Bielsk Podlaski

Bielsk Podlaski [ˈbʲɛlsk pɔdˈlaskʲi] (listen) (Belarusian: Бельск Падляскі, Lithuanian: Palenkės Belskas) is a town in eastern Poland, within Bielsk County in the Podlaskie Voivodeship.

Bielsk Podlaski
Marketplace and historical Baroque town hall
Marketplace and historical Baroque town hall
Coat of arms of Bielsk Podlaski
Bielsk Podlaski is located in Poland
Bielsk Podlaski
Bielsk Podlaski
Bielsk Podlaski is located in Podlaskie Voivodeship
Bielsk Podlaski
Bielsk Podlaski
Coordinates: 52°46′N 23°12′E / 52.767°N 23.200°E / 52.767; 23.200Coordinates: 52°46′N 23°12′E / 52.767°N 23.200°E / 52.767; 23.200
Country Poland
GminaBielsk Podlaski (urban gmina)
Established12th century
Town rights1495
 • MayorJarosław Borowski
 • Total26.88 km2 (10.38 sq mi)
 (30 June 2021[1])
 • Total24,883
 • Density930/km2 (2,400/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
17–100 to 17–102
Area code(s)+48 085
Car platesBBI
National roadsDK19-PL.svg DK66-PL.svg
Voivodeship roadsDW659-PL.svg DW684-PL.svg DW689-PL.svg


Bielsk Podlaski is located in the geographical region of Europe known as the Wysoczyzny Podlasko–Białoruskie (English: Podlaskie and Belarus Plateau) and the mezoregion known as the Równina Bielska (English: Bielsk Plain).

The town covers an area of 32.43 square kilometres (12.5 sq mi).


It is located approximately:

  • 195 kilometres (121.2 mi) northeast of Warsaw, the capital of Poland
  • 50 kilometres (31.1 mi) southwest of Białystok, the capital of the Podlaskie Voivodeship


Castle Hill, the site of the former medieval stronghold

Bielsk Podlaski has a long and rich history, dating back to the 12th century, when this area of Poland belonged to Kievan Rus'. The gord of Bielsk was probably founded by Ruthenian dukes, and its existence was first mentioned in 1253, in the so-called Hypatian Codex. In 1273, Bielsk was captured by Lithuanian duke Traidenis, and in the early 14th century, whole province of Podlasie became annexed by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The region was subject to Teutonic Knights raids, which took place in 1346 and 1379.

In 1382, Mazovian Duke Janusz I of Warsaw captured Bielsk, Drohiczyn, Suraż and Mielnik, taking advantage of the Lithuanian Civil War (1381–84). Next year, Jogaila pushed the Mazovians out of Bielsko, handing the gord over to Vytautas (Witold). In 1390, Jogaila, who had become King of Poland as Władysław II Jagiełło, handed Bielsk, Suraż, Drohiczyn and Mielnik over to Janusz I.

Due to its convenient location along a merchant route from Kraków to Vilnius, Bielsk became an important center of trade and administration. In late November 1412, it was visited by King Władysław II Jagiełło, and 1413, the Land of Drohiczyn, together with Bielsk, became part of Trakai Voivodeship. In 1430, Duke Vytautas named first vogt of Bielsko, a man named Andrzej. A number of Poles from Mazovia begin to settle in Podlasie.

Baroque Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Bielsk received its Magdeburg rights town charter on 18 November 1495, from King Alexander I Jagiellon. In September 1501, a meeting of Lithuanian nobility took place here. Several Polish rulers visited Bielsk, such as Władysław II Jagiełło, Alexander I (1505), Sigismund I the Old (1506, 1509), and Sigismund II Augustus (1564). In 1513, Bielsk was named capital of the newly created Podlaskie Voivodeship; by 1563, the town had 830 houses, and was also main center of the Land of Bielsko.

In early summer of 1564, when king Sigismund II Augustus stayed here with Primate Jakub Uchański, to discuss the new Polish – Lithuanian union (see Union of Lublin), the wooden castle of Bielsk burned to the ground, with the king watching the incident from the stables. A new castle for the local starosta was built in Hołowiesko (located within present-day town limits of Bielsk), while the land court was moved to Brańsk.

Following the Union of Lublin (1569), Bielsko was transferred from Grand Duchy of Lithuania into the Kingdom of Poland. Bielsk was a royal town of Poland, administratively located in the Podlaskie Voivodeship in the Lesser Poland Province of the Polish Crown. The town prospered, with churches, hospital, mills, shops and 265 artisans (as for 1576). Bielsko burned in 1591, and Swedish invasion of Poland brought almost complete destruction (1655).

The Carmelites Church in Bielsk and monastery was founded in 1641 by magnate Adam Kazanowski (starost of Bielsk from 1638) and dedicated to the Mother of God of Mount Carmel. The project was also financed by his wife Elżbieta (Halszka) Słuszczanka (around 1619–1671).

A historical house from 1909. Preserved wooden architecture can still be found in some parts of the town

Following the Third Partition of Poland, Bielsk briefly belonged to the Kingdom of Prussia (1795–1807): after the Treaties of Tilsit, it was transferred to the Russian Empire. From 1843, it belonged to the Grodno Governorate. Residents of the area actively participated in the largest 19th-century Polish uprisings (November Uprising and January Uprising). Bielsk was one of the sites of Russian executions of Polish insurgents during the January Uprising of 1863–1864.[2] Additionally, in September 1863, as punishment for supporting the uprising, Russians plundered the nearby village of Łukawica, and expelled its entire population, which was forcibly marched to Bielsk, and then deported to katorga in Siberia.[3] Two people died during the march from Łukawica to Bielsk: an old man and a child.[4] As part of the post-uprising anti-Polish repressions, the town was subjected to Russification, the local Catholic church was closed down, and Polish clergy was also deported to Siberia.[5] Edward Kiersnowski, leader of a local insurgent unit, who fought in several battles in the region, died while being deported to Siberia in 1864.[6] In 1873, Bielsk received rail connection with Brest Litovsk, and in 1915, during World War I, German troops burned the rail station. Germans retreated from the town in February 1919, and were replaced by Polish Army units. In late July 1920, during the Polish-Soviet War, Bielsk was briefly occupied by the Red Army. In the Second Polish Republic, Bielsk administratively belonged to the Białystok Voivodeship.

Grave and memorial of 49 Poles massacred by the Germans on July 15, 1943

During the 1939 joint German-Soviet invasion of Poland, which started World War II, the town was captured by the Wehrmacht, which on 23 September handed it over to the Soviets, who occupied it until 23 June 1941, forcibly sending thousands to Siberia. In 1941–1944, the town was occupied by Nazi Germany. Germans murdered its Jewish minority, and in a nearby forest killed approximately 800 Poles. The Germans also operated a forced labour camp in the town.[7] A pogrom took place in Bielsk Podlaski from July 5–7, 1941, in a series of pogroms in other towns including the Jedwabne pogrom.[8] Between November 2nd and 11th, 1942, approximately 7,000 local Jews and 4,000 more from Bocki, Bransk, Narew, and Orla, were deported from the ghetto of Bielsk-Podlaski to Treblinka.[9] Bielsk was captured by the Red Army on 30 July 1944. The Russians then carried out arrests of local Polish resistance members, including 12 officers of the local command of the Home Army, who were arrested on 4 August 1944 in nearby Brańsk, where they were deceitfully gathered for a supposed formal meeting with the command of the Soviet 65th Army.[10] The town was soon restored to Poland.

Bielsk Podlaski has a rich Jewish history which was wiped out in the Holocaust.[11]


Detailed data as of 30 June 2021:[1]

  Total Women Men
Unit Number % Number % Number %
Population 24,883 100 12,999 52.2 11,884 47.8
Population Density
925.7 483.6 442.1

1897 censusEdit

The most spoken languages in Bielsk Podlaski according to the Russian Imperial Census of 1897:[12]

Language Population Proportion
Jewish 4,064 54.45%
Russian 1,499 20.08%
Polish 1,006 13.48%
Ukrainian 556 7.45%
Belarusian 244 3.27%
German 58 0.78%
Other 37 0.5%
Total 7,464 100.00%

Municipal governmentEdit

Bielsk Podlaski (Town) in Bielsk County

It is the seat of Gmina Bielsk Podlaski, but is not part of Gmina Bielsk Podlaski.

Executive branchEdit

The chief executive of the government is the Mayor (Polish: Burmistrz).

Legislative branchEdit

The legislative portion of the government is the Council (Polish: Rada) composed of the President (Polish: Przewodniczący), the Vice President (Polish: Wiceprzewodniczący) and thirteen councilors.

Neighbouring political subdivisionsEdit

Bielsk Podlaski (town) is bordered by Gmina Bielsk Podlaski.


The region has a continental climate which is characterized by high temperatures during summer and long and frosty winters. The average amount of rainfall during the year exceeds 550 millimetres (21.7 in).

Climate data for Bielsk Podlaski
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) −3
Average low °C (°F) −6
Source: Weatherbase[13]


Roads and highwaysEdit

Bielsk Podlaski is at the intersection of two National Road and a Voivodeship road:


The main sports club of the town is Tur Bielsk Podlaski [pl] with basketball and football sections.

International relationsEdit

Twin town sign in Bielsk Podlaski

Twin towns – sister citiesEdit

Bielsk Podlaski is twinned with:[14]

Notable peopleEdit

A wooden inn called Słuszna near the marketplace and town hall

Photo galleryEdit


  1. ^ a b "Local Data Bank". Statistics Poland. Retrieved 29 May 2022. Data for territorial unit 2003011.
  2. ^ Katalog miejsc pamięci powstania styczniowego w województwie podlaskim (in Polish). Białystok: Towarzystwo Opieki nad Zabytkami Oddział Białystok. 2013. p. 15.
  3. ^ Katalog miejsc pamięci powstania styczniowego w województwie podlaskim, p. 13-14
  4. ^ Katalog miejsc pamięci powstania styczniowego w województwie podlaskim, p. 14
  5. ^ Katalog miejsc pamięci powstania styczniowego w województwie podlaskim, p. 16
  6. ^ Katalog miejsc pamięci powstania styczniowego w województwie podlaskim, p. 22
  7. ^ "Straf- bzw. Arbeitserziehungslager Bielsk Podlaski". (in German). Retrieved 12 February 2021.
  8. ^ Jedwabne and Beyond, Wokół Jedwabnego / pod redakcją Pawła Machcewicza i Krzysztofa Persaka. Warszawa: Instytut Pamięci Narodowej. 2002. p. 496.
  9. ^ "Deportatitions to Treblinka". Retrieved 26 April 2022.
  10. ^ Zwolski, Marcin (2005). "Deportacje internowanych Polakow z wojewodztwa białostockiego 1944–1945". Pamięć i Sprawiedliwość (in Polish). No. 2 (8). IPN. pp. 91–92. ISSN 1427-7476.
  11. ^ Andrew Blumberg, Bielsk Podlaski JewishGen KehilaLinks 2022 and Bielsk-Podliask: Book in the Holy Memory of the Bielsk-Podliask Jews (Bielsk-Podlaski, Poland) 2022
  12. ^ "Первая всеобщая перепись населения Российской Империи 1897 г. Распределение населения по родному языку и уездам 50 губерний Европейской России". Демоскоп Weekly. (in Russian)
  13. ^ "Weatherbase: Historical Weather for Bielsk Podlaski, Poland". Retrieved 1 July 2008.
  14. ^ "Miasta partnerskie". (in Polish). Bielsk Podlaski. Retrieved 6 November 2019.

External linksEdit