Kielce kyĕl´tsĕ [key], city (1993 est. pop. 215,300), capital of Świętokrzyskie prov., S central Poland. It is a railway junction and manufacturing center where metals, machinery, and foodstuffs are produced. It also has marble quarries. Founded in 1173, Kielce obtained municipal rights in the 14th cent. It belonged to the bishops of Kraków until 1789. The city passed to Austria in 1795 and to Russia in 1815 and reverted to Poland in 1919. By the late 1930s, most of the city's Jewish population had been deported to German-run concentration camps. Four such camps were located in Kielce during World War II. In 1946, Jews returning to Poland after the war were massacred there. Its most notable buildings are a 12th-century cathedral and a 17th-century palace.
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