Capital city of the Lower Silesian Voivodeship in western Poland
Top 10 Wrocław related articles
- 1 Etymology
- 2 History
- 3 Geography
- 4 Government and politics
- 5 Economy
- 6 Transport
- 7 Demographics
- 8 Education
- 9 Culture and landmarks
- 10 Sports
- 11 Notable people
- 12 Twin towns – sister cities
- 13 See also
- 14 References
- 15 External links
Wrocław: miasto spotkań (Polish "Wrocław – The Meeting Place")
|• Mayor||Jacek Sutryk|
|• City||292.92 km2 (113.10 sq mi)|
|Highest elevation||155 m (509 ft)|
|Lowest elevation||105 m (344 ft)|
(30 June 2020)
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+2 (CEST)|
50-041 to 54-612
|Area code(s)||+48 71|
|Car plates||DW, DX|
Wrocław (UK: // VROT-swahf, US: / - , - /, VRAWT-swahf, -slahf, -slahv, Polish: [ˈvrɔt͡swaf] (
Wrocław is the historical capital of Silesia and Lower Silesia. Today, it is the capital of the Lower Silesian Voivodeship. The history of the city dates back over a thousand years; at various times, it has been part of the Kingdom of Poland, the Kingdom of Bohemia, the Kingdom of Hungary, the Habsburg Monarchy of Austria, the Kingdom of Prussia and Germany. Wrocław became part of Poland again in 1945 as part of the so-called Recovered Territories, the result of extensive border changes and expulsions after the Second World War.
Wrocław is a university city with a student population of over 130,000, making it arguably one of the most youth-oriented cities in the country. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the University of Wrocław, previously Breslau University, has produced 9 Nobel Prize laureates and is renowned for its high quality of teaching. Wrocław also possesses numerous historical landmarks, including the Main Market Square, Cathedral Island and the Centennial Hall, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In 1989, 1995 and 2019 Wrocław hosted the European Youth Meetings of the Taizé Community and hosted the Eucharistic Congress in 1997 and the 2012 European Football Championship. In 2016, the city was a European Capital of Culture and the World Book Capital. Also in that year, Wrocław hosted the Theatre Olympics, World Bridge Games and the European Film Awards. In 2017, the city was host to the IFLA Annual Conference and the World Games. In 2019, it was named a UNESCO City of Literature.
Wrocław is classified as a Gamma global city by GaWC. It was placed among the top 100 cities in the world for the Mercer Quality of Living Survey 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019 and in the top 100 of the smartest cities in the world in the IESE Cities in Motion Index 2017 and 2019 report. In February 2021, belonging to Financial Times - fDi Magazine published the report "Global Cities of the Future 2021/2022", in which Wrocław was classified in 1st place among all medium and small cities in the world.
Wrocław Intro articles: 36
Traditionally, the city is believed to be named after Duke Vratislav I of Bohemia from the Czech Přemyslid dynasty, who ruled the region between 915 and 921. The city's name first appeared in the 10th century probably as Vratislava. The oldest surviving document containing the recorded name of the city is the chronicle of Thietmar of Merseburg from the early 11th century, which records the city's name as "Wrotizlava", and cites it as a seat of a new bishopric at the Congress of Gniezno. The city's first municipal seal was inscribed with Sigillum civitatis Wratislavie.
The original Old Czech language version of the name was used in Latin documents, as Vratislavia or Wratislavia. In the Polish language, the city's name Wrocław derives from the name Wrocisław, which is the Polish equivalent of the Czech name Vratislav. The earliest variations of this name in the Old Polish language use the letter /l/ instead of /ł/. By the 15th century, the Early New High German variations of the name, Breslau, first began to be used. Despite the noticeable differences in spelling, the numerous German forms were still based on the original West Slavic name of the city, with the -Vr- sound being replaced over time by -Br-, and the suffix -slav- replaced with -slau-. These variations included Vratizlau, Wratislau, Wrezlau or Breßlau among others. In other languages, the city's name is: modern Czech: Vratislav, Hungarian: Boroszló, Hebrew: ורוצלב (Vrotsláv), Yiddish: ברעסלוי (Bresloi), Silesian: Wrocuaw, Lower Silesian: Brassel, and Latin: Vratislavia, Wratislavia or Budorgis.
Wrocław Etymology articles: 18
In ancient times, there was a place called Budorigum at or near the site of Wrocław. It was already mapped on Claudius Ptolemy's map of AD 142–147. Settlements in the area existed from the 6th century onward during the migration period. The Ślężans, a West Slavic tribe, settled on the Oder river and erected a fortified gord on Ostrów Tumski.
Wrocław originated at the intersection of two trade routes, the Via Regia and the Amber Road. The city was first recognized in the 10th century as Vratislavia on account of the Bohemian duke Vratislav I's stronghold there, hence the name. When in 985, Duke Mieszko I of Poland conquered Silesia, Vratislavia's polonised form over time became Wrocław. The town was mentioned explicitly in the year 1000 AD in connection with its promotion to an episcopal see during the Congress of Gniezno.
During Wrocław's early history, control over it changed hands between the Duchy of Bohemia (until 992, then 1038–1054), the Duchy of Poland and the Kingdom of Poland (992–1038 and 1054–1202). Following the fragmentation of the Kingdom of Poland, the Piast dynasty ruled the Duchy of Silesia. One of the most important events during this period was the foundation of the Diocese of Wrocław by the Polish Duke and from 1025, King Bolesław the Brave in 1000. Along with the Bishoprics of Kraków and Kołobrzeg, Wrocław was placed under the Archbishopric of Gniezno in Greater Poland, founded by Pope Sylvester II through the intercession of Polish Duke Bolesław I the Brave and Emperor Otto III in 1000, during the Gniezno Congress. In the years 1034–1038 the city was affected by Pagan reaction in Poland.
The city became a commercial centre and expanded to Wyspa Piasek (Sand Island), and then onto the left bank of the River Oder. Around 1000, the town had about 1,000 inhabitants. In 1109 during the Polish-German war, Prince Bolesław III Wrymouth defeated the King of Germany Henry V at the Battle of Hundsfeld, stopping the German advance into Poland. The medieval chronicle, Gesta principum Polonorum (1112–1116) by Gallus Anonymus, named Wrocław, along with Kraków and Sandomierz, as one of three capitals of the Polish Kingdom. Also, the Tabula Rogeriana a book written by the Arab geographer Muhammad al-Idrisi in 1154, describes Wrocław as one of the Polish cities, alongside Kraków, Gniezno, Sieradz, Łęczyca and Santok.
By 1139, a settlement belonging to Governor Piotr Włostowic (also known as Piotr Włast Dunin) was built, and another on the left bank of the River Oder, near the present site of the University. While the city was largely Polish, it also had communities of Bohemians (Czechs), Germans, Walloons and Jews.
In the 13th century, Wrocław was the political centre of the divided Polish kingdom. In April 1241, during the First Mongol invasion of Poland the city was abandoned by its inhabitants and burnt down for strategic reasons. During the battles with the Mongols Wrocław Castle was successfully defended by Henry II the Pious.
After the Mongol invasion the town was partly populated by German settlers who, in the ensuing centuries gradually became its dominant population. The city, however, retained its multi-ethnic character, a reflection of its importance as a trading post on the junction of the Via Regia and the Amber Road.
With the influx of settlers the town expanded and in 1242 came under German town law. The city council used both Latin and German, and the early forms of the name "Breslau", the German name of the city, appeared for the first time in its written records. Polish gradually ceased to be used in the town books, while it survived in the courts until 1337. The enlarged town covered around 60 hectares (150 acres), and the new main market square, surrounded by timber-frame houses, became the trade centre of the town. The original foundation, Ostrów Tumski, became its religious centre. The city gained Magdeburg rights in 1261. While the Polish Piast dynasty remained in control of the region, the ability of the city council to govern itself independently increased. In 1274 prince Henryk IV Probus gave the city its staple right. In the 13th century, two Polish monarchs were buried in Wrocław churches founded by them, Henry II the Pious in the St. Vincent church and Henryk IV Probus in the Holy Cross church.
Wrocław, which for 350 years had been mostly under Polish hegemony, fell in 1335, after the death of Henry VI the Good, to the Kingdom of Bohemia, then a part of the Holy Roman Empire. Between 1342 and 1344, two fires destroyed large parts of the city. In 1387 the city joined the Hanseatic League. On 5 June 1443, the city was rocked by an earthquake, estimated at ca. 6 on the Richter scale, which destroyed or seriously damaged many of its buildings.
Between 1469 and 1490, Wrocław was part of the Kingdom of Hungary, and king Matthias Corvinus was said to have had a Vratislavian mistress who bore him a son. In 1474, after almost a century, the city left the Hanseatic League. Also in 1474, the city was besieged by combined Polish-Czech forces. However, in November 1474, Kings Casimir IV of Poland, his son Vladislaus II of Bohemia, and Matthias Corvinus of Hungary met in the nearby village of Muchobór Wielki (present-day a district of Wrocław), and in December 1474 a ceasefire was signed according to which the city remained under Hungarian rule. The following year was marked by the publication in Wrocław of the Statuta Synodalia Episcoporum Wratislaviensium (1475) by Kasper Elyan, the first ever Incunable in Polish, containing the proceedings and prayers of the Wrocław bishops.
Renaissance and the Reformation
The Protestant Reformation reached the city in 1518 and it converted to the new rite. However, from 1526 Silesia was ruled by the Catholic House of Habsburg. In 1618, it supported the Bohemian Revolt out of fear of losing the right to religious freedom. During the ensuing Thirty Years' War, the city was occupied by Saxon and Swedish troops and lost thousands of inhabitants to the plague.
The Emperor brought in the Counter-Reformation by encouraging Catholic orders to settle in the city, starting in 1610 with the Franciscans, followed by the Jesuits, then Capuchins, and finally Ursuline nuns in 1687. These orders erected buildings, which shaped the city's appearance until 1945. At the end of the Thirty Years' War, however, it was one of only a few Silesian cities to stay Protestant.
The Polish Municipal school opened in 1666 and lasted until 1766. Precise record-keeping of births and deaths by the city fathers led to the use of their data for analysis of mortality, first by John Graunt and then based on data provided to him by Breslau professor Caspar Neumann, by Edmond Halley. Halley's tables and analysis, published in 1693, are considered to be the first true actuarial tables, and thus the foundation of modern actuarial science. During the Counter-Reformation, the intellectual life of the city flourished, as the Protestant bourgeoisie lost some of its dominance to the Catholic orders as patrons of the arts.
The city became the centre of German Baroque literature and was home to the First and Second Silesian school of poets. In the 1740s the Kingdom of Prussia annexed the city and most of Silesia during the War of the Austrian Succession. Habsburg Empress Maria Theresa ceded most of the territory in the Treaty of Breslau in 1742 to Prussia. Austria attempted to recover Silesia during the Seven Years' War at the Battle of Breslau, but they were unsuccessful. The Venetian Italian adventurer, Giacomo Casanova, stayed in Breslau in 1766.
During the Napoleonic Wars, it was occupied by the Confederation of the Rhine army. The fortifications of the city were levelled, and monasteries and cloisters were seized. The Protestant Viadrina European University at Frankfurt am Oder was relocated to Breslau in 1811, and united with the local Jesuit University to create the new Silesian Frederick-William University (Schlesische Friedrich-Wilhelm-Universität, now the University of Wrocław). The city became a centre of the German Liberation movement against Napoleon, and a gathering place for volunteers from all over Germany. The city was the centre of Prussian mobilisation for the campaign which ended at the Battle of Leipzig.
The Confederation of the Rhine had increased prosperity in Silesia and in the city. The removal of fortifications opened room for the city to expand beyond its former limits. Breslau became an important railway hub and industrial centre, notably for linen and cotton manufacture and the metal industry. The reconstructed university served as a major centre of science; Johannes Brahms later wrote his Academic Festival Overture to thank the university for an honorary doctorate awarded in 1879.
In 1821, the (Arch)Diocese of Breslau withdrew from dependence on the Polish archbishopric of Gniezno, and Breslau became an exempt see. On 10 October 1854, the Jewish Theological Seminary opened. The institution was the first modern rabbinical seminary in Central Europe. In 1863 the brothers Karl and Louis Stangen founded the travel agency Stangen, the second travel agency in the world.
The city was an important center of the Polish secret resistance movement and the seat of a Polish uprising committee before and during the January Uprising of 1863–1864 in the Russian Partition of Poland. Local Poles took part in Polish national mourning after the Russian massacre of Polish protesters in Warsaw in February 1861, and also organized several patriotic Polish church services throughout 1861. Secret Polish correspondence, weapons, and insurgents were transported through the city. After the outbreak of the uprising in 1863, the Prussian police carried out mass searches of Polish homes, especially those of Poles who had recently come to the city. The city's inhabitants, both Poles and Germans, excluding the German aristocracy, largely sympathized with the uprising, and some Germans even joined local Poles in their secret activities. In June 1863 the city was officially confirmed as the seat of secret Polish insurgent authorities. In January 1864, the Prussian police arrested a number of members of the Polish insurgent movement.
The Unification of Germany in 1871 turned Breslau into the sixth-largest city in the German Empire. Its population more than tripled to over half a million between 1860 and 1910. The 1900 census listed 422,709 residents.
In 1890, construction began of Breslau Fortress as the city's defenses. Important landmarks were inaugurated in 1910, the Kaiser bridge (today Grunwald Bridge) and the Technical University, which now houses the Wrocław University of Technology. The 1900 census listed 98% of the population as German-speakers, with 5,363 Polish-speakers (1.3%), and 3,103 (0.7%) as bilingual in German and Polish. The population was 58% Protestant, 37% Catholic (including at least 2% Polish) and 5% Jewish (totaling 20,536 in the 1905 census). The Jewish community of Breslau was among the most important in Germany, producing several distinguished artists and scientists.
From 1912, the head of the University's Department of Psychiatry and director of the Clinic of Psychiatry (Königlich Psychiatrischen und Nervenklinik) was Alois Alzheimer and, that same year, professor William Stern introduced the concept of IQ.
In 1913, the newly built Centennial Hall housed an exhibition commemorating the 100th anniversary of the historical German Wars of Liberation against Napoleon and the first award of the Iron Cross.
Following the First World War, Breslau became the capital of the newly created Prussian Province of Lower Silesia of the Weimar Republic in 1919. After the war the Polish community began holding masses in Polish at the Church of Saint Anne, and, as of 1921, at St. Martin's and a Polish School was founded by Helena Adamczewska. In 1920 a Polish consulate was opened on the Main Square.
In August 1920, during the Polish Silesian Uprising in Upper Silesia, the Polish Consulate and School were destroyed, while the Polish Library was burned down by a mob. The number of Poles as a percentage of the total population fell to just 0.5% after the re-emergence of Poland as a state in 1918, when many moved to Poland. Antisemitic riots occurred in 1923.
The city boundaries were expanded between 1925 and 1930 to include an area of 175 km2 (68 sq mi) with a population of 600,000. In 1929, the Werkbund opened WuWa (German: Wohnungs- und Werkraumausstellung) in Breslau-Scheitnig, an international showcase of modern architecture by architects of the Silesian branch of the Werkbund. In June 1930, Breslau hosted the Deutsche Kampfspiele, a sporting event for German athletes after Germany was excluded from the Olympic Games after World War I. The number of Jews remaining in Breslau fell from 23,240 in 1925 to 10,659 in 1933. Up to the beginning of World War II, Breslau was the largest city in Germany east of Berlin.
Known as a stronghold of left wing liberalism during the German Empire, Breslau eventually became one of the strongest support bases of the Nazi Party, which in the 1932 elections received 44% of the city's vote, their third-highest total in all Germany.
After Hitler's appointment as German Chancellor in 1933, political enemies of the Nazis were persecuted, and their institutions closed or destroyed. The Gestapo began actions against Polish and Jewish students (see: Jewish Theological Seminary of Breslau), Communists, Social Democrats, and trade unionists. Arrests were made for speaking Polish in public, and in 1938 the Nazi-controlled police destroyed the Polish cultural centre. In June 1939, Polish students were expelled from the university. Also many other people seen as "undesirable" by the Third Reich were sent to concentration camps. A network of concentration camps and forced labour camps was established around Breslau to serve industrial concerns, including FAMO, Junkers, and Krupp. Tens of thousand of forced laborers were imprisoned there.
The last big event organized by the National Socialist League of the Reich for Physical Exercise, called Deutsches Turn-und-Sportfest (Gym and Sports Festivities), took place in Breslau from 26 to 31 July 1938. The Sportsfest was held to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the German Wars of Liberation against Napoleon's invasion.
Second World War
During the invasion of Poland, which started World War II, in September 1939, the Germans carried out mass arrests of local Polish activists and banned Polish organizations, and the city was made the headquarters of the southern district of the Selbstschutz, which task was to persecute Poles. For most of the war, the fighting did not affect the city. During the war, the Germans opened the graves of medieval Polish monarchs and local dukes to carry out anthropological research for propaganda purposes, wanting to demonstrate German "racial purity". The remains were transported to other places by the Germans, and they have not been found to this day. In 1941 the remnants of the pre-war Polish minority in the city, as well as Polish slave labourers, organised a resistance group called Olimp. The organisation gathered intelligence, carrying out sabotage and organising aid for Polish slave workers. In September 1941 the city's 10,000 Jews were expelled from their homes and soon deported to concentration camps. Few survived the Holocaust. As the war continued, refugees from bombed-out German cities, and later refugees from farther east, swelled the population to nearly one million, including 51,000 forced labourers in 1944, and 9,876 Allied PoWs. At the end of 1944 an additional 30,000–60,000 Poles were moved into the city after the Germans crushed the Warsaw Uprising.
During the war the Germans operated four subcamps of the Gross-Rosen concentration camp in the city. Approximately 3,400-3,800 men were imprisoned in three subcamps, among them Poles, Russians, Italians, Frenchmen, Ukrainians, Czechs, Belgians, Yugoslavs, Chinese, and about 1,500 Jewish women were imprisoned in the fourth camp. Many prisoners died, and the remaining were evacuated to the main camp of Groß-Rosen in January 1945. There were also three subcamps of the Stalag VIII-B/344 prisoner-of-war camp, and two Nazi prisons in the city, including a youth prison, with multiple forced labour subcamps.
In February 1945 the Soviet Army approached the city. Gauleiter Karl Hanke declared the city a Festung (fortress) to be held at all costs. Hanke finally lifted a ban on the evacuation of women and children when it was almost too late. During his poorly organised evacuation in January 1945, 18,000 people froze to death in icy snowstorms of −20 °C (−4 °F) weather. By the end of the Battle of Breslau (February–May 1945), half the city had been destroyed. An estimated 40,000 civilians lay dead in the ruins of homes and factories. After a siege of nearly three months, Festung Breslau capitulated to the Red Army on 6 May 1945, two days before the end of the war. In August the Soviets placed the city under the control of German communists.
Following the Yalta Conference held in February 1945 where the new geopolitics of Central Europe were decided, the terms of the Potsdam Conference decreed that with almost all of Lower Silesia, the city would become part of Poland in exchange for Poland's loss of the city of Lwów along with the massive territory of Kresy in the east, which was annexed by the Soviet Union. The Polish name of "Wrocław" was declared official. There had been discussion among the Western Allies to place the southern Polish-German boundary on the Glatzer Neisse, which meant post-war Germany would have been allowed to retain approximately half of Silesia, including Breslau. However, Stalin insisted the border be drawn at the Lusatian Neisse farther west.
Following World War II, the region became part of Poland under territorial changes defined by the Potsdam Agreement. The town's inhabitants who had not fled, or who had safely returned to their home town after the war officially had ended, were expelled between 1945 and 1949 in accordance to the Potsdam Agreement and were settled in the Soviet occupation zone or in the Allied Occupation Zones in the remainder of Germany. The city's last pre-war German school was closed in 1963.
The Polish population was dramatically increased by the resettlement of Poles during postwar population transfers during the forced deportations from Polish lands annexed by the Soviet Union in the east region, some of whom came from Lviv (Lwów), Volhynia, and the Vilnius Region. A small German minority (about 1,000 people, or 2% of the population) remains in the city, so that today the relation of Polish to German population is the reverse of what it was a 100 years ago. Traces of the German past, such as inscriptions and signs, have been removed.
Wrocław is now a unique European city of mixed heritage, with architecture influenced by Bohemian, Austrian, and Prussian traditions, such as Silesian Gothic and its Baroque style of court builders of Habsburg Austria (Fischer von Erlach). Wrocław has a number of notable buildings by German modernist architects including the famous Centennial Hall (Hala Stulecia or Jahrhunderthalle; 1911–1913) designed by Max Berg. In 1948, Wrocław organized the Recovered Territories Exhibition and the World Congress of Intellectuals in Defense of Peace. Picasso's lithograph, La Colombe (The Dove), a traditional, realistic picture of a pigeon, without an olive branch, was created on a napkin at the Monopol Hotel in Wrocław during the World Congress of Intellectuals in Defense of Peace.
In 1982, during martial law in Poland, the anti-communist underground organizations Fighting Solidarity and Orange Alternative were founded in Wrocław. Wrocław's dwarves, made of bronze, famously grew out of and commemorate Orange Alternative.
PTV Echo, the first non-state television station in Poland and in the post-communist countries, began to broadcast in Wrocław on 6 February 1990.
In July 1997, the city was heavily affected by a flood of the River Oder, the worst flooding in post-war Poland, Germany, and the Czech Republic. About one-third of the area of the city was flooded. An earlier, equally devastating flood of the river took place in 1903. A small part of the city was also flooded during the flood of 2010. From 2012 to 2015, the Wrocław water node was renovated and redeveloped to prevent further flooding.
Wrocław won the European Best Destination title in 2018.