Ostrzeszów is country town situated on the Ostrzeszowskie Heights, ca. 53 km south of Kalisz. Kobyla Góra, Wielkopolska’s highest elevation (284 m above sea level), is located 10 km west of the town.
Ostrzeszów gained its municipal rights in 13th century and was a royal town. The Chronicle authored by the historiographer Janko of Czarnków (1320–1387) refers to the urban hub as Ostrzeszow. During the reign of King Casimir the Great (1310–1370), the town was fortified, with a castle an ramparts erected. The sixteenth century saw animated development of crafts and trading activity locally. The 17th-century Swedish invasion hindered the city’s blossom: Ostrzeszów was actually destroyed and virtually did not develop until 19th century.
2nd Partition of Poland in 1793 made Ostrzeszów part of the Prussian territory. In 1807 to 1815, it remained within the limits of the Duchy of Warsaw. Following the fall of Napoleon, the town, reabsorbed then by its western neighbour power, functioned under the German name of Schildberg. The nineteenth century saw the town rise from a standstill owing to industrial developments. The patriotic city of Ostrzeszów was back with its mother country in January 1919.
During the Nazi occupation of 1939–1945, POW camps established in Ostrzeszów area hosted some 125,000 multinational inmates. The town was eventually liberated on 21st January 1945 by the Soviet Army – the day not eventually met by fourteen casual victims – Polish nationals who had been caught and executed by a firing squad the day before. The day of 20th January 1945 is remembered by the local community as the ‘Bloody Saturday’.
Presently, Ostrzeszów is an industrial and services hub.
In the middle of the market square stands a town hall from 1840, today housing a Regional Museum. The building’s wall features a plaque commemorating the ‘Bloody Saturday’ events.
East of the market square is a fifteenth-century gothic-styled i parish church of the Assumption of Our Lady.
North-west of the market, you will come across ruins of a gothic castle from 1st half of 14th century; its well-preserved 24-metre-tall tower is a tourist attraction.
Yet another object of historic interest is Ostrzeszów’s Bernardine cloister with its St. Michael the Archangel’s church built 1680–1740.
East of the town’s centre is St. Nicholas’s church of 1758. This shingle-covered temple features a square-shaped tower.
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