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Title: Gniezno  
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Subject: Bolesław I the Brave, Greater Poland Voivodeship, Poznań, Mieszko I of Poland, Greater Poland
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Royal Capital City of Gniezno
Stołeczne Królewskie Miasto Gniezno
Skyline of Gniezno
Coat of arms of Gniezno
Coat of arms
Gniezno is located in Poland
Country  Poland
Voivodeship Greater Poland
County Gniezno County
Gmina Gniezno (urban gmina)
Established 8th century
Town rights 1239
 • Mayor Jacek Kowalski
 • Total 49 km2 (19 sq mi)
Population (2006)
 • Total 70,080
 • Density 1,400/km2 (3,700/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 62-200 to 62-210
Area code(s) +48 61
Car plates PGN
Statue of Bolesław I the Brave in Gniezno

Gniezno  ( ) (German: Gnesen) is a city in central-western Poland, some 50 kilometres (31 miles) east of Poznań, inhabited by about 70,000 people. One of the Piast dynasty's chief cities, it was mentioned by 10th century A.D. sources, including the Dagome Iudex, as the capital of Piast Poland. Its Roman Catholic archbishop, the Archbishop of Gniezno, is the Primate of Poland. These historical facts make its position in Polish history similar to Esztergom, Canterbury or Rheims.

Gniezno is located in the Greater Poland Voivodeship (since 1999), previously in Poznań Voivodeship. The city is the administrative capital of the Gniezno County (powiat).


There are archaeological traces of human settlement since the late Paleolithic. Early Slavonic settlements on the Lech Hill and the Maiden Hill are dated to 8th century.[1] At the beginning of the 10th century this was the site of several places sacred to the Slavic religion. The ducal stronghold was founded just before AD 940 on the Lech Hill, and surrounded with some fortified suburbs and open settlements.

Legend of Lech, Czech and Rus

According to the Polish version of legends: three brothers Lech, Czech and Rus were exploring the wilderness to find a place to settle. Suddenly they saw a hill with an old oak and an eagle on top. Lech said: this white eagle I will adopt as an emblem of my people, and around this oak I will build my stronghold, and because of the eagle nest [Polish: gniazdo].[1] I will call it Gniezdno [modern: Gniezno]. The other brothers went further on to find a place for their people. Czech went to the South (to found the Czech Lands) and Rus went to the East (to create Rus' (region)).

Cradle of the Polish state

This is the commemorative medal for the unveiling of the restored monument of the 1st Polish King Boleslaw Chrobry on 9 May 1985 by Deputy Prime Minister Mieczyslaw Rakowski at Gniezno, Poland.

Around 940 AD Gniezno, being an important pagan cult center, became one of the main fortresses of the early Piast rulers, along with aforementioned fortresses at Giecz, Kruszwica, Poznań, Kalisz, Łęczyca, Ostrów Lednicki, Płock, Włocławek others. Mieszko I might have moved the capital to Gniezno from Poznań after his own and his realm's baptism, but actual move of the capital to Gniezno might have coincided with a growing German menace of the late 10th century and early 11th century depositing the remains of Saint Adalbert in a newly built church, to underline Gniezno's importance as the religious centre and capital of Bolesław I Chrobry's kingdom.

Congress of Gniezno

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.[2] The emperor and the Polish duke celebrated the foundation of the Polish ecclesiastical province (archbishopric) in Gniezno, with newly established bishopric in Kołobrzeg for Pomerania; Wrocław for Silesia; Kraków for Lesser Poland and later also already existing since 968 bishopric in Poznań for western Greater Poland.

Royal coronation site

The 10th century Gniezno cathedral witnessed royal coronations of Bolesław I in 1024 and his son Mieszko II Lambert in 1025.[1] The cities of Gniezno and nearby Poznań were captured, plundered and destroyed in 1038 by the Bohemian duke Bretislav I, which pushed the next Polish rulers to move the Polish capital to Kraków.[1] The archiepiscopal 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 municipal autonomy was granted by the duke Władysław Odonic. Gniezno was again the coronation site in 1295 and 1300.

Regional site of Greater Poland

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 [4] Consequently the town was included within the Duchy of Warsaw, but upon defeat of Napoleon in Russian in 1812 was occupied by the Russian army and was returned to Prussia in the 1815 Congress of Vienna. Gniezno was subsequently governed within Kreis Gnesen of the Grand Duchy of Posen and the later Province of Posen. Following the Greater Poland Uprising (1918–1919) and the Treaty of Versailles Gniezno became part of the Second Polish Republic. Its citizen-soldiers joined the Polish army fighting the Bolsheviks during the Polish–Soviet War.[5]

World War II

Gniezno was occupied by German troops in 11 September 1939 and by annexed into Nazi Germany on 26 October 1939 after the invasion of Poland and made part of Reichsgau Wartheland. The town was liberated by the Red Army in 21 January 1945 and restored to Poland.

Archbishops of Gniezno

Gniezno's Józef Glemp, who had been archbishop of Gniezno and Warsaw and retained Warsaw, was designated to remain Primate until his retirement, but afterward the Archbishop of Gniezno, at present Józef Kowalczyk, would again be Primate of Poland.

Royal coronations in Gniezno cathedral

Panorama of Gniezno. 19th century
Historical population
Year Number of inhabitants
1912 25 339
1980 62 400
1990 70 400
1995 71 000

People from Gniezno


Arts and culture

Aleksander Fredro Theatre in Gniezno

Twin towns — sister cities

Gniezno is twinned with:[6]


View of Old Gniezno from Jelonek Lake 
Bernard Maciejowski 
Codex Aureus Gnesnensis 
Gniezno Cathedral
  • History of Poland
  • Adalbert of Prague
  • Royal coronations in Gniezno cathedral
  • Gniezno Doors
  • Archdiocese of Gniezno
  • References

    1. ^ a b c d Neil Wilson, Tom Parkinson, Richard Watkins (2005). "Poland". Poland (  (English)
    2. ^ Günther Stöckl: Die Geschichte der Slavenmission. In: Die Kirche in ihrer Geschichte - Ein Handbuch (edited by Bernd Moeller). 2nd edition, vol. 2, Göttingen 1976, ISBN 3-525-52318-1, p. 91 (in German, limited online preview)
    3. ^ 25.9 wyzwolono Gniezno (on 25th 9 Gniezno was liberated) (English) Marian B. Michalik, Eugeniusz Duraczyński (1994). Kronika powstań polskich 1794-1944. "Kronika"-Marian B. Michalik. p. 44.  
    4. ^ (English) Marian B. Michalik, Eugeniusz Duraczyński (1891). Roczniki. Poznańskie Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Nauk (Poznań Society of Friends of Science). p. 44.  
    5. ^ (English) Marian Woźniak (1998). Encyklopedia konspiracji wielkopolskiej: 1939-1945 (Encyclopedia of conspiracy in Greater Poland: 1939-1945). Instytut Zachodni.   multiple pages (individual biographies) e.g. p. 275
    6. ^ "International collaboration". Gniezno. Retrieved 3 May 2014. 
    7. ^ "Zustersteden". Veendam. Retrieved 3 May 2014. 

    External links

    • Gniezno homepage (English and German version also available), The official site of the Gniezno City's Administration, from which much of the above was taken and adapted.
    • Gniezno Poviat The official site of the Gniezno County, (English, German, Spanish, French, Italian and Russian version also available)

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