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Olesnica Rynek z Ratuszem Miejskim.jpg
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Olesnica - Olesnicka Biblioteka Publiczna im. Mikolaja Reja.jpg
  • From top, left to right: Market Square and town hall
  • Oleśnica Castle
  • Wrocław Gate
  • Saint John the Evangelist Basilica
  • Holy Trinity Church
  • Public library
POL Olesnica flag.svg
POL Olesnica COA.svg
Miasto wież i róż
"A Town of Towers and Roses"
Lower Silesian Voivodeship location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Poland adm location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Coordinates: 51°12′N17°23′E / 51.200°N 17.383°E / 51.200; 17.383 Coordinates: 51°12′N17°23′E / 51.200°N 17.383°E / 51.200; 17.383
Country Flag of Poland.svg  Poland
Voivodeship POL woj dolnoslaskie FLAG 2009.svg  Lower Silesian Voivodeship
County Oleśnica
Gmina Oleśnica (urban gmina)
First mentioned1189
Town rights1255
  MayorJan Bronś
  Total20.96 km2 (8.09 sq mi)
150 m (490 ft)
 (2019-06-30 [1] )
  Density1,800/km2 (4,600/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+1 (CET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
Area code(s) +48 71
Car plates DOL
Highways S8-PL.svg
Voivodeship roads DW368-PL.svg DW451-PL.svg
Website http://www.olesnica.pl

Oleśnica (pronounced Oleshnitza [ɔlɛɕˈɲit͡sa] ; German : Oels; Silesian : Ôleśnica) is a town in Lower Silesian Voivodeship, in south-western Poland, within the Wrocław metropolitan area. It is the administrative seat of Oleśnica County and also of the rural district of Gmina Oleśnica, although it is not part of the territory of the latter, the town being an urban gmina in its own right.


The town is famed for its large 16th-century castle, which has previously been the seat of several dukes and lords. The castle's inner courtyard arcades, a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture, are iconic in the region.


The town's name comes from Polish olsza ("Alder"); Olcha is an Old Slavic word for this common plant and tree. [2] [3] On 22 February 1255 the Silesian duke Henry III the White, son of the Polish High Duke Henry II the Pious, vested civitas nostra Olsnicz ("our town Oleśnica") with town privileges. [4]


The town is situated in the Silesian Lowlands east of the Trzebnickie Hills, part of the historical region of Lower Silesia. Located about 30 kilometres (19 mi) northeast of the Silesian capital Wrocław, it has been a stop on an important trade route to the Greater Poland region, Kalisz, Łódź and Warsaw; it had close ties with Kraków via Namysłów in the east.[ citation needed ] It was the site of an important printing press and gymnasium.

The town quarters are Centrum, Serbinów, Lucień, Lucień Osiedle, Wądoły, Rataje (Stare, Nowe) and Zielone Ogrody.


Olesnica Castle, courtyard Olesnica4.jpg
Oleśnica Castle, courtyard

The Piast castle with a nearby abbey and trading settlement was first mentioned in an 1189 deed. It was part of fragmented Poland under the Piast dynasty. In 1255, it was granted town rights by Duke Henry III the White. From the 13th century onwards, the area was largely settled by Germans in the course of the Ostsiedlung . [5] From the 13th century, it had a coin mint. In the 13th century Oleśnica was part of the Duchy of Silesia, in 1294 it became part of the Duchy of Głogów [6] and in 1313 it became capital of the Duchy of Oleśnica, just partitioned from Głogów. By that time a hospital already existed in Oleśnica, mentioned in a document from 1307. [6] From 1320/21 the former castellany served as the residence of the Piast duke Konrad I of Oleśnica; his son Duke Konrad II the Gray also inherited Koźle. The dukes of Oleśnica in the 14th century still claimed to be heirs of the entire Kingdom of Poland, even though they ruled only in their principality, which caused animosity from other Polish dukes in Silesia and monarchs of all Poland. [6] Oleśnica was located on an important trade route which connected Wrocław with Kalisz and Toruń. [6]

In 1329, Duke Konrad I was forced to accept the overlordship of the Bohemian (Czech) Crown, although he retained vast autonomy. [6] Local Polish dukes granted numerous privileges to Oleśnica, [6] and the Duchy of Oleśnica was still ruled from the town until the 1492 death of Duke Konrad X the White, last of the local Piasts. During the Hussite Wars, Oleśnica was invaded by the Hussites in 1432, and later Polish–Hussite negotiations took place there. [6] During the Bohemian–Hungarian War local dukes switched sides several times. In 1469 they recognized the overlordship of King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary, in the 1470s Duke Konrad X sided with Bohemian King Vladislaus Jagiellon, in 1480 he recognized Hungarian suzerainty again, and then revolted in 1489. [6] Afterwards it was again a Bohemian fief.

Dyszkurs o dobrych uczynkach by Adam Gdacius, published in Olesnica in 1687 Gdacjusz Dyskurs o dobrych uczynkach.jpg
Dyszkurs o dobrych uczynkach by Adam Gdacius, published in Oleśnica in 1687

According to an agreement from 1491, the duchy was supposed to pass to future Polish King John I Albert, but eventually in 1495 it was sold to Duke Henry I of Münsterberg, son of the Bohemian (Czech) king George of Poděbrady. [6] His grandson Duke John of Münsterberg-Oels established a gymnasium at Oleśnica in 1530. When the Czech Podiebrad family became extinct in 1647, town and duchy were inherited by the Swabian dukes of Württemberg, and in 1792 by the Welf dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg.

In the 17th century, the Polish-German language border ran close to Oleśnica, including the town to the territory dominated by the Polish language. [7] Polish religious writers Adam Gdacius (nicknamed Rey of Silesia) and Jerzy Bock published their works in Oleśnica. [8]

Olesnica in the 18th century Oels.png
Oleśnica in the 18th century
Town hall Ratusz w Olesnicy 2013 05.jpg
Town hall

In the 18th century, one of two main routes connecting Warsaw and Dresden ran through the town and Kings Augustus II the Strong and Augustus III of Poland often traveled that route. [9] As a result of the First Silesian War the Duchy of Oels (Oleśnica) came under suzerainty of the Kingdom of Prussia in 1742. Following administrative reform in 1807 during the Napoleonic Wars, Oels became the seat of Landkreis Oels in the Province of Silesia, remaining capital of the Duchy of Oels (Oleśnica). In 1884 the duchy was incorporated into Prussia, itself part of Germany since the 1871 Prussian-led unification of Germany.

After World War I, Oels was included within the Province of Lower Silesia. Nazi Germany operated a prison in the town, [10] and a forced labour camp for Italian, English, Yugoslavian, Belgian and Polish prisoners of war during World War II. [11] The German administration evacuated almost the entire population, leaving only a few Germans and the forced laborers. The town was heavily damaged by the Red Army in 1945 in the final stages of World War II, having approximately 60-80% of its buildings destroyed. The city was placed in Poland's borders after the Potsdam Conference and its official name became Oleśnica. The remaining German-speaking population was subsequently expelled in accordance to the Potsdam Agreement and the town was resettled with Poles many of whom were expelled from Eastern Poland annexed in 1945 by the Soviet Union. The majority of monuments in the Old Town have been rebuilt since the 1960s.


Football club Pogoń Oleśnica is based in the town. It played at the Polish second division in the 1990s.

Notable people

Park of the Dukes of Olesnica (Park Ksiazat Olesnickich) Olesnica - Park Ksiazat Olesnickich.jpg
Park of the Dukes of Oleśnica (Park Książąt Oleśnickich)

Twin towns – sister cities

Oleśnica is twinned with: [12]

Related Research Articles

The Duke of Silesia was the sons and descendants of the Polish Duke Bolesław III Wrymouth. In accordance with the last will and testament of Bolesław, upon his death his lands were divided into four or five hereditary provinces distributed among his sons, and a royal province of Kraków reserved for the eldest, who was to be High Duke of all Poland. This was known as the fragmentation of Poland. Subsequent developments lead to further splintering of the duchies.

Milicz Place in Lower Silesian Voivodeship, Poland

Milicz is a town in Lower Silesian Voivodeship, in west-central Poland. It is the seat of Milicz County and of Gmina Milicz, part of the larger Wrocław metropolitan area.

Twardogóra Place in Lower Silesian Voivodeship, Poland

Twardogóra is a historic town in Oleśnica County, Lower Silesian Voivodeship, in south-western Poland. It is the seat of the administrative district (gmina) called Gmina Twardogóra. It lies approximately 20 kilometres (12 mi) north of Oleśnica, and 40 kilometres (25 mi) north-east of the regional capital Wrocław.

Duchies of Silesia Divisions of the region of Silesia

The Duchies of Silesia were the more than twenty divisions of the region of Silesia formed between the 12th and 14th centuries by the breakup of the Duchy of Silesia, then part of the Kingdom of Poland. In 1335, the duchies were ceded to the Kingdom of Bohemia under the Treaty of Trentschin. Thereafter until 1742, Silesia was one of the Bohemian crown lands and lay within the Holy Roman Empire. Most of Silesia was annexed by the King of Prussia under the Treaty of Berlin in 1742. Only the Duchy of Teschen, the Duchy of Troppau and the Duchy of Nysa remained under the control of the Bohemian crown and as such were known as the Duchy of Upper and Lower Silesia until 1918.

Duchy of Bytom

The Duchy of Bytom or Duchy of Beuthen was one of many Silesian duchies. It was established in Upper Silesia about 1281 during the division of the Duchy of Opole and Racibórz among the sons of Duke Władysław Opolski. The duchy's capital was Bytom (Beuthen), formerly part of Lesser Poland until in 1177 the Polish High Duke Casimir II the Just had attached it to the Silesian Duchy of Racibórz.

Silesian Piasts Elder of four lines of the Polish Piast dynasty

The Silesian Piasts were the elder of four lines of the Polish Piast dynasty beginning with Władysław II the Exile (1105–1159), eldest son of Duke Bolesław III of Poland. By Bolesław's testament, Władysław was granted Silesia as his hereditary province and also the Lesser Polish Seniorate Province at Kraków according to the principle of agnatic seniority.

Duchy of Oels Silesian duchy (1313–1884)

The Duchy of Oels or Duchy of Oleśnica was one of the duchies of Silesia with its capital in Oleśnica in Lower Silesia, Poland. Initially ruled by the Silesian Piasts, it was acquired by the Münsterberg (Ziębice) dukes of the Podiebrad family from 1495 and was inherited by the House of Württemberg in 1649. Conquered by Prussia in 1742, it was enfeoffed to the Welf dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg from 1792 until its dissolution in 1884.

Duchy of Głogów Silesian duchy (1251–1815)

The Duchy of Głogów or Duchy of Glogau was one of the Duchies of Silesia ruled by the Silesian Piasts. Its capital was Głogów in Lower Silesia.

Duchy of Münsterberg Silesian duchy (1321–1791)

The Duchy of Münsterberg or Duchy of Ziębice was one of the Duchies of Silesia, with a capital in Münsterberg (Ziębice). Existing from 1321/1322 to 1742, it was located in what came to be referred to as Lower Silesia. Its territory is similar to modern Ząbkowice Śląskie County in Poland.

State country was a unit of administrative and territorial division in the Bohemian crown lands of Silesia and Upper Lusatia, existing from 15th to 18th centuries. These estates were exempt from feudal tenure by privilege of the Bohemian kings. Some of the state countries were highly autonomous, they had their own legal code and their lords were vassals of the king himself, not of the local dukes or princes.

Treaty of Trentschin 1335 treaty between Poland and Bohemia

The Treaty of Trentschin was concluded on 24 August 1335 between King Casimir III of Poland and King John of Bohemia as well as his son Margrave Charles IV. The agreement was reached by the agency of Casimir's brother-in-law King Charles I of Hungary and signed at Trencsén Castle in the Kingdom of Hungary. It initiated the transfer of suzerainty over the former Polish province of Silesia to the Kingdom of Bohemia, whereafter the Duchies of Silesia were incorporated into the Bohemian Crown.

Konrad IV the Older

Konrad IV the Older was a Duke of Oels (Oleśnica), Koźle, half of Bytom and half of Ścinawa during 1412–1416, since 1416 sole ruler over Kąty (Kanth), Bierutów, Prudnik and Syców and since 1417 Bishop of Wrocław and Duke of Nysa.

Henry I, Duke of Münsterberg-Oels Czech prince

Henry the Elder of Münsterberg was an Imperial Count and Count of Kladsko. He was also Duke of Silesian duchies Münsterberg and Oels and 1465–1472 Duke of Opava. At times, he served as the Landeshauptmann and governor of Bohemia.

Joachim of Münsterberg, also: Joachim of Poděbrady, a member of the Podiebrad family, was Silesian duke of Münsterberg and Oels from 1536 to 1542. He also held the title of a Count of Kladsko (Kłodzko), though he never actually ruled the county. From 1545 to 1560 he was Prince-Bishop of Brandenburg.

Duchy of Bernstadt Silesian duchy (1412–1745)

The Duchy of Bernstadt was a Silesian duchy centred on the city of Bernstadt in Lower Silesia and formed by separation from the Duchy of Oels (Oleśnica). It was first ruled by the Silesian Piasts dynasty, until its extinction in 1492. In 1495 it and the Duchy of Oels passed to the Dukes of Münsterberg, who came from the House of Poděbrady. In 1647 the Duchy of Bernstadt passed by marriage to the Dukes of Württemberg.

Podiebrad family

The Bohemian Poděbrady family was a noble family in Bohemia, arising from the Lords of Kunštát. After Boček of Kunštát had acquired the Lordship of Poděbrady by marriage, he called himself "Boček of Kunštát and Poděbrady". The most prominent member of the family was George of Poděbrady, who was king of Bohemia. His sons were raised to imperial counts and Counts of Glatz. They founded the Silesian branch of the family, the Dukes of Dukes of Münsterberg.

Henry II of Münsterberg-Oels was from 1536 to 1542 Duke of Münsterberg and of Oels (Oleśnica) and from 1542 to 1548 Duke of Bernstadt (Bierutów). He also held the title of Count of Glatz (Kladsko), though he never actually ruled the County itself.

John of Münsterberg-Oels was Duke of the Münsterberg from 1542 to 1565, Duke of Oels from 1548 to 1565 and Duke of Bernstadt from 1548 to 1565. He also held the title of Count of Glatz.

Karl Friedrich I, Duke of Münsterberg-Oels

Karl Friedrich I of Münsterberg-Oels was Duke of Oels from 1617 to 1647 and Duke of Bernstadt from 1639 to 1647. He also held the titles of Duke of Münsterberg and Count of Glatz.

Karl II, Duke of Münsterberg-Oels

Charles II of Münsterberg-Oels was Duke of Oels from 1565 to 1617 and Duke of Bernstadt from 1604 to 1617. He also held the titles of Duke of Münsterberg and Count of Glatz. From 1608 to 1617 he was Governor of Silesia under the emperors Rudolf and Matthias.


  1. "Population. Size and structure and vital statistics in Poland by territorial division in 2019. As of 30th June". stat.gov.pl. Statistics Poland. 2019-10-15. Retrieved 2020-02-14.
  2. www.poradniajezykowa.us.edu.pl
  3. www.olesnica.pl
  4. http://alo.uibk.ac.at/webinterface/library/ALO-BOOK_V01?objid=19012%5B%5D page 333
  5. Eberl, Immo (1993). Immo Eberl (ed.). Flucht, Vertreibung, Eingliederung (in German). Thorbecke. p. 26. ISBN   3-7995-2500-9.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 "Oleśnica w czasach książąt piastowskich". Konflikty.pl (in Polish). Retrieved 10 September 2020.
  7. Dorota Borowicz, Mapy narodowościowe Górnego Śląska od połowy XIX wieku do II Wojny Światowej, Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego, Wrocław, 2004, p. 33
  8. Wincenty Ogrodziński, Nauka domowa i wyjątki z Agendy, „Biblioteka pisarzy śląskich”, Katowice, 1936
  9. "Informacja historyczna". Dresden-Warszawa (in Polish). Retrieved 10 September 2020.
  10. "Gefängnis Oels". Bundesarchiv.de (in German). Retrieved 10 September 2020.
  11. Sula, Dorota (2010). "Jeńcy włoscy na Dolnym Śląsku w czasie II wojny światowej". Łambinowicki rocznik muzealny (in Polish). Opole. 33: 68.
  12. "Miasta partnerskie". olesnica.pl (in Polish). Oleśnica. Retrieved 2020-02-03.