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Town hall in Wołów
Town hall in Wołów
Flag of Wołów
Coat of arms of Wołów
Wołów is located in Poland
Wołów is located in Lower Silesian Voivodeship
Coordinates: 51°20′29″N 16°37′42″E / 51.34139°N 16.62833°E / 51.34139; 16.62833Coordinates: 51°20′29″N 16°37′42″E / 51.34139°N 16.62833°E / 51.34139; 16.62833
Country Poland
VoivodeshipLower Silesian
First mentioned1157
Town rightsaround 1285
 • MayorDariusz Chmura
 • Total18.54 km2 (7.16 sq mi)
 • Total12,373
 • Density670/km2 (1,700/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
Car platesDWL
Voivodeship roadsDW338-PL.svg DW339-PL.svg DW340-PL.svg DW343-PL.svg

Wołów [ˈvɔwuf] (German: Wohlau, Czech: Volov) is a town in Lower Silesian Voivodeship in south-western Poland. It is the seat of Wołów County and Gmina Wołów. It lies approximately 38 kilometres (24 miles) north-west of the regional capital Wrocław. As of 2019, the town has a population of 12,373. It is part of the larger Wrocław metropolitan area.


The town's name is derived from the Polish word wół ("ox").


The area around Wołów has been settled since prehistoric times.[2] It became part of the emerging Polish state in the late 10th century under Mieszko I of Poland.[3] The town was first mentioned in 1157[4] when a wooden castle founded by Senior Duke of Poland Władysław II the Exile is documented,[5][6] which developed into a castle complex, which was again mentioned in 1202.[7] Two villages developed near the castle, one of them called Wołowo. Probably in the second half of the 13th century the town was founded near Wołowo and partially on the soil of the second village.[8] Wołów received Magdeburg town rights about 1285 at the time of German Ostsiedlung in the region; a Vogt is mentioned in 1288.[8]

At that time Wołów belonged to the Duchy of Głogów, after 1312 to the Duchy of Oleśnica.[8] With the duchy it came under the suzerainty of Bohemia in 1328. Since the 15th century, the town was a center of clothmaking.[9] From 1473 dates the oldest known seal of the town, which already shows an ox, as do all later seals. Wołów was ruled by local Polish dukes until 1492, and soon after, in 1495, it came into the possession of the Czech Podiebrad family, then in 1517 it came into the hands the Hungarian magnate Johann Thurzó, before returning to Piast rule in 1523, by passing to the Duchy of Legnica.[3] It remained there until the Piast dukes of Legnica-Brzeg-Wołów died out in 1675. As a result of the Thirty Years' War, the town's population fell by half.[3]

Wołów (as Wohlau) around 1750

The Protestant Reformation was introduced to the town in 1522 by duke Frederick II. After the extinction of the local Piasts the duchy passed to the House of Habsburg, which opposed the Protestant denomination in the town, as part of the Counter-Reformation. In 1682 the town's parish church was closed and given to the Catholics. According to the Treaty of Altranstädt the church however was already returned to the Protestants in 1707 and stayed Protestant until 1945. The small Catholic minority in return received a Josephinian curacy.[10]

In 1742 Wołów was annexed by Prussia.[9] The duchy was divided into two districts and the town became county seat of one of the districts. The structure of the town was, until 1700, defined by craft, especially clothiers. As the seat of a duchy and a district administrative function however became more and more important. The industrialization played only a minor role and mostly affected smaller companies of the timber industry.[10] In 1781 the city suffered a fire.[3]

Historic architecture of Wołów (examples), from top, left to right: Piast Castle, Saint Lawrence church, Saint Charles Borromeo church, medieval town walls (with a modern oxes monument), courthouse, town hall (relief of the coat of arms of the Duchy of Legnica on the facade)

The town was part of Germany from 1871 to 1945. During World War II, the Germans operated a youth prison in the town, with multiple forced labour subcamps in the region, including one in the town itself.[11] In 1943–1945, the Germans carried out mass executions of Allied prisoners of war in the forest in the present-day district of Gancarz.[9] In January 1945 – just before town was taken by the Red Army – the Wehrmacht evacuated the German population westwards.[citation needed] After Nazi Germany's defeat in World War II, the town became again part of Poland. The totality of the town's previous population was expelled.

In 1962, the town was site of the Wołów bank robbery, one of the largest bank robberies in Poland.


The local football team is MKP Wołów.[12] It competes in the lower leagues.

Notable people[edit]

  • Jan II the Mad (1435–1504), Polish House of Silesian Piasts dynasty Duke of Żagań-Przewóz since 1439, died in Wołów and was buried in the local parish church
  • Maria Cunitz (1610–1664), astronomer, the most notable female astronomer of the early modern era
  • Oskar Müller (1896–1970), German politician
  • Mirosław Hermaszewski (born 1941), first (and to this day remains the only) Polish national in space

Twin towns – sister cities[edit]

See twin towns of Gmina Wołów.


  1. ^ "Population. Size and structure and vital statistics in Poland by territorial division in 2019. As of 30th June". stat.gov.pl. Statistics Poland. 2019-10-15. Retrieved 2020-02-14.
  2. ^ Hugo Weczerka, Handbuch der historischen Stätten, Schlesien, 2003, p.570, ISBN 3-520-31602-1
  3. ^ a b c d "Historia Wołowa". Urząd Miejski w Wołowie (in Polish). Retrieved August 8, 2019.
  4. ^ Józef Pilch, Leksykon zabytków architektury Dolnego Śląska, Wydawn. "Arkady", 2005, p. 403 link
  5. ^ Romuald M. Łuczyński, Chronologia dziejów Dolnego Śląska, Oficyna Wydawn. ATUT, Wrocławskie Wydawn. Oświatowe, 2006, p. 143 link
  6. ^ Ernst Badstübner, Dehio - Handbuch der Kunstdenkmäler in Polen: Schlesien, 2003, p.1028, ISBN 3-422-03109-X
  7. ^ Badstübner, p.1028
  8. ^ a b c Weczerka, p.570
  9. ^ a b c "Wołów". Encyklopedia PWN (in Polish). Retrieved 3 June 2021.
  10. ^ a b Weczerka, p.571
  11. ^ "Jugendgefängnis Wohlau". Bundesarchiv.de (in German). Retrieved 3 June 2021.
  12. ^ "Strona internetowa klubu MKP Wołów" (in Polish). Retrieved 3 June 2021.

External links[edit]