Situated in the heart of the Jura Krakowsko-Czestochowska highlands, the town of Zawiercie mainly attracts visitors with the natural beauty of its surroundings. Adorning the landscape are limestone island mountains, picturesque water reservoirs and the ruins of fortified castles, all providing a wonderful setting for active breaks. Particularly popular is rock climbing, as the Krakow-Czestochowa is actually the largest climbing area in the country. If you are on the Krakow tour and like rock climbing, you may consider to visit Jura.
Popular climbing areas, such as the Zborow Mountain in Podlesica and the Rzedkowickie Rocks, can be conveniently reached from Zawiercie by car or by PKS bus. The eastern part of the town constitutes a departure point to the Eagles’ Nest Park, a unique attraction with a limestone island mountain and Karst landscape. In no other place in Poland can one see communities of plants so varied in terms of flora and ecology. Sights along the Eagles’ Nest route include numerous ruined castles, the most important being Morsko (probably built in the 14th century), Mirow, Bobolice and the route’s highlight – Ogrodzieniec castle in Podzamcze.
Apart from serving as a base for treks into the surrounding area, Zawiercie is home to many historic monuments of interest to tourists, such as the church of St. Holy Trinity in Zawiercie-Skarzyce, built in 1583; the church of St. Nicholas, built in the 16th century with the later addition of a porch, two chapels, a sacristy and a tower; as well as a manor-house in Zawiercie-Bzow from the first half of the 19th century. There are also two Jewish cemeteries in the town – one located on Daszynskiego Street and the other in Zawiercie-Kromolow, established in the first half of the 18th century and holding graves from as early as 1730.
Zawiercie is located in the north-eastern part of the Silesian voivodship, 28 km from the Katowice International Airport in Pyrzowice, 43 km from Katowice itself, 45 km from Czestochowa and 67 km from Krakow. There is also good road and rail access with the rest of the region. Zawiercie has a total area of 8,524 ha and a population numbering more than 55,000.
The town lies at 355 m above sea level, in the Krakowsko-Czestochowska Jura highlands and on the Warta River, the latter having its source here. Very common throughout the region of Zawiercie are dolomites, zinc ores, calcium, lead and brown coal.
Dating from the year 1193, the earliest mention of Zawiercie concerns the part known as Kromolow. The Zawiercie Ironworks was mentioned in 1431 and the village of Zawiercie itself in 1492. Throughout its history, Zawiercie changed hands countless times with the first owner recorded in documents from 1490 being Jan Pilecki. Two years later the village passed to Jan Feliks Rzeszowski, the canon of Krakow. Later, Zawiercie belonged to the Boners family, and then remained in the possession of the Firlej family for nearly a century until 1669, when Mikolaj Firley finally sold it together with Kromolow to Stanislaw Warszycki, the Masovian Voivode. The following owners were the Mecinski counts, Konstanty Gostkowski and General Lieutenant Fryderyk Wielki II. In 1820 a banker from Wroclaw named Pingsheim bought Zawiercie.
Written sources from 1827 mention two names – Small Zawiercie and Big Zawiercie. Due to the advantageous location of the town and the development of industry, the population had increased from 5,200 in 1887 to 35,000 by 1914. Still, the single factor that contributed most to the growth of Zawiercie was the construction of the Warsaw-Vienna railway in the second half of the 19th century. Between the years 1890-1912 a grand railway station in the Regency style was built to celebrate 300 years of rule by the Romanov Tsars. Building of the Pilica-Siewierz road also helped to trigger the town’s economic development.
The cotton industry has been present in Zawiercie since the beginning of the 19th century. In the 1830s the first cotton spinning mill was established in the town, presently known as ‘Zawtex’, while the Ginsberg brothers are the ones credited with creating the ‘Zawiercie’ joint stock company. The textile works of the Ginsberg brothers and the TAZ joint stock company ranked among the biggest in the 19th century Kingdom of Poland. In 1886 the present-day Cast Iron Foundry Company Ltd. was founded, then known as the Ernest Erbe’s Ironworks.
In the 19th century Zawiercie had a populous Jewish community, and orthodox Jewish influences were very much present in the town. The year 1880 saw the building of a synagogue on Marszalkowska Street.
Up to 1903 Zawiercie belonged to Kromolow Parish. The Catholic cemetery was laid out in 1903 and considerably enlarged in 1920. Since 1925 the Zawiercie Parish has belonged to the Czestochowa Diocese.
After the end of the Second World War, Zawiercie recovered and then started to develop quite rapidly.