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Discussion Starter #81
Zakopane (Закопане)

Situated in the south of Poland at the foot of the Tatra mountains (the most beautiful and the only alpine mountain range in the Carpathian Mountains), Zakopane is the highest located town in Poland.

Zakopane is a town with some 28,000 inhabitants and is visited annually by some three million tourists.

The earliest documents mentioning Zakopane date to the 17th century, describing a glade named Zakopisko. In 1676 it was a village of 43 inhabitants. In 1824, together with a section of the Tatra Mountains, it was sold to the Homola family.

Zakopane's further history was connected with the development of the mining and metallurgy industries in the region — in the 19th century, it was the largest center for metallurgy in Galicia — and later with that of tourism. It grew greatly over the 19th century, as more and more people were attracted by its salubrious climate, and soon developed from a small village into a climatic health resort of 3,000 inhabitants (1889).

Rail service to Zakopane began on October 1, 1899.

It has been enchanting visitors with its unique atmosphere for over 100 years. The town has long been regarded as the winter capital of Poland, but it is also one of the most important tourist destinations of the country.

Zakopane is the country's largest centre of winter sports.

'Zakopane' style in architecture

The Zakopane Style developed as a unique phenomenon. In a remote village at the foot of the Tatra mountains at the end of the 19th century, a handful of the Polish intelligentsia, together with Tatra Highlanders from the Zakopane region, created a distinctive Polish national art-form. The result was the Zakopane Style, which embraced all elements of design and architecture.


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Discussion Starter #83
Świdnica (Сві́дниця)

Świdnica (German: Schweidnitz; Czech: Svídnice) is a town in south-western Poland. It has a population of 60,317 according to 2006 figures.

Świdnica became a town in 1250, although no founding document has survived that would confirm this fact. In the beginning, the town belonged to the Duchy of Wrocław and experienced two important privileges conducive to its development. By 1290, Świdnica had city walls and six gates, crafts and trade were blossoming, and it had become the capital of the Duchy of Świdnica. City was in 1291 - 1392 capital of Duchy of Świdnica.

At the end of the 14th century the city was under rule of the Kingdom of Bohemia, and a long period of growth began. The last duke from Polish Piast dynasty was Bolko II of Świdnica, and after his death in 1368 land was held by his wife until 1392; after her death they were incorporated into the lands of Bohemia by Wenceslaus, King of the Romans. In 1493, the town is recorded by Hartmann Schedel in his Nuremberg Chronicle as Schwednitz along with Neyß, Oppel, Liegnitz, Teschen, Frankenstein etc. all in Silesia.

In 1471, there were 47 trade guilds in operation, nearly 300 homes had the rights to brew beer, and large cattle and hops fairs were organized. The beer was distributed in many European cities, including Wroclaw, Prague, Heidelberg, Kraków, and Pisa. The beer was offered in pubs.

In 1526, all of Silesia, including Schweidnitz, came under the rule of the Habsburg Monarchy. The city of Schweidnitz was in the surrounding Duchy of Schweidnitz. The Thirty Years' War (1618–48) ravaged the Duchy. The town was annexed by the Kingdom of Prussia during the First Silesian War. It was subsequently turned into a fortress. Schweidnitz became part of the Prussian-led German Empire in 1871 during the unification of Germany.

The town was placed under Polish administration according to the post-war Potsdam Conference in 1945 and renamed Świdnica. The German population who had not fled during the war were subsequently expelled westward and replaced with Poles, many of whom had been expelled themselves from Polish areas annexed by the Soviet Union.


The Gothic Church of Ss. Stanislav and Vaclav from the 14th century has the highest tower in Silesia, standing 103 meters tall.
The Evangelical Church of Peace, a UNESCO Heritage site, was built from 1656–57.
The 16th century town hall has been renovated numerous times and combines Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architectural elements. The Baroque Church of St. Joseph and the Church of St. Christopher are from the same era. One remaining element of the former defensive works is the Chapel of St. Barbara. Other sights include the old town square.


One of the notable residents of Świdnica (at that time German Schweidnitz) was Manfred von Richthofen (1892–1918), World War I ace known as "The Red Baron".

The Church of Peace in Świdnica in Silesia was named after the Peace of Westphalia of 1648 which permitted the Lutherans in the Roman Catholic parts of Silesia to build three Evangelical churches from wood, loam and straw outside the city walls, without steeples and church bells. The construction time was limited to one year. Since 2001, the two remaining churches, one of them in Świdnica, are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.


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Discussion Starter #84 (Edited)

Białowieża (Белавежа in Belarussian) is a village in Poland, in Podlaskie Voivodeship, in the middle of Białowieża Forest, of which it is a namesake. The population of the settlement is 2000 (2002).

Before 1426 a wooden hunting manor for Polish king Władysław Jagiełło was built in the middle of the Białowieża Forest on the Lutownia stream. It was most probably one of the first permanent settlements in the area, although the forest was already penetrated by hunters from the nearby areas and by the king himself who used to hunt there. The wooden manor was painted in white and became the namesake both for the future village and the forest (Białowieża means White Tower in Polish).

From 1538 the forest was protected by the laws of Polish king Sigismund I the Old. However, until the times of John Casimir the forest was mostly unpopulated. Sporadic settlements were established in various places, but the manor in Białowieża was the only one to be permanent. In the late 17th century, several small villages were started for development of local iron ore deposits and tar production. The villages were populated with settlers from Masovia and Podlachia and many of them still exist.

After the Partitions of Poland the local population was turned into serfs and Białowieża quickly depopulated. Tsar Alexander I reintroduced the reserve in 1801 and hired a small amount of peasants for protection of the animals. Most of them were settled in the administrative centre of the area - Białowieża. However, since most of the foresters took part in the November Uprising (500 out of 502 in total), their posts were abolished and protection was again harmed. Yet again the village of Białowieża ceased to exist. Protection was reintroduced in 1860 and the village was repopulated with Russians.

During World War I most of the local Russian population fled before the advancing German army which seized the area in August 1915. The Germans built a lumber mill in Białowieża and connected it with railway to the nearby town of Hajnówka. However, the village did not recover until 1921 when the Białowieża National Park was established. The village became the administrative centre of the Park and one of the most popular tourist attractions of the area. Following Polish-Soviet War, Bialowieza returned to Poland.

During the World War II after the joint German and Soviet attack on Poland, the area came under Soviet occupation. In 1939 and 1940 most of the local inhabitants were arrested and sent to gulags. They were replaced with Russian forest workers, but in 1941 the forest came under German occupation and the Russian inhabitants were also deported. Hermann Göring planned to create the biggest hunting reserve in the world there, but those plans were never realized. After July 1941, the forest became a refuge for both Polish and Soviet partisans. German authorities organized mass executions of people suspected of aiding the resistance. In July 1944 the area was captured by the Red Army. The withdrawing Wehrmacht blew up the historic Białowieża hunting manor.

After the war Białowieża yet again recovered and became the centre of the re-established National Park in 1947. Nowadays it is one of the least populated areas in Poland, while at the same time it is one of the most important tourist attractions in the Eastern part of the country with almost 100,000 visitors every year. The Reserve was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1992 and internationally recognised as a Biosphere Reserve under UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Programme in 1993.

Białowieża Forest (UNESCO)

Białowieża Forest (Belavezhskaya Pushcha, (Belarusian: Белавежская пушча) in Belarus, Puszcza Białowieska in Poland, is an ancient woodland straddling the border between Belarus and Poland. It is one of the last and largest remaining parts of the immense primeval forest which once spread across the European Plain.

The border between the two countries runs through the forest and is closed for large animals and tourists for the time being. The forest is home to 800 wisent, the continent's heaviest land animals.

On the Polish side, in the Białowieża National Park, the territory is partly protected as Białowieski Park Narodowy (Białowieża National Park), with general area of about 100 km2 (39 sq mi).


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Discussion Starter #85
Bytom Odrzański (Битом-Оджанський)

Bytom Odrzański (German: Beuthen an der Oder) is a town in Poland, in Lubuskie Voivodeship, on the Oder River. It has about 4,400 inhabitants.

Bytom arose from a medieval fortress (castellany) on a ford crossing the Oder, held by the Polish Silesian Piasts. In 1157 it was devastated by the troops of the Polish high duke Bolesław IV the Curly during his inheritance conflict with the sons of his elder brother Władysław II the Exile and Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. The parish church was a filial of the Cistercian Abbatia Lubensis abbey, the settlement itself was granted town privileges in 1263.

In 1561 the estates were acquired by the Protestant Schoenaich noble family, whose scion Georg von Schoenaich established a humanist Gymnasium academicum school here in 1601. Together with neighbouring Siedlisko (Carolath) Bytom was raised to the status of a state country by decree of Emperor Leopold I of Habsburg in 1697.


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Discussion Starter #86

Niedzica is a resort town in Nowy Targ County in Lesser Poland, Poland located on the banks of Czorsztyn lake. It is famous for Niedzica Castle, also known as Dunajec Castle, an important centre of Polish-Hungarian relations built between the years 1320 and 1326 on foundations of a prehistoric roost.

Niedzica castle

The castle was an important centre of Polish-Hungarian relations since the 14th century. It was a place where the money lent by the Polish king to the Hungarian king Sigismund had to be returned following an agreement signed in 1412. Once the loan was paid back, the Polish king returned the 16 Spiš towns given to him by Sigismund as collateral. For centuries the castle was a border-post with Hungary. At the time of the Turkish invasion five hundred years ago, a deal was struck at Niedzica to make it a Polish protectorate. However, the owners of the castle remained Hungarian right up until the middle of the Second World War.

The castle was built by a Hungarian known as Kokos from Brezovica with family rights dating back to 1325. In 1470 it became the property of the aristocratic Zápolya family. However, in 1528, the entire county including the castle was given away by John Zápolya aspiring to the Hungarian throne, and became the property of Viliam Drugeth who received it as a reward for his support. Sixty years later it became the property of Hieronim Łaski and his son Olbracht. At the end of the 16th century the castle was bought by Ján Horváth from Plaveč. The fortress was renovated many times in the fifteenth, sixteenth, eighteenth and in the beginning of the 19th century by its successive owners. The last Hungarian inhabitants remained there until in 1943 when the coming of the front in World War II inspired the Salomon family to abandon it. The last countess left with her children two years before the Red Army marched in. The final reconstruction of the castle was completed in 1963 under the supervision of the Polish Ministry of Culture. It has served as a historical museum ever since.

The legend

Before the Czorsztyn reservoir was built, the castle had a very Dracula-like setting, perched high on a wall above the Dunajec River. It was a place rich in tales and legends with some of the former residents resembling characters from gothic novels. In the post-World War II period Polish newspapers wrote at length about Sebastián Berzeviczy (one of Niedzica's owners) who traveled to the New World in the 18th century.

According to a popular legend, he fell in love with the alleged Inca princess. Their daughter Umina married the nephew of an Inca insurrection leader Túpac Amaru II, whose assumed name implied descent from Inca kings. Túpac Amaru was eventually executed by the Spaniards after rebelling against the colonial government. The legend goes on to claim that the sacred scrolls of the Incas had been handed down to his surviving family members. His nephew, Andrés Túpac Amaru a.k.a. Andreas with wife Umina and his father-in-law Sebastián Berzeviczy fled to Italy, where Andrés was killed in suspicious circumstances. Consequently, Umina with son and her father fled to Hungary and settled at the castle. Sources claim that Umina was assassinated there some time later. Her testament to son Anton, written in 1797 and stored there, allegedly contained information about the lost treasure of the Incas.There was a leaden case found at the castle with some “quipu” writings, but it was lost in Kraków in the following years. Later, news appeared about expeditions searching for fantastic treasures at Lake Titicaca in Peru. The notion that the Inca treasure map could be hidden somewhere in the depths of the castle is still cherished today.

Other tales follow the exploits of a motley crew of the castle's other former owners. They include stories of counts and jesters who tortured village folk, stabbed priests and misbehaved. The less grisly world of modern day Niedzica includes a pleasant restaurant just below the castle — a fine place for a break from the trek. Above the road, an 18th century wooden barn houses a charming museum of Spisz folklore.

Nearby Czorsztyn castle

The Czorsztyn castle was once a Polish border fortress.

The oldest parts of the castle come from XIII century.

First mentions about “castrum Wronyn” come from this period. The name “Czorsztyn” appears in the middle of XIV century. During the period of Polish king Casimir the Great (Kazimierz Wielki) circumferential walls were built and in the XV century the lower castle and a gateway. In the XVII century, Jan Baranowski, a starost, renovated the castle and added two new towers.

Thanks to its location along a historical trade route, the castle has a rich history.

It was visited by many famous people, including kings. Casimir the Great (Kazimierz Wielki), Louis of Hungary (Ludwik Węgierski), Jadwiga of Angevin (Królowa Jawiga), Ladislaus Jagiello (Władysław Jagiełło) (Zawisza the Black was a starost then ) and Ladislaus of Varna (Władysław Warneńczyk) stayed there. Hussites, John Casimir fleeing the Swedes, insurgents of Kostka Napierski, cossacks and confederates were seeking refuge here.

The castle was also a residence of fameous Polish knight Zawisza Czarny (Zawisza the Black), also known as The Black Knight. He was a winner of many tournaments, a symbol of a knight and a model of all knightly virtues. In 1410 he took part in the battle of Grunwald against the Teutonic Order.

An exhibition providing the information on the castle's history and its surrounding is being displayed in two rooms.

From the ruins of the Czorsztyn castle, on a good day, one can clearly see the Tatra Highlands.


7,473 Posts
Discussion Starter #87
Bolesławiec (Болеславець)

Bolesławiec (German: Bunzlau) is a town on the Bóbr river in southwestern Poland with 40,837 inhabitants (2006).

Bolesławiec in Lower Silesia was first mentioned in 1201; according to tradition its citizens took part in the Battle of Legnica during the Mongol invasion of Poland in 1241. After that a renewed city with walls and fortifications was established, that from 1297 belonged to the Silesian Duchy of Jawor. The city seal, still used today, was first used in 1316. In 1346 Bolesławiec was inherited by Duke from Polish Piasty dynasty Bolko II the Small of Świdnica and upon his death in 1368 fell to the Imperial Kingdom of Bohemia under Charles IV of Luxembourg. It was again heavily destroyed during the Hussite Wars in 1429. After that a double city wall was erected from 1479 on.

With the majority of burghers in 1522 becoming Protestant early on, Bolesławiec became an important center of the Reformation. The Renaissance town hall was rebuilt by Wendel Roskopf in 1525 and at the same time the construction of a sewerage system was started; an unusual and difficult undertaking, that was finished in 1565 and it was the first canalisation system in Central Europe. In 1558 the first apothecary was established.

After World War II one of the biggest Soviet Red Army contingents was stationed in Bolesławiec until its withdrawal from Poland in 1992.


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Discussion Starter #88
Chojnice (Хойніце)

Chojnice is a town in northern Poland with 39 670 inhabitants (2004), near famous Tuchola Forest, Lake Charzykowskie and many other water reservoirs.

Duchy of Pomerelia or Eastern Pomerania

Around 1230 - Konitz (Chojnice) founded by Hermann von Balk († 1239), German knight of the Teutonic Order 1275 – first notice of Chojnice / Konitz in documents.

Teutonic Order 1309 - 1466

1309 – German Teutonic Order rule: Eastern Pomerania (often known as Pomerelia), became much absorbed into the Monastic State of the Teutonic Knights 1340 - 1360 church Hl. Johannes Täufer; 14th century walls and 22 towers being erected by the Teutonic Order 1410 – Polish army occupies the town but has to return it to the Order according to the Treaty of Thorn 1417-1436 Konitz becomes an important centre for textile production 18.09.1454 – Polish army of King Kazimierz Jagiellończyk loses the Battle of Chojnice 28.09.1466 – Teutonic Order has to surrender Chojnice to the Polish army, after three month siege.

Poland 1466 - 1772

19.10.1466 Chojnice being annexed by Poland according to the 2nd Treaty of Thorn 1555 – city council accepts reformation officially, the Protestants take over the church, the Roman Catholic priest Jan Siński dies in the following turmoil 1620 – the Jesuits fight the reformation movement 10.04.1627 - town burns 18.12.1657 - town burns 1655 - 1660 war against Sweden, see Battle of Chojnice (1656) 1700 - 1721 war 15.04.1742 - town burns third time.

Prussia 1772 - 1871

12.09.1772 – Konitz/Chojnice becomes Prussian / First partition of Poland 1864 - telegraph to Stettin

German Empire 1871- 1920

15.11.1871 – railway to Schneidemühl (Piła) 1870 – Gas power plant 1873 - railway to Dirschau (Tczew) 1877 – railway to Stettin 1886 – hospital 1894 – railway to Nakel (Nakło) 1900 – water supply system and electricity power plant 1902 – railway to Berent (Kościerzyna) 1900-1902 Konitz ritual murder case & antisemitic pogrom 1909 – used water system 1912 – ,,Gazeta Chojnicka" first Polish language newspaper in town

Poland 1920-1939

31.01.1920 – Polish troops enter the town according to the Treaty of Versailles, town being renamed Chojnice 06.08.1932 – regional museum Chojnice

Third Reich 1939 - 1945 (Reichsgau Westpreußen)

01.09.1939 – 4.45 o´clock German Wehrmacht occupies Chojnice, town renamed Konitz (see Battle of Chojnice (1939)) 15.09.1939 – execution of Poles in the city forest (Stadtwald).

Poland 1945

14.02.1945 – Red Army occupies the town, 800 soldiers die, town centre heavily damaged (45%). reconstruction by Polish authorities follows.

and something interesting - revitalized commie block :


7,473 Posts
Discussion Starter #89
Chełm (Холм)

Chełm is a city in eastern Poland with 67,702 inhabitants (2007).

The city houses numerous notable historical monuments and tourist attractions. In Jewish humor, the town is the legendary capital of foolishness.

Chełm gives its name to the protected area known as Chełm Landscape Park, which lies to the north and east of the city.

The first traces of settlement in the area of modern Chełm date back to at least 9th century. The following century a Slavic fortified town was created there and initially served as a centre of pagan worship. The etymology of the name is unclear, though most scholars derive it from the Slavic root helm or holm denoting a flat hill. In fact the town's centre is located atop of such hill called góra chełmska in modern times. However, there are also theories deriving the name from some Celtic root. In 981 the town, then inhabited by the Eastern Slavic tribe of Buzhans, was made a part of Kievan Rus', along with the surrounding Cherven Towns. According to a local legend, it was Vladimir the Great to build the first stone castle there in 1001. Following the Polish capture of Kiev in 1018 the region was made part of Poland, but returned under Kievan rule in 1031.

In 1235 Danylo Romanovych of Halych granted the town a city charter and moved the capital of his domain there. He also built a new castle atop the hill in 1240 and created an Orthodox bishopric there (now the Basilica of the Birth of the Virgin Mary). Until 14th century the town developed as part of that state and then as part of the short-lived Princedom of Chełm and Bełz. In 1366 king Casimir III annexed the region to Poland and created a Catholic bishopric there. On 4 January 1392 the town was relocated and Magdeburg Law was granted with vast internal autonomy.

Throughout the ages, the town was the capital of a historical region of the Land of Chełm, administratively a part of the Ruthenian Voivodeship with the capital in Lviv. The city prospered in the 15th and 16th centuries, then declined in the 17th century due to the wars which ravaged Poland at the time. In the 18th century the situation in eastern Poland was stabilized and the town started to slowly recover from the damages suffered during The Deluge and the Khmelnytsky's uprising. It attracted a number of new settlers from all parts of Poland, including people of Catholic, Orthodox and Jewish faiths. In 1794 the Chełm Voivodeship was established. However, later that year Kościuszko's Uprising started, and Chełm became one of the first towns to join it. In the effect of the battle of Chełm of 8 June 1794, in which the forces of Gen. Józef Zajączek were defeated by the Russians under Gen. Derfelden, Valerian Zubov and Boris Lacy, the town was yet again sacked by the assaulting armies. The following year, as a result of the Third Partition of Poland, the town was annexed by Austria.

During the Napoleonic Wars in 1809, in the effect of the Polish-Austrian War, the town was briefly attached to the Duchy of Warsaw. However, the Congress of Vienna of 1815 awarded it to Imperial Russia. The town entered a period of decline as the local administrative and religious offices (including the bishopric) were moved to Lublin. In mid-19th century the Russian Army turned the town into a strong garrison, which made the Russian soldiers a significant part of the population. The period of decline ended in 1866, when the town was connected to a new rail road. In 1875 the Uniate bishopric was liquidated by the Russian authorities and all of the local Uniates were forcibly converted to the Russian Orthodox Church. In the late 19th century the local administrative offices were restored and in 1912 a local gubernia was created.

In 1918, following World War I, the town was incorporated into a restored Polish state.

n 1921: out of a total population of 23,221 there were 1,369 Orthodox Christians (Ukrainian and Belarusians), 9,492 Roman Catholics (Poles), 12,064 Jews, and 207 Lutherans (Germans).

Chełm Chalk Tunnels

The digging of tunnels for chalk extraction began in the Middle Ages and was discontinued in the 19th century. A part of the system is now open for tourists. In total, the network of tunnels stretches for around 15 kilometres.


7,473 Posts
Discussion Starter #90
Wejherowo (Вейхерово)

Wejherowo (Kashubian: Wejrowò, German: Neustadt in Westpreußen) is a town in Gdańsk Pomerania, northern Poland, with 47,000 inhabitants.

Wejherowo was founded in 1643 as Wola Wejherowska, by the voivode of the Malbork Voivodeship, Jakub Wejher, with the consent of King Władysław IV Vasa of Poland. Wejher, who was saved during the Smolensk War, built two churches in the new settlement (The Holy Trinity and Saint Ann). He also brought in Franciscan Fathers, built a monastery, and founded the Calvary of Wejherowo, consisting of 26 chapels.

After the First Partition of Poland in 1772, the town was annexed by the Kingdom of Prussia, administered within the new province of West Prussia, and had its name in German changed from Weihersfrei to Neustadt in Westpreußen ("new town in West Prussia").

The town became part of the Second Polish Republic in 1920 in the aftermath of World War I. Wejherowo was the capital of Wejherowo County in Pomeranian Voivodeship, becoming a headquarters of state administration responsible for maritime economy. After the invasion of Poland beginning World War II, Wejherowo was annexed into Nazi Germany as part of Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia. Most of the town's Jewish community was murdered by the Nazis during the war, while many local Poles were also victims of the Nazi extermination policy. The nearby village of Piaśnica Wielka was the site of a mass murder where about 12,000 Poles were shot in 1939. Wejherowo was restored to Poland after the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945.

There is here the Museum of Kashubian and Pomeranian Writing and Music.


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Discussion Starter #91
Żyrardów (Жира́рдув)

Żyrardów is a town in central Poland with 41,400 inhabitants (2006).

It is situated in the Masovian Voivodship (since 1999), Żyrardów is located on the Pisia Gągolina river.

Founded by the Łubienski brothers as a textile factory in 1833. One of directors of the factory was French inventor Philippe de Girard (from Lourmarin). The town developed during the 19th century into a significant textile mill city in Poland. In honour of Girard, Ruda Guzowska was renamed to Żyrardów, a toponym derived of the polonised spelling of Girard's name. On September 13, 1939 Nazis captured the town. In 1941 they transported Jews into Warsaw ghetto. The town museum is nowadays located in the former palace of owner of factory K. Dittrich.

Most of Żyrardów's monuments are placed in manufacturing's settlement which is from 19th and 20th's century beginning.

It's widely believed that Żyrardów's settlement is single saved in Europe as a whole urbanist complex from 19th c. industrial town.


7,473 Posts
Discussion Starter #92
Leszno (Лешно)

Leszno is a town in central Poland with 63,955 habitants (2008).

Leszno was first mentioned in historical documents in 1393. The settlement was then the property of Stefan z Karnina of Clan Wieniawa. The family adopted the surname of Leszczyński from the name of their estate according to the medieval custom of the Polish nobility.

In the early 16th century a community of Protestant Unity of the Brethren refugees from Bohemia settled in Leszno invited by the Leszczyński family, who were since 1473 imperial counts and had converted to Calvinism. The arrival of the Bohemian Protestants as well as weavers from nearby Silesia helped the settlement to grow and made it possible to became a town in 1547 by a privilege given by King Sigismund I the Old.

Leszno was also the biggest printing center in Greater Poland thanks to the activity of the Protestant community, whose number increased because of inflow of German refugees from Silesia during the Thirty Years War. At the time it already had a Gymnasium school led for a period by Jan Amos Komenský (known in English as Comenius), a Bohemian educator who was a bishop of the Unity of the Brethren.

From 1638 to his death in 1647, Johann Heermann, a German-speaking poet, lived in Leszno. Between 1736 and 1639 the town became fortified and its area increased. The golden era of Leszno ended with a large fire in 1655. During the Great Northern War the town was burned again in 1707 and had a plague in 1709. The Leszczyński family owned the city until 1738 when king Stanisław Leszczyński sold it after he abdicated for the second time.

During the Second Partition of Poland in 1793, Leszno was annexed by Prussia and became part of Province of Posen as Lissa. The town took part in the Greater Poland Uprising (1918–1919) and was returned to Poland by the Treaty of Versailles on 1920 January 17. The town was annexed by Nazi Germany in 1939. The Polish population was resettled to the General Government. Most of the town's Jewish population (which in its history included such famous rabbis as Leo Baeck and Jacob of Lissa as well as the Polish-Jewish writer Ludwig Kalisch) and remaining Poles were murdered by the Nazi Einsatzgruppen.

The town returned to Poland in 1945. After the war, the city underwent a period of fast development especially between 1975 and 1998 when it was a seat of a voivodeship administrative area. In 2000 the city was awarded "The Golden Star of Town Twinning" prize by the European Commission.

There are numerous tourist attractions in Leszno and the whole Leszno region such as: castles, palaces, manor houses, historical churches and windmills. The most outstanding historical buildings are: the townhall and St. Nicholas’ church in Leszno, the castle in Rydzyna, the palace in Pawłowice, the Sanctuary in Gostyń, the Benedictine monastery complex in Lubiń and the windmill in Rydzyna.


7,473 Posts
Discussion Starter #93
Kowary (Ковари)

The earliest historic referent about Kowary dates back to 1148. It was about Walloon Laurentius Angelus who found iron ore near hill Rudnik in Rudawy Janowickie Mountains. Ten years later, Polish duke Bolesław IV the Curly, ordered to mine iron in those parts of his realm.

Reference of Schmiedeberg (Germanized name of Kowary) dates back to 1355, when the region was made arable by German peasants. In this year Duke Bolko II the Small, the last independent Silesian Piast, granted mining privileges to the local miners.

Since 1401 the village belonged to the possessions of the Schaffgotsch family. As a mining center Schmiedeberg received several privileges and was seat of a Vogt since 1368. A accord with Hirschberg (Jelenia Gora) in 1454 elevated Schmiedeberg above the status of a village, it wasn't until 1513 however that Casper Schaffgotsch acquired the municipal law from Bohemias king Vladislas II against the opposition of Hirschberg. Mining flourished until the Thirty Years' War, when the town was destroyed in 1633. After the war veil weaving became more and more important for Schmiedeberg, whereas mining dimished. In the early 18th century the town became one of the biggest veil trading places in Silesia with trade relations to Bohemia, Italy, Spain, Russia and North America. When Prussia annexed Silesia in 1742 a economic decline followed. Aid by the Prussian king, the settling of Saxon damask weavers, couldn't stop the downturn. Only the Industrialisation, beginning around 1850, led to a recovery of the local economy. In 1882 Schmiedeberg received a rail connection to Hirschberg, which further strengthened the economy.

Schmiedeberg, belonging to the duchy of Schweidnitz-Jauer (Swidnca-Jawor), remained in possession of the Schaffgotsch family until 1634. In the 16th century the population adopted the Protestant faith. When Hans Ulrich of Schaffgotsch was arrested as a follower of Wallenstein the town came under Imperial custody. In 1639 the emperor sold the town to Bohemian count Hermann of Czernin, which kept Schmiedeberg until Prussias takeover of Silesia. Frederick II. immediately sold the possessions to the town, which thereby became souvereign.

After the Peace of Westphalia the Counter-Reformation was executed also in Schmiedeberg. The Protestant could now practice their faith only at the church of peace in Jauer (Jawor) and later in Hirschberg and Landeshut (Kamienna Góra). After Prussia annexed Silesia the Portestants received their own church (Bethaus).

After World War II Silesia became part of Poland and the German population fled or was expelled westwards, the town was resettled by the Poles and renamed back to Kowary. As of 2006, the town had a population of 11,824.

Uranium deposits in Poland are located only in the west in the Sudetic mountains. There, polymetal ore deposits formed in large complexes of metamorphous rocks.

The story of the Kowary Drifts actually begins with the Walloons who arrived here in the Middle Ages. Thanks to their tools and knowledge they were able to locate valuable deposits of minerals, and extract them from the earth.
Several centuries later the Germans showed a renewed interest in the Kowary mines. At the beginning of the 20th century they began searching for - and extracting Uranium.

In 1945, the Soviets opened the Kowary uranium mine. Ore was exported irregu-larly to the Soviet Union between 1946 and 1950, then regularly until 1954. The deposits were mined out by the end of the 1970's.

Everything concerning uranium was "top secret". Soviet, and a few Polish, "experts" and secret police were the only ones with access to information. Diseases were kept secret by false registration and diagnosis, although the relation between health problems and work in the mines was known.

The uranium mine at Kowary was important in the production of the first Russian atomic bombs.

Since 2000 the mine can be visited by tourists. The touristic route is about 1.2 kilometres long and you will walk through galeries, chambers and caves.

Nowadays the mine is used for radon-therapy.


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Discussion Starter #94
Szczecinek (Щеці́нек)

Szczecinek (German: Neustettin; Kashubian: Nowé Sztetëno; Swedish: Nien Stettin; Latin: Nova Stetin is the one of biggest towns of West Pomeranian Voivodeship (northwestern Poland). In 2007 the urban area had a population of 39,777.

In 1310, the castle and town was founded under Lübeck law by Duke Wartislaw IV of Pomerania-Wolgast and modelled after the city of Stettin (now Szczecin) situated about 150 km to the west. The initial name was "Neustettin" ("New Stettin"). It was also known as "Klein Stettin" ("Little Stettin"). In 1707, Polish exonyms were Nowoszczecin and Mały Szczecin, which gradually developed into the modern name Szczecinek which replaced the "Neustettin" as the city's official name after the town became Polish in 1945.

The town was fortified to face the Brandenburgers, with a wall and palisades. In 1356 Neustettin was hit by the plague. Thankful for their survival, the Dukes Bogislaw V, Barnim IV and Wartislaw V founded the Augustine monastery called Marienthron, on the Mönchsberg on the southern bank of lake Streizigsee (nowadays Trzesicko Lake). Under Duke Wartislaw VII Neustettin was from 1376 to 1395 seat of his Duchy. Afterwards, it was ruled by Pommeranian Duchy Rügenwalde (until 1418), Wolgast ( until 1474) and Stettin (until 1618).

On 15 September 1423, the "great day of Neustettin", the Pomeranian dukes, the Hochmeister of the Teutonic Order and Nordic king Eric VII of Denmark met to discuss defense against the treaty of Brandenburg and Poland. In 1461 Neustettin was sacked, looted and burned by Polish troops and Tatars because King Casimir IV wanted to take revenge on Eric II of Pomerania-Wolgast who supported the Teutonic Knights.

In1648 at the end of the Thirty Years War Neustettin became a part of Brandenburg- Prussia, and in 1701 under the crown of the Kingdom of Prussia.

In 1945, the Red Army occupied the town and placed it under Polish, Soviet controlled communist administration. The German population fled or was expelled and the town was resettled with Poles many of whom were expelled from Eastern Poland annexed in 1945 by the Soviet Union.


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Discussion Starter #95
Żnin (Жнін)

Żnin is a small town in Poland with a population of 14,558 (June 2005). It is in the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship. The town is situated in the historic land of Pałuki and the Gniezno Lake Area on the river Gąsawka.

The name originates from the Polish word "żnieja", meaning harvest or a harvester.

The area was known in Roman times, especially the nearby fortification of Biskupin, a Lausitz culture site known as the "Polish Pompeii". Biskupin was an early Iron Age Hallstatt C fortified settlement of about 800-1000 people in the Warta River valley ca. 2700 BC.

By 1030 the area was included within the Archbishopric of Gniezno. The first mention of Żnin is in the Gniezno papal bull issued on 7 July 1136 by Pope Innocent II. The pope granted Archbishop Jacob of Żnin 29 villages in Pałuki and the town of Żnin, which also became property of the Roman Catholic Church.

Żnin was given town rights in 1263 (based on Magdeburg law). In the 13th century the town was given the right of coinage which resulted in its dynamic expansion. Żnin was a major town located on the trade route from Silesia to Gdańsk (the Amber Road). The Teutonic Knights, under command of the Order's Marshal Dietrich von Altenburg, sacked Żnin in 1331. After a few years, the town was rebuilt.

City walls were constructed in 1343. King Casimir the Great of Poland confirmed several privileges and duties to the city and visited it in 1343, 1361, 1365, and 1370. Żnin became a favourite residence of the Gniezno bishops in 1374. In 1447 fire destroyed large parts of the town. In the rebuilt town in 1459, the first wind-mill was constructed, while breweries, orchards, and workshops increased Żnin's prosperity. Another fire destroyed the town in 1494.

Swedish invaders did not attack Żnin during the Deluge (1655–60), but disease and poverty depopulated the town; only 96 building were occupied and 151 buildings were left empty. By 1673 Żnin had 2,331 inhabitants. Fires again damaged Żnin in 1688, 1692, and 1700. People abandoned the town, searching quarters in other nearby towns and villages. After a partial reconstruction, another fire in 1751 destroyed 64 houses, the brewery and the town hall. Only the city-hall tower remained. The medieval part of Żnin constructed of wood was totally destroyed. However, tourists can still admire the historic centre of Żnin and its old structure dating back to the Middle Ages.

Żnin was annexed by the Kingdom of Prussia in 1772 during the First Partition of Poland and subsequently administered within the Netze District. In September 1794 during the unsuccessful Kościuszko Uprising, Polish forces under General Jan Henryk Dąbrowski, passed Gąsawa from Poznań and liberated Żnin. The local garrison commander, Colonel Keszycki, established a recruitment center for volunteers in the town.

After Napoleon's defeat of Prussia in the War of the Fourth Coalition, Żnin was included in the Duchy of Warsaw in 1807. The town was restored to Prussia in 1815 after the defeat of Napoleon and administered within Kreis Schubin within the new Province of Posen. Żnin's economy developed rapidly by the end of the 19th century. By 1902, the town had fresh water pipe lines, gas works, macadam streets, and 4,500 inhabitants.

Żnin participated in the Greater Poland Uprising in January 1919 after World War I. At the time there was a garrison of 300 German soldiers in the city under Sub. Lt. Eckert. The Polish insurgents, supported by a cavalry unit from Gniezno, kept the Germans busy until another unit of 737 came from Poznań and liberated Żnin on 18 January. A new town council was elected and Polish was re-established as the official language. The city had 4,980 inhabitants. The German minority, no longer part of the occupying force, was given the option to move to Weimar Germany in 1920, while those who remained could become citizens of the Second Polish Republic.

In 1930 during the interwar era the growing town had 5,500 inhabitants. The processing plants increased their output and agriculture flourished. Żnin had two colleges, three hotels, and, since 1936, a local daily and a weekly newspaper. The county office and court of justice were located in the town.

On 1 September 1939, the first day of World War II, Nazi Germany's Luftwaffe bombed undefended Żnin. Nine days later, German troops marched into the town, which was renamed Dietfurt and administered within Landkreis Dietfurt (Wartheland). All street names were replaced by names of Nazi leaders or German sounding names. There was no school for the Poles; children had to walk to Góra, a village east of Żnin. 600 Poles were deported, with 200 taken to forced labour or Nazi concentration camps. In November and December 1939, hostages, mainly insurgents of 1919, were shot at different places around the town. After the war, on 21 October 1945, a mass re-burial of 62 exhumed victims was held in Gąsawa. In the village Góra (now part of Żnin), a solemn burial of 100 Jewish citizens, killed in the nearby concentration camp Murczyn, was held and a monument created by Żnin craftsmen was unveiled on 11 December 1987.


Wenecja (Polish for Venice) is a village in north-central Poland. It lies approximately 6 kilometres (4 mi) south-east of Żnin and 38 km (24 mi) south-west of Bydgoszcz. The village has a population of 300.

Its picturesque location among three lakes (Biskupinskie, Weneckie, Skrzynka) resulted in its name alluding to the location of Italian Venice. The village, called "the pearl of Pałuki", is one of the greatest tourist attractions in the Pałuki region. Wenecja is located on the line of the narrow gauge railway running from the town of Żnin to famous Biskupin and further on to Gąsawa. The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum and the ruins of the 14th century castle attract thousands of tourists

In summer, the 19th century train operates between Znin and Gasawa passing through Biskupin and Wenecja.


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Discussion Starter #96
Wieluń (Велюнь)

Wieluń is a city in central Poland with 24,347 inhabitants.

The City and Province of Wieluń have a long and interesting history. The traits of early settlements reach back to the 8th century BC. The first administrative center with a church – Ruda – was mentioned by the first Polish historian – Gall Anonym in 1106.

In the early Middle Ages, the town seated a Castellan. According to a medieval legend, Wieluń was founded in 1217 when Władyslaw Odonic, Duke of Greater-Poland spotted a deer and a God’s Sheep over it while hunting in the area. In that very spot, Władysław was said to have had a chapel erected. Around this little church, a settlement started to develop, and its name was taken from the deer hunting, but more precisely from an Old Slavonic word for boggy meadows – vel.

In 1281, Henryk IV, Duke of Silesia moved the seat of a Castellan to Wieluń. In a document signed by Przemysł II of 1283, Wieluń is already mentioned as a city. The development of the city was fostered by its location on crossing of commercial routes from Moravia to Kujawy, and from Wrocław to Kijev, and from Little-Poland to Greater-Poland. During regional disintegration of Kingdom of Poland, the Province of Wieluń was a part of the Senior Duchy. Later it was ruled by Dukes of Calisia, Greater-Poland and Silesia interchangeably.

During the reign of Kazimierz the Great, King of Poland, the city was protected by fortified walls, ramparts, moats and a castle. Soon after, the province becomes a dominion of Władysław, Duke of Opole who made it a Duchy (Wieluń Duchy 1370-1391), brought in the Pauline Order and minted his own currency – a denary with an eagle and Wieluń city coat of arms accompanied by inscription “MONETA WELVNES”. Polish King, Władysław Jagiełło had to use armed forces to return the Province to Kingdom.

The knights of Wieluń Province took part in the Battle of Grunwald in 1410, fighting the Teutonic Order Knights under their own battle flag (which was a great honour at the times) – the present City Flag is a remnant of the original Grunwald Battle Flag. In 1419, Archbishop of Gniezno, Mikołaj Trąba moved the Parish from Ruda to Wieluń, and five years later King Jagiełło issued “Wieluń Edict” against the Hussite Brothers.

During the reign of the Jagiełło Dynasty, the City of Wieluń thrives – the 16th century is considered to be its peak development in the entire history of the city. Both trade and handicraft developed dynamically then. There was a Town Hall in the middle of the Old Market Square surrounded by merchants’ and guildsmen townhouses.

During the reign of Zygmunt August, Wieluń was considered to be one of the prettiest towns in Poland. Many Wieluń citizens studied at the first Polish university – Krakowska Academy. The City had its own theater group. Hieronim Spiczyński was born here, called “Hieronim of Wieluń” – the first translator of parts of Holy Scripture from Latin into Polish to be published in printing. After defeat of Byczyna in 1588, Maximilian Habsburg was a prisoner of war and was kept in the Wieluń castle. In the first half of the 17th century, new churches and monasteries were erected: The Sisters of Bernardine and The Franciscan Brothers. The rapid development of Wieluń was halted by fires and epidemics, but first of all by the Swedish Conquest of Poland, when the city was totally burnt and many inhabitants were slaughtered.

Some signs of revival including development of the Pijar Academy were again halted by fires demolishing town in years 1791-1795. After the Second Partition of Poland, the Province of Wieluń was under Prussian occupation. Wieluń citizens supported the Kościuszko Uprising issuing an Act of Joining the Insurrection and setting up military administration. In 1807-1815, the Province was a part of The Duchy of Warsaw, and from 1816 it was incorporated into the Kingdom of Poland that was under absolute Russian rule. In the 19th century, the City again started to slowly rise from the fall: a clothing manufacture started operation, a modern hospital together with a new town hall were built, a new classical palace was erected on the foundations of a former Piast Castle, a Synagogue and an Orthodox church were built. However, a strong garrison of occupational Russian army was stationed in the city. During the January Uprising (1863-64), Polish troops fighting for freedom operated also in the Wieluń area. The city inhabitants frequently witnessed executions of freedom fighters. A fire brigade started operation in 1877. And in 1893, an Industrial Bank, one of the first in the Kingdom of Poland was established. In 1912, a sugar factory was constructed. In free Poland after the end of First World War (1919), the Province of Wieluń was incorporated into Łódź Voivodship. Wieluń gained rail connection with Silesia and Greater-Poland. At that time about 30% of all inhabitants were Jewish.

The Second World War brought about the most tragic events in the history of the city.

The bombing of Wieluń refers to the indiscriminate bombing of the Polish town of Wieluń by the German Luftwaffe on 1 September 1939, five minutes before the shelling of Westerplatte, which has traditionally been considered the beginning of World War II. The bombing of Wielun is considered as one of the first terror bombings in history and first in this war. German carpet bombing killed an estimated 1300 civilians, injured hundreds more and destroyed 75% per of the town centre. It is widely acknowledged that there were no targets of any importance in the area such as military installations or industrial facilities. The casualty rate was more than twice as high as Guernica.

The widely acknowledged by the majority of historians and official version of the events is that there were no military or industrial targets of note in the area, except for a small sugar factory in the outskirts of the town. German bombers destroyed 90% of the town center (including the historical gothic church) and killed approximately 1,200 civilians, about 8% of the town's population of 15,000. Approximately 75% of all the buildings in Wieluń were destroyed. Among the first targets bombed by the Germans was the hospital (despite a huge Red Cross sign painted on the roof). The undefended town of was captured by the German Army on day one.

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