Historic Town Hall on the Market Square
Prudnik – spotkajmy się (Polish "Prudnik – let's meet")
|• Mayor||Grzegorz Zawiślak|
|• Total||20.48 km2 (7.91 sq mi)|
|Elevation||265 m (869 ft)|
|• Density||1,000/km2 (2,700/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+2 (CEST)|
Prudnik [ˈprudɲik] (listen) (German: Neustadt in Oberschlesien, Czech: Prudník, Latin: Prudnicium, Silesian: Prudńik) is a town in Poland, located in the southern part of Opole Voivodeship near the border with the Czech Republic. It is the administrative seat of Prudnik County and Gmina Prudnik. Its population numbers 21,368 inhabitants (2016). Since 2015, Prudnik is a member of the Cittaslow International.
The town was founded in 1279, making it one of the oldest in the country, and was historically part of the Duchy of Opole and the Habsburg Empire. Over the centuries, Prudnik was located within Prussia, Germany, and eventually Poland. It was once an important industrial hub known for its shoe-making traditions and more recently towel making by the ZPB "Frotex" Company, one of the largest towel manufacturers in Europe. The town also possesses numerous architectural monuments and historic buildings such as the Main Town Hall and "Wok's Tower" (Wieża Woka) from the 14th-century.
Prudnik is located in the historic Silesia (Upper Silesia) region at the confluence of the Prudnik river and its Złoty Potok tributary. The city is situated on the border of Opawskie Mountains and the Głubczyce Plateau (a part of the Silesian Lowlands). Prudnik and Vrbno pod Pradědem are headquarters of the Euroregion Pradziad.
The name "Prudnik" was created after Polish word prąd (flow, stream, Czech: proud, Silesian: prund) and, like nearby Prężyna, means a river with a fast stream. In the Middle Ages, city's name was writted with a letter u, which was Czech counterpart of ą (1262 Pruthenos, 1331 Prudnik). Since 17th century, the name Prudnik was used along with Neustadt.
City's German name was also written in its Latin form Neostadium. Sometimes its Polish and Czech translations were used (Nowe Miasto, Nové Město). City's older name also had its Latin form (Prudnicium). The city was also called Polnisch Neustadt, but in 1708 it got replaced with Konigliche Stadt Neustadt. Its Polish counterpart Nowe Miasto Królewskie was used in a Polish document published in 1750 by Frederick the Great.
In 19th century, city's name was changed to Neustadt in Oberschlesien. The Slavic name Prudnik was still used by its Polish inhabitants, which was mentioned in Upper Silesia's topographical description from 1865: "Der ursprunglische Stadtname „Prudnik” ist noch jetz bei den polnischen Landbewohnern ublich". In the alphabetic list of cities of Silesia published by Johann Knie in Wrocław in 1830, Polish name Prudnik was used along with German Neustadt ("Prudnik, polnische Benennung der Kreistadt Neustadt").
The first human traces in the present town area are dated to the Neolithic times. In 1259 the Czech knight Wok von Rosenberg founded in the defensive bend of the Prudnik river a castle, and his son Jindřich obtained the city rights in 1279. In 1337 it became a part of the Duchy of Opole.
In 1526 the town was seized by the Habsburg Monarchy. In 1562, the Duchy of Opole and Racibórz passed a resolution that obligated Jews to sell their houses, pay their debts, and leave the duchy in a year. On the basis of this resolution, in 1564, Jews were ordered to leave Prudnik, but Krzysztof Prószkowski, who leased the land there, let them stay until 1570. After the death of the last Opole Piast prince, it was directly ruled by the Germans.
In 1742 the town was incorporated into Prussia. During the Seven Years' War it was the scene of a bloody surprise attack upon the Prussians as they were marching out of the city. The London Gazette of 25 March 1760 reported "General Laudohn, who had set out from his Quarters on 14th with Palfy’s Regiment of Cuirassiers, Lowenstein’s Dragoons, 500 Hussars of Nadaski, 500 of Kalnocki, 2000 Croats and 14 Companies of Grenadiers, marched all Night with a View to surprise our Troops at Neustadt. The latter were scarce out of the Gates, when they were surrounded by those of the Enemy. General Jacquemin was posted with the Regiment of Lowenstein near Buchelsdorff on the road to Steinau, General Laudohn followed with the Regiment of Palfy and 2000 Croats, supported by 14 Companies of Grenadiers; a thousand of their Hussars were upon our right flank, the advanced Guard of which consisted of 100 Men under Capt. Blumenthal of the Regiment of Manteuffel. Capt Zitzewitz commanded the Rear Guard, consisting of the same number; and the rest of the aforesaid regiment, with a Squadron of Dragoons of Bareith under Capt. Chambaud, followed with the Baggage. General Laudohn summoned out Troops twice, by Sound of Trumpet, to lay down their Arms; which they not complying with, he ordered all his Cavalry to advance: Whereupon General Jacquemin fell upon the advance Guard, while General Laudohn himself attacked the Rear, and the Hussars, in Platoons, flanked the Baggage. The Captains Blumenthal and Zittzwitz formed their small Force in a Kind of Square, from whence they kept a continual fire. The enemy’s Cavalry nevertheless advanced six Times on a Gallop, to within ten Paces of our Troops; but perceiving many fall on their Side, among whom were several Officers, they retreated in great Disorder... The Loss of the Austrians however greatly exceeds ours; they buried above 300 Men, in different Places, and sent 500 Wounded to Neustadt. Besides which we have taken 25 Prisoners, amongst whom are several Officers. We had 35 men killed, and four Officers and 65 private Men wounded, in Manteuffel's Regiment, as also one Lieutenant, with three Dragoons in Bareich's... The Officers, taken Prisoners, by our Troops, commend highly the Bravery of the Regiment of Manteuffel upon this Occasion."
In the subsequent years, the area developed into a significant centre of handcraft, in particular cloth production and shoe-making. Its former German name was Polnisch Neustadt, and until 1945 Neustadt in Oberschlesien. In historical Polish sources and chronicles the town was referred to as Prądnik. In the 19th century, the surrounding factories continued the local tradition of handicraft.
In 26 September 1944, a sub-camp of Auschwitz in Prudnik / Neustadt O.S' was founded in the Schlesische Feinweberei AG textile mill (now ZPB "Frotex"). Neustadt was a stopping place on a death march during final months of World War II, for prisoners-of-war transferred by the Nazis from all over Europe to stalags built in occupied Poland. About 30,000 Allied PoWs were force-marched westward across Poland, Czechoslovakia and Germany in winter conditions, lasting about four months from January to April 1945. The Red Army captured Neustadt on 18 march 1945.
After the end of the Second World War in 1945, Neustadt was transferred from Germany to Poland according to the Potsdam Conference, and given its original Polish name of Prądnik. The remaining German population was expelled and replaced by Polish colonists and refugees transferred from the Kresy in the former Polish eastern territories. The city's name was changed to Prudnik in 1946.
The biggest corporations in Prudnik were Zakłady Przemysłu Bawełnianego "Frotex", which got closed in 2014 and Prudnickie Zakłady Obuwia "Primus", which got closed in 2007.
Currently, the major industrial plants in Prudnik are:
Prudnik is twinned with:
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