• Updated 10.04.2021 by Administrator UMB

    History

    The history of Bialystok as an urban establishment dates back to the 15th century and is closely linked to the Raczko-Tabutowicz family. In mid-16th century, Bialystok was taken over by the Wiesiołowski family who built a brick tenement house at the spot where the Branicki Palace stands today. They also funded a catholic church and a hospital, also used as a war shelter. The most significant period in the city's development was the one from the second half of the 17th century to early 19th century, the reign of the Branicki family. In the 18th century, owing to Hetman Jan Klemens Branicki and his wife Izabela Branicka, née Poniatowska, Bialystok was known as the ‘Versailles of Podlasie’. Magnate Branicki’s palace was remarkable in itself. Built in the Baroque style, highly popular at the time, surrounded by gardens and parks. The Branicki family were strongly committed to the city’s development. The city owes them a town hall, arsenal, or market square. They brought numerous artists and craftsmen here, and opened a public theatre was established. They also provided health care to the people (when a new parish hospital and another one supported by the Jewish community was built, Sisters of Mercy came to reside in Bialystok). During the reign of the Branicki family, education flourished in the city and two schools were opened, namely the Military School of Construction and Engineering and the Obstetrics Institute with a clinic. In the 19th century, with lots of manufacturers coming in, Bialystok was sometimes called ‘Manchester of the North’. People of many different nationalities, including Polish, Jewish, Belarusian, German, Russian, Ukrainian, Lithuanian, and Tatars, built the economy and culture of Bialystok. Nowadays, the city cherishes its cultural heritage and clearly marks its presence on the cultural map of Poland, aiming to become the capital for dance and puppetry.