Belchatow is a town in central Poland, in Lodz Voivodeship. In the 1980s there was a Brown Coal Mine operating here. By now, Belchatow’s neighbourhood has been Poland’s largest fuel-energy basin. The town is also famous for its men’s volleyball team, Skra. Belchatow has also a lot of accommodation places as well as bars and restaurants. Numerous leisure facilities and beautiful forests attract tourists.
Belchatow is populated by 61 thousand people. It is one of 312 towns that belong to the Association of Polish Cities.
Belchatow has a lot of attractions to offer. Active tourists will surely appreciate two large sport and recreation centres, Slok and Wawrzkowizna, which are especially popular among tourists in a summer season. Both centres provide accommodation are well-equipped. They have indoor pools, saunas, tennis courts, gyms and studs among others. You may also rent a water bike, a canoe or a sailing boat there. Moreover, the town has as many as seven parks and five squares, each of the area of up to ten hectares (for example Jan Nowak-Jezioranski park). They encourage visitors to rest and relax in a harmony with nature.
History lovers will also find something for themselves in Belchatow. The Regional Museum may boast of many exhibits, but the building itself is also a very interesting monument. It is a listed, late-Baroque manor located in the town centre. Another worth visiting place is the Nativity of the Theotokos Church from the 18th century with a “miraculous” painting of Theotokos and late-Baroque wooden sculptures. Interesting historical objects are also reinforced concrete bunkers from the beginning of the Second World War. They were probably built on the request of Marshal Edward Rydz-Smigly. The revetments and bunkers may be encountered in the forests and by the roads of Belchatow Commune. In spring and summer seasons the town organises numerous open-air and cultural events. In May it holds Gospel workshops and Japanese Culture Days and in June Belchatow Days.
The town is the capital of Belchatow County. It is located within Belchatow Upland, by the Rakowka river, approximately 50 km from Lodz and 25 km from Piotrkow Trybunalski. Belchatow is an important transport centre. There is a country road (Warsaw-Wroclaw) and two voivodeship roads running through Belchatow. There is also Wroclaw–Lublin transport route going through the town. Due to the well-developed local transport, you may also travel conveniently in Belchatow itself.
Grocholice is considered the oldest district of Belchatow. The first records about this settlement come from the 12th century; however, it is the 14th century (i.e. the time when Belchat of Topor coat of arms became the owner of the settlement) that is considered the beginning of Belchatow history. The succeeding proprietors of Belchatow were the Kowalewski family of the Prus III coat of arms and in the 18th century the Rychlowski family of Nalecz coat of arms. Rychlowski brothers, Stanislaw and Franciszek, helped the town develop; thanks to their efforts Belchatow was given town rights by King Augustus III.
In the 19th century, during the reigns of the Kaczkowski family, the first textile workshop came into existence and an elementary school, an evangelical church, a post office and a drug store were built. Transport routes were extended as well. In 1887 the town was owned by the Hellwig family. At that time Belchatow produced beer, which was appreciated by the whole Piotrkow guberniya.
The early 20th century was a period of a cultural and economy boom. A few factories were built and a bank, a library and a court were opened; also textile works were developing very fast. The golden years were interrupted by the Second World War. There was a defence line of Polish Armed Forces near Belchatow. In the town Germans created ghetto, in which they kept more than 5 thousand Jews. In 1942 the ghetto was liquidated and the Jews were transported to the extermination camp in Chelm. After the war, the town was rebuilt. In 1960s brown coal deposits were found in Belchatow’s neighbourhood, in Piaski. In 1980 the Belchatow brown coal mine came into existence; it made the town one of the most important industrial centres in the region.