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POLSKA POLAND
województwo: Wielkopolskie voivodship: Greater Poland (Posnania)
powiat Gnieźnieński county: Gniezno

map

Gniezno

de: Gnesen hu: Gnézna lv: Gnezno lt: Gnieznas cs: Hnězdno
el: Γκνιέζνο
be: Гнезна bg, ru, uk: Гнезно mk, sr: Гњезно

Gniezno is situated at an elevation of 114 m in the east of the voivodeship Greater Poland, about 50 km east of the voivodeships capital, Poznań. The municipality has a population of 69,100 (2016). It is the seat of Gniezno county. The Catholic archbishop of Gniezno is the primate of Poland, making the city Poland's eccclesiastical capital.

According to a legend documented in the Wielkopolska Chronicle of the 13th century, the three sons of Pan, a Pannonite prince, separated while hunting together. While Rus traveled east and Čech traveled west, Lech traveled north. There, while hunting, he followed his arrow and suddenly found himself face-to-face with a fierce, white eagle guarding its nest. Seeing the eagle against the red of the setting sun, Lech took this as a good omen and decided to settle there. He named his settlement Gniezno (Polish 'gniazdo' means 'nest') in commemoration and adopted the White Eagle as his coat of arms. The white eagle remains a symbol of Poland to this day, and the colors of the eagle and the setting sun are depicted in Poland's coat of arms, as well as its flag, with a white stripe on top for the eagle, and a red stripe on the bottom for the sunset.

Around AD 940 Gniezno, being an important pagan cult center, became one of the main fortresses of the early Piast rulers, along with fortresses at Giecz, Kruszwica, Poznań, Kalisz, Łęczyca, Ostrów Lednicki, Płock, Włocławek, and others. It is here that the Congress of Gniezno took place in the year 1000 AD, during which Bolesław I the Brave, Duke of Poland, received Holy Roman Emperor Otto III. The emperor and the Polish duke celebrated the foundation of the Polish ecclesiastical province (archbishopric) in Gniezno, along with newly established bishoprics in Kołobrzeg for Pomerania; Wrocław for Silesia; Kraków for Lesser Poland in addition to the bishopric in Poznań for western Greater Poland, which had been established in 968. The 10th-century Gniezno Cathedral witnessed the royal coronations of Bolesław I in 1024 and his son Mieszko II Lambert in 1025. The cities of Gniezno and nearby Poznań were captured, plundered and destroyed in 1038 by the Bohemian duke Břetislav I, which pushed the next Polish rulers to move the Polish capital to Kraków. The archepiscopal cathedral was reconstructed by the next ruler, Bolesław II the Generous, who was crowned king here in 1076. In the next centuries Gniezno evolved as a regional seat of the eastern part of Greater Poland, and in 1238 it was granted municipal autonomy. Gniezno was again the coronation site in 1295 (Przemysł II) and 1300 (Wenceslaus / Wacław II, also King Václav II of Bohemia since 1278). The city was destroyed again by the Teutonic Knights' invasion in 1331, and after an administrative reform became a county within the Kalisz Voivodeship (since the 14th century till 1768). Gniezno was hit by heavy fires in 1515, 1613, was destroyed during the Swedish invasion wars of the 17th/18th centuries and by a plague in 1708–1710. All this caused depopulation and economic decline, but the city was soon revived during the 18th century to become the Gniezno Voivodeship in 1768. Gniezno was annexed by the Kingdom of Prussia in the 1793 Second Partition of Poland (see map) and renamed Gnesen, becoming part of the province of South Prussia. During the Napoleonic times, the French appeared in Gnesen in 1806 and included it in the Duchy of Warsaw (see map) in 1807, but upon the defeat of Napoleon in Russia in 1812 it was occupied by the Russian army and was returned to Prussia in the 1815 Congress of Vienna. Gnesen was subsequently governed within Kreis Gnesen of the Grand Duchy of Posen and 3635 Gniezno the later Province of Posen. Following the Greater Poland Uprising (1918–1919) and the Treaty of Versailles (1919) the town became part of the Second Polish Republic (map) and reverted to its original name of Gniezno. Gniezno was occupied by German troops on 11 September 1939 and annexed into Nazi Germany on 26 October 1939 after the invasion of Poland and made part of Reichsgau Wartheland (map, map). The town was liberated by the Red Army on 21 January 1945 and restored to Poland.

The history of the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Adalbert [top picture, background] goes back to the 9th century, when an oratory was built in the shape of a rectangular nave. At the end of the 10th century it was rebuilt on a cricuform plan. At the end of the 19th century it became a cathedral. In the year 999 the funeral of St. Adalbert took place and later also his canonization by Pope Sylvester II. The cathedral saw the coronation of five Polish kings: Bolesław I (1024), Mieszko II Lambert (1025), Boleslaw II the Generous (1076), Przemysł II (1295), Wacław II (1300, also King of Bohemia). In 1331, the Teutonic Knights pillaged and destroyed the cathedral. Ten years later, on the same site of the former cathedral, a Gothic temple was built. At the end of the 14th century the construction of the chancel and large nave was completed. In 1419 the archbishops of Gniezno were given the title of primate and represented the country in Rome as cardinals. In 1613 a fire destroyed the spires, roof and two frontal towers of the church. In 1641–1652 the interior was redecorated in Baroque style. In 1760, another fire broke out which resulted in the collapse of both towers, the star vault as well as the chancel. In the next few years the interior was completely rebuilt in classical architectural style with small elements of the now diminishing baroque style. In 1809, the French army installed a military warehouse in the cathedral which was removed when Napoleon's troops left. In 1931, Pope the cathedral obtained the Papal title of Basilica minor. In 1939, following the Invasion of Poland, the Nazis converted the temple into a concert hall. In 1945, another fire broke out which was caused by the intentional incendiary artillery shelling by the Red Army. This partially ruined the Gothic vault and consequently also the pipe organs and other historical architectural details. At the turn of the 1950s and 1960s, the temple was fully restored in the Gothic style and all Baroque architectural elements were subsequently removed, giving it a more medieval look to specifically resemble the original structure present during the coronation of Polish monarchs eight hundred years earlier. Pope John Paul II visited the cathedral in 1979.

The street depicted in the foreground, leading straight up the to eastern end of the cathedral, is labeled in German, Friedrichstraße; today it is named ulica Tumska [background] and ulica Chrobrego [foreground].

The bottom left picture shows a view of the monument for Friedrich III, German Emperor for 99 days (9 March – 15 June) in 1888. (Unfortunately, no information could be found for this monument.

The bottom right picture shows a view of the Imperial post office.

[https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gniezno, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gniezno; http://www.fallingrain.com/world/PL/86/Gniezno.html; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gniezno_Cathedral]


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