History of Kąty Wrocławskie

The name of the settlement is first mentioned in the document issued in 1298 as “in castro nostro Kanth”. Near this settlement, on the Bystrzyca River and by the way from Wrocław to Świdnica and Strzegom, the town was located towards the end of the 13th century, not later than in 1298, when the nearby Milin was called in the document “the old town”. Kąty was probably intended to replace the unsuccessful location of Milin. The hereditary alderman called Gerhard was mentioned in 1302. In 1321, the town with the adjoining property and the castle was made over to Bernard, the prince of Świdnica, by his brother Bolko I of Ziębice; then it was the temporary property of Bolko II of Świdnica and Henry of Jawor and after the latter’s death, it was taken over by the Czech king in 1346. From 1351, it belonged to the princes of Ziębice. In 1379, Bolko II of Ziębice sold the town with the castle to the princes of Oleśnica. In 1420, Konrad IV of Oleśnica, who was the Wrocław bishop from 1417, put it in pledge to the cathedral chapter of Wrocław after obtaining the consent of the princes of Oleśnica and the Czech king. In 1428 and 1432, Kąty was plundered and destroyed by Hussites. In 1447, Konrad the White of Oleśnica invaded the town and seized it from the chapter and then – in 1474 – returned it thereto. From that time, it became the property of the Wrocław bishopric.

The great fire in 1624 destroyed 165 houses, the castle, which has never been rebuilt, and the town hall rebuilt in the 19th century. Other great fires occurred in 1660 and 1752. In the second half of the 18th century, the buildings were erected within the limits of the medieval town. The preserved parts included the north-eastern part of town walls, the moat, the towered Wrocław and Świdnica gates and the towerless Castle gate; the marketplace and the main streets were densely built-up with houses with skeleton construction with arcades. A group of several buildings and the free-standing town-hall tower occupied the centre of the marketplace. Around 1820, the town gates were demolished and the moat was filled-in in 1855-56. In the second half of the 19th century, the majority of residential buildings were rebuilt as brick ones, however they still covered the same area. During the military activity in 1945, almost half of the town buildings was destroyed or seriously damaged.

The town of Kąty Wrocławskie served the function of the trade centre due to its location. The fertility of these lands caused the development of weaving and milling from the 14th century, which is reflected in numerous mills existing in this region. The customs station started its operation in 1310 and the annual fairs were organized from 1340.

Zimmermann wrote in 1795 that in 1610, Kąty was inhabited by 1388 people and in 1794 – by 910. From 1837, the cattle market was held three times a week, and the weekly fairs were held on Thursdays.

Many a craftsman worked in the town, among them 1 barber-surgeon, 2 bakers, 3 leather-dressers, 2 tanners, 2 distillers, 6 linen makers, 2 glaziers, 4 hoopers, 1 miller, 1 chimney sweep, 4 wagon-makers, 1 soap-maker, 3 rope-makers, 1 starch-maker, 1 stocking-maker, 4 cabinetmakers, 15 potters, 2 carpenters, 14 shoemaker. In 1795, the town was insured against fire for the amount of 28,815 Rhine thalers.

The description of the town in 1845 gives the information that the population of the town in 1691 consisted of 1354 Catholics, 326 Evangelicals, 11 Jews. There were two schools in the town – Catholic and Evangelical – where the teachers were paid from the funds provided by the king, the tax office and the municipal council. The schools and churches in Kąty were also attended by the inhabitants of the surrounding areas. In the mid-19th century, there were 144 houses in Kąty, together with the houses in suburbs.

The gunpowder factory was run in Kąty Wrocławskie between 1896 and 1920. The railway was built quite early, in 1843, which supported the development of the region.

It all the time preserved the character of a small town providing services for the well-developed agricultural base and its hardly developed industry included the processing of potatoes, milling and metallurgical industry. In administrative terms, from 1817, Kąty belonged to the poviat of Środa Śląska, and between the years 1932 and 1975 – to the poviat of Wrocław.

As far as the urban features are concerned, Kąty preserved the scale, basic divisions and elements of the small town owned by princes or bishops, and shaped in the Middle Ages. Unchanged original, regular layout of building blocks within the former walls and moats was reflected in the layout of streets and green belts. The area of historical buildings and the central marketplace extending from south-east towards north-west, subordinated to a pair of parallel streets constituting the axis of the layout and meeting at the place of former gates on the Wrocław-Świdnica route.

The rectangular marketplace is the beginning of eight streets: two main ones create its longer frontages, shorter and narrower streets run to three corners at right angles; the fourth side street starts between the north-eastern corner and the middle of the frontage to make the shortest way to the castle located outside the town walls. The regular central block of the marketplace includes the impressive town-hall tower and two structures whose style dates back to the 19th century: former classical evangelical church and the town hall in the Neo-Romanesque style. The bulk of the late-Gothic St. Peter and Paul’s parish church with the tower is a dominating element in the panorama of the town.

The densely built-up residential houses reflecting the medieval communication routes and the division into blocks are in the style of the second half of the 19th century, and their facades are modest and eclectic. In comparison with the buildings from before the 19th century, the frontages of marketplace and streets were changed by introducing a house with its roof ridge parallel to them in place of the former one with the gable facade.