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History

And that’s where it all really began

Ancient legend says that centuries ago, in a pool of the Oder River, close to a small town, a powerful stronghold once stood, where the three Kozłowie brothers lived. Although they could boast of a knight’s crest, they lived from robbery of merchant caravans on the nearby route connecting far-away Italy with the Pomeranian country, which carried amber, oil and craft goods. The Kozłowie were also very troublesome for the neighbouring people. When there were no more merchants and the trade route grew mostly empty, they attacked the neighbouring villages and towns, their shameful expeditions organized mainly at night. The glow from burning thatches could be seen even in distant localities.

No wonder that the news about their activity quickly reached the lord of those lands, the Duke of Opole and Raciborz – Mieszko I Tanglefoot. The numerous expeditions undertaken by him were not able to catch the knights – robbers who always were able to hide themselves in the difficult to conquer stronghold. Also a high bounty on their heads was not attractive, because the people were afraid of those brutes. And years were passing by.

In the meantime, in a small town located near the Koźle stronghold, a young, brave and clever town butcher named Jacob lived. Because of his trade, he not infrequently visited the stronghold of Kozłowie brothers. He got familiar with many secrets of various passages and corners. He offered his services to the duke. On a dark, autumn night, he led Mieszko’s warriors through the underground passage to the dungeons and from there to the inside of the stronghold. After a short but fierce struggle, the surprised robbers were captured. Soon they were punished in proportion to their crimes; all three died in the depths of the Oder River, pushed from the highest tower of their own stronghold. To commemorate this event, every year on St. Jacob’s Day, the elders of the butchers’ guild organized a march in the streets of the city with a figure of a goat which then was thrown from the tower at the Racibor gate onto the paved street. The vacant stronghold of the Kozłowie brothers gradually became a ruin – but the neighbouring town was developing. In its emblem three goat heads appeared and the custom of the march with a reed goat on the first of June has survived as a testimony to the ancient events.

In this way, half fairy tale, the local legend describes the genesis and establishment of the town Koźle on the basis of which today a large, modern industrial agglomeration of the name Kędzierzyn-Koźle was set up.

History of the City

Kędzierzyn-Koźle, in its present administrative form, was established in 1975 from the merger of the towns Koźle, Kędzierzyn, Kłodnica, Sławięcice and the area of the commune Sławięcice.

The history of the city is closely connected with the history of Koźle. The oldest records that mention it date from 1108, when the knights of Bolesław Wrymouth defended the Koźle castle-town against the attacks of the Moravians. Koźle received its town charter likely as early as 1281 and at the latest in 1293, and in parallel to Koźle, the other settlement centre of Kędzierzyn-Koźle developed. This was Sławięcice. Between 1246-1260 this locality also received its town charter. In the 13th century, the existence of Kłodnica and Kędzierzyn was also noted in documents. These localities, however, do not appear with anything important in the history of the neighbouring vicinity. From 1281-1355, the area of today’s city became part of the sovereign Duchy of Koźle – Bytom. After 1289, the duchy was a fief of the Czech king, and in 1526 together with the Czech lands came under the power of the House of Habsburg. At the beginning of 1741, those lands were seized by the Prussians. After 1743, they started to develop and the Koźle fortress was set up by the Austrians. This limited the territorial development of the town and caused stagnation. But Sławięcice developed very well, and it was there at the end of the 18th century that numerous manufacturing facilities were established. The favourable position of these localities improved after construction of the Kłodnica Channel between 1792 – 1812. The beginning of the 19th century brought to destruction to Koźle as a result of the siege during the Napoleonic War of the Fourth Coalition, which took place from 23 January to 9 July, 1807. Despite considerable losses, the Koźle fortress survived the siege.

The defeats suffered by Prussia in the wars with Napoleon accelerated the period of reforms in the country. As a result of them, all the localities included in Kędzierzyn-Koźle were liberated from serfdom. One of the first villages which ceased working under serfdom was Kłodnica. This happened in 1814. The effect of the administrative reforms was the appointment of a 24-person town council in 1808 in Koźle headed by a mayor. In 1845, the railway line Opole – Gliwice was opened. After that, Kędzierzyn began to gain importance near where the railway station was located. At the end of the 19th century, after demolition in 1873 of the Koźle fortress, the economic development of the town began. Between 1891 – 1908, the Koźle port was built as well as several industrial factories. And the economic development of Sławięcice stopped, as it did not withstand the competition from the Upper Silesian industry.

In the years of the Second World War, within the boundaries of the present-day city, large chemical works were constructed which produced for the demands of the war. In the 1930s, the town was connected by the Gliwice Canal with the Upper Silesia.

The liberation of today’s Kędzierzyn-Koźle took place from the end of January to the second half of March, 1945.  The Polish administrative authorities took over the town in the period between 23 March to 24 April 1945. On the ruins of the German chemical works, the Nitrogen Works “Kędzierzyn” and the Chemical Works “Blachownia” were founded. Also several other large industrial plants were constructed. Rapidly developing Kędzierzyn received its urban charter in 1951. In 1970, the Kędzierzyn Canal, a branch of the Gliwice Canal, was opened. In 1973, Kłodnica and Sławięcice received their urban charters.

Monuments – worth seeing

The following memories of the past in Kędzierzyn-Koźle should be included as the most interesting:

  • The remains of the castle in Koźle (Kraszewskiego Street). These occupy the southwestern part of the urban settlement Stare Miasto (Old Town) in Koźle; they are located on a small, artificial hill. The castle was erected at the turn of the 14th century after the destruction caused by fires and was reconstructed in the second half of the 16th century. The castle was destroyed once more during the siege by the French and Bavarians in 1807. To the present, a retaining wall has been preserved together with fragments of semi-circular bastion. The most interesting part of the castle is the Tower, partially reconstructed, now the seat of the Koźle Land Society (Towarzystwo Ziemi Kozielskiej) and the museum. A complex of buildings called the under-castle (Podzamcze) is in relatively good condition. It dates from 1563-1584, and was a military hospital during the siege in 1807.
  • The fragments of the past fortifications of the Koźle fortress are (Konopnicka, Żeromskiego, Piramownicza, Skarbowa, Planty, Zamkowa streets; Garncarska Street – the old gunpowder mill; Targowa Street – old barracks from 1776 – 1778, many times reconstructed in the 19th and 20th centuries ). Its beginnings reach back to the 18th century, when the Austrians built a zone of fortifications around the town consisting of earth embankments, dikes and ditches. Further construction was undertaken by the Prussians, who took over Koźle in February, 1741. Up until its demolition in 1873, the fortress was systematically modernized. Today, fragments of the fortifications survive on the left bank of Oder River which include the centre of Koźle and also the fortifications on the right bank, dispersed over quite large area that includes Koźle island. From the left-bank fortification, it is worth seeing the five corners of the circle of the main embankment, the fragments of the inner walls and the kernwerk with several powder magazines. The moat has remained almost entirely preserved, transferred already in the 20th century into the Town Planty (a park). Also the Większyce Redoubt has partially survived and the remains of the former casemates.
  • The most precious remains of the right-bank fortifications of Koźle fortress is Montalembert’s Tower, located in Portowa Street within what is known as Frederick William’s Fort, which was “all the rage” of the art of engineering of the turn of the 19th century. The round tower (so called Rondel)  is 33.9 m wide at the base and 24.5 m high, and it could contain on each of two floors 28 cannons with crew, ammunition and necessary supplies.  Up to the siege of the Kożle fortress by Napoleon’s army in 1807, only the main body of the tower had managed to be erected –the fort surrounded by the moat and the earth embankment. The building was finally finished in 1829.
  • The historical Kłodnica Canal, connecting Koźle with Gliwice (Kłodnica). It was built from 1792 – 1812 and is one of the oldest European navigation channels equipped with water locks. The section passing through Kędzierzyn-Koźle belongs to the best preserved.
  • The park and palace complex in Sawięcice (Sławięcicka, Sadowa streets) – here the 19th century landscape park has been preserved in good condition (one of the largest parks in the Opole region) as well as the gardener’s house built about 1803 in the late-neoclassical style. The baroque “Belvedere” garden pavilion of 1802 avoided war damage as did the main entrance to the palace.
  • St. Sigismund and St. Hedwig’s Church in Koźle (Złotnicza Street) – mentioned in 1295, developed in the 15th century, partially reconstructed in the 18th and 19th centuries. Gothic with Gothic-renaissance tower, three-naves, pseudo-hall. In the side Chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary, an image of the Mother of God with the Child Jesus is located  (known as the Koźle Mother of God), which is dated from the beginning of the 15th century.
  • The post-monastic Church of the Assumption of Mary in Koźle (Czerwińskiego Street) – baroque, built from 1751 - 1753. In 1810, the church was changed into a storehouse. Beside the church, the complex of buildings of the former Franciscan cloister of 1753 is located.
  • St. Nicholas’s Church in Kędzierzyn (Judyma Street) – neo-Gothic, built in the 19th century. The baroque image of St. Anthony from the late the 18th century is worth seeing.
  • St. Catherine’s Church in Sławięcice (Staszica Street) – neo-Gothic, built from 1864-1869. The parish (late-neoclassical from 1852, reconstructed after 1945) is also historical as well as the outbuilding from the mid 19th century and the summerhouse in the garden (from 1800).
  • The Evangelical Church (Głowackiego Street) – neo-Gothic from the 19th century.
  • The port complex in Koźle – Port (Żeglarska Street). Built in stages between 1891 - 1908, it has three dock basins separated by piers. Today, the original quays are preserved in almost unchanged condition and the stevedoring devices, so-called wagon tipplers, also the building of port authorities is an interesting monument.
  • Koźle Lock (Łukasiewicza Street) – built in 1830 from elements of the wooden predecessor of 1812. Thoroughly repaired after a flood in 1997.
  • The crematory building of the Nazi camp in Sławięcice (Spacerowa Street).
  • The Villain Chapel (Wyspiańśkiego Street) – built in 1814 to commemorate the liberation of Kłodnica peasants from serfdom.
  • The water seal in Lenartowice (Nowowiejska Str.) here the Kłodnica River flows under the Gliwice Canal; there are only a few such places in Europe where the river flows under the canal.
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