Wrocław vrôts´läf [key], Ger. Breslau, city (1993 est. pop. 644,000), capital of Dolnośląskie prov., SW Poland, on the Oder (Odra) River. A railway center and river port, the city is also an industrial center with manufactures of heavy machinery, electronics, computers, iron goods, textiles, copper, and food products. Wrocław probably was a Slavic settlement when it was made (c.1000) an episcopal see subordinate to the archbishop of Gniezno. It became (1163) the capital of the duchy of Silesia, ruled by a branch of the Polish Piast dynasty. Sacked by the Mongols in 1241, the city was rebuilt by German settlers and developed as a trade center. Passing (1335) to Bohemia, it became a member (1368–1474) of the Hanseatic League. It was ceded to the Hapsburgs in 1526 and to Prussia in 1742. The city grew considerably in the 19th cent., both in commercial and industrial importance, and was the site of two large semiannual trade fairs. Its university was founded in 1811, when it absorbed the university formerly at Frankfurt-an-der-Oder. Wrocław was badly damaged during a Soviet siege in World War II. After 1945 the German inhabitants were expelled and replaced by Poles. Historic buildings include a 13th-century cathedral, several Gothic churches, and a Gothic town hall that houses a historical museum.

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