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Kielce

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Nestled in the heart of the spectacular Świętokrzyskie Mountains, the charming capital of Świętokrzyskie province is the most important economic and tourist hub in the region, as well as hosting major trade fairs and exhibitions 

Picture-Perfect, Past and Present 

The relatively recent discovery of coral, sponge and shell fossils found in local caves serve as proof that, millions of years ago, a warm sea once existed where Kielce stands today. What other fascinating attractions and discoveries can tourists expect to find? Well, you’d be surprised…  

No-one can deny that the city boasts an exceptionally beautiful location, cut through the middle by the spectacular Świętokrzyskie mountain range. This means that a stroll around Kielce takes you, literally, to many different levels: from 231 metres above sea level right up to 406 metres at the highest point in the city; Telegraph Hill, to be precise. While it may be small compared to other province capitals, it’s the only city in Europe with such a diverse range of rock formations. This really is a geologist’s dream city, and you can get up-close and personal with the many different rocks in Kielce’s five must-see nature reserves: Kadzielnia, Wietrznia, Ślichowice and Biesak-Białogon, as well as the Karczówka landscape reserve.  

Rock Solid Fun in Nature 

For one of the best views of the city, head to Kadzielnia Hill (295 metres above sea level). As one of the most famous cave areas in the Świętokrzyskie Mountains, it has now become a popular nature reserve, offering (non-claustrophobic) visitors a totally different kind of experience. Three of its 25 caves form part of a 140-metre-long underground tourist route, with plenty of fossilised treasures to see along the way, including coral, bat, sponge and shell fossils. Would-be explorers, old and young, will find this very cool indeed! That’s not all this reserve offers however; the modern Kadzielnia Amphitheatre, regarded as the biggest stage in the whole of Poland (it’s half as big again as the one in Sopot), is the chosen venue for a long list of concerts and cultural events. Consider yourself more of an adrenaline junkie? Then you’ll love the rush provided by the Tyrolka nad Kadzielnią rope and zip-line park! You may also want to make a note in your diary of the annual and extreme Kadzielnia Sport Festival. It’s really not for the faint-hearted… 

Over in the Karczówka landscape reserve on the hill of the same name (340 metres above sea level), an educational path leads you to impressive sights such as a 400-metre-deep crack, which is actually a sinkhole left by former mineshafts, of which there are many still in the region. For some stunning panoramas of both Kielce itself and the Świętokrzyskie Mountains, both the observation deck and the neighbouring tower of the post-Bernardine Monastery Complex on Karczówka Hill are your best options. 

Prepare to be taken back some 500 million years in the Biesak-Białogon reserve. This former quartzite sandstone quarry is home to the oldest rocks belonging to the mountain range! Meanwhile, on Wietrznia Hill in the Wietrznia Reserve, you’ll discover what took place on Earth 350 million years ago from an incredible formation dubbed “the card” a huge rock wall that happens to be the longest geological cross-section in Poland, measuring an incredible 800 metres. The Geo-Educational Centre on Wietrznia Hill is the place to go for a fascinating history lesson about our planet, which aside from being hugely informative, is also great fun! 

The Absolute Musts 

Top of the list: The City Trail. What better way to discover Kielce than by visiting the 32 attractions, reserves and historic buildings that make up the trail. The most valuable relic of bygone times is the former Palace of the Kraków Bishops. For some centuries, it was thanks to these bishops that the city grew, before it was later transferred to the state.  

The picturesque National Museum is another must, and by far the best-preserved of any building from Poland’s Vasa period. The nearby Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Holy Virgin Mary is worth a visit for its incredible Baroque/rococo interiors alone! You won’t want to forget your camera for this one. Inside, you’ll find the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Grace, the patroness of Kielce. Opposite the tower is an intriguing 250-year-old plaque, with Polish, English and French measures of length and the alphabet. 

From the cathedral, it’s just a short walk to the 200-year-old larch-wood Laszczyk Manor House. The last timber historic building of its kind in Kielce, it is now used as the headquarters of the Kielce Countryside Museum. The quaint manor house stands on the slope of Castle Hill, without doubt one of the city’s most charming spots. At the foot of the hill lies the serene Municipal Park, with its ponds, willows and 100-year-old trees. It’s the perfect spot to relax and recharge; in fact writer Stefan Żeromski used to sit on a bench here when he was a student in Kielce. He later made Marcin Borowicz, one of the main characters from his novel The Labours of Sisyphus, sit there waiting for his beloved Biruta. The spring near the pond is actually named after her and decorated with a sculpture called Love Vows. 

A Stroll Around Sienkiewicz 

All these historical sites can be found around Sienkiewicza Street. The city’s main artery, and a very pretty one at that, this spacious promenade is lined with a fabulous combination of historical tenement buildings interspersed with modern architecture, where you’ll find shops, restaurants and lots more. The Nobel Prize winner Henryk Sienkiewicz is the street’s patron for a reason: he lived in nearby Oblęgorek, an estate he was given by Polish society for his enormous contribution to Polish literature.  

While walking along this colourful street, on the bridge over the River Silnica, don’t miss out on your chance to take possibly the most popular photo when in Kielce: the Karski Bench! Sit down next to Jan Karski, the famous underground courier for the Polish government-in-exile during World War II, and engage in a fictitious game of chess with him. At the opposite end of the promenade to Castle Hill, you´ll come to the Old Town Square, surrounded by two-storey tenements and the crisp white tower of St. Adalbert’s Church. 

Other places definitely worth visiting include: The National Museum; the Geological Museum; the Laurens Hammond Museum; the Diocese Museum; the Energy Science Centre at the Kielce Technology Park; the Museum of Toys and Play; the Museum of Stefan Żeromski’s School Years; the Geo-Education Centre and the Centre for Patriotic and Civic Thought. 

Get Moving! 

Kielce is also the perfect city for active tourists: snowboarding, cycling, hiking, horse-riding, take your pick! Cycling enthusiasts will find numerous bike paths and routes to choose from depending on time and energy limitations. Examples include the 16-kilometre blue bicycle route in the Posłowickie Range south of Kielce, or arguably the toughest bicycle route in Kielce: a five-kilometre loop on the Telegraf slopes (your legs will feel that one for days!) Poland’s longest bicycle route, the Green Velo Eastern Bicycle Trail, also runs through the city. 

If the idea of seeing Kielce and its surroundings from the saddle appeals, both the Stadium Park Equestrian Centre and the MAAG Centre offer horse-riding opportunities, where you can then enjoy a fabulous ride along clearly marked horse trails in the Posłowickie and Dymińskie ranges. 

With the arrival of winter, skiers and snowboarders have a choice of several centres offering multiple ski-lifts in Kielce and the Świętokrzyskie Mountains. The mostly gentle slopes are perfect for beginners to practise their skiing skills, but there are also plenty of places for the more advanced to try - the northern Telegraf slope is the steepest but the Stadium on the Pierścienica slope is just as exciting. During these picture-perfect snowy winters, many sections of hiking trails in the Dymińskie and Posłowickie ranges and the yellow-marked circular trail are excellent for ski-touring. If you’re more of beginner when it comes to this option, the paths around the Stadion Leśny complex are the perfect choice for you. 

The Perfect Host 

Kielce is no stranger when it comes to hosting events. In fact, it’s quite the pro. The city regularly welcomes visitors to events such as Kielce Day, New Year’s Eve Under the Stars (a super party next to the Town Hall that draws thousands of participants) and the Scout Festival of School Youth Culture which has been held since 1974. 

Thanks to its well-developed industry and central location as well as academic traditions, Kielce is also a well-known centre for business meetings, trade fairs and exhibitions. Targi Kielce, the local trade fair company, organises a host of industry exhibitions combined with scientific conferences and presentations, providing excellent opportunities to develop business contacts. These have all helped to put this industrious, historical city on the map. 

For more information please visit the official Kielce travel portal.

Kielce - city on the crossroads
Located in the heart of the Świętokrzyskie Mountains, Kielce is the economic and tourist center of the region. Many tourist trails linking monuments from different periods of Polish history cross in Kielce.
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