Biała, or Biała Prudnicka [ˈbʲawa prudˈɲit͡ska] (German: Zülz) is a town in Poland, in Opole Voivodeship, in Prudnik County, with 2,687 inhabitants (2004).

Collage of views of Biała.png
Flag of Biała Zülz
Coat of arms of Biała Zülz
Coat of arms
Biała is located in Poland
Coordinates: 50°24′N 17°40′E / 50.400°N 17.667°E / 50.400; 17.667
Country Poland
Established13th century
Town rights1327
 • MayorArnold Aleksander Hindera
 • Total14.71 km2 (5.68 sq mi)
 • Total2,653
 • Density180/km2 (470/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
Area code(s)+48 77
Car platesOPR

History of the townEdit

In the southwestern corner of their domain, the dukes of Opole built a castle, Bela, on a lake named Zülzer Wasser (English: Water of Zülz). This castle was the seat of power of a local mayor of the palace. Around the foot of the palace, a German village, the seat of its local parish, served as a setting-off point for further settlement in the region, which was densely forested and bordered Moravia. The village was first mentioned historically in 1225. Some of the villages founded by settlers from Bela include Gościęcin (original German name: Kostenthal), founded in 1225, and Kazimierz (original German name: Kasimir bei Oberglogau), founded in 1240.

Around the year 1270, a town, named Zolez and later Zülz, was founded with Magdeburg rights between Bela castle and the small surrounding village. The village's construction was highly traditional. The town was walled after its completion, with two gates being constructed to allow access. A marketplace was built in the center of the town as well. Around this time, several surrounding municipalities changed their names. The village of Bela, named for the castle, was rechristened with the German name Altstadt (English: Old Town). A town 4 km (2 mi) to the east was already named Zülz, this town was renamed Alt Zülz (English: Old Zülz). The church at Alt Zülz, which had been the main church in the area, was made a satellite church of a new, larger city church, built in 1400. Zülz became the seat of a vogt in 1311. In 1335, Zülz became a Presbyterium, a local seat of power of the Roman Catholic Church. However, this was not permanent. After the death of the last duke of Opole, Johann, the town passed into the possession of the Habsburg family, who soon mortgaged the town's ecclesiastical position to pay off debts. Also by the end of the 14th century, the city had acquired a large Jewish population. Over the next 200 years, the town passed into the possession of various groups, including the barons of Proskau. This was significant, as under the rule of the barons, Zülz was only one of two Silesian cities, the other being Głogów, which did not forcibly expel their Jewish populations. Under a 1601 petition of the barons, emperor Rudolf II of the Holy Roman Empire extended special protective privileges to the Jewish population of Zülz.

The city was doubly devastated in the 1630s, as both the Thirty Years' War and the Black Death killed nearly the entire population of the town. To mark the terrible occurrence, a memorial remembering those who died around that time was constructed. Special commercial rights granted to the city in 1699 allowed local Jews to do business with people from Bohemia, Silesia, and the rest of Poland, giving them rights equal to local Christian merchants. These rights served as the impetus for a strong Jewish immigration into Zülz, mainly in the 18th century. This earned the city the nickname Judenzülz, although the local Jewish community had given the town another nickname, the Hebrew Makom Zadik (English: Place of the Protected).

After the 1742 partition of Silesia, Zülz became Prussian territory. The main effect of this came several decades later, in the form of an emancipation decree issued by Frederick William III. This proclamation ended the second-class status of Jews. Many Jews took this opportunity and moved to larger cities, leaving Zülz. This emigration was so strong that by 1914, the Jewish community in Zülz was largely defunct.

The castle, like the town, passed through the ownership of many different groups. In 1727, the castle was still in the possession of the barons of Proskau, who began a restoration of both the castle and its architecturally notable 16th-century cloister. In 1748, the castle passed into the ownership of Bartolomaius von Oderfeld, as he was the new ruler of the area. In 1756, the castle became the property of count Matuschka and his descendants, until the breakup of the local administrative units to which Zülz belonged, in 1841. The city of Zülz purchased the castle outright in 1874, which was then used for city business and administration until 1923. The castle became a girls' school in 1926.

The city was connected to the railroad network on October 22, 1896, with the completion of a 12 km (7 mi) railroad spur from the nearby town of Prudnik. Another connection, a 31 km (16 mi) spur connecting the city to the northeast with the town of Gogolin, was completed on December 4 of the same year.

After World War II, the town, which had belonged to Germany since 1816, passed into the ownership of Poland and was renamed Biała. Much of the town's German population was expelled, but many German speaking people still live there today.

Historical populationEdit

  • 1782: 2,022
  • 1787: 2,408
  • 1825: 2,462
  • 1905: 2,816
  • 1939: 3,784
  • 1961: 2,832
  • 1971: 3,100

Notable residentsEdit

International relationsEdit

Twin towns — Sister citiesEdit

Biała Prudnicka is twinned with:


External linksEdit