Kłodzko is the oldest and biggest city in the Kłodzko region. The city’s development and prominence benefited from its strategic location between the Nysa Kłodzka valley and the Fortress Hill (369 MASL). In the medieval era, it served as a trading and defensive communication centre. The history of Kłodzko is made up of the history of Czechs, Germans, Poles, Catholics, Protestants, Jews, craftsmen, merchants, monks, and soldiers. Over the centuries, Kłodzko was home to multiple cultures, religions, and professions, It was able to evolve into one of the most beautiful cities of Lower Silesia and the cultural and tourist centre of the Polish and Czech borderland.

The first records of Kłodzko date back to the Chronicle of the Czechs by Cosmas of Prague, who writes about the death of Saint Adalbert’s father, Bohemian duke Slavník, owner of a gord named Kłodzko located on the Nysa river, in the year 981. However, according to archaeological findings and historical sources, the gord must have existed long before this time on the amber road connecting Bohemia and Poland.

In the 11th century, Kłodzko was the object of frequent Polish-Bohemian disputes and would be bounced back and forth every few years between the Piasts and the Premyslids. In 1114, the wooden gord was burned down completely by Bohemian duke Sobeslav, who would rebuild it partially with brick in 1129. On 30 May 1137, under the power of the peace treaty, Boleslaus III the Wry-mouthed released Kłodzko to Sobeslav and the town would remain under Bohemian administration for the next few decades. By 1200, the town had expanded from being just a gord and now had a market, market settlement, two churches, and a hospital. The town the town was granted German city rights sometime between 1253 and 1278 by Premyslid King Ottokar II of Bohemia; the oldest preserved document with the city seal dates back to the year 1305. In the 14th century, Kłodzko suffered numerous cataclysms: epidemics, fires, and floods, the most severe of which occurred in 1310 and produced over a thousand casualties. Despite the hard times, the city was also experiencing an economic boom, mainly because it had been granted further privileges. At this time, Kłodzko had one of the best schools in Silesia, a monastery library, and over 30 growing crafts guilds. The Hussite Wars came in the early 15th century. Kłodzko was able to resist the Hussite attack in 1428 but was conquered in 1453 by Hussite King George of Podebrady, who elevated the Kłodzko Land to the status of sovereign county in 1459.

Kłodzko thrived in the 16th century but again suffered from frequent floods and fires. In 1526, the city was taken over by the Habsburg dynasty. The most noteworthy individual of the era (from 1549) was Ernest of Bavaria. By the second half of the century, there were 275 estates in midtown, including numerous brick renaissance tenements. Before Kłodzko was turned into an arena of the Thirty Years' War between Protestants and Catholics (1618-1648), the majority of its population was protestant. In 1622, after a long siege, Kłodzko was captured by the army allied with catholic King Ferdinand II. The city was destroyed and many people were killed. Kłodzko was doomed to decades of deep economic crisis. However, the education, culture, and intellectual life continued to thrive thanks to the Jesuits, who had been brought back to the city.

The next important era in the city’s history was the First Silesian War (1740-1742) between Austria and Prussia. Frederick II the Great was victorious in the dispute over Silesia and thus the Kłodzko County was turned under Prussian administration for over 200 years to come in 1742. Kłodzko became a garrison town and the whole fortification system and fortress were expanded and reinforced with measures like the donjon. During the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815), despite the excellent defensive system, the fortress was surrendered to the French army led by Jerome Bonaparte in June of 1807 after months of battles. However, grand politics would determine to keep the city under Prussian administration. In the second half of the 19th century, Kłodzko successively started to expand far beyond the city walls as it was no longer strictly military in nature. This period included construction of the waterline system (1886), the railway (1874), the prison (1887), and the court (1897). This era of development was stopped by World War I and the subsequent interwar crisis, but the life in the out-of-the-way city continued rather normally, even in times of global crises.

During World War II, the Kłodzko fortress was used as a prison to torture prisoners of war and German deserters. In 1944, it was also used by AEG as an arms factory, which manufactured components for U-boats and V1 and V2 missiles. On 2 June 1945, Kłodzko was taken over by Polish administration and most of the German population was displaced. The most important events of the post-war era include the rescue of the Kłodzo Old Town during the years 1958-1976 and the “millennium flood” in 1997, when heavy rainstorms forced the water of the Nysa Kłodzka River to rise by over 8.7 metres above its standard level on the night of 7 July and destroy many buildings, particularly near Sand Island and in the eastern part of the city.

Many of these events have left marks on Kłodzko that are still here to this day. They may not be readily visible, but we can feel the city’s 1000-plus year history pretty much everywhere.

Kłodzko is the oldest and biggest city in the Kłodzko region. The city’s development and prominence benefited from its strategic location between the Nysa Kłodzka valley and the Fortress Hill (369 MASL). In the medieval era, it served as a trading and defensive communication centre. The history of Kłodzko is made up of the history of Czechs, Germans, Poles, Catholics, Protestants, Jews, craftsmen, merchants, monks, and soldiers. Over the centuries, Kłodzko was home to multiple cultures, religions, and professions, It was able to evolve into one of the most beautiful cities of Lower Silesia and the cultural and tourist centre of the Polish and Czech borderland.

The first records of Kłodzko date back to the Chronicle of the Czechs by Cosmas of Prague, who writes about the death of Saint Adalbert’s father, Bohemian duke Slavník, owner of a gord named Kłodzko located on the Nysa river, in the year 981. However, according to archaeological findings and historical sources, the gord must have existed long before this time on the amber road connecting Bohemia and Poland.

In the 11th century, Kłodzko was the object of frequent Polish-Bohemian disputes and would be bounced back and forth every few years between the Piasts and the Premyslids. In 1114, the wooden gord was burned down completely by Bohemian duke Sobeslav, who would rebuild it partially with brick in 1129. On 30 May 1137, under the power of the peace treaty, Boleslaus III the Wry-mouthed released Kłodzko to Sobeslav and the town would remain under Bohemian administration for the next few decades. By 1200, the town had expanded from being just a gord and now had a market, market settlement, two churches, and a hospital. The town the town was granted German city rights sometime between 1253 and 1278 by Premyslid King Ottokar II of Bohemia; the oldest preserved document with the city seal dates back to the year 1305. In the 14th century, Kłodzko suffered numerous cataclysms: epidemics, fires, and floods, the most severe of which occurred in 1310 and produced over a thousand casualties. Despite the hard times, the city was also experiencing an economic boom, mainly because it had been granted further privileges. At this time, Kłodzko had one of the best schools in Silesia, a monastery library, and over 30 growing crafts guilds. The Hussite Wars came in the early 15th century. Kłodzko was able to resist the Hussite attack in 1428 but was conquered in 1453 by Hussite King George of Podebrady, who elevated the Kłodzko Land to the status of sovereign county in 1459.

Kłodzko thrived in the 16th century but again suffered from frequent floods and fires. In 1526, the city was taken over by the Habsburg dynasty. The most noteworthy individual of the era (from 1549) was Ernest of Bavaria. By the second half of the century, there were 275 estates in midtown, including numerous brick renaissance tenements. Before Kłodzko was turned into an arena of the Thirty Years' War between Protestants and Catholics (1618-1648), the majority of its population was protestant. In 1622, after a long siege, Kłodzko was captured by the army allied with catholic King Ferdinand II. The city was destroyed and many people were killed. Kłodzko was doomed to decades of deep economic crisis. However, the education, culture, and intellectual life continued to thrive thanks to the Jesuits, who had been brought back to the city.

The next important era in the city’s history was the First Silesian War (1740-1742) between Austria and Prussia. Frederick II the Great was victorious in the dispute over Silesia and thus the Kłodzko County was turned under Prussian administration for over 200 years to come in 1742. Kłodzko became a garrison town and the whole fortification system and fortress were expanded and reinforced with measures like the donjon. During the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815), despite the excellent defensive system, the fortress was surrendered to the French army led by Jerome Bonaparte in June of 1807 after months of battles. However, grand politics would determine to keep the city under Prussian administration. In the second half of the 19th century, Kłodzko successively started to expand far beyond the city walls as it was no longer strictly military in nature. This period included construction of the waterline system (1886), the railway (1874), the prison (1887), and the court (1897). This era of development was stopped by World War I and the subsequent interwar crisis, but the life in the out-of-the-way city continued rather normally, even in times of global crises.

During World War II, the Kłodzko fortress was used as a prison to torture prisoners of war and German deserters. In 1944, it was also used by AEG as an arms factory, which manufactured components for U-boats and V1 and V2 missiles. On 2 June 1945, Kłodzko was taken over by Polish administration and most of the German population was displaced. The most important events of the post-war era include the rescue of the Kłodzo Old Town during the years 1958-1976 and the “millennium flood” in 1997, when heavy rainstorms forced the water of the Nysa Kłodzka River to rise by over 8.7 metres above its standard level on the night of 7 July and destroy many buildings, particularly near Sand Island and in the eastern part of the city.

Many of these events have left marks on Kłodzko that are still here to this day. They may not be readily visible, but we can feel the city’s 1000-plus year history pretty much everywhere.

Did you know:

  • according to certain sources, the Sankt Florian Psalter – one of the oldest preserved Polish manuscripts – was created in 1398 in Kłodzko
  • John Quincy Adams, who would go on to become the sixth president of the United States, visited Kłodzko during his journeys of Silesia
  • beer brewing was an important trade in Kłodzo; in 1410, 190 homes were authorized to brew beer and there were 8 breweries operating in the city until 1945
  • episodes 18 and 21 of the Polish TV series “Czterej pancerni i pies” were filmed in Kłodzko

Notable people:

  • Saint Adalbert (956-997) – his father Slavník was the owner of Kłodzk in the 10th century
  • Ernest of Pardubice (1297-1364) – first Archbishop of Prague, founder of the Charles University in Prague, born and buried in Kłodzko
  • Anna Zelenay (1925-1970) – Kłodzko poet
  • Emil Czech (1908-1978) – Polish soldier, played St. Mary's Trumpet Call on the day of the capture of Monte Cassino on the rubble of the monastery in 1944