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History of Warsaw
The beginnings of settlement in the Valley of Warsaw are dated to the tenth century. At the end of the thirteenth century, in the area where the Royal Castle stands, a new princely town was founded, that is, today’s Warsaw.
The earliest note about Warsaw appears in written records from 1313. After Mazovian Princes had died heirless, Mazovia was incorporated into the Polish Crown.
Since 1569, it had been a place where sessions of the Sejm of the Joint Polish Lithuanian Republic were held.
After the fire of the Wawel Castle, King Sigismunt Waza III transferred permanent royal residence, courts and the Crown’s offices from Cracow to the extended Warsaw’s Royal Castle.
In the thirteenth century, wars, disturbances and plagues brought on a slump in the economic growth of the town. In years 1655 – 1658 alone was Warsaw besieged, conquered and occupied three times by the Swedes and Tranylvanian troops. In the Sas dynasty reign, after the political situation had settled down, Warsaw regained its status of an important cultural centre. The next golden age of the capital city spins the years of the reign of the last King of Poland, that is, Stanisław August Poniatowski.
After the third partition of Poland, in 1795, the country disappeared from the map of Europe for 123. Through this period Warsaw was downgraded to the rank of the Russian province.
Despite a disadvantageous political atmosphere, the town and its industry kept developing. In the years 1840 – 1848, the first railway connecting Warsaw with Vienna was founded. In 1864, the first permanent bridge across the river Vistula came into use, and in 1875, a railway bridge was constructed.
Between 1851 and 1855, the first waterworks were built; in years 1881 – 1886 – the first sewer system appeared. In 1856, citizens of the capital city could use gas, and in 1881, the first telephone exchange was built. In 1882, a regular public horse-tram transport was introduced and replaced by electrical one in 1907.
In 1918, Warsaw became the capital city of reborn Poland. The process of tidying it up became especially intense during the presidency of Stefan Starzyński. It was however brutally interrupted by the outbreak of World War II and the German occupation.
Warsaw was defended till 28 September 1939. Again, the city became the main centre of Resistance, conspiracy and cultural and academic life. The April of 1943 witnessed the outbreak of an uprising in the walled off Jewish Ghetto. After it had come to an and, the Jewish quarters with half a million people ceased to exist. On 1 August 1944, the Warsaw uprising organised by the Home Army broke out. The Honorary Capitulation Act was signed on the 2 October. After the uprising had been quashed, Warsaw was condemned to annihilation. Its citizens were exiled and transported to concentration camps. The Germans started to destroy the city through systematic bombardments. As a result, 650 000 people were killed and 84 per cent of buildings were destroyed.
The process of rebuilding Warsaw started immediately in 1945. Today the capital city of Poland, which was to be erased from the map of Europe, is reborn and throbbing with life.


End of the 13th century A few kilometres north of Jazdów, a new town of Mazovian Dukes was established on a high embankment of the Vistula River. Its location corresponds to that of the Royal Castle. This settlement was Warsaw.

1413 The capital of Mazovia officially moved from Czersk to Warsaw.

1526 Triumphant entry in Warsaw of King Zygmunt the Old. In September, the local Parliament swore allegiance to him. Warsaw, thanks to its convenient location, experienced a period of rapid development and became the leading city of the entire state.

1569 Sejm of Lublin Union. Resolution to hold joint Polish-Lithuanian parliamentary sessions in the city of Warsaw. Poland and Lithuania are united under the name of Republic of Two Nations.

1596 Following a fire at the Wawel Castle in Cracow, King Zygmunt III Vasa moved his permanent residence, the royal court and the crown offices to the extended Warsaw castle. Consequently, the city knew another period of prosperity.

1655-1658 Three times, the city was under the siege and three times it was taken and pillaged by the Swedish and Transylvanian forces. The years of the "deluge" destroyed and emptied the city of its cultural goods. A great number of invaluable works of art, books, paintings, tapestries and other historic objects were taken by the invaders. Then followed a period of regression.

1683 King Jan III Sobieski broke the Turks' siege of Vienna. After the election of King Jan III Sobieski, Warsaw returned to its former economic and cultural glory.

1740 Stanisław Konarski founded the Collegium Nobilium and initiated a far-reaching reform of the education system.

1747 Załuski brothers opened the first public library in Poland.

1764-72 The second "golden age" in the history of Warsaw coincided with the reign of the last Polish King Stanisław August Poniatowski. The dynamically growing city expanded and was transformed into a modern urban organism. At the same time, it became an unquestionable centre of political, economical, commercial and industrial life of the country and the capital of Polish Enlightenment.

1791 The Constitution was passed by the Parliament (the first in Europe and the second in the world). On April 18th, 1791, the long-awaited act was adopted: it granted citizen rights to burghers, unified the city into one administrative entity, abolished jurisdictions, divided towns into districts and gave wide powers to local authorities.

On April 21st, 1791, the new statute was registered in the city books. Since 1991, i.e. since the two hundredth anniversary of this event, the local government of Warsaw has been celebrating the Warsaw Day on April 21st.

The victorious Targowica confederation, which led to the destruction of the work of the Four-Year Parliament, the second partition of Poland (in 1793, the first took place in 1772) and the difficult economic situation, all failed to suppress Warsaw's drive towards freedom.

1794 Insurrection of Tadeusz Kościuszko against the partitioners of Poland. After his victory in the battle of Racławice, the shoemaker Jan Kiliński and the butcher Józef Sierakowski led the victorious attack of Warsaw burghers on the Russian troupes stationing in the capital.

1795 Third partition. For 123 years, Poland disappeared from the maps of Europe. Its territory was divided between Russia, Prussia and Austria. The part of Mazovia, with Warsaw, fell to the Prussians and the town was relegated to the status of a provincial centre.

1806 Renewed hopes for the restoration of independence followed the arrival in Warsaw of Napoleon's army. In July 1806, Warsaw Duchy was established after the Tylża Peace Treaty. The city again became a vibrant centre of political and cultural life. However, the defeat of Napoleon put end to the independence hopes and also marked the end of the Duchy.

1815 After the Vienna Congress, Warsaw became the capital of the Polish Kingdom, a quasi-state politically dependent on Russia, but managing to keep considerable autonomy for some years to come.

1830 / 1863 Armed uprisings against Russian rule. After the defeat of the January Uprising (in 1864), the last symbols of the autonomy of the Kingdom were removed. Schools and administration were completely russified. Despite such adverse political conditions, the city continued to develop. Its industrial potential kept growing.

1840-48 The first railway line was built, linking Warsaw and Vienna.

1864 The first permanent bridge over the Vistula was commissioned. In 1875, the construction of the first railway bridge.

1851-1855 The first water system.

1881-1886 The first sewage system.

1881 The first telephone exchange was installed.

1882 The first regular horse-drawn trams arrived in the streets. In 1907, electric streetcars appeared.

1918 Poland regained its independence and Warsaw became the capital of the Second Republic.

1939 Germany invaded Poland. The city, as it was its tradition under foreign occupation, soon became the main centre of resistance, but also a major centre of clandestine cultural and academic life.

1943 Uprising in the Jewish Ghetto (lasted 27 days) resulting in a total annihilation of this district populated by half a million people.

1944 Warsaw Uprising, started on August 1st, lasted 63 days. After the defeat of the Uprising, the city was given a death sentence. The population was expelled or deported to concentration camps. The Germans began the systematic destruction of the town. The cultural losses, including burned-down libraries, museums, collections, churches, palaces and the property of the inhabitants, were incalculable. Some 650.000 people died and 84 percent of the urban fabric was destroyed. The special Nazi detachments set on fire every house and a street after a street. The most significant buildings, such as the Royal Castle, were blown up. The intention was not to leave a single building standing.

1945 Rebuilding of Warsaw began.

1945-1989 Poland lived under socialism.

1981 Beginnings of Solidarity movement which contributed to the fall of communism.

1989 Free, democratic elections marked the end of the communist regime.
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