City of Pu?tusk
|o Mayor||Wojciech Gregorczyk|
|o Total||22.83 km2 (8.81 sq mi)|
|Elevation||80 m (260 ft)|
|o Density||840/km2 (2,200/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC+2 (CEST)|
|Area code(s)||+48 023|
Pu?tusk (pronounced Poow-toosk ['puu?tusk]) is a town in Poland by the river Narew, 70 kilometres (43 miles) north of Warsaw. It is located in the Masovian Voivodeship and has a population of about 19,000.
In 1257 Pu?tusk was granted town rights and throughout the 15th and 17th centuries, it was one of the most important economic centres in the Masovian region. The favorable placement of the town on the Narew River, where grain and other goods were transported to the port of Gda?sk on the Baltic Sea, contributed to the town's growth and importance. Moreover, the construction of Europe's longest paved market square (380 meters in length) was a sign of the town's economic success.
During the millennium of its existence, Pu?tusk was possibly the most invaded town in Poland. Despite the extent of the destruction, especially during World War II, the town has been reconstructed. It is now one of the most recognized and admired tourist destinations in the north-eastern part of the country because of its historical and unique architecture. It is one of the most popular weekend destinations for residents of Warsaw.
The town has existed since at least the 10th century. In the Middle Ages, the Castle in Pu?tusk was one of the most important defensive forts in northern Masovia against the attacks of Old Prussians and Lithuanians. According to a legend, the town initially was known as Tusk; however, after a flood that destroyed half of the city, it was renamed as Pu?tusk (Pó?- or pu?- being a Polish prefix for a half). Most historians believe that it was named after a small river known as Pe?ta.
From the 11th century onwards, the town belonged to the bishops of P?ock. Due to a ford on the river located nearby, Pu?tusk became an important centre of trade and commerce. It received its civic charter in 1257, modeled after that of Che?mno (Che?mno law). In 1440 an academy was founded in the town, and it became one of the most influential schools of higher education in the Polish Kingdom. Among its professors were Jakub Wujek and Piotr Skarga. By 1595 there were more than 600 students, and their number reached 900 by 1696.
The town was destroyed by Lithuanians in 1262 and 1324. In the 14th century, Pu?tusk became the official seat of P?ock bishops. The town was again burnt by Lithuanians in 1368, but following the Union of Krewo between Poland and Lithuania, the Lithuanian raids were stopped, and the town quickly recovered.
By the 15th century Pu?tusk's merchants were among the richest in Poland. The town was granted a privileges of organizing nine grand fairs a year and two small markets a week. The city also gained much profit from exporting wood and grain to Gda?sk, as well as from mead and beer production.
In around 1405, the Mayor's House, today known as the "Polonia House" or "Polonia Castle", was constructed. In 1449 a Gothic church was added to the city's facilities. In the 16th century the castle was rebuilt by several renowned Italian architects, including Giovanni Battista of Venice and Bartolommeo Berrecci, and Giovanni Cini of Siena.
Pu?tusk was located in the Masovian Voivodeship in the Greater Poland Province of the Polish Crown. In 1530 the first Masovian printing house was opened. In 1566 one of the first public theatres in Poland was established in Pu?tusk. In the 16th century the town was visited by many notable individuals, such as King Sigismund III Vasa, and poets Jan Kochanowski and Maciej Kazimierz Sarbiewski.
On 21 April 1703 during the Great Northern War, a decisive battle was fought in Pu?tusk, where the Swedish army under Charles XII defeated and captured a large part of the Saxon army under Graf von Steinau. Although the town and the castle were initially conquered by Polish forces, they were later recaptured by the Swedish army, which looted and destroyed it.
After the Partitions of Poland, the town was annexed by the Kingdom of Prussia. The Polish forces of General Antoni Madali?ski stationed in Pu?tusk in 1794 declined to obey Prussian orders and started their march towards Kraków. This marked the start of the Ko?ciuszko Uprising. Prussian rule lasted only a few years.
Another Battle of Pu?tusk was fought on 26 December 1806, between forces of Imperial Russia and Imperial France. The battle became so famous that its name is inscribed on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. After the fall of Warsaw in 1809, Pu?tusk became the temporary capital of the Duchy of Warsaw. After the fall of Napoléon Bonaparte, the town became part of so-called Congress Poland within the Russian Partition of Poland.
During the November Uprising, the town changed hands several times. In 1831 Russian forces were carrying a cholera epidemic when they entered the town, resulting in high fatalities. Pu?tusk inhabitants took part also in the January Uprising. Afterwards the town was utterly destroyed and Russian officials sent many prominent citizens to Siberia and internal exile. On 30 January 1868 a meteorite fell in Pu?tusk. It was one of the biggest to fall in Europe. Large chunks (9 kg (20 lb) each) were acquired by the British Museum, which has them on display in London.
Although, the first Jews settled in the town in the 15th century, the Jewish community only started to flourish in the 19th century after a large influx of Jews. At the start of the 19th century, about 120 Jews lived in the city. Others lived in shtetls outside the city. Throughout the 19th century, though, the Jewish population increased rapidly to nearly 7,000 in the mid-19th century as a result of Russian discriminatory policies and the expulsion of Jews from Russia to the Russian Partition of Poland (see Pale of Settlement).
By the year 1900, around 6,000 Jews lived in Pu?tusk. Many had migrated to nearby Warsaw before and after World War I. Others emigrated to the United States. Following the war, the Jewish population rose to about 7,500 and accounted for roughly half of the total population of the town.
The town was reintegrated with Poland, when the country regained independence following World War I in 1918. During the Polish-Soviet War, it was fiercely defended by Poles on August 9-10, 1920, at the eve of the Battle of Warsaw. On August 13, the Russians captured the town, and then they massacred captured Polish soldiers. On August 17, the Polish 9th Infantry Division recaptured the town. In the interbellum the Polish 13th Infantry Regiment was stationed in Pu?tusk. In 1931 the town had some 16,800 inhabitants.
As a result of the German invasion of Poland, which started World War II in September 1939, Pu?tusk was occupied by the Wehrmacht and incorporated into Nazi Germany. Already on September 12-13, 1939, the Einsatzgruppe V entered the town to commit atrocities against the population. Nazi Germany operated a police prison, court prison and forced labour camp in the town. The German police carried out executions of Poles in the local prison in November and December 1939. During the German occupation, approximately 50% of the city's inhabitants, mostly Jews, were expelled or deported, some to Nazi concentration camps. In 1941-1945 it was renamed in German as Ostenburg, to erase traces of Polish origin. On December 17, 1942, the Gestapo carried out a public execution of four members of the Home Army, the leading Polish resistance organization. In the battle for Pu?tusk during later World War II, over 16,000 soldiers of the Soviet Red Army were killed. As a result of the battle, approximately 85% of the city was destroyed.
On September 7, 1939, the city became under the control of Nazi Germany. On September 27, the Germans deported most of the Jews to concentration camps. Some eventually made their way to the Soviet border but many died in the camps. In the 21st century, descendants of Pu?tusk Jewry are found mainly in Israel, the United States, Canada, and Argentina.
Pu?tusk is twinned with: