Białowieża [bʲawɔˈvʲɛʐa] (Belarusian: Белавежа
Biełavieža, Lithuanian: Bialovieža, Russian: Беловежская
Belovezhskaya) is a village in Poland, in
Podlaskie Voivodeship, in
the middle of
Białowieża Forest, of which it is a namesake. The
population of the settlement is 2,000 (2002). It lies approximately 21
kilometres (13 mi) east of
Hajnówka and 66 km (41 mi)
south-east of the regional capital Białystok.
1 Geographic location
3 Sites of interest
4 Notable people
5 See also
7 External links
Białowieża is in north-eastern
Poland in the
near the border with Belarus. The nearest city is Białystok, which is
the capital of the voivodeship.
Białowieża is also connected to the
Hajnówka some 20 km (12.43 mi) away. The Narewka
river flows through Białowieża.
Białowieża is the seat of the administrative district of Gmina
Białowieża, which encompasses an area of 203 km2
(78.38 sq mi) and has a population of 3068 (2000). Other
Białowieża area are Budy, Gródek, Pogorzelce, and
Białowieża hill in 1820
St. Nicholas Orthodox church in Białowieża
For a more detailed history of
Białowieża and the area see:
Before 1426 a wooden hunting manor for king
Władysław Jagiełło was
built in the middle of the
Białowieża Forest on the Lutownia stream.
It was most probably one of the first permanent settlements in the
area, although the forest was already penetrated by hunters from the
nearby areas and by the king himself who went to hunt there. The
wooden manor was painted in white and became the namesake both for the
future village and the forest (
Białowieża means White Tower in
Hunter's manor - the oldest surviving building in Białowieża
From 1538 the forest was protected by the laws of king Sigismund I the
Old. However, until the times of John Casimir the forest was mostly
unpopulated. Sporadic settlements were established in various places,
but the manor in
Białowieża was the only one to be permanent. In the
late 17th century, several small villages were started for development
of local iron ore deposits and tar production. The villages were
populated with settlers from
Podlaskie and many of them
After the Partitions of
Poland the local population was turned into
Białowieża quickly depopulated. Tsar Alexander I
reintroduced the reserve in 1801 and hired a small amount of peasants
for protection of the animals. Most of them were settled in the
administrative centre of the area - Białowieża. However, since most
of the foresters took part in the
November Uprising (500 out of 502 in
total), their posts were abolished and protection was again harmed.
Yet again the village of
Białowieża ceased to exist. Protection was
reintroduced in 1860 and the village was repopulated with Russians.
World War I
World War I most of the local Russian population fled before
the advancing German army which seized the area in August 1915. The
Germans built a lumber mill in Białowieża, connected to the nearby
Hajnówka by a railway. However, the village did not recover
until 1921 when the
Białowieża National Park
Białowieża National Park was established. The
village became the administrative center of the Park and one of the
most popular tourist attractions of the area. Following the
Białowieża was returned to Poland.
During World War II, after the joint German and Soviet attack on
Poland, the area came under Soviet occupation. In 1939 and 1940 most
of the local inhabitants were arrested and sent to gulags. They were
replaced with Russian forest workers, but in 1941 the forest came
under German occupation and the Russian inhabitants were also
Hermann Göring planned to create the biggest hunting
reserve in the world there, but those plans were never realized. After
July 1941, the forest became a refuge for both Polish and Soviet
partisans. The German authorities organized mass executions of people
suspected of aiding the resistance. In July 1944 the area was captured
by the Red Army. The withdrawing
Wehrmacht blew up the historic
Białowieża hunting manor.
After the war
Białowieża yet again recovered and became the center
of the re-established
National Park in 1947. Nowadays it is one of the
least populated areas in Poland, while at the same time it is one of
the most important tourist attractions in the eastern part of the
country with almost 100,000 visitors every year. The Reserve was
inscribed on the
World Heritage List
World Heritage List in 1992 and internationally
recognized as a
Biosphere Reserve under UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere
Program in 1993.
Simon Schama devotes several chapters of his 1995
book Landscape and Memory to a consideration of the historical
vicissitudes of the forests around
Białowieża in an effort to
explore the ways in which cultural imagination shapes humans' vision
of the land.
Sites of interest
Iconostasis in St. Nicholas Orthodox church
Białowieża National Park
Palace park (Park Pałacowy) - covering the area of 470,000 m2
(5,059,037.90 sq ft), built in 1890. It is a park in English
style with a large view to
Białowieża National Park. Upon the ponds
there is an obelisk for the memory of hunting in 1752 when king
Augustus III hunted in
Białowieża forests. There are also several
tsarist red brick buildings from the 19th century, and a gate which is
the only remnant of the wooden manor.
Ecological Museum (Muzeum Przyrodniczo-Leśne im. prof. Jana
Miklaszewskiego) - museum of natural history
St. Nicholas the Miraculous' Orthodox Church - with a unique
iconostasis from Chinese porcelain.
Open-air folk museum (Skansen) - with original huts, windmills and
PTTK Tourist Service
Nature expert guides (birdwatching, bison and other wildlife
observations) you can find at the
Białowieża Forest website
Graveyard Chapel of St. Cyril (Kaplica św. Cyryla) - from 1873 with
an 18th-century icon.
Gavriil Ilizarov, Soviet orthopedic surgeon, known for inventing the
Ilizarov apparatus for lengthening limb bones and for his eponymous
Igor Newerly, Polish novelist and educator, member of the Polish
resistance during the Nazi German occupation of Poland.
Białowieża - English - Puszcza Białowieska, atrakcje,
wycieczki z przewodnikiem, organizacja imprez". Pttk.bialowieza.pl.
Archived from the original on 2012-11-18. Retrieved 2013-02-02.
Białowieża Forest guide – Arek Szymura "Pygmy owl" Nature tours
- With passion and knowledge - for passionate about nature..."
Coordinates: 52°42′14″N 23°51′09″E / 52.70389°N
23.85250°E / 52.70389; 23.85250
Nature Tours "Pygmy Owl" Arek Szymura
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Białowieża.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
Forresters school in
Białowieża (in Polish)