Oświęcim, known throughout the world as Auschwitz, is a medium-sized city in southern Poland situated on the Soła River. It has a population of about forty thousand.
Most people associate the city with the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp erected by the German Nazis in 1940. The camp saw approximately 1.5 million people killed between 1940 and 1945. Today Auschwitz-Birkenau can be found on the UNESCO list of world heritage sites.
Another important historical monument is the medieval castle constructed on the top of a hill on the right bank of the Soła River. During the second world war the castle served the German occupation authorities. In 2006 it was refurbished as a museum under the auspices of the Oświęcim city council and is currently zoned as city property.
Oświęcim can be called a cradle of Jewish history. The home of the Kornreich family has been converted into a museum commemorating nearly 500 years of Jewish history, tradition and culture. Visitors can acquaint themselves with the lives of pre-war Jewish residents by means of photographs and artifacts. The Jewish cemetery has also been renovated.
Catholic churches are likewise treasures of historic value. The Shrine of Our Lady Help of Christians was rebuilt between 1898 and 1906 on the ruins of the 14th century Dominican Church of the Holy Cross. The 14th century Dominican chapel of St. Hyacinth was restored in 1894. The Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary was consecrated in 1747. The Church of Our Lady of Sorrows was built between 1897 and 1899.
The chemical plant, originally built by former Auschwitz prisoners, currently operates as “Synthos S.A.” and is one of the largest chemical producers in Poland.
In addition to sightseeing you can enjoy Oświęcim’s Olympic-size swimming pool or visit the ice rink for skating or watching the city’s ice hockey team, “Unia Oświęcim”. The Niwa shopping mall as well as a number of hypermarkets put a variety of merchandise at your fingertips. The Center of Culture offers motion pictures as well as international exhibitions.
On sunny days the parks are the best places to meet with friends. Refreshments and socializing complement each other in restaurants and pubs. There are also night clubs for those who enjoy lively evenings.
What’s more is that people who are here once always come back, so we invite you to visit our city. It’s really worth it!