Welcome to Siedlce, a hidden gem located in eastern Poland. This charming city is home to 77,354 inhabitants and is situated in the Masovian Voivodeship. Siedlce is a local educational, cultural, and business center, making it a vibrant and bustling city to visit. Join us as we explore the rich history and cultural treasures of Siedlce.
Siedlce was most likely founded before the 15th century and was first mentioned as Siedlecz in a document issued in 1448. In 1503, a local nobleman named Daniel Siedlecki erected a new village of the same name nearby, together with a church. In 1547, the town was granted Magdeburg rights by King Sigismund the Old. Siedlce prospered in the 16th century, with its population growing quickly and many artisans opening their shops here. However, the town was burned by the Cossacks, Tatars, Muscovities, Swedes, and Transylvanians during the Swedish invasion of Poland.
Despite the conflicts, the town belonged to the Czartoryski family, and in 1692, it burned again. The destruction was used by Kazimierz Czartoryski to plan a new, modern market square together with adjacent streets. In the first half of the 18th century, a new parish church was built. In 1775, after Aleksandra Czartoryska married Hetman Michał Kazimierz Ogiński, the town passed over to the Ogiński family. Siedlce then emerged as one of the most important cultural centers of the nation. The Ogiński Palace was visited by several notable artists and writers, such as Franciszek Karpiński, and Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz. King Stanisław August Poniatowski visited the palace twice, in 1783 and 1793. Due to efforts of Aleksandra Ogińska, several improvements took place in Siedlce. Among them, a new town hall was built, which now is one of the symbols of the city.
During World War II, Siedlce had a significant Jewish population, comprising 37% of the town’s population. The Jews were forced into the new Siedlce Ghetto, where they were imprisoned and eventually sent off to extermination. After the Nazi defeat, the town’s population was not restored, and the town’s later history lacked the hitherto conspicuous Jewish component.
Today, Siedlce is a cultural hub for the entire province, with festivals, exhibitions, and concerts of country-wide significance. The town has three museums and three public libraries. The principal animators of culture operating in the city are the Culture and Art Center (CKiS) and the Municipal Cultural Center (MOK). A number of artistic groups operate in the city, including the dance companies LUZ and Caro Dance, the Choir of the City of Siedlce, and the ES Theatre. The city also has an art gallery located at the University. A painting by El Greco, The Ecstasy of St. Francis, is preserved there.
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