Oleśnica (pronounced Oleshnitza [ɔlɛɕˈɲit͡sa]; German: Oels; Silesian: Uoleśńica) is a town in Lower Silesian Voivodeship, in south-western Poland. 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.

Oleśnica Rynek z Ratuszem Miejskim.jpg
Oleśnica Zamek 02.JPG
SM Oleśnica Brama Wrocławska ID 596397.jpg
Oleśnica bazylika Jana Apostoła 03.JPG
SM Oleśnica kościół św Trójcy ID 596391.jpg
Oleśnica - Oleśnicka Biblioteka Publiczna im. Mikołaja 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
Flag of Oleśnica
Coat of arms of Oleśnica
Coat of arms
Miasto wież i róż
"A Town of Towers and Roses"
Oleśnica is located in Lower Silesian Voivodeship
Oleśnica is located in Poland
Coordinates: 51°12′N 17°23′E / 51.200°N 17.383°E / 51.200; 17.383Coordinates: 51°12′N 17°23′E / 51.200°N 17.383°E / 51.200; 17.383
Country Poland
Voivodeship Lower Silesian Voivodeship
GminaOleśnica (urban gmina)
Established13th century
Town rights1255
 • MayorJan Bronś
 • Total20.96 km2 (8.09 sq mi)
150 m (490 ft)
 • Total37,169
 • Density1,800/km2 (4,600/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
Area code(s)+48 71
Car platesDOL

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. From the 13th century, it had a coin mint.

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


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] In 1294 Oleśnica became part of the Duchy of Głogów and in 1313 it became capital of the Duchy of Oleśnica, just partitioned from Głogów. 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 Duchy of Oleśnica, a Bohemian fief since 1329, was ruled from the town until the 1492 death of Duke Konrad X the White, last of the local Piasts.

Dyszkurs o dobrych uczynkach by Adam Gdacjusz, published in Oleśnica in 1687

The duchy was sold to Duke Henry I of Münsterberg, son of the Bohemian (Czech) king George of Poděbrady. 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.[6] Polish religious writers Adam Gdacjusz (nicknamed Rey of Silesia) and Jerzy Bock published their works in Oleśnica.[7]

Oleśnica in the 18th century
Town hall

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. It was heavily damaged by the Red Army in 1945 during 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 and 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 peopleEdit

Park of the Dukes of Oleśnica (Park Książąt Oleśnickich)

Twin towns – sister citiesEdit

Oleśnica is twinned with:[8]



  1. ^ "Population. Size and structure and vital statistics in Poland by territorial divison 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[permanent dead link] page 333
  5. ^ Eberl, Immo (1993). Immo Eberl (ed.). Flucht, Vertreibung, Eingliederung (in German). Thorbecke. p. 26. ISBN 3-7995-2500-9.
  6. ^ Dorota Borowicz, Mapy narodowościowe Górnego Śląska od połowy XIX wieku do II Wojny Światowej, Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego, Wrocław, 2004, p. 33
  7. ^ Wincenty Ogrodziński, Nauka domowa i wyjątki z Agendy, „Biblioteka pisarzy śląskich”, Katowice, 1936
  8. ^ "Miasta partnerskie". olesnica.pl (in Polish). Oleśnica. Retrieved 2020-02-03.

External linksEdit