I was admittedly expecting to come back and see Europe much hotter than this but it seems the Balkan countries still have the monopoly on the heat!
Częstochowa [t͡ʂɛ̃stɔˈxɔva] ( listen) is a city in south Poland on the Warta River with 240,027 inhabitants (June 2009). It has been situated in the Silesian Voivodeship (administrative division) since 1999, and was previously the capital of Częstochowa Voivodeship (1975–1998). However, Częstochowa is historically part of Lesser Poland, not of Silesia, and before 1795 (see: Partitions of Poland), it belonged to the Kraków Voivodeship.
The town is known for the famous Pauline monastery of Jasna Góra, which is the home of the Black Madonna painting (Polish: Jasnogórski Cudowny obraz Najświętszej Maryi Panny Niepokalanie Poczętej), a shrine to theVirgin Mary. Every year, millions of pilgrims from all over the world come to Częstochowa to see it. The city was became home to the Frankism religion in the late 18th and 19th Century. There is also a Lusatian cultureexcavation site and museum in the city and ruins of a medieval castle in Olsztyn, approximately 25 kilometres (ca. 16 mi) from the city centre.
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 Czanstochowaused 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) andCzęstochówka in 1470-80.
The city was also known in German as Tschenstochau and in Russian as Ченстохов (Chenstokhov).
Pope Benedict XVI in the Monastery ofJasna GóraInterior of basilica, Jasna Góra Monastery
13th century-16th century
The Black Madonna of Częstochowa.The village of Częstochowa was first mentioned in historical documents from 1220. In 1382 the Paulist monastery of Jasna Góra was founded by Władysław Opolczyk (Ladislav of Opole) - 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[when?], Jacob Frank, the leader of a Jewish sect mixing Kabbalah, Catholicism and Islam, was imprisoned for heresy in the monastery by the church. His followers established near him, later establishing a cult of his daughter Eve Frank. In August 1772, Frank was released by the Russian general Bibikov, who had taken occupation of the city.
During the Napoleonic Wars, in 1807 Częstochowa became part of the Duchy of Warsaw and in 1815 theKingdom of Poland. This started a period of fast growth of the city. In 1819, military architect Jan Bernhard planned and started the construction of Aleja Najświętszej Panny Marii - the Holy Virgin Mary Avenue, which is currently the main arterial road 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 orestarted 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).
St. James the Apostle ChurchDuring World War I the town came under German occupation, and in 1918 it became a part of the newly-rebornSecond Polish Republic. The new state acquired large deposits of good iron ore in Silesia and the mines in Częstochowa became inefficient and soon after 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, almost the entire Jewish community living there, were killed by the Germans. 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 fastindustrialisation, 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 Poland, 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.
Panorama of Częstochowa
Currently the city is one of the main tourist attractions of the area and is sometimes called the little Nuremberg because of the number of souvenir shops and historical monuments. It attracts millions (4.5 mln - 2005) of tourists and pilgrimsevery year.
The Black Madonna of Częstochowa, housed at the Jasna Góra Monastery, is a particularly popular attraction.
National Road 1 in CzęstochowaMain road connections from Częstochowa include a connection with Warsaw (to the north-east) and Katowice (to the south) via the European route E75 (National Road A1). There are also three other national roads: A43 to Wieluń, A46 toOpole and A91 to Piotrków Trybunalski.
Furthermore, Częstochowa is a major railroad hub, located at the intersection of two important lines - west-east (from Lubliniec to Kielce) and north-south (from Warsaw to Katowice). Also, an additional northbound line stems from Częstochowa, which goes to Chorzew Siemkowice, where it joins the Polish Coal Trunk-Line. There are six railway stations in the city, the biggest ones being Częstochowa Osobowa and Częstochowa Stradom.