Warka i okolice


Warka is one of the oldest cities in Mazovia. As a city (an oppidum) it appeared for the first time in source documents in 1321. The name of the city was never explicitly clarified. It may be derived from the word “warować” (keep vigil) related to the function of fortifications, fulfilled by the early medieval stronghold located at the top of escarpment over the Pilica river; or from the word “warzyć” (brew beer), because brewing was one of the most popular and the earliest documented activities of the local population.

Do rozwoju Warki przyczyniło się wiele czynników: naturalne położenie nad rzeką, żyzne i urodzajne ziemie, dogodne warunki przeprawy przez Pilicę, położenie na szlakach handlowych i komunikacyjnych – wszystko to powodowało dynamiczny rozwój ośrodka o charakterze targowym. W 1375 r. występowała już w Warce rada miejska, działał także sąd miejski. Miasto cieszyło się opieką Książąt Mazowieckich.

Many factors contributed to the development of Warka: natural position by the river, fertile and fecund soils, convenient conditions for crossing the Pilica river, location by the trade and communication routes – these factors caused dynamic development of the trade center. Together with the rapid growth of importance of Warka, a city organization was developing. In 1375 there was already a city council in Warka and a city court functioned here. The city enjoyed the protection of Mazovian Princes. In the 15th and 16th century Warka was in its prime. The city became a resilient handicraft-trade center. The greatest development boom involved shoemaking and brewing. Warka’s beer enjoyed huge popularity. In 1483 the Mazovian Prince, Boleslaw V, granted a privilege to Warka’s beer for an exclusive supply of that beer to ducal court and its sale in the cellars of the town hall of Warsaw.

In the 16th century Warka, there existed as many as seven temples. The fact is confirmed by both diarists and travelers, and by church inspections. With the beginning of the 17th century the city started to lose its original splendor. First it suffered from the rebellion of Nicolai Zebrzydowski, and then from the battle with the Swedes in 1656. Huge losses were also due to several fires. After 1795 Warka became part of the Prussian partition and since 1815, it was under Russian rule. The period of national uprisings also abounded in the events in this area. In 1830 the battery of racketeers stationed here. January Insurrection brought reprisals to the city for sympathizing with the insurrectionists. Lieutenant colonel Wladislaw Kononowicz, commanding an insurgent detachment, fought many skirmishes in this area with the czar’s troops. Captured together with his comrades he was put before the firing squad in front of the citizens by the Pilica river on the 4th of June 1863. The second half of the 19th century witnessed a significant economic animation of the city, and the establishment of the handicraft plants. In 1891 The Factory of Building Ferrules of Lubert Brothers commenced its activity, while the brewery in Winiary maintained the tradition of brewing beer. The first and then second World Wars razed Warka to the ground. The Nazis murdered numerous citizens. It took many years for the city, after the liberation, to recover and raise the town from ruins.

There are many historical figures linked to Warka. In the nearby village of Ostroleka, lived Jedrzej Swiecicki, a writer, and an author of the description of Mazovia from the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries. Here was born Adam Jarzebski, a musician, a composer and an architect of the epoch of baroque. Peter Wysocki, a hero of the November night, was born, lived and died in Warka. Also a famous physician, ethnographer and a writer, Wladyslaw Matlakowski came from Warka. The greatest pride of the city became Casimir Pulaski – the hero of Poland and the United States.

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