51° 07' N., 17° 02' E
111 m (364 ft)
Area and population:
50-041 to 54-612
Fot. Tomasz Sielicki
Welkome in Wroclaw!
Wrocław is the capital of the historical region of Lower Silesia in southwestern Poland, situated on the Oder River. It is the principal city of the Lower Silesia region and the administrative seat of the Lower Silesian Voivodeship (since 1999), previously of Wrocław Voivodeship. The city is also a separate urban-county. After Warsaw, Wrocław is the second largest financial center in Poland. Presently, its population is estimated to be 635,200. Wrocław comprises five boroughs: Fabryczna ("Industrial"), Krzyki ("Shouts"), Psie Pole ("Dog Field"), Stare Miasto ("Old Town"), Śródmieście ("City Center").|
Twin towns: Breda (Holland), Charlotte (USA), Drezno (Germany), Grodno (Belarus), Guadalajara (Mexico), Hradec Králové (Czech Republic), Kowno (Litva), Lviv (Ukraine), Ramat Gan (Israel), Vienne (France), Wiesbaden (Germany), Toronto (Canada). Partnership: Vienne department (France).
The city was first recorded in the year 1000 by Thietmar's chronicle: Johannes Wrotizlaensis, bishop of Wrotizla, a newly established diocese, is mentioned, as was later the city itself (as Wortizlawa). The first municipal seal says: Sigillum civitatis Wracislavie, and a simplified city name is given in 1175 as in Wrezlawe, which developed into Prezla, Bresla(u=w).|
Early records show that the medieval city name was Wrocisław in Polish and Vratislav in Czech, meaning Wrocisław/Vratislav's town. The Polish name was later phonetically simplified from Wrocisław to Wrotsław to Wrocław, a name which has been used since the 12th century. The Czech spelling was used in Latin documents as Wratislavia or Vratislavia, while the Polish pronunciation was also influential in the spelling Wracislavia. At that time, Prezla was used in Middle High German, which became Preßlau. The Latin name Wratislavia and the Early New High German (and later New High German) form of the name-Breslau-was used as the official name by Austria, Prussia, and Germany.
The city is traditionally believed to be named after a person called Wrocisław/Vratislav, often believed to be Duke Vratislav I of Bohemia. It is also possible that the city was named after the tribal duke of the Silesians, or after an early owner of the city called Vratislav. There is also another story which holds that the city was named after a Polish duke named Wrócisław, whose name means "he will return famous" in the old Polish language (in the Czech too).
A stronghold situated at a long-existing trading place, later to become the site of Wroclaw, was part of Greater Moravia, then Bohemia. The city was first recorded in the 10th century as Vratislavia, possibly derived from the name of the Bohemian duke Vratislav I, who died in 921.|
The history of the city of Wroclaw begins at the end of the 10th century. At this time the city bears the name of Vratislavia and is limited to Ostrów Tumski (the Cathedral Island). In the year 1000 king Boleslaw I of Poland establishes the first bishopric of Silesia. The city quickly becomes a commercial center and expands rapidly to the neighbouring Wyspa Piaskowa (Sand Island), and then to the left bank of the Odra river. In 1163 it becomes the capital of the duchy of Silesia.
By 1139 two more settlements are founded. One belongs to Governor Piotr Włostowic (a.k.a Piotr Włast Dunin, Piotr Włost, Peter Wlast; ca. 1080-1153) and is situated near his residence on the Olbina, and the St. Vincent's Benedictine Abbey.
The other settlement is founded on the left bank of the Oder River, near the present seat of the university. At the time it is the trade route that leads from Leipzig and Liegnitz, and then follows through Opole, and Kraków to Kievan Rus'.
Following the period of Slavic rule, Emperor Barbarossa gains control of the territory, and forms up two duchies (1157, 1163) in Silesia. The Silesian dukes take their land as fiefs from the Holy Roman Empire.
Mongol raids begin and the city is devastated in 1241. The rebuilding was characterised by expanding the boundaries to the area around the Market Square (Rynek). At that time many Germans settle down to join and reinforce the thinned out population. Soon the name Breslau appears for the first time in written records. The rebuilt town is given Magdeburg rights in 1262. Trade is booming which results in the fact that at the end of the 13th century Wroclaw joins the Hanseatic League. However, the Silesian Piast dynasty remains in control of Silesia.
In 1289-1292 the Přemyslid King of Bohemia, Wenceslaus II, became Duke of Silesia, then also King of Poland. With John of Luxemburg and his son, Emperor Charles IV (and king of Bohemia), Silesia was united with Bohemia, but retained its separate Ius indigenatus.
The first illustration of the city was published in the Nuremberg Chronicle (Schedelsche Weltchronik) in 1493. Documents of that time refer to the town by many variants of the name, including Bresslau, Presslau, Breslau and Wratislaw.
During much of the Middle Ages Wroclaw was ruled by its dukes of the Silesian Piast dynasty. Although the city was not part of its principality, the Bishop of Breslau was a prince-bishop since Bishop Preczlaus of Pogarell (1341-1376) bought the Duchy of Grottkau from Duke Boleslaw of Brieg and added it to the episcopal territory of Neisse, after which the Bishops of Breslau had the titles of Prince of Neisse and Duke of Grottkau, and took precedence over the other Silesian rulers.
In 1335, it was incorporated with almost the entirety of Silesia into the Kingdom of Bohemia and was part of it until the 1740s; from 1526, it was ruled by the Empire's Habsburg dynasty. By this time the inhabitants, although of mixed Silesian, Bohemian, Moravian, and often of Polish ancestry, had become mainly linguistically and culturally German. Conrad Celtes travelled through Breslau in 1490 on his way from Krakow to Prague. His descriptions appear in Hartmann Schedels Nuremberg Chronicle:
The overwhelming majority of the population became lutheran during the Protestant Reformation as did most of Lower Silesia, but they were forcibly suppressed during the Catholic Reformation by Austrian and Polish Jesuits working with the support of the Habsburg rulers.
After the death of the last Silesian Piast ruler, Georg Wihelm of Liegnitz Brieg in 1675, the Habsburg Monarchy of Austria inherited the city of Breslau. They resorted to forceful conversion of the city back to Catholicism. During the War of the Austrian Succession in the 1740s, most of Silesia was annexed by the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia's claims were derived from the agreement, rejected by the Habsburgs, between the Silesian Piast rulers of the duchy and the Hohenzollerns who secured the Prussian succession after the extinction of the Piasts.
After the demise of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, Prussia became a member of the German Confederation, and in 1811 the Schlesische Friedrich-Wilhelm-Universität (Breslau University) was re-established. In 1813 King Frederick William III of Prussia gave his An mein Volk ("To my people") speech at Breslau as a signal that Prussia would join the Russian Empire in fighting Napoleon during the Napoleonic Wars. When the Prussian-led German Empire was created in 1871 during the process of Germany's unification, Breslau became the empire's sixth-largest city and a major industrial centre, notably of linen and cotton manufacture; its population more than tripled to over half a million between 1860 and 1910. In August 1920, during the Korfanty uprisings in Upper Silesia, Germans devastated Breslau's Polish School and burned its Polish Library, and in 1923 the city was a scene of antisemitic riots.
Breslau's municipal boundaries were greatly extended between 1925 and 1930 by incorporating villages at the city's periphery. Breslauers honoured Adolf Hitler with the title of honorary citizen of the city. In 1933 the Gestapo started actions against Polish and Jewish students (who were issued special segregationist ID documents), Communists, Social Democrats, trade unionists, and other people deemed threats to the state. People were even arrested and beaten for using Polish in public. In 1938 the Polish cultural centre (the Polish House) in Breslau was destroyed by the police, and many of the city's 10,000 Jews were deported to concentration camps; those who remained were killed during the Nazi genocide of World War II. Most of the Polish elites also left during 1920s and 1930s, and Polish leaders who remained were sent to German concentration camps. By 1939 the city, as a German city until 1945, was naturally almost entirely Germanised; in other words, ethnically cleansed.
As the Soviet Red Army approached the city in February 1945, Breslau was declared a Festung (fortress) by the fanatical Nazi Gauleiter Karl Hanke, and concentration camp prisoners were forced to help civilian workers build fortifications.
In one area, the population was ordered to construct a military airfield intended for use in resupplying the fortress, and a modern residential district, along the Kaiserstraße (now Plac Grunwaldzki)-was razed. The authorities threatened to shoot as a deserter anyone who refused to do their assigned work, and one eyewitness estimated that some 13,000 died under enemy fire on the airfield alone.In the end, one of the few planes to use it was that of the fleeing Gauleiter Hanke.
When it was almost too late, Hanke finally lifted a ban on the evacuation of women and children, but during his poorly organised evacuation in early March, around 18,000 froze to death, mostly children and babies, in icy snowstorms and -20°C weather. Some 200,000 civilians-less than a third of the pre-war population-remained in the city, because the railway connections to the west were damaged or overloaded.
By the end of the Battle of Breslau, two-thirds of the city had been destroyed and 40,000 Breslauers and forced labourers lay dead in the ruins of their homes and factories. After a siege of nearly three months, the strategically unimportant "Fortress Breslau" surrendered on May 7, 1945. It was the last major city in historical Eastern Germany to fall.
As almost all Lower Silesia, post-war Breslau too came under Polish administration under the terms of the Potsdam Conference. Most remaining German inhabitants were expelled to one of the post-war German states between 1945 and 1949, and many of those not directly evacuated left later due to repression by Polish and Soviet communists or poverty. However, as with other Lower Silesian cities, a considerable German presence remained in Wrocław until the late 1950s; the city's last German school closed in 1963.
Wrocław was resettled by Poles either from small towns and villages of central Poland or from Polish lands annexed by the Soviet Union in the east. Many of them had come from Lwów (now Lviv, Ukraine), Stanisławów (now Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine), Wilno (now Vilnius, Lithuania), and Grodno (now Hrodna, Belarus).
Gradually the old city was restored to its earlier beauty, and nearly all the monumental buildings were restored. Wrocław is now a unique European city in present-day Poland, with its architecture under Bohemian, Austrian, and Prussian influence. Wrocław's Gothic style is originally Silesian; its Baroque style owes much to court builders of Habsburg Austria (Fischer von Erlach, Christoph Tausch). Wrocław still has a number of buildings by eminent German modernist architects, such as Hans Poelzig and Max Berg, the famous Jahrhunderthalle (Hala Stulecia (Centennial Hall)) by Berg (1911-1913) being the most important.
In July 1997, the city suffered from a flood of the Oder River, the worst flooding in post-war Poland. Nearly the entire city stood under water, leaving only a small region unaffected. In 2005, Wrocław was hit by a storm that felled a number of trees and killed three people. The storm was local and did not affect any other major cities.
Some matches of the 2012 UEFA European Football Championships in Poland and Ukraine are scheduled to take place in Wrocław.
Wrocław University of Technology.Today's Wrocław has ten state-run universities, including: Wrocław University (over 47,000 students), Wrocław University of Technology (over 40,000 students), Wrocław Medical University, University School of Physical Education, Wrocław University of Economics (over 18,000 students), Wroclaw University of Environmental and Life Sciences (over 13,000 students), Academy of Fine Arts in Wrocław, The Karol Lipiński University of Music, University School of Theatre, The Tadeusz Kościuszko Land Forces Military Academy, as well as numerous private institutions of higher education
The Wrocław area has many popular professional sports teams. The most popular sport today is probably basketball, thanks to Śląsk Wrocław, the award-winning men's basketball team (former Polish champions, 2nd-place in 2004).
ECONOMY AND TRANSPORT
Wrocław's major industries were traditionally the manufacture of railroad cars and electronics. The city is served by Wrocław International Airport and a river port. Major corporations: Volvo Polska sp. z o.o., WABCO Polska, Siemens, Hewlett Packard, Grupa Lukas, AB SA, Polifarb Cieszyn-Wrocław SA, KOGENERACJA S.A., Impel SA, Europejski Fundusz Leasingowy SA, Telefonia Dialog SA, TietoEnator, Wrozamet SA, American Restaurants sp. z o.o., Hutmen SA, MPEC Wrocław SA, SAP Polska, Hologram Industries Polska, Zender sp. z o.o., MSI (Micro Star International) Polska Sp. z o. o.
Prominent residents - including some who were not born in Wrocław/Breslau:
Alois Alzheimer - discoverer of Alzheimer's Disease|
Adolf Anderssen - 19th-century chess master
Max Berg - architect, designer of Hala Stulecia
Dietrich Bonhoeffer - Lutheran clergyman, religious leader in the resistance movement against Nazism
August Borsig (* 1804) - entrepreneur
Jan Borysewicz - Polish guitar player, composer, leader of the Lady Pank rock band
Ernst Cassirer - philosopher
Johann Dzierzon (1811-1906), apiarist
Otfrid Förster (* 1873) - neuro-surgeon
Waldemar Fydrych, alias "Major" - artist, founder of the Orange Alternative happening movement
Jerzy Grotowski - theatre director and theatrical avant-garde figure
Mirosław Hermaszewski - cosmonaut
Ludwik Hirszfeld - microbiologist, co-discover of the inheritance of the BO blood type
Marek Hłasko - writer
Karl Eduard von Holtei (1798-1880) - poet and actor
Vernon Ingram - biologist
Lech Janerka - singer, musician and composer
Alfred Kerr - theatre critic and essayist
Gerhard Kittel - New Testament scholar and philologist
Gustav Robert Kirchhoff - physicist
Otto Klemperer (* 1885) - conductor
Carl Ferdinand Langhans - architect
Ferdinand Lassalle - socialist politician and reformer
Carl Friedrich Lessing (* 1808) - artist
Rudolf Meidner - Swedish economist and socialist theorist
Joachim Meisner - Cardinal priest and archbishop of Cologne
Adolph von Menzel - artist
Edda Moser (*1938) - German soprano opera singer
Manfred von Richthofen - WWI flying ace
Tadeusz Różewicz - poet and writer
Wanda Rutkiewicz - female mountaineer
Julius von Sachs - botanist
Johann Gottfried Scheibel - (* 1783) - theological professor and dissenter to the Prussian Union
Friedrich Schleiermacher - theologian and philosopher
Andrzej Sekula - cinematographer and film director
Angelus Silesius - 17th century religious poet
Fritz Stern - historian
Edith Stein - philosopher and Roman Catholic martyr
Hugo Steinhaus - mathematician
Michel Thomas - war hero and language teacher
Christian Wolff - philosopher
Michał Witkowski - writer
Wroclaw in other languages:
latin - Wratislavia|
polish - Wrocław
czech - Vratislav
silesian - Wrocúow
german - Breslau
hungarian - Boroszló
italian - Breslavia
lithuanian - Vroclavas
slovak - Vratislav
russian - "Breslavl"
ukrainian - "Vrotslav"
greek - "Vrotslav"
serbian - "Vroclav"
(listed by year of award)
Theodor Mommsen (1902)
Philipp Lenard (1905)
Eduard Buchner (1907)
Paul Ehrlich (1908)
Gerhart Hauptmann (1912)
Fritz Haber (1918)
Friedrich Bergius (1931)
Otto Stern (1943)
Max Born (1954)
Reinhard Selten (1994)
1903 - great flood of Oder river|
1907 - "All-German Singing Meeting, 1907"
1913 - "100th Anniversary of Leipzig greater Battle Exhibition"
1937 - "All-German Singing Meeting"
1938 - "All-German Festival of Sports & Gymnastics" (Internet Explorer only)
1945 - Festung Breslau (Wrocław Fortress) siege by Soviet Army
1948 - "Retrieved Country Exhibition" - Polish claim on renamed Breslau, defending expulsion and annexation
1997 - great flood of Oder River