Wołów [ˈvɔwuf] (German: Wohlau, Czech: Volov) is a town in Lower Silesian Voivodeship in south-western Poland. It is the seat of Wołów County, and of the smaller administrative district (gmina) called Gmina Wołów. It lies approximately 38 kilometres (24 miles) north-west of the regional capital Wrocław. As of 2006, the town has a population of 12,286.

Town hall in Wołów


Coat of arms
Coordinates: 51°20′29″N 16°37′42″E
Country Poland
VoivodeshipLower Silesian
CountyWołów County
GminaGmina Wołów
City charteraround 1285
  MayorDariusz Chmura
  Total18.54 km2 (7.16 sq mi)
  Density660/km2 (1,700/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
  Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
Car platesDWL


The town's name is derived from the Polish word wół ("ox").


The area around Wołów was settled since prehistoric times.[1] It became part of the emerging Polish state in the late 10th century under Mieszko I of Poland.[2] The town was first mentioned in 1157[3] when a wooden castle founded by Senior Duke of Poland Władysław II the Exile is documented,[4][5] which developed into a castle complex, which was again mentioned in 1202.[6] Two villages developed near the castle, one of them called Wołowo. Probably in the second half of the 13th century the town was founded near Wołowo and partially on the soil of the second village.[7] Wołów received Magdeburg town rights about 1285; a Vogt is mentioned in 1288.[7]

At that time Wołów belonged to the Duchy of Głogów, after 1312 to the Duchy of Oleśnica.[7] With the duchy it came under the suzerainty of Bohemia in 1328. From 1473 dates the oldest known seal of the town, which already shows an ox, as do all later seals. Wołów was ruled by local Polish dukes until 1492, and soon after, in 1495, it came into the possession of the Czech Podiebrad family, then in 1517 it came into the hands the Hungarian magnate Johann Thurzó, before returning to Piast rule in 1523, by passing to the Duchy of Legnica.[2] It remained there until the Piast dukes of Legnica-Brzeg-Wołów died out in 1675. As a result of the Thirty Years' War, the town's population fell by half.[2]

The Protestant Reformation was introduced to the town in 1522 by duke Frederick II. After the extinction of the local Piasts the duchy passed to the House of Habsburg, which opposed the Protestant denomination in the town, as part of the Counter-Reformation. In 1682 the town's parish church was closed and given to the Catholics. According to the Treaty of Altranstädt the church however was already returned to the Protestants in 1707 and stayed Protestant until 1945. The small Catholic minority in return received a Josephinian curacy.[8]

In 1742 Wołów was annexed by Prussia. The duchy was divided into two districts and the town became county seat of one of the districts. The structure of the town was, until 1700, defined by craft, especially clothiers. As the seat of a duchy and a district administrative function however became more and more important. The industrialization played only a minor role and mostly affected smaller companies of the timber industry.[8] In 1781 the city suffered a fire.[2]

Historic architecture of Wołów (examples), from top, left to right: Piast Castle, Saint Lawrence church, Saint Charles Borromeo church, medieval town walls (with a modern oxes monument), courthouse, town hall (relief of the coat of arms of the Duchy of Legnica on the facade)

The town was part of Germany from 1871 to 1945. In January 1945 just before town was taken by the Red Army the Wehrmacht evacuated the German population westwards. After Nazi Germany's defeat in World War II, the town once again became part of Poland.

In 1962, the town was site of the Wołów bank robbery, one of the largest bank robberies in Poland.

Notable residents

  • Mirosław Hermaszewski (born 1941), first (and to this day remains the only) Polish national in space.
  • Jan II the Mad (Polish: Jan II Szalony; 1435–1504), Polish House of Silesian Piasts dynasty Duke of Żagań-Przewóz since 1439. Jan II died in Wołów on 22 September 1504, ending with him the male line of the Piast Żagań-Głogów branch. He was buried in the local parish church.
  • Oskar Müller (1896–1970), German politician
  • Maria Cunitz was born here in 1610. She was an accomplished Silesian astronomer, and the most notable female astronomer of the early modern era. She authored a book Urania propitia, in which she provided new tables, new ephemera, and a simpler working solution to Kepler's Area Law for determining the position of a planet on its elliptical path. After her book was published, she was acclaimed as the most learned woman in astronomy since Hypatia of Alexandria. The Cunitz (crater) on Venus and the minor planet 12624 Mariacunitia are named in her honor. Cunitz spoke German, Polish, French, Greek, Italian, Latin and Hebrew.

International relations

Wołów is twinned with[9]:


  1. Hugo Weczerka, Handbuch der historischen Stätten, Schlesien, 2003, p.570, ISBN 3-520-31602-1
  2. "Historia Wołowa". Urząd Miejski w Wołowie (in Polish). Retrieved August 8, 2019.
  3. Józef Pilch, Leksykon zabytków architektury Dolnego Śląska, Wydawn. "Arkady", 2005, p. 403 link
  4. Romuald M. Łuczyński, Chronologia dziejów Dolnego Śląska, Oficyna Wydawn. ATUT, Wrocławskie Wydawn. Oświatowe, 2006, p. 143 link
  5. Ernst Badstübner, Dehio - Handbuch der Kunstdenkmäler in Polen: Schlesien, 2003, p.1028, ISBN 3-422-03109-X
  6. Badstübner, p.1028
  7. Weczerka, p.570
  8. Weczerka, p.571
  9. "Partnerstwo miast". Urząd Miejski w Wołowie (in Polish). Retrieved August 8, 2019.

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