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Wroclaw travel guide — Wroclaw tourism and travel information

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about Wroclaw

Wrocław (pronounced:) (German: Breslau) is a city in Silesia, now in southwestern Poland, situated on the Oder River. Until the end of the second world war it was in Germany. Wrocław has a population (2003) of 638,666. It is the principal city of the Lower Silesia region and the administrative seat of the Lower Silesian Voivodship (since 1999), previously of Wrocław Voivodship. The city is also a separate city-county and a site of the Wrocław County.

Wroclaw history

Situated at a long existing trading place, a city was first recorded in the 10th century as Vratislavia (Wratislaw) (the origin of its various later names) after Vratislav I (Wratislaw), duke of Bohemia (915-921). The settlement was conquered by the Polish duke Mieszko I in the 990s. Already a place of some importance, it became the capital of Silesia in 1138, where Silesians had founded a settlement south of the river. During Mongol invasion in 1241 most of the population of the city was evacuated. Settlement was then sacked and burned by Mongols, but they had no time to siege the castle where rest of burghers found refugee.

Documents of the time refer to the town by many variants of the name, including Bresslau, Presslau, Breslau and Latin Wratislaw. The restored Breslau town was given Magdeburg Rights in 1262. The first illustration of the city was published in the Schedelsche Weltchronik in 1493.

Under direct overlordship of the Holy Roman Empire the emperors granted government positions to members of various ducal and royal dynasties. The city was a member of the Hanseatic League of northern European trading cities. In 1335 it was along with the almost entire province of Silesia incorporated into the Kingdom of Bohemia and was part of it until 1740s, from 1526 under Habsburg dynasty all continuously part of the H.R.E. The overwhelming majority of the inhabitants became Protestants during the Reformation, but were forcibly suppressed during the Catholic Reformation by the Jesuits, working with the support of the Habsburg rulers.

After extinction of local Piast rulers in 1675 Habsburgs inherited Breslau. Habsburg resorted to forceful conversion of the city to Catholicism. During the War of Austrian succession in the 1740s the city was annexed by the kingdom of Prussia. The claims of Prussia were derived from the rejected by Habsburgs agreement between the Piast rulers of the Duchy and Hohenzollerns that secured the Prussian succession after extinction of Piasts. The city became part of the German Empire in 1871 after the demise of the HRE in 1806. The kings of Prussia saw to it that Breslau became a major industrial centre, notably of linen and cotton manufacture, more than tripling in population in 1860-1910 to over half a million. Its municipal boundaries were greatly extended in 1928.

Many of the city's 10,000 Jews were murdered during the Nazi genocide of World War II. When Red Army approached, Wrocław was declared a fortress and most of population, except for 150,000, was expelled by Nazi authorities. To build the fortifications slave workforce was needed, therefore the number of concentration camps prisoners increased. After a 3 month siege by the Soviet army in 1945, the fortress surrendered on May 6, 1945. The city was damaged in almost 70%, burned by the Nazi themselves and bombed by the Soviets. The city was the site of horrible war crimes committed by the Red Army against the local population, as in the rest of Silesia and Eastern Germany. A modern residential district, around the Kaiserstrasse, was pulled down by prisoners (thousands of them died) to construct a military airfield. According to the Potsdam agreement the city was given to Poland by Stalin, Churchill and Truman.

The Polish communist regime started a programme of ethnic cleansing of all remaining Germans in Breslau. Most of them were expulsed to western Germany by Soviet- installed communist administration by the half of 1946, in line with the decision of the Allies. It was colonized by Poles either from the small town and villages form the provinces nearby, or those expelled from territories lost by Poland to the USSR (many of them from the Lviv, former Lwow, area).

Gradually the old city was restored to its beauty, nearly all the monumental buildings were preserved. Now it is a uniquely European city in present-day Poland, with its architecture echoing that in Austria, Bohemia, Prussia. Wrocław Gothic style is originally Silesian, its Baroque style owes much to court builders of Habsburg Austria (Fischer von Erlach, Ch. Tausch), and Wrocław still has a number of buildings by eminent modernist architects, such as (Hans Poelzig or Max Berg), the famous Jahrhunderthalle (Hala Ludowa) by Berg (1911-13) being the most important.

In July 1997 the city was hit by a severe flooding of the Oder.

Historical population

1800: 64,500 inhabitants 1831: 89,500 inhabitants 1850: 114,000 inhabitants 1852: 121,100 inhabitants 1880: 272,900 inhabitants 1900: 422,700 inhabitants 1910: 510,000 inhabitants 1925: 555,200 inhabitants 1933: 625,198 inhabitants 1939: 629,565 inhabitants 1946: 171,000 inhabitants

1960: 431,800 inhabitants 1970: 526,000 inhabitants 1975: 579,900 inhabitants 1980: 617,700 inhabitants 1990: ? 1999: 650,000 inhabitants 2003: 638 000 inhabitants

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Wroclaw".

This city is also known as: Wrocław.

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