Swidnica is a historic merchant town over 700 year-old and picturesquely located near the Sudety Mountains. It has a number of famous churches, several fascinating museums and an Old Town, enough to satisfy any visitor. The town centre and the outskirts are ringed by as many as 11 charming parks, giving space for the array of events and festivals that are organised here. Swidnica breathes culture.
Swidnica is not just an industrial town, there are also many historic relics to be sought and examined. The Town Square is enchanting, and its tenement houses abound with Gothic, Baroque, Classicistic and Art Nouveau architectural embellishments. In addition, a series of Baroque sculptures, two corner statues, a statue of the Holy Trinity and four fountains decorate the Town Square. Two of these fountains are handsomely adorned with figures representing a pair of mythological heroes – Atlas and Neptune.
The Museum of Old Trade is unique in its vast number of artefacts dedicated to the development of trade in Poland. Moreover, the museum holds a large collection of photographs and postcards reflecting the history of Swidnica.
The town holds great interest for visitors interested in railways, as the system of old railway viaducts – quite valuable monuments – trace the development of the19th-century rail system. They also feature miscellaneous architectural styles and techniques that are typical of the period and which give them a certain atmosphere.
There are two ice rinks open for those interested in winter sports – one is outdoor and is located in the Market Square, while the indoor one can be found in Slaska Street.
Swidnica has a number of interesting restaurants, serving the whole range of Polish, Galician and Bohemian cuisines.
Cut through by the Bystrzyca River, Swidnica is located on the Swidnicka Plain, in the southern part of the Lower Silesian Voivodship. Access to landscape parks is easy, as the town is surrounded by them on three sides: Ksiazanski, Slezanski and Sowie Mountains.
Swidnica is 53 km south-west of Wroclaw
, and with an area of 25 km2 it is home to a population of 65,000 people.
The climate here is mild, warm and relatively humid. Swidnica has an average annual temperature of 8° Centigrade, and an average rainfall of 630 mm. Winter lasts for 10 to 11 weeks, and the annual total of sunny days per year is greater than 50.
As early as the 10th century there was a Slavic settlement in the place of today’s Swidnica. Its name first appears in a document from 1226, concerning the foundation of a church for Franciscan friars. Another document dated from 1267 describes Swidnica as being already a town. Before long, it became to be one of the wealthiest of Silesian towns, too.
At the end of the 13th century Silesia was divided into several separate principalities. One of these principalities was the Swidnicko-Jaworskie principality, with Swidnica as a seat for the line of Swidnica Piasts. It continued to remain independent, whereas other principalities became under control of Czech King Jan Luksemburczyk.
Rulers of the Swidnicko-Jaworskie principality retained trade connections with Poland, which brought considerable material benefits. At the time, in terms population and economic value, Swidnica was comparable to Wroclaw, while Lublin
and Lwow all lagged behind.
At the dawn of the 14th century the principality passed into hands of the Czechs and then was controlled by the Austrian line of the Habsburgs. Under their rule the process of Germanisation began.
Up to 1623 Swidnica minted its own coins, unquestionable evidence of the town’s wealth. In the 16th century weaving began to help the prosperity of Swidnica while annual cattle markets drew merchants from as far as Prague, Dresden and Nurnberg.
The town deteriorated during the Thirty Years’ War, and the Austrian-Prussian war for Silesia in the 18th century steepened the decline. The final stage came as a result of the Seven Years’ War, following which Swidnica fell into Prussian hands.
The first factories were built in the second half of the 18th century, allowing Swidnica to recover from its decline. However, the development of Swidnica was again hindered in the period between the two world wars, but especially during World War II. The victory over the Nazis resulted in the town returning to within the borders of Poland after six centuries of foreign rule.
By 1945 some 50% of the industrial plants had been destroyed in Swidnica, and yet the town still survived. A year and a half was spent reactivating factories that had been deliberately demolished by Nazi and Soviet troops.
The population of Swidnica increased in the post-war years, the historically important centre was renovated, industrial establishments were modernised and a new town infrastructure was created as well.