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WHAT YOU SHOULD SEE

BYCZYNA lies on the north – western border of Silesian Upland, about 19 km north from Kluczbork. The origin of the city’s  name is interesting. This is what legends tell us about it. One of predominant in the neighbourhood knolls, laid east from Byczyna is so-called Wzgórze Krzyżowe ( Cross Hill ) where, allegedly, from immemorable times trade roads intersected. The legend advocates that once upon a time wanderers travelling together with their goods and chattels stopped in this place. They felt safely there, for they could not be suddenly surprised by the enemy thanks to the advantageous location of the hill. Then a bull-calf from those wanderers’ herd, rummaging the hoof in the ground came across  the vessel full of gold coins. Wanderers recognised this for good and happy sign and decided to settle down in this neighbourhood, and to name the put settlement Byczyna. And another legend runs great beef meat markets were held near Wzgórze Krzyżowe; those times they were called “bykowina” and for this reason the settlement nearby was named Byczyna. However, the proper name of the city descends from the old Polish word “byczyna”, marking the place of bulls farming and pasturage. The name was written as Bicina or Bicinium in the oldest Latin documents and stamps. Just in later centuries, when the city together with the whole Silesia was in the grounds of the Habsburg monarchy, and then Kingdom of Prussia, authorities tried to oust its Polish name, changing it into Pitschen. Anyway during centuries we may observe its various spelling in documents – from the name Byczyna through Byscina, Bichina, Biczin, Byczczyn, Pyschyn, and the German version Pitschen.

The exact date of the rise of Byczyna is not known, however the locality is considered to be a peer of the Polish state: it was a part of lands of Mieszko I, Bolesław Chrobry and their successors.

John Długosz gives that first suffragan diocese was established during the christianization of Silesia in Smogorzów, which then was transferred to Byczyna in 1041, and from there just in 1052 r. to Wrocław. Also Lubusz bishop Lorenz in the document made in  1213  mentions about small byczynian settlement.
Despite kept in quite great number, though often fragmentary documents including records about Byczyna the date of town privileges conferment is not known. According to insecure data it is acknowledged that supposedly Henryk I Brodaty had conferred privileges to the town in 1228. However, it is taken that the city was located on German law before 1268 r.

Independently from political fates of Byczyna, from its membership to Silesian Piasts, Habsburg and Prussia, the city was a mercurial centre of Polish culture. Byczyna played significant part in the Silesian trade, for till 1736 there were held in the city three, and after this date six fairs annually. The craft also developed, and in half of XVIth century it was organized into seven guilds featuring: bakers, butchers, linenmakers, tailors, shoemakers, furriers and smiths with locksmiths. The city is devoid of the industry, not counting small service institutions. Private trade administering the large number of shops, bars and restaurants is well developed.

From Byczyna came: XIVth century Polish chronicler Piotr, Maria Cunitia (Kunic) –the woman astronomer, Wilhelm Martin Kutta mathematician and physicist of the world fame.

We have to remember that history is the largest trump of Byczyna. It has caused the town to bet on the development of tourism and now profits from huge number of guests who arrive more and more often to use touristic offer it proposes.

Antique buildings, mediaeval walls and knights’ fortress make up the place where the time stopped, are only some of values and attractions the municipality has to offers. These aspects, among others, decided Byczyna is defined as one of the most interesting places in  Opolszczyzna.

Byczyna defies the destructive work of time. At first, what is the sensation in European scale, the very centre with many centuries long tradition is girdled by the kilometre of defensive walls preserved almost in the whole in good condition. Two gate towers: „Polish” and „German” and the „Sandy” tower are also a visit-card. The Polish tower closes the city from the east, the German one from the west and the Sandy one from the south. The towers Polish and German flank the entrances to the city on the course of the former trade route. These buildings were witnesses of the great battle of 24th of January,1588 among armies of  hetman Jan Zamoyski and Maximilian Habsburg, who, forced to capitulation, relinquished the Polish throne after the lost battle. Thanks to this event Zygmunt IIIrd Waza transferred the capital to Warsaw.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
This however are not all places and buildings worth attention. One can seek for traces of history on every step here. On walking narrow and winding back- streets one can admire old antique tenements and picturesque Market with the Town hall where has its seat the Municipal office in Byczyna.

Former times are resembled also by the Gothic Protestant church of St Nicolaus, which belongs to the Evangelical Church of Augsburg Confession’s parish in Wołczyn. There are  tomb crypts of the duke Maksymilian von Württemberg under the church who died in  1709 in Russian captivity after the lost battle of Połtawa – there is a commemorative board over his grave, founded by Swedish officers – Frankenberg family, local pastor Opollius and rector of the Municipal School in Byczyna Jan Kośny. Splendid mood of mysteriousness and horror, favourable acoustic conditions and game of lights caused there are held various kinds of the spectacles, performances of church choruses and operatic teams.

Another noticeable sacred relic is the parish church  of the Holy Trinity and the Holiest Virgin Mary of Rosary where one can admire the antique main altar (XVIIIth cent.) with painter's performance of the Holy Trinity, with sculptures of St. Jan Nepomucen, Edwig and two bishops.

One cannot also skip sacred buildings being a visiting-card of the Byczyna municipality and enrolls perfectly in the conception of the local touristic product. All willing ones can follow the route of little wooden churches few centuries old, leading by Biskupice (church from XVIIth cent.), Gołkowice (XVIIIth cent.), Jakubowice (XVIth cent.), Miechowa (XVIth cent.), Nasale (beginning of XXth cent.) and Proślice (XVIth cent.). Also architectural and touristic attractions of the municipality are palaces the in Proślicae, Gołkowice, Biskupice, Kochłowice, Polanowice, Roszkowice and Kostowo and manor-houses in Gosław, Pszczonki and Paruszowice.

On the area of the municipality there are also preserved 22  valuable antique cemeteries.. The cemetery near the chapel of St. Jadwiga in Byczyna comes probably from the XIVth cent. In the half of XVIIIth cent. the terrain of the cemetery was enlarged and there were buried both  evangelicals and Catholics. The oldest existing tombstone of evangelical pastor Hermann Koelling (1841-1902) comes from 1902. Koelling came from Proślice near Byczyna, studied local history and culture. He published the monograph of Byczyna „Geschichte der Stadt Pitschen”. There are also antique cemeteries: Jewish, established in 1865 in Biskupice, Catholic, established approx. in 1800  in Biskupice (the oldest tombstone from 1880, 76 tombstones and 17 headstones from the Ist half of  XXth cent.), evangelical, established in XVIIIth cent. in Paruszowice (the oldest tombstone from 1886) and Catholic (formerly evangelical) established in 1861 in Polanowice (the oldest tombstone from 1883, 30 tombstones from the Ist half of XXth cent.). The tombstone of the first post-war mayor of Byczyna, Franciszek Mikołaj Lazar (1881-1969)  located on the Catholic cemetery in Byczyna and the collective grave of Silesian insurgents from 1921 located on the cemetery in Kostowo were also written to the register of relics of the Opolskie voivodship.