ŚwidnicaŚwidnica (; Schweidnitz ; Svídnice ; Świdńica ) is a city in south-western Poland in the region of Silesia. As of 2019, it has a population of 57,014 inhabitants. It lies in Lower Silesian Voivodeship, being the seventh largest town in that voivodeship. From 1975–98 it was in the former Wałbrzych Voivodeship. It is now the seat of Świdnica County, and also of the smaller district of Gmina Świdnica (although it is not part of the territory of the latter, as the town forms a separate urban gmina). Świdnica became part of the Wałbrzych agglomeration on 23 January 2014.
The city's name was first recorded as Svidnica in 1070, when it was part of Piast-ruled Poland. Świdnica became a town in 1250, although no founding document has survived that would confirm this fact. The town belonged at the time to the Duchy of Wrocław, a province of Poland. By 1290, Świdnica had city walls and six gates, crafts and trade were blossoming. At the end of the 13th century, there were guilds of bakers, weavers, potters, shoemakers, furriers and tailors in Świdnica. The city was famous for its beer production. In the late 15th century, almost three hundred houses had the right to brew beer. In various cities of the region (Wrocław, Oleśnica, Brzeg) and Europe (Kraków, Toruń, Prague, Pisa) there were so-called "Świdnica Cellars" – restaurants serving beer from Świdnica. Wrocław's Piwnica Świdnicka exists to this day as the oldest restaurant in Europe. There was also a mint in Świdnica. The Franciscans and Dominicans settled in the city in 1287 and 1291, respectively.
In 1291-1392 Świdnica was the capital of the Piast-ruled Duchy of Świdnica and Jawor. The last Polish Piast duke was Bolko II of Świdnica, and after his death in 1368 the duchy was held by his wife until 1392; after her death it was incorporated into the Kingdom of Bohemia by Wenceslaus IV of Bohemia. By the end of the 14th century, Świdnica was already one of the largest cities in Silesia, with about 6,000 inhabitants.
In 1429 the city successfully defended itself against a Hussite attack. From about 1469 to 1490 it was under the rule of the Kingdom of Hungary and after that it was part of Jagiellonian-ruled Bohemia. In the 15th century, several mills operated in the city. Large cattle and hop markets took place there. In 1493, the town is recorded by Hartmann Schedel in his Nuremberg Chronicle as Schwednitz.
In 1526, all of Silesia, including Świdnica (as Schweidnitz), came under the rule of the Habsburg Monarchy as part of the surrounding Duchy of Schweidnitz. In the 16th century it was one of the regional centers of Anabaptism. The city suffered greatly during the Thirty Years' War (1618–48) as a result of sieges, fires and epidemics. Schweidnitz was annexed by the Kingdom of Prussia during the First Silesian War (1740–42). The town was turned into a fortress, which it remained until 1866.
It was captured again by Austria in late 1762, during the Third Silesian War, or Seven Years' War, but remained Prussian after the end of the war. In 1807 the city was captured by French troops during the Napoleonic Wars. It became part of the Prussian-led German Empire in 1871 during the unification of Germany and stayed within Germany until the end of World War II. In addition, the World War I flying ace Lothar von Richthofen was buried here, until the city became owned by Poland after World War II in which the graveyard was leveled. During World War II, the Germans established a sub-camp of the Gross-Rosen concentration camp in the city, as well as three prisoner of war labor divisions of the Stalag VIII-A camp and a forced labour camp.
After the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945, the town, like most of Silesia, became again part of Poland under border changes promulgated at the Potsdam Conference. Those members of the German population who had not already fled or had been killed during the war were subsequently expelled to the remainder of Germany and the town was repopulated with Poles, many of whom had themselves been expelled from Polish areas annexed by the Soviet Union. Also Greeks, refugees of the Greek Civil War, settled in Świdnica in the 1950s.
In 2004, Świdnica became the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Świdnica.
Points of interest
The Gothic Cathedral of St. Stanislaus and St. Wenceslaus from the 14th century has the highest tower in Silesia, standing 103 meters tall; it hosts an image of "Our Lady Health of the Sick".
The Evangelical Church of Peace, a UNESCO Heritage site, was built from 1656–57.
The 16th-century town hall has been renovated numerous times and combines Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architectural elements. A museum is located in the town hall. The Baroque Church of St. Joseph and the Church of St. Christopher are from the same era. One remaining element of the former defensive works is the Chapel of St. Barbara.
Other notable destinations include the old town and the Stary Rynek square, Gola Dzierżoniowska Castle, Medieval town of Niemcza, Cistercian monastery at Henryków and the Wojsławice Arboretum.
Wałbrzych constituencyMembers of Parliament (Sejm) elected from Wałbrzych constituency, (Wałbrzych)
Świdnica is home to a College of Data Communications Technology (Wyższa Szkoła Technologii Teleinformatycznych).
In 2003, Świdnica hosted a session of the Warsaw-based International Chapter of the Order of Smile, when a Child Friendship Centre was established. Świdnica was officially titled the "Capital of Children's Dreams".
Twin towns – sister cities
Świdnica is twinned with: