Kalisz ([ˈkalʲiʂ] (listen); Ancient Greek: Καλισία, Latin: Calisia, Yiddish: קאַליש, German: Kalisch) is a city in central Poland with 100,975 inhabitants (December 2018) making it the second-largest city in the Greater Poland Voivodeship.[1] It is the capital city of the Kalisz Region. Situated on the Prosna river in the southeastern part of the Greater Poland Voivodeship, the city forms a conurbation with the nearby towns of Ostrów Wielkopolski and Nowe Skalmierzyce.

Top: Town Hall, Sanctuary of Divine Mercy
Middle: former Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego, State Music School and city walls
Bottom: "Noce i Dnie" fountain, City Park


Coat of arms
Poloniae urbs vetustissima
Coordinates: 51°45′27″N 18°4′48″E
Country Poland
Voivodeship Greater Poland
Established9th century
Town rightsafter 1268
  MayorGrzegorz Sapiński
  Total69.42 km2 (26.80 sq mi)
 (31 December 2018)
  Total100,975 (38th)[1]
  Density1,472/km2 (3,810/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
  Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
62-800 to 62-810
Area code(s)(+48) 62
Car platesPK

Kalisz is an important regional industrial and commercial centre with many notable factories. The city is also a centre for traditional folk art. The town was also the site of the former 'Calisia' piano factory, until it went out of business in 2007. The building was transformed into the Calisia One Hotel which opened in 2019.


The name Kalisz is thought to stem from the Slavic term "kal", meaning swamp or marsh.

There are many artifacts from Roman times in the area of Kalisz, indicating that the settlement had once been a stop of the Roman caravans heading for the Baltic Sea along the trade route of the Amber Trail.[2] Calisia had been mentioned by Ptolemy in the 2nd century AD, although the connection is doubted by some historians who claim that the location mentioned by Ptolemy was situated in the territory of the Diduni in Magna Germania.


Archaeological excavations have uncovered early mediaeval settlement from the Piast dynasty period, c. 9th-12th centuries.[3] Modern Kalisz was most likely founded in the 9th century as a provincial capital castellany and a minor fort. In 1106 Bolesław III Wrymouth captured the town and made it a part of his feudal domain. Between 1253 and 1260 the town was incorporated according to the German town law called the Środa Śląska Law (after Środa Śląska in Silesia), a local variation of the Magdeburg Law, and soon started to grow. One of the richest towns of Greater Poland, during the feudal fragmentation of Poland it formed a separate duchy ruled by a local branch of the Piast dynasty. After Poland was reunited, the town became a notable centre of weaving and wood products, as well as one of the cultural centres of Greater Poland. There are also records of Khalyzian settlements from 1139.

In 1282 the city laws were confirmed by Przemysł II of Poland, and in 1314 it was made the capital of the Kalisz Voivodeship by king Władysław I the Elbow-high. Located roughly in the centre of Poland (as its borders stood in that era), Kalisz was a notable centre of trade. Because of its strategic location, King Casimir III the Great signed a peace treaty with the Teutonic Order there in 1343. As a royal town, the city managed to defend many of its initial privileges, and in 1426 a new town hall was built. The Polish king Mieszko III the Old was buried in Kalisz.[2]

In 1574 the Jesuits came to Kalisz and in 1584 opened a Jesuit College, which became one of the most notable centres of education in Poland; around this time, however, the importance of Kalisz began to decline somewhat, its place being taken by nearby Poznań.

The economic development of the area was aided by a large number of Protestant Czech Brothers, who settled in and around Kalisz after being expelled from Bohemia in 1620.

In 1792, a fire destroyed much of the city centre. The following year, in the second partition of Poland, the Kingdom of Prussia absorbed the city, called "Kalisch" in German. In 1801, Wojciech Bogusławski set up one of the first permanent theatre troupes in Kalisz.

In 1807, Kalisz became a provincial capital within the Duchy of Warsaw. During Napoleon's invasion of Russia, following Yorck's Convention of Tauroggen of 1812, von Stein's Treaty of Kalisz was signed between Russia and Prussia in 1813, confirming that Prussia now was on the side of the Allies.

After the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte, Kalisz became a provincial capital of Congress Poland and then the capital of a province of the Russian Empire. Prussia and Russia held joint military exercises near the town in 1835. The proximity to the Prussian border accelerated economic development of the city and Kalisz ("Калиш" in Russian Cyrillic) started to attract many settlers, not only from other regions of Poland and other provinces of the Russian Empire, but also from German states. In 1902, a new railway linked Kalisz to Warsaw and Łódź.

With the outbreak of World War I, the proximity of the border proved disastrous for Kalisz; it was one of the first cities destroyed in 1914. Between 2 and 22 August, Kalisz was shelled and then burned to the ground by German forces under Major Hermann Preusker, even though Russian troops had retreated from the city without defending it and German troops – many of them ethnic Poles – had initially been welcomed peaceably. Eight hundred men were arrested and then several of them slaughtered, while the city was set on fire and the remaining inhabitants were expelled. Out of roughly 68,000 citizens in 1914, only 5,000 remained in Kalisz a year later. By the end of the Great War, however, much of the city centre had been more or less rebuilt and many of the former inhabitants had been allowed to return.[4]

After the war Kalisz became part of the newly independent Poland.[5] The reconstruction continued and in 1925 a new city hall was opened. In 1939 the population of Kalisz was approximately 89,000. After the German invasion of Poland in 1939, the proximity of the border once again proved disastrous. Kalisz was captured by the Wehrmacht almost instantly and without much fighting, and the city was annexed by Germany. By the end of World War II approximately 30,000 local Jews had been murdered. An additional 20,000 local Catholics were either murdered or expelled to the German-occupied territories (General Government) or to Germany as slave workers. In 1945 the population of the city was 43,000 – approximately half the pre-war figure.

Following the war, Jewish Holocaust survivors returned to the city, by 1946 numbering some 500. By the late 1940s only some 100 remained, and those few who stayed blended into Polish society.[6]

In 1975, after Edward Gierek's reform of the administrative division of Poland, Kalisz again became the capital of a province – Kalisz Voivodeship; the province was abolished in 1998, however, and since then Kalisz has been the county seat of a separate powiat within the Greater Poland Voivodeship. In 1991 the city festival was inaugurated on 11 June to commemorate the confirmation of the incorporation of the city in 1282. In 1992, Kalisz became the seat of a separate diocese of the Catholic Church.

City neighborhoods

Neighborhoods of Kalisz
Name Population Area (km2) Area (mi2)
Dobrzec P85991.510.5830143
Dobrzec W55030.380.146719
Sulisławice Kolonia1641.190.4594616


There are 19 Catholic Churches, 5 Protestant Churches, and one Orthodox Church in Kalisz. Before World War II there were 25,000 Jews in Kalisz, but most of them were murdered by Germans and by the summer of 1942 the Jewish community in Kalisz was entirely destroyed.


Kalisz is a notable centre of education in the region. It is home to twenty-nine primary schools, fifteen junior high schools, and five high schools. Seven colleges and a dozen or so vocational schools are also located there. The city is also home to branches of Poznań University, Poznań University of Economics, and Poznań University of Science and Technology, as well as several other institutions of higher education. It is a home to the Henryk Melcer Music School.


Although there is little heavy industry within the city limits, Kalisz is home to several of large enterprises. It is notable for the Winiary (part of the Nestlé group) and Colian food processing plants and the Big Star jeans factory. Two plane engine production factories, WSK-Kalisz and Pratt & Whitney Kalisz (a branch of Pratt & Whitney Canada), are located in Kalisz.



Kalisz railway station was built in 1902 as the destination of the Warsaw–Kalisz Railway. It is currently served by Przewozy Regionalne and PKP Intercity.

Notable people from Kalisz

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Kalisz is twinned with:[7]

See also


  1. "Local Data Bank". Statistics Poland. Retrieved 2 June 2019. Data for territorial unit 3061000.
  2. Anna Woźniak (2013), "Historia miasta Kalisz" (History of Kalisz) from the city's Official website. Internet Archive.
  3. Tadeusz Chrzanowski, "Kalisz", Sport i Turystyka, Warszawa 1978, Polish, German, English, French, Russian
  4. Maciej Drewicz: Kto zniszczył Kalisz (Who destroyed Kalisz). Dziennik Wielkopolski; Internet Archive Wayback Machine.
  5. Krystyna Dobak-Splitt; Jerzy Aleksander Splitt. "Odzyskanie niepodległości / powstanie wielkopolskie". Kalisz poprzez wieki. Dawny Kalisz. Retrieved October 3, 2012. Kalisz poprzez wieki, Wydawca: Towarzystwo Miłośników Kalisza, 1988
  6. Krzyzanowski, Lukasz. "An Ordinary Polish Town: The Homecoming of Holocaust Survivors to Kalisz in the Immediate Aftermath of the War." European History Quarterly 48.1 (2018): 92-112.
  7. "Kontakty zagraniczne Miasta". bip.kalisz.pl. Retrieved 2018-06-29.

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