Modern Rybnik is a hub for local administration, transportation, economy, education and culture for neighboring towns, as well as having several historic monuments of its own that are well worth a visit. The fine choice of parks, squares and gardens have earned Rybnik a reputation as ‘the green city of Silesia’. Surrounding rivers, lakes and forests provide many opportunities for tourism and recreation.
History of Rybnik
Little is known about the origins of Rybnik. In the Middle Ages it was a fishermen’s settlement on an often used merchant route passing from Krakow, Oswiecim to Raciborz and Wroclaw. The settlement’s name comes from the local fishing ponds (the Polish word ‘ryba’ means ‘fish’).
At the turn of the 9th and 10th centuries there were three Slavonic settlements in the area, but they eventually expanded to form one urban district. Establishment of Rybnik as a city, based upon the German Law, dates back to sometime before the year 1308. Then, the city was not yet the capital of the separate Duchy of Rybnik in its own right. It belonged to the Duchy of Raciborz.
The city came to be a feuding point for the Czech Crown in 1327. With time, the city developed into a local center for trade and craftsmanship and maintained its reputation for its fishing culture. In the 15th century the Husites demolished the city, but in 1433 Rybnik hill saw a defeat of the supporters of Husitism.
The State of Rybnik
In 1526, Rybnik and its environs formed a separate area known as the State of Rybnik, and with the entire region of Silesia it came under the Austrian Habsburg rule. From 1740 it was part of Prussia, and then when King Frederic William II bought it in 1788, the State of Rybnik became a direct property of the Prussian Crown. The year 1818 marked the District of Rybnik's establishment, with Rybnik as its capital. Of all local industries, the hard coal mining industry advanced the fastest.
In the period after the First World War the residents of the district took active part in the Silesian Revolts and Rybnik served as one of the major centers of conspiracy in preparing the successive uprisings. Rybnik was officially returned to Poland in July 1922.
The city continued to be a district center throughout the twenty years between the two world wars. Then a metropolis of upwards of 28,000 inhabitants, it developed spectacularly to gain renown as the second most beautiful city in Poland after Poznan. Unfortunately, the break out of the Second World War hindered further progress.
The German Army captured Rybnik on 1 September after breaking the Polish army’s heroic defenses. In spite of the Nazi terror, resistance in many organizational units was widespread in this city. Liberation by the Soviet Army took place on 26 March 1945, after some violent fighting.
What to see in Rybnik
Among the sights you can explore in the city are the admirable Academic Church, a medieval prince’s castle, the Old Church erected between 1798 and 1801, a late-Baroque statue of St. John Nepomucen, a classicist Old Town Hall and the District Starosty building from 1887.
Varying in size and species of plants, the countless parks, squares and lawns draw locals and visitors alike to relax in the sun and enjoy the scented verdure. There are paths for strolling and benches for sitting, while some green spaces have fountains and limpid pools. Rybnik’s greenery resulted in being awarded first place in the Kwietnik (“Flowerbed”) magazine contest for the most flowered Polish city.
If you are looking for an active break based in a city, then the area around Rybnik reservoir offers a range of activities, including horse-riding and water sports. Moreover, the city has as much as 200 km of cycle paths, linking it with several nearby towns and passing through many of the area’s historic and cultural attractions. The main centers for recreation in Rybnik and its vicinity are the Sports and Recreation Center in Rybnik-Kamien, ‘Buk’ and ‘Pod Debem’ in Rudy and the Sunday Leisure Center in Szymocice.
The palace in Rybnik is also known as the Piast Castle, but since the times of the Piast dynasty it has undergone many changes. Although the first mention of the castle dates to 327, we know that it existed here as a wooden building in the first half of the 13th century. It had probably been constructed in the 12th century.
The present form of the palace primarily resulted from the rebuilding in the 18th century, when it was given the late Baroque and Neo-Classicist appearance.
Dr. Juliusz Roger Rybnik Hospital
Dr. Juliusz Roger Rybnik Hospital was an initiative of Dr. Juliusz Roger, who came to Silesia in 1847 for the job of court physician of Duke Victor I. Juliusz Roger, one of the most remarkable characters of Upper Silesia, was not only doctor, but also a naturalist and folklorist. The hospital facilities that bear his name, and whose construction he initiated, were put into use in 1869, four years after his death.