Although easily passed over as a medium sized town, Ostrowiec Swietokrzyski has a lot to offer. It is home to a rich cultural life concentrated round the professional Photography Gallery, the Artistic Exhibition Office, and a Historical and Archaeological Museum. Furthermore, the town has top-class sports facilities, with a stadium as well as a sports and recreation centre, including the most glamorous Olympic swimming pool in the country. While there are a number of sights worthy of notice in Ostrowiec, the greatest attraction has to be the Neolithic striped silex mine with its underground trails open to visitors, located in nearby Krzemionki.
What is remarkable about Ostrowiec is that the original urban framework of the central part of the town has survived, with its street system starting in its corners. This makes it a prime example of a typical town created at the end of the 16th century.
If you are staying in Ostrowiec, do not miss the following sights: the Baroque St Stanislaw Biskup Church dating from the end of the 16th century with its adjoining cemetery laid out some two centuries later, the St Michaels Church from the beginning of the 17th century and reconstructed in the 20th century in its present neo-baroque style, and the remnants of the 18th-century Jewish memorial park. Other spots worth visiting include the old palace of the Wielkopolscy family, erected in the second half of the 19th century amidst a beautiful park; and the building of the main office, easily recognisable due to its immense Palladian colonnade frontage.
Located in the village of Baltow, not far from Ostrowiec, is the only Jurassic Park in Poland hosting exhibitions of Allosaurus, Triceratops and other species of prehistoric reptiles. A Tyrannosaurus rex model welcomes everyone to come in and climb over it, and you can take a ride on a raft down the river from here.
In terms of the area and the number of inhabitants (80,000) Ostrowiec Swietokrzyski is the second largest town in the Swietokrzyskie Voivodship, after Kielce. Together with Starachowice and Skarzysko, which are also located on the Kamienna River, it forms a tri-city on the Kamienna.
Ostrowiec is situated at the intersection of three geographical regions forming part of the Kielecko-Sandomierska Upland. These regions are the Opatowska Upland, the valley of the Kamienna River and the Ilzeckie Tectonic Promontory.
From Ostrowiec it is 170 km to Warsaw, 120 km to Lublin and 60 km to Kielce, while the nearest border crossing point with Germany is some 500 km away.
It is known that the first settlements in the area of Ostrowiec Swietokrzyski appeared in the Neolithic age. The earliest historical records regarding the villages of Ostrow and Czestocica, which together form the present town, go back as far as the years 1369 and 1374. Jakub Gawronski of the Rawa line bought Ostrow at the end of the 16th century, and marked out the square in 1597 as the first step to building the town. At the turn of the 16th century, Janusz Ostrogski became the owner of the whole estate, but he then divided Cmielow and Opatow into smaller estates and so it remained up until the mid-19th century.
During the 17th century, the ownership of Ostrowiec often changed hands between various families. The years 1837 and 1838 saw the Klimkiewicz Steel Works being established on the bank of the Kamienna River, financed by one of the then owners of the town, Count Lubienski.
Following the January Uprising in 1863 the town become less feudal. Zygmunt Wielopolski, another proprietor of the remnants of Ostrowiec estate, was a founder of the Large Stoves Joint Stock Company and Ostrowiec Works. Old Ostrowiec and industrial Klimkiewiczow became fused into one and, significantly, the factory settlement of Czestocice was created close to this new urban organism. Between 1884 and 1885 Ostrowiec was connected to the Deblinsko-Dabrowska railway line from Skarzysko.
At the beginning of the 19th century industrial growth was on the rise and quick development of the town took place in this period. The end of the previouscentury had seen Ostrowiec increasing in population and extent, while several satellite factory settlements were developing rapidly as well.
As a consequence of the Ostrowiec Works having been destroyed during the First World War, the town entered a period of economic decline. Once Poland became free of the Austrian-Hungarian empire at the end of the First World War in 1918, the town was able to slowly start to rebuild itself.
The years between the two world wars were marked a period of rapid development, already by 1924 there was an expansion of the town’s boundaries and separation from the Opatow administrative district.
During the Second World War, the town served as a centre of diversionary sabotage actions, reconnaissance, weapon manufacturing and the operation of an underground press, while at the same time witnessing systemic public executions. Ostrowiec was liberated by the Red Army on 16 January 1945. Since then the town has grown to its present cosmopolitan levels and embraced the freedom of the past two decades.