Wrocław (Polish: Wrocław) is a city in Poland in the Lower Silesian
Voivodeship. The former capital of Silesia is considered one of the most
beautiful cities in Poland. It was rebuilt in an exemplary manner after
it was almost completely destroyed in World War II.
Silesia was incorporated into the Polish state of Mieszko I around 990. Wrocław was first mentioned in a document shortly thereafter. In the year 1000, Mieszko's son Boleslaus the Brave made Breslau a bishopric and the construction of the cathedral on the Cathedral Island began. Wroclaw developed as one of the most important cities in early Poland. Since around 1138, Wroclaw has been the capital of the Polish principality of Silesia. After the destruction of Breslau by the Tatars in 1241, the Breslau Piasts increasingly settled German immigrants on the southern bank of the Oder. A Gothic building soon arose there around the market square (Rynek).
For centuries Wroclaw was a multicultural city where Poles, Germans and Jews lived peacefully together. The city's magnificent buildings with their many Gothic churches, one of the most beautiful Gothic town halls in Europe and the many baroque town houses date from this period. In the 14th century, Silesia was lost to Poland and came as a fief to Bohemia and later to the Habsburgs. Wroclaw got a university and one of the most beautiful botanical gardens in Europe. After the Silesian Wars in the 18th century, Breslau became Prussian and later German. During World War II it was almost completely destroyed.
After the expulsion and resettlement of the pre-war population, some Polish resettlers from Lemberg (Lwów) were settled. In the decades after the war, many historic buildings were rebuilt. Today Wroclaw is the fourth largest city in Poland with around 630,000 inhabitants.
The city of Wroclaw is divided into five different districts. On the one hand in Śródmieście, the inner city of Wroclaw, which forms the part to the right of the Oder with the Cathedral Island and Elbing. Around 122,000 people live here. On the other hand in Stare Miasto, the old town combined with the suburbs of Nicolai and Schweidnitz. About 54,000 people live there. All suburbs north of the (new) Oder belong to the district Psie Pole with about 93,000 inhabitants. With 165,000 inhabitants, the second largest district of Wroclaw is called Krzyki and includes the city center and suburbs south of the old Oder and the old town. The largest district of Wroclaw is called Fabryczna. It consists of the mixed areas, outskirts and suburbs in the west, left of the Oder. 197,000 people live there.
Wrocław is one of the oldest Polish cities in terms of a location
with municipal rights. In ancient times, in or around Wrocław, there was
a town called Budorgis. It was reproduced on the ancient map of Claudius
Ptolemy from 142–147 CE. Lexicon Universale informs about the fact that
this town was located in or around Wrocław, and it results from its
location among other identified towns in Silesia. Some of the hypotheses
connect the ancient settlement of Budorigum with Wrocław itself, but
some sources indicate its location near Brzeg. Two main trade routes
intersected in Wrocław - the Via Regia and the Amber Route. The city
belonged to the Hanseatic League. The city was first explicitly
mentioned in the year 1000 (the year is traditionally taken as the date
of the city's founding) in connection with the founding (during the
Gniezno Convention) of the bishopric (one of four in Poland at that
time). Settlement in these areas, however, existed since the 6th
century, when the Slavic tribe of Ślężans settled on the Oder River.
According to recent research, there is no trace that would indicate the
existence of a stronghold in Wrocław's Ostrów Tumski before 940. In 985,
on Ostrów Tumski, the first stronghold was built by Mieszko I. From the
end of the 10th century, Wrocław was under the rule of the Piast dynasty
and was one of the main seats of the kingdom (Latin: sedes regni
principalis). In the medieval Polish Chronicle of Gallus Anonymous,
written in the years 1112–1116, Wrocław, along with Kraków and
Sandomierz, was included in one of the three main capitals of the
Kingdom of Poland.
In the years 1031–1032 (or 1034–1038), a pagan reaction broke out and the Wrocław cathedral was demolished and a pagan temple was built in its place.
A mint operated in Wrocław from the first half of the 11th century.
In the 12th century, Piotr Włostowic had his estates on Ołbin, on the island of Piasek, and around Mount Ślęża. In the same century, a castle was erected on Ostrów Tumski, and the town gained the status of a castellany. A medieval Latin document of Henry I the Bearded from 1214 (it is believed that the city was founded at that time) mentions Sobiesław as the castellan of Wrocław in the fragment "Sobeslao castellano de Wratislauia".
During the period of fragmentation in Poland, Silesia and its largest city became the domain of a new princely line - the Silesian Piasts. Numerous settlements sprung up around the princely town on the Oder islands. At the beginning of the 13th century, they began to gradually transform into one urban organism. This process accelerated after the Mongol invasion of 1241, during which Wrocław itself was partially destroyed.
In April 1241, fearing a Mongol invasion, the city was abandoned by the inhabitants, and then burned for strategic reasons. The Wrocław Castle, where Henry II the Pious defended himself, remained unconquered. It was believed that this was due to a miraculous phenomenon that appeared in the sky, causing the Mongols to withdraw from the siege. The tradition handed down by Jan Długosz, believed it to be the result of the prayers of the prior of Wrocław's Dominicans, Czesław Odrowąż, later blessed and patron of the city. After being rebuilt from the ashes, in December 1261, the town was located under the Magdeburg law. The first mayor was Godinus Stillevogt (his son Gedko later became the first mayor of Kraków).
Near Wrocław, in 1270, the oldest known sentence in the Polish language was recorded in the Book of Henryków.
In 1323, Henry VI the Good offered to take over the power over Wrocław to Władysław I Łokietek, but for unknown reasons, this did not come to fruition.
In 1335, after the death of Henry VI the Good, after 350 years of rule by Polish princes and kings in Wrocław, the city came under the rule of the Luxemburgs. This meant the incorporation of the city together with all of Silesia into the Holy Roman Empire (German Nation), which was confirmed on April 7, 1348 by Emperor Charles IV.
In 1475, Kasper Elyan printed in Wrocław Statuta synodalia episcoporum Wratislaviensium, the first print in Polish, containing three prayers: "Our Father", "Hail Mary", "I believe in God" for the needs of the bishopric, clergy and faithful.
After the death of Louis II Jagiellon in 1526, Wrocław, together with the rest of the Silesian principalities, became part of the Habsburg monarchy.
In the middle of the 17th century, the Polish-German linguistic border ran near Wrocław, including the city into a territory dominated by the Polish language.
In 1693, Edmond Halley, based on the lists of births and deaths prepared by the Wrocław pastor Caspar Neumann, developed a pattern for calculating pension contributions for emerging insurance funds. In the analysis, he used Wrocław as a model city.
In 1741, during the Silesian Wars, the city, together with most of Silesia (except for the Duchy of Cieszyn, Opava and part of Nysa), was conquered by King Frederick II and became part of Prussia, therefore from 1741 the official name of the city was Królewskie Stołeczne i Rezydencjalne The city of Wrocław (German: Königliche Haupt- und Residenzstadt Breslau).
From December 6, 1806, Wrocław was besieged by Napoleon's army under the command of General Dominique Vandamme, and after a month-long siege, on January 5, 1807, it was captured. The city became the organizational point of the Polish legions, whose number was estimated at 8,400 recruits. In 1807, the French ordered the demolition of the fortifications surrounding the city, which Wrocław benefited from, because bastions and walls previously limited the spatial development of the city. Wrocław remained under the rule of France until July 9, 1807, when Napoleon signed the Treaty of Tilsit, under which the city returned to the rule of Prussia. In 1809, the king of Prussia ordered the secularization of church property (including the university), and donated the received property for cultural purposes or for his courtiers, e.g. the Palace in Krobielowice.
Wrocław was an important center of the Polish underground before and during the January Uprising in the Russian partition, the Polish insurgent committee had its seat here. Secret correspondence and volunteers to fight were transported through the city, and weapons were smuggled. Local Poles celebrated national mourning after the massacre committed by Russian soldiers in Warsaw in February 1861. After the outbreak of the uprising, the Prussian police conducted searches in the homes of Poles, especially those visiting. The inhabitants of Wrocław, both Poles and Germans (with the exception of the upper classes), generally sympathized with the insurgents, and some even supported them.
In 1863, the brothers Karl and Louis Stangen founded the Stangen travel agency, it was the second such agency in the world.
In 1877, the section Deutscher und Oesterreichischer Alpenverein (DuOEAV) (now DAV and OEAV) was established in Wrocław, which in 1882 built the mountain shelter Breslauer Hütte in the Alps, at the foot of the Wildspitze. In 1887, the Karpathenverein section was established, which eight years later built the Śląski Dom shelter in the Tatra Mountains, at the foot of Gerlach. The Moravian-Silesian Sudeten Mountain Association, the Silesian Sudeten Mountain Association, the Karkonosze Association and the Beskidenverein also had their sections in Wrocław.
In Wrocław and its vicinity at the end of the 19th century, there was a Polish settlement associated with industrialization and urbanization, there were also Polish social and cultural organizations in the city, such as the "Sokół" Gymnastics Society in Wrocław - the first nest in Silesia of the Polish Gymnastics Society "Sokół" founded in 1894 and numbering 70 members.
In 1891, in a wealthy Jewish family from Wrocław, she was born and spent the first twenty years of her life. Edith Stein, philosopher and Carmelite nun, announced in 1999 by St. John Paul II, patron of Europe.
In the years 1890-1918, an extensive system of fortifications was built - the so-called Fortress Wroclaw.
In the years 1904–1905, the Municipal Gasworks was built.
In 1933, KZ Dürrgoy was established in Wrocław - one of the first concentration camps in the Third Reich.
In 1935, the first gas sent from the Municipal Gasworks in Wałbrzych reached Wrocław and its vicinity.
During World War II, a branch of the Groß-Rosen concentration camp was located in Wrocław. In 1941, a Polish underground organization named Olimp was founded in Wrocław. On August 25, 1944, the city was declared a fortress (German: Festung Breslau) and was ordered to defend itself to the last soldier. On January 19, 1945, on the order of Karl Hanke, Gauleiter of Silesia, most of the remaining civilians were evacuated on foot. On February 13, the Red Army laid siege to Wrocław. On March 8, the command of Festung Breslau was taken over by Hermann Niehoff, and his predecessor, Hans von Ahlfen, left the city by plane two days later. On March 16, forced laborers began demolishing tenement houses and building an airport in the place of the current Grunwaldzki Square. On the night of April 1/2, 750 Soviet planes began mass bombing of Wrocław. Explosive and incendiary bombs were dropped on the city. Wrocław surrendered only on May 6, four days after Berlin. In the evening, in the Colonia villa at today's ul. Rapacki 14, General Hermann Niehoff and General Vladimir Głuzdowski signed the act of capitulation of Wrocław. As a result of the fighting between the Red Army and the Wehrmacht, about 70% of the city's buildings were damaged or completely destroyed.
On August 2, 1945, at the Potsdam Conference, a decision was made to hand over Silesia, together with Wrocław, to Poland, and the German population that had not left the city before the siege of Wrocław was resettled to the Soviet occupation zone in Germany. The Polish population began to flow to Wrocław, mainly from central Poland (Kielecczyzna, Łódzkie) and Greater Poland, as well as displaced inhabitants of the Eastern Borderlands of pre-war Poland, mainly from Lviv and its vicinity and from the Vilnius region. Further degradation of the urban fabric of the destroyed city occurred as a result of the deliberate demolition of buildings that could be reconstructed in order to obtain building materials, in particular bricks, from them.
In 1948, the great Exhibition of the Regained Territories (WZO) was held in Wrocław, which was visited by over 1.5 million people, and the World Congress of Intellectuals in Defense of Peace; on the occasion of the WZO, among others, a The spire, one of the symbols of Wrocław.
In 1966, the first "Wratislavia Cantans" festival took place, and in 1976 the first Stage Song Review.
During the martial law in 1982, anti-communist underground organizations were established in Wrocław - Fighting Solidarity and Orange Alternative (from which the present Wrocław dwarfs took their lineage).
On February 6, 1990, PTV Echo began broadcasting in Wrocław - the first non-state television in Poland and in post-communist countries.
Part of the city was flooded in 1997.
The city was a candidate for the EXPO 2010 exhibition, but Shanghai was chosen as the host. In the competition for EXPO 2012, the city lost to Yeosu (South Korea).
Wrocław was one of four Polish cities where Euro 2012 matches were played.
In 2016, Wrocław was the European Capital of Culture.
By the decision of the field bishop Józef Guzdek of October 19, 2021, Wrocław was awarded the Cross of the 30th Anniversary of the Military Ordinariate for merits in the reconstruction and restoration of the former splendor of the Basilica of St. Elizabeth in Wrocław.