The oldest historical records of the city date back to the 12th Century. Between the 12th and 14th Centuries, during the rule of the Piast princes from the Świdnica-Jawor lineage, the Książ Castle and the Nowy Dwór fortress were built. Wałbrzych was chartered in the 15th century. After the Piast family died out, Wałbrzych became the property of the Silesian knightly families, initially the Schaffgotsches, later the Czettritzes, and from 1738, of the Hochberg family, owners of the Książ Castle.
Coal mining in the area was first mentioned in 1536. Wałbrzych was transformed into an industrial centre at the turn of the 19th century, when coal mining and weaving flourished. In the early 20th century a glass works and a large china tableware manufacturing plant, which are still in operation today, were built. After World War Two, which fortunately spared the city, as a result of combining the nearby administrative districts with the town and the construction of new housing estates, Wałbrzych expanded geographically. At the beginning of the 1990s, because of new social and economic conditions, a decision was made to close down the town's coal mines. In 1995, a Museum of Industry and Technology was set up on the facilities of the oldest coal mine in the area, KWK THOREZ.