Wroclaw

Polish medieval town in the Lower Silesia.

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The capital of southwestern Poland's province of Lower Silesia, the city of Wroclaw, is located on the Oder River. It is the fourth largest Polish city. Wroclaw provides international rail connections, an airport, and river transport. Eight educational institutions are located in the city along with nine museums, several theaters and music centers, and a botanical garden and zoo. Wroclaw originated in the 10th century AD at the crossroads of trade routes and was first governed by the Polish Piast kings. In the following centuries it was ruled at various times by the Germans, Bohemians-Czechs and Prussians.

Wroclaw, the capital of Lower Silesia, is one of the oldest and most beautiful cities in Poland. Situated at the foot of the Sudety Mountains, upon the Odra River and cut through by its numerous tributaries and canals, it is an exceptional city of 12 islands and 112 bridges.

Wroclaw’s complex and dramatic history is embedded in the city walls. We are reminded of the early medieval times in Ostrów Tumski, where one of the most beautiful sacral architecture buildings in Europe has been preserved. Wroclaw Town hall is considered one of the most splendid Gothic buildings in central Europe. In Wroclaw one can also see the biggest baroque interior in Poland, which has remained untill today - the Leopoldine Hall, located in the 17th century University building. The old and modern architecture of the city is surrounded by the abundance of greenery.

Visitors coming to Wroclaw remember the city mainly as a cultural centre. Its theatres, including the Opera, Musical Theatre and Philharmonic Hall; various clubs, museums and galleries provide a continuous series of artistic events.
Wroclaw is the fourth biggest city in Poland, with the population of 700000 inhabitants. It belongs to the biggest university centres in the country.
It is a crossing point of three international routes, has two big railway stations, two river ports and international airport, which ensures the connection with the whole world.
Wroclaw is a wonderful city of an interesting history and unique beauty.

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HISTORY OF SILESIA
The specific position of Silesia in Central-European history is a consequence of its complex development during a time when parts of the country were either falling under the influence of power of neighbouring state formations or were becoming their integral parts.
In the course of its long history, Silesia was only twice unified into a single state. The first trustworthy reference to Slavic tribes which, probably from the 5th century, inhabited the region – delineated in the west by the Lusatian Nysa from the confluence of the river Oder and in the south from the area of the Krkonoše, Orlické and Jeseníky mountains to the Kłozdko basin – were provided by the works of the so-called Bavarian Geographer from the late 9th century. The author mentions that Silesians as well as other “Silesian tribes” lived north from Donau. The Silesians populated the area adjacent to the sacred mountain Ślęz (nearby Wroclaw) which became the shared cult place of not only Silesians but also of tribes from other parts of what today is Silesia. Despite other hypotheses, it is fairly probable that the origin of the name of the whole region – Silesia – can be linked to this mountain.
Archaeological findings show that Silesia belonged to the power and cultural circle of the Great Moravian Empire. Since the empire’s disintegration, the Silesian region has become the subject of disputes and wars mainly among Bohemian and Polish rulers, which lasted for centuries.
During the 10th century, Silesia was seized by the Premyslides only to end up in the hands of the Polish Piasts in the late century. When the Roman German Emperor Otto III, motivated by the Polish Duke Boleslav the Stout, founded the Gniezno archbishopric above the grave of St Adalbert – which was also linked to the establishment of the Wroclaw bishopric – in 1000, the last relations to the Prague bishopric, under whose missionary sphere Silesia hitherto belonged, were broken. In 1039 Břetislav I undertook an expedition to Gniezno which, amongst other things, resulted in the return of St Adalbert’s remains to Bohemia but also in new territorial gains in Silesia. As early as in 1054 however, Břetislav forfeited his titles to Silesia – except for the Holasice (Opava) region – to the benefit of the Polish Duke Casimir I the Restorer. The next centuries were affected by lengthy fights for power within the ruling families of both Piasts and Premyslides, while the antagonized sides were even finding allies among the members of other duchy families; and Silesia thus again witnessed harsh military clashes. In 1138 it became an apanage Piast duchy. The unceasing internal fights terminated with the 1202 treaty that divided the country into two parts – one that later became Upper Silesia (Opole region, added up with Racibórz, Bytom and Oświęcim regions) and Lower Silesia with its centre in Wroclaw. In the following decade, the division of these two duchies continued. Less disturbed times only came with the reign of Duke Henryk I the Bearded, who also summoned German colonizers to Silesia. The German element quickly took hold in the region and mainly the aristocracy turned to be its main economic driving force. Although an anathema was pronounced against the duke himself as a result of his dispute with the Wroclaw bishop, his wife Hedwig became the patron saint of Silesia and was canonized in 1267.
After the lost battle against Mongolian raiders at Legnickie Pole where the son of St Hedwig, Duke Henryk II the Pious, died in 1241, prolonged fights for power and succession followed and were moreover accompanied by constant divisions of the country. In the period of the heaviest fragmentation, Silesia was split into almost twenty small territorial and administrative units. This was one of the reasons why a weakened Polish state became the goal of the pugnacious foreign policy of the last Premyslides, who mainly focused on Upper Silesia. Wenceslas II, who was crowned a Polish king in Gniezno in 1300 after several years of fights and political negotiations, revived the idea to annex Silesia to the Bohemian state. He closed alliance with Kazimierz II of Bytom, Měšek of Cieszyn and Bolek of Opole and also gained most of Lower Silesia after the death of Henryk IV. John of Luxembourg walked in Wenceslas’ steps, succeeding to acquire yet more parts of Silesia. The territorial gains were even acknowledged by the Polish king (Trenčín Treaties 1335), while the Luxembourgs in return waived their claims for the Polish throne. The position of the Silesian duchies was subsequently regulated by Charles IV who annexed them to the political and territorial unit of the Bohemian Crown in 1348.
During the Hussite period, Silesia remained faithful to Catholicism and King Sigismund. Representatives of Silesian dukes participated in the first and second crusades against Hussite Bohemia. After 1425, the Hussites plundered Silesian duchies many times in their frequent military campaigns, often occupying cities almost without having to face any resistance and establishing a network of military garrisons in the country. This period ended as late as with the Battle of Lipany, when the Hussites withdrew from Silesia.
After the death of Emperor Sigismund, Silesian duchies stood on the side of Albrecht von Habsburg and later Ladislas the Posthumous. The unexpected death (1457) of the very young king brought along yet more uncertainty. When George of Podiebrad became the king of Bohemia, part of Silesian dukes and the city of Wroclaw refused to accept him as their ruler. In the conflict between George and Matthias Corvinus, which erupted in the latter half of the 1460s, Silesia stood on the side of the Hungarian king and acknowledged his reign in 1469. The fights did not even cease under George’s successor, Vladislas Jagiello, and efforts at conciliation only succeeded with the Olomouc treatises (1478/1479), in which the two rulers divided their spheres of influence. Matthias Corvinus retained Moravia, Silesia and Lusatia, while the Bohemian Kingdom fell to Vladislas; they both enjoyed the title King of Bohemia. Corvinus took many steps aimed at the centralization of the administration of Silesia, and the whole-Silesian assembly first gathered under his reign in 1474. Silesia returned to the union of the Bohemian Kingdom after Matthias’ death.
However Silesia remained cool to Hussite ideas, the Lutheran Reformation took roots here fairly soon and it quickly replaced the hitherto dominant religion of Catholicism. This is also why the new ruler, Ferdinand I von Habsburg, was only accepted with reservation, since the Silesians feared any eventual re-Catholicization measures. In the beginning, the new king acted with restrain, for he lacked the efficient means to enforce his aims. His time came after the Schmalkald war (1546/47), in which the Silesian estates sympathised with defeated Habsburg enemies. Ferdinand I took advantage of the situation to realize some ideas of his that would result in a greater centralization of the country. One of the biggest changes was the establishment of the Silesian Royal Chamber in 1557. Equally as in the Kingdom of Bohemia, those most affected by the recourses were the royal cities.
At the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries, the tension between Catholics and Protestants culminated. The prolonged contention of Rudolf II and his brother Matthias allowed for non - Catholic estates to make the emperor issue the so-called Imperial Charter of Religious Freedoms. Its first version from 9 July 1609 was for Bohemians and the second, from 20 August of the same year, for Silesia. The Silesian estates re-exacted the vindication of the Charter from Matthias I upon his arrival to the throne in 1611. It is quite paradoxical that at the moment when the right of religious freedom was legitimised, the long period of religious tolerance between Catholics and non-Catholics in the lands of the Bohemian Crown was practically coming to an end. The representatives of the Silesian non-Catholic estates, who pledged to collaborate with other non-Catholic estates of the monarchy in 1609, took great part in the uprising of the estates. After the Battle of White Mountain Silesia was also affected by Ferdinand II’s measures against the insurgents. Although no analogy to the Renewed Land Ordinance was issued for Silesia, its estates were deprived of their legislative power and the Silesian administration was transferred to the Bohemian Court Office.
A cruel blow for Silesia was the Thirty Years’ War, which brought along enormous material as well as human losses. Contrary to the Kingdom of Bohemia, the 1648 Peace of Westphalia guaranteed the Protestant dukes the freedom of Lutheran faith in their region, and the same held true for the city of Wroclaw. Other Protestants were allowed to retain their confession without having had to leave their homes. Under the extensive re-Catholicization which struck Silesia, they were nevertheless only allowed under strict rules to build three Protestant churches (only from wood, without any towers and outside of the city walls). As in other lands, a significant role in the Silesian re-Catholicization was played by the Jesuits whose schools mainly focused on educating next generations of students from the ranks of both nobility and the middle classes. The Jesuits encouraged Leopold I to establish the Wroclaw Academy in 1702 – the later Wroclaw university which originally had solely two faculties, of theology and philosophy. The school flourished rapidly and had more than 1,300 students around 1724.
This peaceful period in Silesia did not last long. The country became subject to the interests of the Saxony diplomacy in the wars for the Spanish inheritance, and not even the conflict between the Polish King and Saxon Elector, August II the Strong, and the Swedish King Charles XII – the Northern War – could have avoided it. Since the stay of the Swedish army in the Silesian region brought certain hopes for a change of religious conditions to the local Protestants, they thus turned to the Swedish king with a plea for help. The negotiations between Charles XII and Emperor Joseph I resulted in the so-called Altranstäd Treaty, signed in 1707. The treaty vindicated more religious freedom for the duchies listed in the Westphalian Peace Treaty and allowed for erection of six new Protestant churches.
The last historical phase of Silesia as one of the lands of the Bohemian Crown began to be written after introducing Maria Theresa to the Bohemian thrown. Although most European rulers assented to the so-called Pragmatic Sanction (1713), which regulated the succession after Charles VI, wars for the Austrian inheritance erupted after his death. The biggest enemies of Maria Theresa were the Bavarian Elector Karl Albrecht, Prussian King Friedrich II and Saxon Elector August III. The Prussian troops occupied almost all of Silesia at the turn of 1740 and 1741. The imperial army tried to halt their progression, but it had to withdraw after the defeat at Mollwitz in April 1741. Maria Theresa closed a privy treaty with Friedrich II in Klein Schellendorf, according to which the Prussian king was to gain Lower Silesia in exchange for neutrality in the conflict of the Habsburg monarchy with Saxony, Bavarian and French coalition. In November 1741 however, Friedrich II joined the anti-Habsburg coalition that occupied most of Silesia and broke as far as close to Brno. The defeat of the imperial armies by Friedrich II’s army at Chotusice in May 1742 resulted in the loss of most of Silesia to the benefit of Prussia. Only part of the Opava and Krnov regions, Cieszyn region and the city of Nysa remained part of the Habsburg monarchy after the so-called Berlin Peace Treaty.

Trip from Prague to Wroclaw (Poland) - 3,5 hours to drive to North
It is an 12 hour round trip.
1) Wroclaw CA5 - 12 hour round trip
Trips combinations:
2) Wroclaw CA5 + Nachod NNE11 - 14 hour round trip
3) Wroclaw CA5 + Nove Mesto NNE12 - 14 hour round trip
4) Wroclaw CA5 + Kuks and Betlem NNE1 - 14 hour round trip
5) Wroclaw CA5 + Hradek by Nechanice Chateau NNE2 - 14 hour round trip
6) Wroclaw CA5 + Hradec Kralove Medieval Town NNE7 - 14 hour round trip
7) Wroclaw CA5 + Josefov - Military Fortress NNE6 - 14 hour round trip
8) Wroclaw CA5 + Zoo Dvur Kralove NNE10 - 14 hour round trip

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Last updated on Dec 03, 2009