The Bielawa settlement was mentioned already in 1288. Since 1368, the town was under Czech rule, and its political situation resembled that of Silesia. In the 17th century, the town witnessed the development of the weaving trade. In 1718, the first textile workshop was established. In 1844, the uprising of Silesian weavers broke out in Bielawa who demanded that their living conditions improve.
In 1924, the town was granted the city rights, under the German name: Langenbielau.
During WWII, a branch of the Gross-Rosen concentration camp was set up in the vicinity of Bielawa by the Germans. The city was captured in 1945 by the Soviet Army.