Bolesławiec (German: Bunzlau, Czech: Boleslav, Silesian: Bolesławjec) is a medieval and Baroque town in Lower Silesian Voivodeship, Poland. Bolesławiec is known throughout Poland and many parts of Central Europe for being the historic center of the country's pottery-making industry. The city is known as the Miasto Ceramiki (the Ceramics City). The population of Bolesławiec is nearly 40,000.
Bolesławiec traces its history back to the Middle Ages, with the crafting of the town's charter in 1251. Throughout the turbulent 13th century, Bolesławiec switched hands under a number of competing feudal Silesian Polish duchies, including the Duchy and Legnica and the Duchy of Jawor. In 1368, the lands surrounding the town were inherited by Charles IV, effectively incorporating Bolesławiec into the Kingdom of Bohemia. The town's fortunes waned in the 15th century, with the marauding Hussite army from Bohemia sacking the town in 1429, followed forty years later in 1462 when a devastating flood from the Bóbr river inundated much of Bolesławiec. Also during the Middle Ages, the presence of German settlers in the town grew stronger, soon outnumbering the town's Slavic population.
During the same period, the town's reputation as a center of pottery making grew. Due to the region's abundance of rich clay material, Bolesławiec attracted pottery makers to set up shop in the town. By 1511, competing potteries in the town organized a trade guild to protect their craft.
During the Reformation, Bolesławiec (now known under its German name Bunzlau) became associated with Protestantism, rejecting the Catholic faith. Throughout the 1500s, the town expanded rapidly due to trade, with much of the town center constructed in Renaissance-era architecture. Water and sewage lines were constructed during this expansion era, as Bunzlau became an important trading stop along the Via Regia trade route between Leipzig and modern-day Wrocław. However, the city's fortunes took a turn for the worse during the Thirty Years' War, when Swedish troops ransacked and destroyed much of the town in 1642. During the 1742 First Silesian War, Prussia annexed the lands around Bunzlau from Austria. Throughout the 18th century, the town center was again reconstructed, adding Baroque architecture to its townscape. Industrialization in the 19th century brought the railroad to Bunzlau, significantly expanding the town its original town walls, which were largely demolished in favor of a circular road around the Old Town.
Following the end of the Second World War in 1945, Bolesławiec (now under its former Polish name) was forced to rebuild over half of its infrastructure due to extensive damage brought on by fighting. Now annexed by Poland, Bolesławiec's German population were forcefully expelled, replaced with Polish settlers from the east. Despite the loss of the town's German populace, the ceramic industry did not fade, only to be reinforced with the introduction of new ceramic facilities and workshops under the communist regime. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Bolesławiec experienced a massive population boom, significantly expanding the town into new land.
Today, Bolesławiec's Old Town has been restored, attracting a growing number of tourists lured on by the town's charms and its famous ceramic industry.
The closest air gateway to Bolesławiec is Wrocław–Copernicus Airport (WRO) 90 minutes to the east in Wrocław. Airlines that fly into the city include Lufthansa, SAS Scandinavian Airlines and Poland's national carrier LOT together with it's daughter company Eurolot. Additional low cost airlines flying to and from Wrocław include Germanwings, Ryanair and Wizz Air. Domestic flights connect Wrocław with Warsaw, Gdańsk and Lublin.
Another option is Dresden Airport (DRS), located two hours to the west across the German border. Airline services in Dresden include Aeroflot, Air Berlin, easyJet, Etihad Regional, Germanwings, InterSky, Lufthansa, Vueling, UTair Aviation and Yakutia Airlines.
Bolesławiec is located next to the A4 motorway (E40), Poland's main southern car artery. The A4 motorway links the town to cities to the west, including Görlitz and Dresden across the nearby German border, as well as to Wrocław, Opole, Katowice, Kraków and Rzeszów to the east. The A18 motorway (E36) is also closeby, linking the city to northwestern German destinations that include Berlin and Cottbus. Outside of motorways, the city is located along the east-to-west national road DK94.
Bolesławiec is serviced by provincial rail company Koleje Dolnośląskie and less frequently by regional rail operator PolRegio. Both rail services offer connections from the town to cities across Lower Silesia, with Wrocław serving as a hub for rail transport. From Wrocław, visitors can connect to the national rail system for links across the republic. Additionally, German national operator Deutsche Bahn provides links across the border to Dresden and Görlitz, and more distantly to Berlin, Cottbus and Hamburg. A general rail timetable can be researched at Rozklad-PKP.
Bolesławiec's train station (dworzec kolejowy) is conveniently located just north of the Old Town, easily accessible by foot by a few minutes from the town center.
Bolesławiec is accessible by a number of bus routes operated by several different bus companies. Routes and schedules can be accessed by e-podroznik.pl The main bus station (dworzec autobusowy) is located to the northwest of the town center near the intersection of Wesoła and Dolne Młyny streets.
Located next to both the A4 motorway and the DK94 highway, access out of Bolesławiec is relatively easy and painless for travelers. The German-Polish border is nearly a 40 minute drive to the west, with the town of Görlitz just 40 minutes away, Dresden around 100 minutes away by car. To the east, the Lower Silesian capital of Wrocław is an 80 minute drive to the east. The Czech regional capital of Liberec is 90 minutes to the southwest.