Tarnowskie Góry

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Tarnowskie Góry
The market square (Rynek) in Tarnowskie Góry with the Neo-Romanesque Protestant church on the right side
The market square (Rynek) in Tarnowskie Góry with the Neo-Romanesque Protestant church on the right side
Flag of Tarnowskie Góry
Coat of arms of Tarnowskie Góry
Coat of arms
Tarnowskie Góry is located in Silesian Voivodeship
Tarnowskie Góry
Tarnowskie Góry
Tarnowskie Góry is located in Poland
Tarnowskie Góry
Tarnowskie Góry
Coordinates: 50°26′44″N 18°51′40″E / 50.44556°N 18.86111°E / 50.44556; 18.86111
Country Poland
VoivodeshipPOL województwo śląskie flag.svg Silesian
CountyTarnowskie Góry County
GminaTarnowskie Góry (urban gmina)
 • MayorArkadiusz Czech
 • City83.72 km2 (32.32 sq mi)
 • City60,889
 • Density730/km2 (1,900/sq mi)
 • Urban
 • Metro
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
42-600 to 42-609, 42-612 and 42-680
Car platesSTA

Tarnowskie Góry [tarˈnɔfskʲɛ ˈɡurɨ] (German: Tarnowitz, established in 1526; Silesian: Tarnowske Gůry) is a town in Silesia (southern Poland), located in the Silesian Highlands near Katowice. On the south it borders the Upper Silesian Metropolitan Unionmegalopolis, greater Silesian metropolitan area populated by about 5,294,000 people;[1] the population of the city is 60,975 (2008).[2] As of 1999, part of Silesian Voivodeship, previously Katowice Voivodeship

Names and etymology[edit]

The name of Tarnowskie Góry is derived from Tarnowice, name of a local village and word góry which in Old Polish meant "mines". In a Prussian document from 1750 (published in the Polish language in Berlin by Frederick the Great [1712–1786]), the town is mentioned, among other Silesian towns, as "Tarnowskie Góry"; the German name Tarnowitz was introduced in the late 18th century, after the Third Silesian War (between Austria and Prussia). As a result of Germanization of the area, all Polish or other Slavic names received German equivalents (usually closely resembling the original, like Kattowitz for Katowice).



The earliest settlements around Tarnowskie Góry date back to over 20 thousand years BC. Traces of the Upper Paleolithic inhabitants were found in village of Rybna, within present-day town borders. During the bronze age people lived along the banks of river Stoła pl:Stoła(Polish) or Stola, (name derived from German Stollenwasser Adit water earlier this river was known as "Rybna" (derived from a Polish word for "fish"), their tools, jewelry and weapons were excavated here, dating from between the 8th and 5th centuries BC. Silver, lead and zinc were bountiful in these grounds and the evidence of an early metal production dates back to at least 3rd century AD.

Medieval and Renaissance[edit]

Tarnowskie Góry Town Hall

Repty Śląskie, a village, now within Tarnowskie Góry's city limits, was mentioned in an official papal document dating from September 12, 1201. According to legend, the source of silver ore (solely responsible for the town's existence,) was first discovered in 1490, when local peasant-farmer named Rybka found a strange, heavy, metallic stone while plowing the field near village of Tarnowice, he presented his find to a local priest and within less than three decades this place became the largest silver mining center in the area. Its population rivaled in size some of the major cities of the Renaissance world and prospectors were coming from all corners of the continent, some as far as Spain, all of this fueled by the massive amount and quality of ore, so high that on many occasions it was said to be practically pure, metallic silver.

Initial growth can be attributed to Jan II Dobry, (John II The Good, Duke of Opole and Racibórz, the last of the first Polish dynasty of Piast) and George, Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach (from the House of Hohenzollern), both of whom, in 1526, gave the town special privileges called "Akt Wolności Górniczej" (The Miners’ Freedom Act.) This revolutionary document awarded freedom to any peasant who chose to become a miner in the area; the same year new settlement was officially elevated to the town-status, christened Tarnowskie Góry and received additional set of town privileges and rights, cote of arms and official seal followed few decades later in 1562.

In 1528, "Ordunek Górny" (the Mining Ordinance) strongly promoting farther exploration and offering a high percentage of profits to miners, was proclaimed and sparked a period of an explosive growth and prosperity. Many other associated businesses like trade, manufacturing, crafts etc., were rapidly developing and most of the old-town was already in place by 1540, including many of still existing brick and stone buildings and Protestant church. By the mid-16th century Tarnowskie Góry became the largest mining center in Upper Silesia and one of the largest in Europe; the combined length of main tunnels (main tunnels were the passages with clearance of over 2 metres (6 feet 7 inches) in height) constructed under the 1sq mile of old town alone, exceed 160 km (99 mi), still, representing only a small fraction of a total underground system.

Many Protestants found refuge in Tarnowskie Góry, and after the death of John II the Good (1532) town was ruled by the family of Hohenzollern supporters of reformation movement; the first Protestant, wooden church was built in 1529 and two years later a stone structure was erected to replace it. In 1531, Szkola Różnowiercza (The Reformation School) was created and at the end of the 16th century was run by Daniel Franconius, famous scholar, educator, poet, and a propagator of Arianism.


The prosperity of Tarnowskie Góry was abruptly halted by the Thirty Year War (1618–1648), and in 1676–77 its population was farther decimated by an outbreak of plague (which two years later reached the Austrian capital). In 1683, Polish King John III Sobieski rested in town on his way to the Battle of Vienna (where he led the famous Hussars branch of Polish cavalry to victory in defeating the Ottoman army and stopping the progress of their European invasion). December 16, 1740, was marked by the Prussian army entering the town during the first of the Silesian Wars; in 1742, Austrian domination ended and Tarnowskie Góry fell under Prussian rule. Around 1780 Friedrich Wilhelm von Reden opened a government-controlled mine as well as silver and lead foundry named "Frederyk" after Frederick William II, the king of Prussia.

Jews, with a few exceptions, were restricted or altogether banned from the area throughout the years; yet still they managed to have a great impact on the entire region's progress. Salomon Isaac, Jewish trade-agent and mining entrepreneur, was one of the greatest contributors to the development of the Sillesian metallurgical and mining industries and, ultimately, become one of the managing officers of the newly formed Prussian Office of Mining in Tarnowskie Góry.

Industrial Revolution[edit]

Railway Station

In 1788, sparking the onset of the Industrial Revolution the first steam engine in continental Europe (and only the second one in the world) was imported from England and installed with a purpose of draining the underground waters; this was not a small task, miles of a deep adit or drainage-tunnel. A 600-metre part of former Fryderyk adit is a tourist route named Black Trout Adit, its tunnels were cut through a solid bedrock and one of the system outlets, near Repty, became the main contributory of river Drama.[3]

Although Napoleonic Wars damaged and put a burden of heavy taxation on it, the town experienced another boom of growth and prosperity in the 19th century. In 1803 one of world's first schools of mining was initiated and, during following few decades, many new factories and businesses opened including: paper mill, iron foundry, printing shop, brewery, soap factory and natural gas production plant. During that period, the town square and two main streets were paved, gas lighting illuminated the town and a sewage system was installed. "Górnośląska Spółka Bracka" (The Upper-Silesian Brotherhood Cooperative) was organized with its headquarters in Tarnowskie Góry; (this revolutionary institution functioned as an insurance company for miners and covered the entire Upper Silesian region with 17,821 initial members). In 1857 the first railroad, leading to Opole, reached the town and eight years later Warsaw-Vienna line History of rail transport in Poland#Warsaw–Vienna line cut-through as well. Throughout the next few decades, because of its strategic location, the number of railroad lines grew rapidly, and by the end of the 19th century Tarnowskie Góry was well on its way to becoming the second largest marshaling yard in Europe. In 1873 a new county was formed in the area with Tarnowskie Góry as its capital; a hospital and court building were opened soon after.


Districts of Tarnowskie Góry.
Liberty Square

In the beginning of the 20th century, the source of the silver ore dried out and the mining stopped completely. After World War I ended, between 1919 and 1921 three massive anti-German uprisings[4] took place in entire Upper Silesian region and many of towns residents fought and supported the cause.[5] Soon after the end of the third one, mandated by the Versailles Treaty, the Silesian Plebiscite was held, and an overwhelming majority of the Upper Silesia region voted for integration with newly independent Poland; in Tarnowskie Góry however, 82% of the participants favored Germany in large part due to "imported" votes.[6] In 1922, after over 300 years of Austrian and Prussian domination, Tarnowskie Góry was returned to Poland.[7] At the onset of World War II in 1939, Polish independence came to an end and Nazi German occupation began. Mass arrests of priests, teachers, intelligentsia and fighters of three anti-German, Silesian Uprisings (1919–1921) took place; the synagogue was burned while German minority enthusiastically welcomed invading Nazi forces. During the occupation, the Armia Krajowa (Country Army, the Polish underground resistance organization) undertook a sabotage campaign against Nazi forces, railroad-transport and local industry. Liberation of Silesia came in early 1945; in order to save the industrial infrastructure of the region, the Red Army opened an offensive supported by massive numbers of troops with minimal use of heavy artillery and air-bombardment. According to witnesses, the entire operation was extremely fast; countless, shoulder-to-shoulder, crowds of Russian soldiers passed through the town in matter of minutes followed by almost complete still. Liberation from Nazi occupant came with a great price and Poland once again lost its freedom; although officially a sovereign country, in fact the state was ruled by a puppet regime installed and fully controlled by Joseph Stalin's Soviet Union.


The decades following the end of World War II saw an influx of immigrants from other parts of Poland (including its former eastern provinces) to take over property of expelled German inhabitants, and as a result of planned-economy developments. Several large factories opened in Tarnowskie Góry’s area including: FASER (the largest manufacturer of safety equipment and mining lamps in Soviet bloc), FAZOS (the manufacturer of automated mine-wall reinforcements), ZAMET (manufacturer of metallurgical equipment), CHEMET (manufacturer of chemical equipment), and Lead and Zinc Mill Miasteczko Slaskie (the second largest facility of this kind in Europe). All of these "Molochs" employed thousands of workers and emitted countless pollutants into the surrounding environment. For decades the railroad industry remained one of the largest local employers, however, due to an aging infrastructure, it slowly decreased in volume and other cities of the area begun to handle more and more of the rail traffic in terms of both cargo and passenger trains.

The fall of Iron Curtain in 1989 brought freedom back to Poland accompanied by the chaos of restructuring and privatization, which led to a small but steady decline of population, beginning in mid-1990s and lasting throughout the first decade of the 21st century. Today, Tarnowskie Góry is an industrial, cultural, educational, and technological center and tourist destination.[citation needed]

Places and attractions[edit]

  • Historical Mine Of Silver Ores, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Black Trout Adit, one of Poland's official national Historic Monuments, as designated May 1, 2004. Its listing is maintained by the National Heritage Board of Poland.
  • Town square – adorned by string of old romantic Renaissance buildings, 17th-century Protestant church and crowned by impressive town-hall; it is spotted with shops, bars, restaurants etc.
  • Upper Silesia Narrow Gauge Railways – the world's oldest narrow gauge railway in continuous service since 1853 [1]
  • Tarnowskie Góry Museum – opened in 1958.
  • 16th century Gwareks bell-tower ("Gwarek" an old-Polish reference to miners).
  • 16th century, Renaissance arcade buildings and tenements in the town-square.
  • Church of St. Paul and Peter – originated in the 16th century and rebuilt in Romanesque style.
  • Sedlaczek Wine House – since 1786 this charming restaurant and tavern located in a 16th-century building which hosted many renowned people including monarchs like John III Sobieski, Augustus II the Strong, Augustus III, Russian tsar Alexander I and German poet Goethe.
  • Gwarki Tarnogórskie – since 1957 this annual event and out-door fest, held in first half of September, commemorates and celebrates mining-culture of the region; including: historical-costume parade, outdoor concerts, regional food-concessions and other entertainment and sporting events.
  • Water Park, large recreational complex which includes in and outdoor pools, sports pool, sea-wave pool, rapid river, water slides, jacuzzi and brine bath.
  • Park Repty Ślaskie and river Drama Valley pl:Zespół przyrodniczo-krajobrazowy "Park w Reptach i Dolina Dramy"- over 1,000 acres (405 ha) of park complex. Originated in the mid-19th century by Donnersmarck family in an effort to create private hunting grounds and to preserve natural ecology of the region; (due to rapid industrial and agricultural expansion the environment of Upper Silesia was dramatically changing and disappearing; plant species from entire Silesian region were brought-in to recreate the original pre-industrial landscape along the banks of romantic Drama river valley; the park includes Black Trout Adit with two entrances, "Ewa" and "Sylwester" available to the public, Upper-Silesian Rehabilitation Center "Repty", and variety of plant and animal habitats that are unique to the region.
  • Castles, palaces and historical churches – Tarnowskie Góry is surrounded by such a structures that include: Brynek, Kamieniec pl:Pałac w Kamieńcu (województwo śląskie), Kopienica, Łubie, Miedary-Kopanina, Nakło Śląskie pl:Pałac Donnersmarcków w Nakle Śląskim, Szałsza, Świerklaniec, Tworóg, Wilkowice and Zbrosławice. Many of lavish residences and palaces belonged to Donnersmarck family (after Krupp the second richest in 19th and early 20th century Europe)
  • Świerklaniec – located within a bicycle-trip distance from Tarnowskie Góry, this 380 acres (154 ha) spectacular park claims to be the only, pure English-style Park in continental Europe; once a home to a 19th-century palace, the main residence of Donnersmarck family, and fully preserved Piast dynasty medieval castle (both structures destroyed during World War II and the post-war Soviet era). Grandiose palace sometimes called "miniature Versailles" was built by Guido Henckel von Donnersmarck for his mistress Pauline Thérèse Lachmann, the most successful of 19th-century French courtesans, also known as "La Paiva", who later became his wife Countess Henckel von Donnersmarck and died here in 1884. All building materials as well as artists, sculptors and labor involved in erecting this structure were imported from France. Today Świerklaniec Park is open to public however only romantic guest house and set of magnificent fountains and sculptures remain from palatial complex that once stood here. During the sixties large, man-made lake was added to the north.
  • Because of its proximity, Tarnowskie Góry offers a great base-location to explore surrounding region; within less than 50 mi (80 km) radius, includes such a destinations as (geographically-clockwise):
  1. Częstochowa – established in 1382) Jasna Góra monastery and house of the famous, miraculous Black Madonna, an icon supposedly painted by St. Luke on the Last Supper's, cypress table-top;
  2. Błędów Desert- the only desert in Europe, with unique plant and wild-life habitats and sand dunes;
  3. Kraków – former Polish capital, large cultural center; a perfectly preserved pearl of Medieval/Gothic and Renaissance architecture, Royal Castle complex and National Cathedral, the resting place of several Polish Monarchs and other famous Poles;
  4. Oświęcim – Museum and Memorial of the World War 2, Nazi-German concentration camp in Auschwitz and Birkenau;
  5. Upper Silesian megalopolis – including number of large cities like: Katowice, Sosnowiec, Chorzów, Bytom, Zabrze, Gliwice, or Tychy;
  6. Silesian Culture and Recreation Park – large, over 1,500 acres (607 ha), park and recreational complex in Chorzów;
  7. Silesian Stadium;
  8. Silesian Zoological Garden;
  9. Silesian Planetarium;
  10. Silesian Amusement Park, swimming-pool complex and water-park;
  11. Upper Silesian Ethnographic Park;
  12. Katowice International Fair Grounds; rose-garden; shops, restaurants, cafés, show pavilions where flower shows and other exhibits are held;
  13. Pszczyna one of the most beautiful old towns in Poland, located by the large lake and within visual distance from the mountains, offers a lot in terms of recreation, cultural, and outdoor activities, from water-sports through golf;
  14. Silesian Beskids, (Beskid Ślaski) a mountain range, part of Carpathian Mountains, with several winter sports/skiing resorts and charming mountain towns and villages that include: Bielsko Biala, large city and vibrant cultural and industrial center, Cieszyn, an old border town between Poland and Czech Republic, Żywiec old mountain town with its world-famous, old, Żywiec Brewery;
  15. Czech Republic;
  16. Opole an old, town of great history and significance. Located on river Oder.


International relations[edit]

Twin towns — Sister cities[edit]

Tarnowskie Góry is twinned with:


  1. ^ European Spatial Planning Observation Network (ESPON) "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-07-28. Retrieved 2009-03-28.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ Powierzchnia i ludność w przekroju terytorialnym w 2008Central Statistical Office in Poland ISSN 1505-5507 , 13.08.2008
  3. ^ pl:Sztolnia Czarnego Pstrąga
  4. ^ Czesław Madajczyk, Tadeusz Jędruszczak, Plebiscyt i trzecie powstanie śląskie ("Plebiscite and Third Silesian Uprising") [in:] Historia Polski ("History of Poland"), Vol.IV, part 1, PAN, Warszawa 1984 ISBN 83-01-03865-9
  5. ^ T. K. Wilson, "Frontiers of Violence: Conflict and Identity in Ulster and Upper Silesia 1918–1922". London: Oxford University Press, 2010
  6. ^ T. Hunt Tooley, National Identity and Weimar Germany: Upper Silesia and the Eastern Border, 1918–1922. Lincoln, NE: The University of Nebraska Press, 1997
  7. ^ Kazimierz Popiołek, Historia Śląska od pradziejów do 1945 roku ("History of Poland since prehistory until 1945", Śląski Inst. Naukowy (Silesian Science Institute) 1984 ISBN 83-216-0151-0

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 50°27′N 18°51′E / 50.450°N 18.850°E / 50.450; 18.850