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Interior of basilica, Jasna Góra Monastery

Częstochowa is a city in south Polandmarker on the Warta River with 248,894 inhabitants (2004). It has been situated in the Silesian Voivodeshipmarker (administrative division) since 1999, and was previously the capital of Częstochowa Voivodeship (1975-1998). However, Czestochowa historically is part of Lesser Poland, not of Silesia and before 1795 (see: Partitions of Poland), it had belonged to the Kraków Voivodeship.

The town is known for the famous Pauline monastery of Jasna Góramarker that is the home of the Black Madonna painting (Polish: Jasnogórski Cudowny obraz Najświętszej Maryi Panny Niepokalanie Poczętej), a shrine to the Virgin Mary. Every year, millions of pilgrims from all over the world come to Częstochowa to see it. There is also a Lusatian culture excavation site and museum in the city and ruins of a medieval castle in Olsztyn, approximately 25 kilometres (ca. 16 mi) from the city centre.

City name

The name of Częstochowa means Częstoch's place and comes from a personal name of Częstoch mentioned in the medieval documents also as Częstobor and Częstomir. Variations of the name include Czanstochowa used in 1220, and Częstochow used in 1382 and 1558. A part of today's city called Częstochówka was a separate municipality mentioned in 14th century as the Old Częstochowa (Antiquo Czanstochowa, 1382) and Częstochówka in 1470-80.

The city was also known in German as Tschenstochau and in Russian as Ченстохов (Chenstokhov).



The village of Częstochowa was founded in 11th century. It is first mentioned as a village in historical documents from 1220. In 1382 the Paulist monastery of Jasna Góramarker was founded by Władysław Opolczyk (Ladislav of Opolemarker) - the Polish Piast prince of Upper Silesia. Two years later the monastery received its famous Black Madonna icon of the Virgin Mary and in subsequent years became a centre of pilgrimage, contributing to the growth of the adjacent town. Before 1377 Częstochowa received a town charter, which was later changed to the Magdeburg Law in 1502.


In the 17th century the local monastery was turned into a fortress, which was one of the pockets of Polish resistance against the Swedish armies during The Deluge in 1655. The Jewish community in Częstochowa came into existence by about 1700. After the second Partition of Poland it was annexed by Prussia.After 1760, Jacob Frank, the leader of a Jewish religion mixing Kabbalah, Catholicism and Islam, was imprisoned in the monastery by the church.His followers established near him, establishing a cult of his daughter Eve Frank.In August of 1772, Frank was released by the Russian general Bibikov, who had occupied the city.


During the Napoleonic Wars, in 1807 it became part of the Duchy of Warsawmarker and since 1815 the Kingdom of Polandmarker. This started a period of fast growth of the city. In 1819 renowned military architect Jan Bernhard planned and started the construction of Aleja Najświętszej Panny Marii - the Holiest Virgin Mary Avenue, which currently is the main axis of the modern city. The two existing towns of Częstochowa and Częstochówka (the latter received the city rights in 1717 as Nowa Częstochowa) were finally merged in 1826. In 1846 the Warsaw-Vienna Railway line was opened, linking the city with the rest of Europe. After 1870 iron ore started to be developed in the area, which gave a boost to the local industry. Among the most notable investments of the epoch was the Huta Częstochowa steel mill built by Bernard Hantke, as well as several weaveries and paper factories. Up to the Second World War, like many other cities in Europe, Częstochowa had a significant Jewish population: according to Russian census of 1897, out of the total population of 45,130, Jews constituted 12,000 (so around 26% percent).


Town hall
St. James the Apostle Church

During World War I the town came under Germanmarker occupation, and in 1918 it became a part of the newly-reborn Republic of Polandmarker. The new state acquired large deposits of good iron ore in Silesia and the mines in Częstochowa became inefficient and soon were closed. This brought the period of prosperity to an end. At the same time a bishopric was relocated to the city in 1925.

After the Polish Defensive War of 1939, the town was occupied by Nazi Germany, renamed to Tschenstochau, and incorporated into the General Government. The Nazis marched into Częstochowa on Sunday, September 3, 1939, two days after they invaded Poland. The next day, which became known as Bloody Monday, approximately 150 Jews were shot dead by the Germans. On April 9, 1941, a ghetto for Jews was created. During World War II approximately 45,000 of Częstochowa's Jews were murdered by the Germans, almost the entire Jewish community living there. Life in Nazi-occupied Częstochowa is depicted in the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel Maus, by Art Spiegelman, the son of a Jewish Częstochowa resident. Before the Holocaust, Częstochowa was considered a great Jewish center in Poland. By the end of WWII, the town was essentially Judenrein.

The city was liberated from the Germans by the Red Army on January 16, 1945. Due to the communist idea of fast industrialisation, the inefficient steel mill was significantly expanded and named after Bolesław Bierut. This, combined with the growing tourist movement, led to yet another period of fast city growth, concluded in 1975 with the creation of a separate Częstochowa Voivodeship.

In modern times, Pope John Paul II, a native son of Polandmarker, prayed before the Madonna during his historic visit in 1979, several months after his election to the Chair of Peter. The Pope made another visit to Our Lady of Częstochowa in 1983 and again in 1991.


Currently the city is one of the main tourist attractions of the area and is sometimes called the little Nurembergmarker because of the number of souvenir shops and historical monuments. It attracts millions (4.5 mln - 2005) of tourists and pilgrims every year.

The Black Madonna of Częstochowa, housed at the Jasna Góra Monasterymarker, is a particularly popular attraction.


National Road in Częstochowa
Main road connections from the Częstochowa include connection with Warsawmarker (to the north-east) and Katowicemarker (to the south) via the European route E75 (National Road ). There are also three another national roads number to Wieluńmarker, to Opolemarker and to Piotrków Trybunalskimarker.

Furthermore, Czestochowa is a major railroad hub, located at the intersection of two important lines - west-east (from Lubliniecmarker to Kielcemarker) and north-south (from Warszawamarker to Katowicemarker). Also, additional northbound line stems from Czestochowa, which goes to Chorzew Siemkowicemarker, where it joins the Polish Coal Trunk-Line. There are six railway stations in the city, the biggest ones being Czestochowa Osobowa and Czestochowa Stradom.

CKM Włókniarz Czestochowa stadium


Some of the educational institutions in Częstochowa include:


Częstochowa on tournament in Sochaczew
Sports highlights include:

  • CKM Włókniarz Czestochowa - speedway team from Częstochowa, 3rd place in season 2005, 2nd place in season 2006 first place in season 2003.

  • Klub Sportowy Raków Częstochowa (Called RKS) - football team from Częstochowa playing in Second Polish Football League.


Częstochowa constituency

The Members of the lower house of Parliament (Sejm) elected by the Częstochowa constituency include:

The Members of the higher house of Parliament (Senate) elected by the Częstochowa constituency include:
  • Andrzej Szewiński (Citizens Platform)
  • Czesław Ryszka (Law and Justice)

See also

International relations

Twin towns - Sister cities

Częstochowa is twinned with:



External links



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