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Rybnik is located in Silesian Voivodeship
Rybnik is located in Poland
Coordinates: 50°5′N 18°33′E / 50.083°N 18.550°E / 50.083; 18.550
Countycity county
Established10th century
Town rightsbefore 1308
 • MayorPiotr Kuczera
 • City148 km2 (57 sq mi)
Highest elevation
290 m (950 ft)
Lowest elevation
210 m (690 ft)
 (31 December 2019)
 • City138,098 Decrease (25th)[1]
 • Density930/km2 (2,400/sq mi)
 • Metro
527 017
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
44-200 to 44-292
Area code(s)+48 32
Car platesSR

Rybnik [ˈrɨbɲik] (About this soundlisten) (Silesian: Rybnik, German: Rybnick) is a city in southern Poland, in the Silesian Voivodeship. The city first developed as a fishing centre in the Middle Ages, hence the name of the city alludes to the trade. Rybnik then grew as an important centre of coal mining and the seat of the surrounding county in the 19th century.

The Rybnik area with its large coal reserves and power plants is an important economic region, and a notable center of music, home of the Szafrankowie Brothers State School of Music as well as a Philharmonic Orchestra.


The city's population peaked in 1997 at 144,943. In 2019, Rybnik had 138,098 inhabitants.[1] Its population density is 955.3 per km². Rybnik's demographic situation remains far better than most other Polish cities, with a rather young population: 18.2% being under the age of 18 and only 15.9% older than 65.

According to the National Census of 2002, out of Rybnik's 142,731 citizens, 126,860 (88.9%) declared Polish nationality, 8,980 (6.3%) were Silesians and 382 (0.3%) were of German origin.


Rybnik is a powiat (county) divided into 27 districts that have its own administrative body. Most of them are suburban areas, including: Chwałęcice, Golejów, Gotartowice, Grabownia, Kamień, Kłokocin, Ligota-Ligocka Kuźnia, Meksyk, Ochojec, Orzepowice, Popielów, Radziejów, Rybnicka Kuźnia, Rybnik – Północ, Stodoły, Wielopole, Zamysłów and Zebrzydowice. There are also four former towns that have been merged with Rybnik: Boguszowice Stare, Chwałowice, Niedobczyce and Niewiadom. Two districts (Boguszowice Osiedle and Maroko-Nowiny) are typical Polish housing estates, with large blocks of flats and supporting buildings (such as shops and schools) built in communist time. The remaining three districts, Smolna, Śródmieście and Paruszowiec-Piaski formed the pre-war town of Rybnik. Those areas are densely built-up, with old town, city hall, most of schools, offices and shopping malls in Śródmieście (literally: city centre in Polish) and 19th century factories and houses in Paruszowiec.

The city of Rybnik is the centre of a metropolitan area, the Rybnik Coal Region (Rybnicki Okręg Węglowy) with a total population of 600,000. The distance to Katowice is about 50 km (31 mi), and to Ostrava about 30 km (19 mi).


District Court, which dates back to a 13th-century castle built by the Piast dynasty
District Court, which dates back to a 13th-century castle built by the Piast dynasty

The city's name derives from the Proto-Slavic word for "fish" (ryba) and meant "fishpond" in the Old Polish language. The name highlights the importance of fish farming for the city's economy in the Middle Ages, which is reflected in its coat of arms until this day.

The city's origins can be traced back into the 9th and 10th century, when three Slavic settlements existed on Rybnik's present-day territory which eventually merged to form one town. It became part of the emerging Polish state under its first historic ruler Mieszko I in the 10th century. In the course of the medieval eastward migration of German settlers (Ostsiedlung), Rybnik, as many other Polish settlements, was incorporated (granted city status and right) according to the so-called Magdeburg Law at some point before 1308 (the exact date remains unknown). This, however, is not to be confused with a change in national affiliation; Rybnik continued to be part of the Kingdom of Poland, until most of Silesia became a fiefdom of the Bohemian Crown in 1327, however Rybnik was still ruled by local Polish dukes of the Piast dynasty until 1336.

The city continued to grow and developed into a regional trade centre. In the 15th century, the Hussites devastated the city, before being eventually defeated in a decisive battle on a hill nearby in 1433, with Poles and Czechs fighting on both sides. Around 1469 the city passed under Hungarian suzerainty, and in 1490 it fell back to Bohemia. From 1521 Rybnik was again ruled by Polish Piast dukes, as it was integrated with the Duchy of Opole and Racibórz, before in 1532 it eventually was incorporated into Bohemia, which itself came under the authority of the Habsburg crown. Then the city became the capital of a state country held by various noble families, including the Polish Węgierski family of Rola coat of arms from 1682 until the state country's dissolution in 1788.

Early 19th-century view of Rybnik
Early 19th-century view of Rybnik

At the beginning of the War of the Austrian Succession between Frederick II of Prussia (the Great) and the Habsburg empress Maria Theresa of Austria, most of Silesia, including Rybnik, was annexed by Prussia in 1740, which Austria eventually recognized in 1763. Coal mining gained importance for Rybnik's economy as early as the 18th century. In 1871, Prussia, including Rybnik, merged into the German Empire, the first modern German nation state. At this point, Poland had already ceased to exist as an independent state, having been divided between Prussia, Austria and Russia in the Third Partition of Poland of 1795.

With the intensification of Germanization and anti-Polish policies in the German Empire in the late 19th and early 20th century, the ethnically mixed region of Upper Silesia became affected by growing tensions between German nationalists and indigenous Poles. After the end of World War I in 1918, the Polish state was finally restored. Amidst an atmosphere of ethnic unrest, the Polish Silesian Uprisings broke out, the first of which (in 1919) was centered on Rybnik, and the Upper Silesia plebiscite was held in 1921 to determine the future state affiliation. The lowest share of pro-German votes was registered in the districts of Rybnik (34.7%) and Pszczyna (25.9%).[2][3] However, in the city of Rybnik, 70.8% of the votes were in favour of remaining in Germany.[2] The city and the largest part of the district of Rybnik were attached to Poland; Rybnik thus became Polish-ruled for the first time since 1788.

Within the Second Polish Republic of the interwar period, Rybnik was part of the Silesian Voivodeship and enjoyed far-reaching political and financial autonomy. In 1933, brothers Karol and Antoni Szafranek, eminent Polish musicians, founded a music school, today known as the Karol and Antoni Szafranek Secondary and Tertiary State School of Music.

Memorial at the site of a German massacre of 385 prisoners of the Auschwitz concentration camp
Memorial at the site of a German massacre of 385 prisoners of the Auschwitz concentration camp

During the joint German-Soviet invasion of Poland, which started World War II, in September 1939, Rybnik was captured by Germany, and the Einsatzgruppe I entered the city to commit atrocities against Poles.[4] Under German occupation the city was directly annexed into Germany. The population was ethnically categorized and either "re-Germanized" or disfranchised and partially expelled into the General Government (German-occupied central Poland). Local teachers and school principals were among Polish teachers and principals murdered in Nazi concentration camps.[5] The Germans operated a Nazi prison in the city.[6] The Polenlager No. 97, a forced labour camp for Poles, was operated in the city from 1942 to 1945.[7][8] In the camp, the Germans mainly held children whose parents were either arrested or deported to Germany, and also elderly people.[9] Nevertheless, the Polish resistance movement was active in Rybnik. In the final stages of the war, in January 1945, the Germans murdered 385 prisoners of the Auschwitz concentration camp in the city during a death march.[10]

After the eventual German defeat which ended World War II in the European theatre of war in 1945, Rybnik was once more integrated into Poland, the territory of which was shifted westward on Joseph Stalin's initiative. Rybnik thus ceased to be German-Polish border city. A large portion of ethnic Germans from Rybnik eventually settled in the West German city of Dorsten, which eventually became one of Rybnik's twin towns in 1994.

In the post-war period, coal mining continued to gain importance. Under Poland's communist rule in 1945–1989 the city was projected to grow as a main mining centre of southern Poland. The 1970s saw the construction of an important coal-fired power plant. A reservoir on the river Ruda was constructed to provide it with cooling water. In 2002, the University of Economics (Akademia Ekomomiczna), the University of Silesia (Uniwersytet Śląski), both in based Katowice, and the Silesian Polytechnic University (Politechnika Śląska) based in Gliwice established a joint campus in Rybnik to improve academic training opportunities in the area.


Historic sights of Rybnik (examples)
Old City Hall, now a museum
Historic Ignacy Mine, now a museum
County Office
St. Anthony's Basilica

In contrast to the central part of the Upper Silesian Industry Area a short distance to the north, Rybnik enjoys the reputation of a "green" city having a relatively clean environment. While the city is not a centre of tourism, it does have various interesting sights and opportunities for recreation. To the north-east of the built-up area, there is a reservoir (Zalew Rybnicki) on the river Ruda, which serves as a cooling water source for the power station. Surrounded by forests, it offers swimming, fishing, sailing and surfing opportunities, and due to the power station's waste heat it is warm enough all year to be a habitat for grass carps. The Beskidy Mountains, a popular recreational area, also for skiing, are within a 1–2 hour drive.

Sights worth visiting:

  • the neo-gothic basilica of St. Anthony (Bazylika św. Antoniego)
  • the building of the former district authority (1887)
  • the neo-classical new town hall (1928)
  • the neo-classical old town hall with clock-tower, today housing the registry office and the museum of local history
  • the Church of St. Catherine (Kościół św. Katarzyny) (1534)
  • the Church of St. Lawrence (Kościół św. Wawrzyńca) (1717)
  • a late Baroque estate house (1736)
  • a Piast castle from the early 13th century, completely redesigned in the 18th century


Municipal Stadium, home venue of both ROW Rybnik speedway team and ROW 1964 Rybnik football team
Municipal Stadium, home venue of both ROW Rybnik speedway team and ROW 1964 Rybnik football team

In 2006, the 8th European Glider Aerobatic Championships took place in Rybnik.

The aeroclub of Rybnik is very successful in national and international glider aerobatic competitions: Jerzy Makula won the European Glider Aerobatic Championships two times and the World Glider Aerobatic Championships six times.[11] Other current or former members of the Polish national glider aerobatics team from Aeroklub ROW [pl] are Małgorzata Margańska, Krzysztof Brzikalik, Lucjan Fizia, Stanisław Makula and Ireneusz Boczkowski.[12]

Teams from Rybnik

University of Economics Branch in Rybnik

Notable people

Twin towns – sister cities

Rybnik is twinned with:[13]


  1. ^ a b "Local Data Bank". Statistics Poland. Retrieved 27 June 2020. Data for territorial unit 2473000.
  2. ^ a b "Landsmannschaft der Oberschlesier in Karlsruhe". 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2021-07-19.
  3. ^ "Landsmannschaft der Oberschlesier in Karlsruhe". 2015-05-02. Retrieved 2021-07-19.
  4. ^ Wardzyńska, Maria (2009). Był rok 1939. Operacja niemieckiej policji bezpieczeństwa w Polsce. Intelligenzaktion (in Polish). Warszawa: IPN. p. 58. ISBN 978-83-7629-063-8.
  5. ^ Wardzyńska (2009), p. 138-139
  6. ^ "NS-Gefängnis als Straflager Rybnik". (in German). Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  7. ^ "Polenlager Nr. 97 Rybnik". (in German). Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  8. ^ Wardzyńska, Maria (2017). Wysiedlenia ludności polskiej z okupowanych ziem polskich włączonych do III Rzeszy w latach 1939-1945 (in Polish). Warszawa: IPN. p. 448. ISBN 978-83-8098-174-4.
  9. ^ Wardzyńska (2017), p. 448, 452
  10. ^ "Szlakiem Marszów Śmierci". Miejsce Pamięci i Muzeum Auschwitz-Birkenau (in Polish). Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  11. ^ Rankings of Jerzy Makula in FAI European and World Aerobatic Championships Archived 2007-11-03 at the Wayback Machine - accessed 2008-02-09
  12. ^ Aeroclub ROW: aerobatics (in Polish) - accessed 2008-02-09
  13. ^ "Miasta Partnerskie". (in Polish). Rybnik. Retrieved 2020-03-10.

External links

This page was last edited on 19 July 2021, at 07:13
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