comes from the merger of two towns: Bielsko (formed in 1263) and Biała (recognized in 1723). Both towns, situated on opposite sides of the Biała River, were famous for their textiles. Bielsko-Biała woolen cloths were marked with the letters BS, and it was well known throughout Europe. In the late 19th century, Bielsko-Biała became the third largest center of the textile industry in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
The textile industry has traditions dating back to the Middle Ages. Today, however, the region around Bielsko-Biała is among the top industrial centers in Poland. The major share of domestic production belongs to the electro-equipment, textile and chemical industries, food processing, and forestry.
The region’s enterprises offer several different goods like:
- Textile machines
- Paints and lacquers
- Wool and cotton fabrics
- Alcohol (including some excellent beer)
Tradition And Tourism
The Bielsko-Biała region is one of the most attractive parts of Poland. Tourists who visit to admire its scenic landscapes and nature can make use of good transportation connections and well-developed facilities. The season never ends, and there are many activities to choose from, including:
- Water sports
- Horse riding
The region also includes the Babia Gra National Park, which was created to preserve the unique environment. It is now included in the UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Preservation.
Whether your interest is in art, music, architecture, outdoor recreation, or history, there is something to see in the region surrounding Bielsko-Biała. In the Bielsko-Biała voivodeship (similar to a province), folk culture—both material and spiritual—is still very much alive. These traditions are visible in buildings, sculpture, paintings, music, dances, and regional costumes. A very popular craft here is lace-making, which is a unique traditional art. Laces from the village of Koniakow are famous not only in Poland but also in many distant countries.
Every two years, Bielsko-Biała hosts the greatest world festival of puppet theaters organized by the world famous Banialuka Theater. Additionally, every May, the municipality organizes a festival of cultural and sporting events called Bielsko-Biała Days.
- Żurek – traditional soup made from fermented rye, served with boiled egg and sausages
- Kapusta – Sauerkraut
- Zupa koperkowa – dill soup
- Kiełbasa – Polish sausage – endless types and varieties, served cooked, grilled or smoked with mustard, dill pickle and bread
- Gołąbki – cabbage leaves stuffed with rice and minced meat, served with tomato sauce
- Pulpety/Klopsiki – meatballs usually served in tomato sauce
- Pierogi – dumplings, stuffed with meat or sauerkraut, mushrooms, potato, cottage cheese, fruits (blueberries, strawberries) – topped with fried onion or bacon or with sour cream with sugar
The Bielsko-Biała sister city committee connects Grand Rapids with the people of Bielsko-Biała. Some of our members are Polish speakers, but many are not. The Bielsko-Biała Committee is proud to partner with the Polish Heritage Society of Grand Rapids for many of its projects and events.
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