Named after its ancient mountain range, the province of Świętokrzyskie features one of Poland’s oldest Slavic settlements, in Wiślica. It was a Slavic fort in the 9th and 10th centuries and became an important trade centre until it was ruined by invaders. On Mount Lysa Gora lies the 12th century Benedictine monastery that contained Poland’s relics of the Holy Cross, and for centuries was a popular pilgrimage site. The province is also well-known for the health resort towns of Busko-Zdrój and Solec-Zdrój.
Świętokrzyskie is an industrial region, with the Dymarki Świętokrzyskie having the region’s old metallurgical furnaces and the Central Industrial District having many prewar factories. One of the world’s oldest flint mines, Krzemionki Opatowskie, is found here. Several of Poland’s biggest construction companies are based in this region because the raw materials for cement and plaster are abundant. Traditionally the voivodship has produced wheat, potatoes, and dairy products, for the nation. The town of Michałów is famed for its horse breeding farm.
A modern city with cultural, natural and commercial significance, Kielce serves as the tourist gateway to the Świętokrzyskie and its five protected nature reserves. It has been described as one huge living museum, with diverse geological attractions such as limestone formations with marine fossils.
Blessed with natural resources, the city became a major centre for mining and metallurgy in the 15th century, and was known for its glass and armour factories. In the early 19th century, Kielce was established as one of Poland’s major industrial centres. In modern times, the city is an urban business centre and a popular place for trade exhibits. It has a well-developed communication and transportation system, along with decent guest accommodations and a fair number of dining, shopping and entertainment outlets. The city has one of Poland’s nicest and most modern stadiums.
The National Museum in the Bishop’s Palace possesses one of the biggest collections of Polish art. Among the many historic buildings in city’s marketplace stands a Manierist palace erected in the mid-17th century, one of the few rare and intact models of a French Renaissance building in Poland. Kielce has many fine examples of sacred architecture, as the town was once owned by medieval bishops who lived on Castle Hill.