Collage of views of W?oc?awek. Top: View of Old Town, Middle left: The monument on the Liberty Square, Center: Przechodnia Street, Middle right: Cathedral, Bottom left: Shopping center Wzorcownia in faience factory, Bottom right: The Bridge of Marschall Edward Rydz-?mig?y
|o Mayor||Marek Wojtkowski|
|o City||84.32 km2 (32.56 sq mi)|
(31 December 2019)
|o City||109,883 (34th)|
|o Metro||210,516 (2005)|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC+2 (CEST)|
87-800 to 87-810, 87-812, 87-814, 87-816 to 87-818, 87-822
|Area code(s)||+48 54|
W?oc?awek [vw?t?s'wav?k] (German: Leslau) is a city located in central Poland along the Vistula (Wis?a) River and is bordered by the Gostynin-W?oc?awek Landscape Park. As of December 2019, the population of the city is 109,883. Located in the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship, it was the capital of W?oc?awek Voivodeship until 1999.
W?oc?awek's history dates back to the late Bronze Age - early Iron Age (1300 BCE - 500 BCE). Archaeological excavations conducted on the current city site uncovered the remains of a settlement belonging to the Lausitz culture, as well as evidence of a settlement of early Pomeranian culture which had been established. Traces of additional settlements dating to the Roman period and the early Middle Ages have also been excavated in the area.
Precise dating of the city's founding has proven difficult. Since the 16th century, there is conflicting data in relation to the establishment of the town. The confusion lies with varying attributions of the city's name (which was derived from the first name W?adys?aw, or Vladislav) and its subsequent rulers; W?adys?aw II the Exile, (Polish: W?adys?aw II Wygnaniec) (1105 - 30 May 1159) a High Duke of Poland and Duke of Silesia from 1138 until his expulsion in 1146. His grandfather W?adys?aw I Herman, or Vladislav II of Bohemia. Civil war between these generations, due to a royal title granted as a lifetime honorific from Holy Roman Emperor, but did not provide for a hereditary monarchy. This resulted in church reformations and a lack of documentation for the area.
One of the earliest references to the town came from an assistant to the Archbishop of Gniezno who was noted as residing in the town in 1123. Later the Diocese of W?oc?awek (Latin: Vladislaviensis) of Kuyavia in 1148, notates its existence in a bull issued by Pope Eugene III, while mentioning the first bishop of W?oc?awek as Warner. Warner was followed by an Italian, Onoldius; the diocese was recorded as "W?oc?awek and Pomerania" (Vladislaviensis et Pomeraniae).
W?oc?awek received its town rights in 1255. During the 14th and 15th centuries, the city was destroyed and captured several times by the Teutonic Knights and renamed it Leslau. The Treaty of Thorn, signed in 1411, resulted in short-lived peace for the city, however, it prospered from its involvement in the ransoming of the captured Teutonic Knights which was payable in three instalments and proved to be a hardship on the Prussian faction. W?oc?awek was located within the Brze Kujawski Voivodeship of the Greater Poland Province of the Polish Crown.
During the Swedish invasion of 1657, Second Northern War, the city was partially destroyed. After the Second Partition of Poland of 1793, W?oc?awek became part of Prussia. After the Treaties of Tilsit in 1807 it became part of the Polish short-lived Duchy of Warsaw. Subsequently, after the Congress of Vienna it became part of Congress Poland, but the city was later occupied by the Russian Empire in 1831. The oldest Polish theological journal Ateneum Kap?a?skie has been published in W?oc?awek since 1909. The city was again destroyed during the battles of German offensive during the First World War. After Poland declared independence in 1918, W?oc?awek was reintegrated into Polish territory. In 1920, Poles successfully defended the city against the invading Soviets during the Polish-Soviet War.
During World War II, W?oc?awek was occupied by German troops, which entered the city on 14 September 1939. Under the Nazi German occupation W?oc?awek was again renamed Leslau, annexed by decree to the German Reich on 8 October 1939 and administered from 26 October as a part of Reichsgau Posen (renamed on 29 January 1940 Reichsgau Wartheland).
Already in September 1939, Germans committed a massacre of a group of local Jews and burned both synagogues. By the time the war ended, nearly the entire Jewish population of more than 10,000 had been murdered. The Einsatzgruppe III entered the city between September 23 and October 5, 1939, and afterwards carried out mass arrests of local Poles in October and November as part of the Intelligenzaktion. Dozens of Catholic priests from W?oc?awek, including Auxiliary Bishop of W?oc?awek Micha? Kozal, and lecturers and students of the seminary were arrested, and then deported in January 1940 to the Dachau concentration camp, where most of them were killed.Rector of the local seminary Henryk Kaczorowski and two students Bronis?aw Kostkowski and Tadeusz Dulny are now considered three of the 108 Blessed Polish Martyrs of World War II by the Catholic Church. Local teachers were arrested in October 1939, and then deported to Nazi concentration camps and murdered. In late 1939, the SS and Selbstschutz burnt down the Grzywno district and murdered many of its inhabitants in the nearby village of Warz?chewka Polska. Poles from W?oc?awek were also massacred in the nearby village of Pi?czata. Arrested Polish teachers, landowners and priests from the W?oc?awek and Lipno counties were also imprisoned in W?oc?awek, and some were later also deported to concentration camps and murdered.
Families of deported and murdered Poles, as well as the remaining residents of Grzywno were expelled to the so-called General Government in late 1939, and in 1940 also owners of shops, workshops and bigger houses were expelled, so their properties could be handed over to German colonists as part of the Lebensraum policy. The Germans also robbed the precious historical collections of the Diocese of W?oc?awek and closed down the cathedral. The city's central square, Plac Wolno?ci ("Liberty Square"), was renamed Adolf-Hitler-Platz by the Germans.
W?oc?awek was liberated on 20 January 1945 by Soviet troops of the 1st Belorussian Front during the Vistula-Oder Offensive. One third of the city was destroyed, but its factories and workshops were rebuilt by the Polish government in the following decades.
The most important industries in W?oc?awek today are chemical industry, production of furniture, and food processing. The dam which was constructed in 1969 regulates the water level of the Vistula river, forming W?oc?awek Reservoir.
The Catholic priest Fr. (now Blessed), Jerzy Popie?uszko, who was associated with the workers' and trade union movement Solidarity, and who was also a member of the opposition to the Communist regime in Poland, was tortured and murdered by three Security Police officers, and was thrown into the W?oc?awek Reservoir, close to the city. His body was recovered from the reservoir on 30 October 1984.
From 2012 the city is part of the Special Economic Zone - W?oc?awek Economic Development Area - Industrial and Technological Park with tax-free areas and incentives for investors.
The Jewish population increased from 218 (6.6%) in 1820 to 6,919 in 1910 (20.5%) and 13,500 in 1939. One of the founders of the Mizrac?i movement, rabbi Leib Kowalski (1895-1925), lived and worked in W?oc?awek. During the interbellum period, the town had several Jewish schools (primary and high schools), two yeshivas, and three Jewish sports clubs.
With the beginning of the German occupation of Poland, W?oc?awek became the first town in Europe in which Jews were required to wear distinctive yellow badges. Murders of Jews began in 1939 and the W?oc?awek ghetto was created in November 1940. The Nazis deported 3,000 of W?oc?awek's Jews to ghettos and labor camps between December 1939 and June 1941. Some 2,000 Jews were deported to ?ód? and then to the Che?mno extermination camp between 26 and 30 September 1941. The ghetto was burnt in late April 1942 after the remaining Jews were sent to Chelmno where they were immediately gassed. Most of the Jews sent to the ?ód? Ghetto died of starvation or illness, and many were sent to Auschwitz from ?ód?.
After the war nearly 1000 Jews returned to W?oc?awek and re-established their community. However, Jews left after disputes within the community itself, and the desire of most Jews not to live under Communism, installed by the Soviets. By the late 1960s, the community had disappeared.
Today there is only very little, if any trace at all, of their once rich and lively community. There is a table for victims of Jewish ghetto in W?oc?awek's Rakutówek neighborhood (Polish Tablica Ofiar Getta we W?oc?awku) and Jewish Cemetery at Municipal/Communal Cemetery (Polish Cmentarz Komunalny we W?oc?awku).
Copernicus Square (Polish: Plac Kopernika) is located near the cathedral school of the Basilica Cathedral of St. Mary Assumption in W?oc?awek where Nicolaus Copernicus studied between 1488-91. Together with his teacher, Miko?aj Wódka (Abstemius), he built a sundial for the Cathedral Basilica. In the square there is the monument of Nicolaus Copernicus, the main office of the Higher Seminary, founded in 1569 (first seminary in Poland, and also one of the oldest in the world).
St. Witalis Church, 1330, is the oldest Gothic building in W?oc?awek. Inside the church there are works of Polish 15th-century painting, including a triptych with the scene of the Crowning of St. Mary (1460). In front of the Basilica Cathedral there is a monument of prominent Polish primate Stefan Wyszy?ski who lived in W?oc?awek between 1917-46.
Gothic Basilica Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption (Polish: Bazylika katedralna Wniebowzi?cia Naj?wi?tszej Maryi Panny) was built in 1340-1411 and was later rebuilt. It is one of the oldest and tallest (86 m) churches in Poland, and it is listed as a Historic Monument of Poland. The basilica includes:
Municipal Park named after Henryk Sienkiewicz (Polish: Park Miejski im. Henryka Sienkiewicza) is one of the oldest parks in Poland. In the park there is a bust of Henryk Sienkiewicz, a prominent writer and the winner of the Nobel Prize for Quo Vadis.
Bishop's Palace (Polish: Pa?ac Biskupi) is located on the Gdanska street by the river. It served as the bishop's residence from 1858-61 and includes a garden.
Marshall Józef Pi?sudski Boulevards (Polish: Bulwary im. Marsza?ka Józefa Pi?sudskiego): Historic houses in the Old Marketplace, Church of St. John the Baptist, Bridge of Marschall Edward Rydz-Smig?y, Art Museum, Ethnographic Museum, high schools and Marshal Office.
The former brewery built in 1832 houses a modern culture center with a concert hall, culture associations, small cinema, museum of measurements and café.
Black Granary (Polish: Czarny Spichrz) was built between the 18th and 19th centuries. It is the only construction of that kind that still exists in Poland. It currently houses the Dobrzynsko-Kujawskie Cultural Society and the Art Club Piwnica.
Church of St. John the Baptist (Polish: Ko?ció? pw. ?w. Jana Chrzciciela) have Gothic and Baroque style, brick-layered, from 1538. The interior is in the Baroque style, it includes a Guardian Angel painting (1635), a baroque font - 17th century, a Rococo pulpit - 18th century, a sculpture of John Baptist from Venice (Polish Jan Baptysta Wenecjanin).
All Saints church and Franciscan-Reformers cloister (Polish: Parafia i Klasztor Ojców Franciszkanów) was built in 1639-1644, in Baroque style with Gothic elements. Here is a Baroque aisle and Rococo altars from the 18th century.
Evangelical church (Polish: Ko?ció? Ewangelicki) was built 1877-79, but in the 17th century was here a wooden church, with an interesting altar with painting in convention of Paul Delaroche.
Liberation Square (Polish: Plac Wolno?ci) It is the town's central square, with the monument dedicated to the Polish soldiers of the II World War, a hotel Zajazd Polski (18th century), restaurant, banks and shops. Here is the All Saints church and Franciscan-Reformers cloister, Mühsam Palace from the 19th century.
The W?oc?awek Dam (Polish: Zapora Wodna na Wi?le, Tama we W?oc?awku) was built in 1970 and is the largest reservoir in Poland. On the right river's bank a monumental crucifix has been erected to commemorate priest Jerzy Popie?uszko murdered by the communist police.
Green Market (Polish: Zielony Rynek) is the historical place of trade. There are tenement houses from the 19th and 20th century, as well as a baker's shop, confectionery store, and clothes stores. Here is also the Main City Office with Mayor's Bureau and Gallery of Modern Art.
Municipal/ Communal Cemetery (Polish: Cmentarz Komunalny we W?oc?awku) - central cemetery in the city between streets: Komunalna, Chopina, Aleja Królowej Jadwigi. There are here parts: Polish, Jewish, German (Protestants, Evangelicals), Russian (Russian-Orthodox Church), victims of 1. and 2. World War. Here is also the Russian Orthodox Church.
Next to Basilica Cathedral there is the Diocesan Museum (Polish Muzeum Diecezjalne) with paintings by Guercino, and prints by Albrecht Dürer. The Seminary Library of Chodynski Brothers keeps precious manuscripts, including missals from 1500.
It hosts two permanent exhibitions: "W?oc?awek`s Faience" and "The Gallery of Polish portraits" with works by Józef Simmler, Teodor Axentowicz (neoclassicism); Leon Wyczó?kowski (impressionism); Jacek Malczewski and Vlastimil Hofman (symbolism), Józef Mehoffer, Stanis?aw Ignacy Witkiewicz, Wojciech Kossak, Alfons Karpi?ski, Olga Bozna?ska (1920s and 1930s), Anthony van Dyck or Marcello Bacciarelli.
The museum is located in a historic granary and hosts an exhibition by Franciszek Tournelle. It showcases the most important elements of folk culture and equipment of house interior and farm of Kuyavia: farming, breeding, fishing, pottery, blacksmithing, cart-wrighting, cooperage, plaiting, historic folk sculpture, shrovetide customs, and musical instruments.
The museum consists of two historic Baroque houses from the 16th and 18th century on the Old Market. They exhibit artefacts connected with the history of W?oc?awek and Poland from archaeological excavations to Liberation of W?oc?awek in 1945 including the Bowl of W?oc?awek (10th century) and elements of knights armour (14th and 15th century), objects related to the economic life of W?oc?awek (16th and 17th century), measures and weights, treasures with coins from the 12th to 18th centuries, pharmaceutics from the 19th and 20th centuries, memorabilia of big industry in the 19th century, memorabilia of the Fire Department, sports trophies, uniforms, firearms, weapons, photographs and the archives of national uprisings, Polish-Soviet War (1919-1921), interwar decades, and World War I and World War II, models of non-existent buildings (city hall, St. Wojciech Church and St. Miko?aj Orthodox Church) and the reconstruction of a photo atelier.
A sizeable art collection is also located in a granary built in 1839. There are two permanent exhibitions there: religious (human and animal sculptures by Stanis?aw Zagajewski known as "Polish Gaudi" from group of l`art brut) and an exhibition of works by Wac?aw B?bnowski (ceramic sculptures and functional objects with Art Nouveau motifs, naked nymphs and elements of the Far East).
Exhibitions of Italian, German or Netherlandish art from 17th/18th centuries include: Paintings by Carlo Cignani, Georg Philipp Rugendas, Francesco de' Rossi, graphs of Rembrandt van Rijn, Albrecht Altdorfer, Heinrich Aldegrever, Parmigianino, Vespasiano Strada oder Lucas van Leyden.
There are many other international companies: Delecta (Rieber&Son)- Orkla Group, Norway; Top2000 - Hamelin Group, France; Drumet - WireCo Group, USA; Kujawianka/ ATlanta Poland (Bakal Group), Poland; ACPCO2 - Belgium; Ko?o, Sanitec Group - France; Teutonia, Newell Rubbermaid Group - USA; Solvay - Belgium; ACV- Belgium; Remwil, Orlen Group, Poland; Budizol, Poland; Naturana - Germany; PV Prefabet, PV Group - Germany. Many transport and logistic companies have branches in or near the city.
From 2012 the city is part of the Pomeranian Special Economic Zone - W?oc?awek Economic Development Area - Industrial and Technological Park with tax-free areas and incentives for investors. The city is directly at A1 highway and near to A2 highway, directly to three national ways (Polish Drogi Krajowe), riverway (Vistula) to Gdansk, Berlin or Warsaw and fast rail line with many directions. W?oc?awek has also own energy plants (Power Plant of Anwil/ Orlen, Municipal Power Plant of City W?oc?awek, Water Power Plant on Vistula River).
Another investment in W?oc?awek is Teren Inwestycyjny Papie?ka (Investment area Papiezka) with full infrastructure and railway siding.
There are also big investment areas near W?oc?awek, for example in Brze Kujawski (Brzeska Strefa Gospodarcza/ BSG). It is directly at A1 motorway ("Amber One"), railway number 18 and has 470 ha open areas for different investments. There are here internal roads, lighting, power and water infrastructure. Here are public and private lots, the most of them free of real estate tax and CIT tax. Here invested already Raben Group and Mercator Medical S.A.,
Another investment zone with full infrastructure is Czerniewice Logistic Park of company Arplast in Czerniewice by Choce?, it is also at A1 motorway and railway line. The biggest advantage is its own railway siding, that is very rare in Poland.
Currently there are five universities or colleges or branches:
This area has twinning with the following:
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