Czestochowa lies among the picturesque Jurassic rocks of Krakow-Czestochowa Upland, topped with the ruins of Medieval castles. But for the majority of Poles, Czestochowa is associated with the Jasna Gora Monastery and the icon of the Black Madonna, credited with many miracles. The sanctuary is famous as one of the world's greatest places of pilgrimage, but its imposing architecture also lures many tourists.
Czestochowa plays a crucial role for the Roman Catholic Poles, being a kind of spiritual capital to them. The cult status of the Jasna Gora monastery, one of the most important pilgrimage destinations of the Christian world, has been growing along with the distinguished history of the site. It has become a symbolic mainstay of Polish identity and the Roman Catholic religion, as the hill of Jasna Gora was besieged by Swedes, Russians and Germans, who were all of different faiths.
Czestochowa is situated in southern Poland, 140 km from Krakow, on the Warta River and its confluents, the Konopka and Stradomka Rivers. In terms of administrative divisions, it belongs to the Silesian province, being its second city after Katowice, but geographically Czestochowa belongs to the Krakowsko-Czestochowska Upland, the lovely region spreading between the two cities. The average height of the upland is 350-450 m above sea level. Its main attraction is the Eagles' Nests Trail, the string of castles built on top of the nearby Jurassic rocks and hills, known as Olsztyn, Ogrodzieniec, Ojcow and Pieskowa Skala. They once formed a line of fortifications together with Jasna Gora in Czestochowa, which was once a defensive point.
The first time the name of the city was mentioned was in 1220, but it had already been founded in the 11th century. The origin of the term ‘Czestochowa’ is connected with the name Czestoch (or Czestobor, Czestomir), who may have been its founder. In the 14th century, it gained the status of a city, since 1502 under the Magdeburg Law.