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The history of Oleśnica county

The history of Oleśnica county

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Oleśnica county highlights

Oleśnica county, located on the north-eastern borderland of dolnośląskie province, encompasses grounds of the former Oleśnica Duchy and to former independent status of Syców and Goszcz. The duchy arose in 1312. States of Syców and Goszcz separated from it in 1489 and 1744 respectively.
History of the Silesian land abounds in events but is also very complicated. A few times throughout the centuries different countries incorporated the land within their borders what greatly influenced its ethnic characteristics. In 990 the grounds formed a part of the Piasts - monarchy, in 1329 - of the Czech Crown, in 1526 - the monarchy of the Austrian Habsburgs, in 1742 - the Polish Kingdom and in 1871 - of the German Reich.
In 1945 the land finally returned within the limits of the Polish state. Throughout centuries residents of the duchy and state counties were creating a Silesian community comprising primarily representatives of three nations: Poles, Germans and Czechs.

Oleśnica - the historical capital of the duchy and today the county seat, is located on the Oleśnicka Plain and has a population of nearly 39,000 residents. Its over 800 years long past finds its confirmation in a document issued by Wrocław
bishop, Żyrosław, in 1189. It received the civic rights in 1255 from Henryk III, the duke of Wroclaw. In 1320 it became the capital of the Piasts - duchy and residence of duke Konrad I Oleśnicki, a ruler of great ambitions. He thought even about the throne of Poland as a Latin caption on his stamp read: "Konrad, by God`s grace heir of the Polish State, duke of Silesia and lord of Oleśnica". In 1329 he swore feudal allegiance to Jan Luksemburski, the Czech king.
The next duke of Oleśnica, Konrad VII Biały (the White) fought in the famous Battle of Grunwald on the side of the Teutonic Knights and was taken captive by the Poles.
The last duke of Oleśnica from the Piast dynasty,Konrad X Biały (the White) tried to sell the duchy to the Teutonic Order in 1480. He died leaving no heir in 1492.

The Renaissance Ducal Castle with manneriststyle elements and Baroque interior design is a monumental landmark of Oleśnica and the county. It is unique among many Silesian residences of the type because of its history, size and artistic value. The greatest Silesian architects worked on its construction, e.g. Bernhard Niuron, Hans Lucas, Franciszek Parr and, probably, his brother, Jakub. The castle was erected by duke of Ziębice and Oleśnica, Jan Podiebrad and his nephew and heir to the ducal throne, Karol II Podiebrad.

The castle complex consists of a four-wing main castle building with a tower and central interior yard, a palace with the main entrance gate and a barbican. All these parts are combined into one as the palace is joined to the castle church by means of a supported by arcades, roofed gallery spanning over the moat. The castle was built on Gothic walls in 1542-1556 as a result of conversion and extension of the former castle of Oleśnica Piasts` dynasty.

In 1559-1562 the palace was built referred to also as the Guest Palace or the Widows` Annexe. Two new wings were added to the castle in 1585-1586 and 1606-1608 and a new entrance gate - in 1603.The staircase of the castle arose towards the end of 1617.

Dukes of Oleśnica and Ziębice from the Czech Podiebrad dynasty, descendants of the Czech king Jerzy of Podiebrad, ruled Oleśnica duchy in 1495-1647.
Gothic St. John the Evangelist`s; church, called also the Castle Church, was built in the first half of the 14th c. Extended in the second half of the 15th c., it became basilica with forms typical of big Silesian municipal centres of the time. Throughout centuries it was a few times restored and received the basilica minor status in 1998.
A tomb chapel next to the Castle church chancel in Oleśnica is the only in Europe Baroque mausoleum of the Württemberg family. It was built in 1689-1700 and was founded by duke of Oleśnica, Christian Ulrich of Württemberg.
The crypt hides 24 tin, copper and wooden coffins. Nearly every one is a real work of funeral art. The biggest is the coffin of the mausoleum founder. This gold- and silver-plated sarcophagus is nearly two and a half metre long. It is supported by six taking wing eagles. On the lid there is a crucifix and a ducal mitre, sides of the sarcophagus are decorated by relieves showing eight major virtues.
Duke Silvius Nimrod`s sarcophagus, placed on copper lions, is raised to the heaven by angels. His wife, Elisabeth Maria nee Podiebrad, mother of the Olesnica Württemberg dynasty, lies in a sarcophagus supported by six pelicans feeding their nestlings with their own blood.
On the lid there is a crucifix, on sides - heads of lions and allegories with inscriptions.
Württemberg dukes ruled the duchy of Oleśnica in 1647-1792.
Syców is located between the Twardogórskie Heights and the Ostrzeszowskie Heights, on the borderland of Silesia and Wielkopolska regions and has a population of over 10,500 residents. Its over 700 years long history finds confirmation in a document issued by Wroclaw duke Henryk IV Probus in 1276. It received civic rights most probably in the second half of the 13th c. Since 1312 Syców formed a part of Oleśnica duchy.
In 1489 the autonomous state country of Syców arose. Its first lord was Hans von Haugwitz. He got the estate from king of Hungary Maciej Korwin who was Czech king Jerzy of Podiebrad`s son-in-law. In 1517 margrave of Prague, Zdenek Lew of Rozmital and Zlatna took over rule of the land. In 1734 Syców was purchased by Ernst Johann von Biron - count of the Reich, Kurland duke, Russian minister and regent of the tsars’ throne.
Since then until 1945 the history of the town was closely bound to the history of Biron von Kurland family. In 1741 Syców became county capital. The county area encompassed the Syców and Goszcz state countries. The city lost its county seat status only in 1975.
In 1945 the 19th-century Neo-Gothic castle of the Birons burnt down. The English-style park surrounding the object is today a municipal park. Sculptures from the former park complex have been transferred to a square of the present object. The bronze figures, arranged in a group,
are copies of Versailles statues and symbolize Rivers of France. They were commissioned by the Birons and made by in 1905. Classicist Evangelist John and Peter the Apostles` church was built in 1785-1789 and designed by architect Carl Gotthard Langhans, the most eminent representative of early Classicist style in Silesian and Berlin architecture, designer of e.g. the famous Brandenburg Gate.
Interiors of the church, kept in white, show an oval nave with two storeys of wooden galleries.Nearly complete lack of figural images is a notable characteristic of the object.
Next to the church there are four sandstone sculptures - allegories of four seasons. These are work of Paris artist Val d`Osnet commissioned by the Birons. They used to stand in a landscape park that surrounded the burnt down in 1945 Birons` castle.
Gothic St. Peter and Paul’s parish church dates from the 15th c. Its origins are shrouded in mystery. In 1905-1908 the object was thoroughly converted and extended.
A notable element on its façade is a late- Gothic tombstone of Elisabetha von Haugwitz,
Hinkon von Haugwitz`s, owner of Syców, wife,dating from 1502. The tombstone is counted among the best works of art of the type not only in Silesia. What is even more important it is well preserved. The unknown author of the work was undoubtedly a sculptor of high skills.

Next to the church there is a 15th-century tower functioning as a belfry and, at the same time, as a viewing point. Originally, it was a gate within municipal walls.

Bierutów is located on the Widawa river, on Oleśnicka Plain and has a population of over 5,000 residents. It received civic rights twice. About 1250 it was granted German municipal rights, the location however was not successful. In 1266 Bierutów got French civic rights. Since 1320 it formed a part of Oleśnica duchy. In 1529-1548 it was purchased by Wrocław to become a ducal residence town in the 17th c. After World War Two the town was not able to repair all war damages. A Gothic tower lacking its cupola was all what remained of the former town hall. Its lonely column standing in the middle of a large and empty square looks like a kind of surrealistic monument. Another lonely tower, of the castle, was converted and topped with a cupola in 1622.Other preserved fragments of the castle complex include a mannerist-style entrance gate and a part of the original castle wing - today a separate building.
St. Catherine`s parish church was probably built in the first half of the 14th c. It was three times damaged by fire in: 1603, 1659 and 1765. Reconstruction of the church after the second fire was financed by duke of Oleśnica Silvius Nimrod Württemberg-Weitlingen. A Gothic flying buttress beneath the chancel roof is an object of interest.

Twadogóra is located at the foot of the Twardogórskie Heights and has a population of nearly 7,000. It received civic rights in 1293 and formed a part of Oleoenica duchy in 1312-1744. In 1676 it became property of duchess Eleonora Charlotta Württemberg-Mömpelgart, Duke of Oleśnica Silvius Nimrod Württemberg-Weiltingen`s wife. In 1743 Twardogóra was purchased by the owner of nearby Goszcz, count Heinrich Leopold von Reichenbach who, after a year, incorporated the town into Goszcz autonomous state.
On an elevation in the centre of Twardogóra there is the Neo-Gothic parish church of the Virgin Mary of Aid to the Faithful erected in 1874-1876. Eminent architect Carl Lüdecke prepared the church design. For years the church has been a sanctuary of the Virgin Mary holding the famous figure of the Virgin Mary with the Child sculpted in 1939 by Oœwięcim artist Jan Szczerkowski.
On a slope at the road to the centre of Twardogóra there is the post-and-pan Holy Trinity church built in 1877-1879.

Pine coniferous forests prevailing in Oleœnica county have some addition of other tree species: oak, spruce, beech, birch, hornbeam, fir and alder.Big game living in the forests includes primarily wild boars, deer and roe-deer. Numerous hunting circles run hunting economy within leased from forest districts hunting circles.
The nature reserve "Gola Wielka" located at Twardogóra protects a unique saved fragment of a primeval mixed forest with a share a fir. A reserve of water fowls in the surroundings of Goszcz at Twardogóra encompasses mixed forests abounding
in mushroom and berries. A peat bog in the neighbourhood of Grabowno Wielkie near Twardogóra, also a nature reserve, is an abode a rare whitetailed eagles and black storks.

In Brzezinka village near Oleoenica there is a late-Baroque palace, today much resembling a ruin. It was once a unique and impressive palace and garden complex built, in turn, by: Karl Christian Wenzel von Kospoth with his brother Joachim and their niece and heiress Anna Sophia nee von
The palace was built in the period from 1725 to about 1740 and was probably designed by Johann Blasius Peintner. Over the next years a beautiful French-style garden was set up behind the palace building, with ponds and numerous sculptures, mainly of ancient gods. Today, sculptures are all what remained of the garden. For half a century they have been standing in the royal palace garden in Wilanów.
The village was first recorded in a document issued by duke of Legnica and Wrocław Henryk V Gruby (the Fat) in 1292. In the first half of the 17th c. it was a property of Balthasar von Kotulinsky and in 1721 was purchased by Justus von Kospoth who made it soon the estate in tail of his family. The last lord of the manor, count Erich, had to leave his family estate in 1945.

In Dobra village near Dobroszyce there is a former defensive manor house built in 1631-1632 for duke of Ziębice and Oleśnica Karol Fryderyk Podiebrad. Originally, it was used as ducal archives, later as a residence for widows of Oleśnica dukes. Since 1150 it was a property of St. Vincent`s Benedictine Abbey in Wrocław what is confirmed in a bulla issued by Pope Innocent III in 1201.

Tekst:Andrzej Paweł Szachnowski

The commune of Twardogóra situated in the northern – eastern part of the Lower – Silesian ce in the area of the Silesian Lowland has great natural advantages. The city of Twardogóra situated in the center of the land is surrounded by forests of Twardogóra Hills. Wood complexes dominated by pine cover 40% of the commune area. The Twardogóra Hills lie in the river basin of Odra River and its tributaries: Barycz River ad Widawa River. The northern part of the commune is occupied by densely situated ponds. A large group of them placed around Drożęcin enters into the composition of Milicz Ponds – the biggest carp-culture region in Poland. This part of Twardogóra together with the Olszówka village belongs to the Landscape Park ‘Barycz Valley’.

Natural reservation ‘GOLA’ ( Forest Inspectorate Syców, the commune of Międzybórz ) The reservation formed in order to preserve a part of mixed forest with contribution of fir tree appearing within a boundary of its natural range. The following species occur also in the undergrowth: Acrocephalus arundinaceus, Ledum palustre, Majanthemum bifolium, Rebus ideaus, Vaccinium myrtillus, Viola silvestris.

Natural reservation nearby Dąbrowa, the commune of Twardogóra ( Characteristic feature of this reservation are peatbogs together with the bog-plants ). The reservation occupies an area of 2,82 hectares.

Ecological greenland – ‘Forest Ponds near Goszcz’, area – 55,31 hectares. They are natural plant complexes of water-courses and water basins inhibited by bog tortoise.

Arboretum situated on the territory of the commune of Dziadowa Kłoda, occupies an area of 150 hectares. Arboretum is a specialistic botanic garden on which area about 1300 species and kinds of various trees and shrubs are collected.


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