History

From the remotest ages the Podlasie Nadbużańskie area has been a cultural borderland, where influences of many religions, cultures and nationalities meet. The early Middle Ages (600-1251 AD) was a period of a dense town network construction by the Bug River and the time of Mielnik and Drohiczyn development. The 15th-16th centuries were the period of splendor of Podlasie Nadbużańskie. It was followed by fast economic development, which was contributed by the “royal trail” leading through these areas, connecting Cracow and Vilnius. In 1520 the land was included in the newly established Podlasie Voivodeship, whose capital - until the last partition - was Drohiczyn. The factor that lead to provincialization of Drohiczyn and Mielnik was development of Siemiatycze, a private town owned by Anna Jabłońska from the House of Sapieha.

It was in Siemiatycze that one of the biggest battles of the January Uprising took place. As a result of post-uprising restrictions the process of Russification intensified. Thanks to the town’s good transport connections (Brest-Grajewo railway built in 1873), and routes (to Białystok and Bug River route), Siemiatycze underwent economic boom in the 19th century. The II World War, however, brought destruction. Until 1941 (the German attack on the Soviet Union), the Bug River constituted a demarcation line between the Third Reich and the Soviet Union. The residents were afflicted by restrictions, which proved to be particularly severe for the Jews. The post-war period was the time of reconstruction and economic recovery. Siemiatycze, having gained the status of a poviat town, became the administrative and economic center of the lands located on the right side of the Bug River. Drohiczyn obtained borough rights and became the seat of the municipality. Siemiatycze remained a poviat until 1975. On 1 January 1999 Siemiatycze appeared on the administrative map of Poland as a poviat town.

A crucial historical event of the recent years was the visit paid John Paul II to Drohiczyn on 10 June 1999. In the Ecumenical Service celebrated by the Pope, Metropolitan Sawa, the superior of the Orthodox Church in Poland, participated along with superiors of other churches affiliated in the Ecumenical Council and representatives of the Muslim community. The celebration hosted around 200 thousand of the faithful.


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