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The history of Wroclaw is one of tumultuous and dramatic events. It began in the 10th century on Ostrow Tumski (the Cathedral Island) where Czechs founded the first town. Wroclaw then came under Polish rule, brought about by Prince Mieszko I in the 10th century. In 1000 it was already quite a large stronghold and the seat of a bishopric. After the Tatars invaded Poland, the town was moved to the left bank of the Odra River and rebuilt on a pattern that has survived to the present day.

During the divisions of the Polish state, Wroclaw was for a short period a capital of the separate Duchy of Silesia, later annexed by Bohemia (practically in 1335, formally in 1348). Under Czech rule, Wroclaw increasingly developed and extended its territory, while continuing to maintain cultural and trading links with Poland.

The Polish, Czech and German communities lived there in harmony until 1526, when the Bohemian king died without an heir and Silesia passed to the Habsburg Empire. The staunchly Catholic Austrian dynasty was fighting against the Reformation, which gained new supporters among the Czechs. The religious Thirty Years’ War left the city severely damaged. The Austrian anti-Protestant programme was coupled with a policy of Germanisation that continued when Wroclaw passed to Prussia in the 19th century as a result of the Austro-Prussian war.

Renamed Breslau, it became the second most important city of the country (after Berlin). The process of intense industrialisation in the 19th century included the construction of the first railway as well as a train carriage factory. Following World War I it remained within the German state. Nine German scientists and a writer who won the Nobel Prize were born there or were associated with the local university. Breslau played a key role during World War II, holding out against the Red Army for about three months, which was longer than Berlin. The results of the siege were dreadful: over a half of the city was razed to the ground.

After the war, Wroclaw was incorporated to Poland and resettled by Poles from other parts of pre-war Poland - while most of the pre-war inhabitants of the city left or were expelled to Germany. The restoration of the city took a long time and was eventually completed in 1980s. In 1997 Wroclaw's Old Town suffered significant damage when the Odra River flooded, but after some repairs the effects of the disaster can hardly be seen.

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Population: 632300 #4
Province: Lower Silesian
Telephone: +48 71
Museums: 25
Districts: 5
Theatres: 20
Mayor: Rafał Dutkiewicz
Higher Education: 35