Centre of town


Coat of arms
Coordinates: 50°47′30″N 15°50′0″E / 50.79167°N 15.83333°E / 50.79167; 15.83333
Country  Poland
Voivodeship Lower Silesian
County Jelenia Góra
Gmina Kowary (urban gmina)
  Total 37.39 km2 (14.44 sq mi)
Population (2014)
  Total 11,479
  Density 310/km2 (800/sq mi)
Website http://www.kowary.pl

Kowary [kɔˈvarɨ] (German: Schmiedeberg im Riesengebirge) is a town in Jelenia Góra County, Lower Silesian Voivodeship, in south-western Poland. It lies approximately 14 kilometres (9 mi) south-east of Jelenia Góra, and 93 kilometres (58 mi) south-west of the regional capital Wrocław.


The official site of the town dates the history of Kowary dates to 1148 when Laurentius Angelus mined iron ore in the location on the behalf of Polish duke Bolesław IV the Curly, ten years later on the orders of the Polish ruler a mining settlement was founded in the area,[1] the official page of the town also states that the Kowary miners took part in Battle of Legnica in 1241. Other possible date of the start of the town is 1355[2][3][4][5] and connects it to Ostsiedlung.[6] Publications published in German Empire disputed the origin of Kowary [7][8] and called it 'Schmedewerk'.[9] In 1355 year Duke Bolko II the Small, the grandson of the Polish king Władysław I the Elbow-high, the last independent Silesian Piast, granted mining privileges to the local miners.[10]

Since 1401 the village belonged to the possessions of the Schaffgotsch family (within bounds of the Crown of Bohemia). As a mining center Schmiedeberg received several privileges and was seat of a vogt (reeve) since 1368. An accord with neighbouring Hirschberg (Jelenia Góra) in 1454 elevated the settlement above the status of a village, it wasn't until 1513 however that Casper Schaffgotsch acquired the municipal law from Bohemian king Vladislaus II against the opposition of Hirschberg. Mining flourished until the Thirty Years' War, when the town was destroyed in 1633. The town's webpage states that the main export partner was Poland, with record trade in 1558,[11] it was also famous for its gunsmiths, with Polish king Sigismund II Augustus ordering 2000 gun barrels (later German publications claimed it was only 200).[12]

After the war veil weaving became more and more important for the town, whereas mining diminished. In the early 18th century the town became one of the biggest veil trading places in Silesia with trade relations to Bohemia, Italy, Spain, Russia and North America.

Schmiedeberg, belonging to the Duchy of Schweidnitz-Jauer (Swidnica-Jawor), remained in possession of the Schaffgotsch family until 1634. In the 16th century the population adopted the Protestant faith. When Hans Ulrich of Schaffgotsch was arrested as a follower of Albrecht Wallenstein the town came under Imperial custody. In 1639 the emperor sold the town to Bohemian count Heřman of Czernin and his family kept Schmiedeberg until Prussian takeover of Silesia. After the Peace of Westphalia (1648) the town experienced Counter-Reformation. The Protestant could now practice their faith only at the church of peace in Jauer (Jawor) and later in Hirschberg and Landeshut Kamienna Góra.

When Prussia annexed majority of Silesia in 1742 Prussian king Frederick II. immediately sold the possessions to the town, which thereby became sovereign. Prussian conquering also meant a relief for local Protestants – they received their own church (Bethaus). Nevertheless, an economic decline followed. Aid by the Prussian king, the settling of Saxon damask weavers, couldn't stop the downturn. Only the Industrialisation, beginning around 1850, led to a recovery of the local economy. In 1882 the town received a rail connection to Hirschberg, which further strengthened the economy.

Modern era

During World War II Poles were used as slave labour by Nazi Germany in local mines.[13] There was also a labour camp for Jewish prisoners established in 1943[14]

After World War II Silesia became part of Poland and the German population fled or was expelled westwards, the town was resettled by the Poles and renamed to Kowary.

As of 2006, the town had a population of 11,824.


  1. Historia Kowar
  2. Hugo Weczerka, Handbuch der historischen Stätten, Schlesien, 2003, p.476, ISBN 3-520-31602-1
  3. Ernst Badstübner, Dietmar Popp, Andrzej Tomaszewski, Dethard von Winterfeld, Dehio-Handbuch der Kunstdenkmäler in Polen: Schlesien, Deutscher Kunstverlag, 2005, p.481, ISBN 3-422-03109-X
  4. Arne Franke, Das schlesische Elysium, 2005, p.6, ISBN 3-936168-33-4
  5. Ludwig Petry, Josef Joachim Menzel, Winfried Irgang, Geschichte Schlesiens Band 1, Von der Urzeit bis zum Jahre 1526, 2000, p.6, Jan Thorbecke Verlag GmbH & Co, Stuttgart, ISBN 3-7995-6341-5
  6. Arne Franke, Das schlesische Elysium, 2005, p.372, ISBN 3-936168-33-4
  7. Theodor Eisenmänger, Geschichte der Stadt Schmiedeberg im Riesengebirge, Verlag May Woywod, Breslau, 1900, p.1 "Der Geschichtsschreiber Naso schreibt in seinem 1667 gedrucktem Buche "Phönix redivivus", Seite 233, das 1156 auf Veranlassung Angels auch das Bergwerk bei Kupferberg eröffnet worden sei."
  8. Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, Band 23, page 261, Markgraf, Duncker & Humblot, 1886 "Und die 1667 erscheinende größere Beschreibung des Fürstenthumes Schweidnitz und Jauer, Phoenic redivivus, in deutscher Sprache, für die er am 21. December 1667 in den böhmischen Adelsstand mit dem Prädicat von Loewenfels erhoben wurde, ist zwar viel gelesen worden, entbehrt aber aller Kritik. Alle Fabeln, die der Verfasser sich auf seinen Reisen hatte erzählen lassen, wiederholt er gläubig."
  9. Theodor Eisenmänger, Geschichte der Stadt Schmiedeberg im Riesengebirge, Verlag May Woywod, Breslau, 1900, p.2
  10. K. Kwaśniewski, Podania Dolnośląskie, Wrocław 1999, s. 136, ISBN 83-910403-1-3
  11. Historia Kowar
  12. Theodor Eisenmänger, Geschichte der Stadt Schmiedeberg im Riesengebirge, Verlag May Woywod, Breslau, 1900, p.31
  13. Z dziejów polskich robotników przymusowych w kowarskiej kopalni w latach 1941-1943 / Zbigniew Kwasny, Czesław Margas,Rocznik Jeleniogórski, volume 1963, pages 119-132
  14. Śląski kwartalnik historyczny: Sobótka, Volume 63, Issue 2, Wrocławskie Towarzystwo Miłośników Historii, Zakład Narodowy im. Ossolińskich, 2008, page 256
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Coordinates: 50°47′30″N 15°50′00″E / 50.79167°N 15.83333°E / 50.79167; 15.83333

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