Originally, the place was a trade settlement, mentioned, for the first time in 1234. Its’ name - Strelecz (shooter) refer to ducal shooters / hunters, that hunted in the area. [1.1]. In 1273, the settlement burned down, during the Bolesław’s; Wstydliwy (1226-1279) invasion. In 1290, Opole Duke, Bolko the 1st, established the settlement, located on the German law. Most likely, around 1292, Strzelce received city rights. [1.2]. The city developed thanks to the advantageous location, on the trade route, leading from Wroclaw to Krakow. In 1327, Duke Władysław Bytomski (1277-1352) render homeage to the Czech king, and since that moment Strzelce went under Czechs’ superiority, sharing Silesia’s fait. The city was surrounded with ramparts, with two gates. In 1362, the laws on which the city was located, changed from German to Magdeburg’s’. In 1379, the name was changed to Wielkie Strzelce. In 1526, Hungarian and Czech king Ludwik II Jagiellończyk (1506-1526), died without issue. The throne was taken by Austrian Arch Duke, Ferdinand Habsburg, as a result Strzelce went under the Habsburgs’ rule. In the 17th century, the city was the Lutherans’ Reformation Center. [1.3]. In 1742, the city was incorporated into Prussia. The city name was changed to Groß Strehlitz. In 1754, there were 790 inhabitants living in the city. [1.4]. In the years 1754, 1756, 1826 and 1827, big fires destroyed the city. In 1845, there were 2, 122 inhabitants, out of whom 1, 722 were Catholics, 260 Evangelist and 140 Jews. [1.5]. Rapid city development started in 1880, when the train line was opened, leading from Opole to Bytom. During the city industrialization, the farming machinery plant was opened, as well as the iron foundry. [1.6]. In 1900, there were 5, 779 inhabitants in the city. In the inter war period, in 1921, the plebiscite was held, it was decided that the city will remain under the German rule. During the IIWW, at the end of January 1945, Russian Army occupied Strzelce Wielkie and completely destroyed the city, claiming that Russian officer was killed. 75% of the city was destroyed. Eventually, Strzelce were incorporated into Poland and in 1948, the name was changed to Strzelce Opolskie.Initially in that place there was a forest trading post and a village, which was mentioned in historical documents as early as in the year of 1234. The name of that settlement, Strelecz (shooter), referred to a duke’s shooters-hunters, who organized hunting games in its vicinity[1.7].

The settlement was burnt down in 1273 during the raid of Prince Bolesław V the Chaste (1226-1279). A new settlement, on the German municipal law, was established there in 1290 by Prince Bolko I. It was probably around 1292 that Strzelce were granted town rights[1.8]. The development of the town was fostered by its convenient location at the trade route from Wrocław to Cracow. In 1327 Prince Władysław of Bytom (1277-1352) paid homage to the King of Bohemia and since then Strzelce Opolskie were under the Bohemian superiority, sharing the political fate of Silesia. At that time the town was already enclosed with defensive walls with two gates. In 1362 the town was located anew, under the Magdeburg Law. In 1379 the name of the town was changed to Wielkie Strzelce. When in 1526 Louis II, King of Hungary and Bohemia (1506-1526) died without leaving heirs, the throne was inherited by Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria, from the House of Habsburg. Thus, Strzelce went under the rule of the Habsburg Dynasty. In 17th century the town became a center for Lutheran Reformation[1.9]. In 1742 the town was annexed by Prussia and its name changed into Groß Strehlitz. There were 790 inhabitants in the town in the year of 1754[1.10]. The big fires of 1754, 1756, 1826 and 1827 destroyed parts of the town. 2122 people lived in the town in 1845, including 1722 Catholics, 260 Protestants and 140 Jews[1.11]. Rapid development of the town followed after 1880, when the railway line from Opole to Bytom was opened. The industrialization of the town included the opening of an agricultural machinery factory and iron foundry[1.12]. In 1900 the population of the town numbered 5779 people.

During the interwar period, after the 1921 plebiscite Strzelce Wielkie remained part of Germany.

During World War II, at the end of January 1945, the town of Strzelce Wielkie was captured by the Soviet Army. The Red Army destroyed the town almost completely, offering an excuse that a Soviet officer was shot there. The damage amounted to 75% of the town’s buildings. In 1948 the name of the town was changed to Strzelce Opolskie.

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Footnotes
  • [1.1] W. Szymankiewicz, Takie są Strzelce Opolskie, Wydawnictwo Instytut Śląski, Opole 1994. s. 9.
  • [1.2] C. Grunhagen, Regesten zur Schlesischen Geschichte, t. 7, cz. 3, Wroclaw 1886. s. 135.
  • [1.3] I. Kęsicka i M. Morga, Ziemia strzelecka. Szkice monograficzne, Instytut Śląski w Opolu, Wroclaw 1970. s. 66.
  • [1.4] I. Kęsicka i M. Morga, Ziemia strzelecka. Szkice monograficzne, Instytut Śląski w Opolu, Wroclaw 1970. s. 74.
  • [1.5] Dane Magistratu Strzeleckiego. Archiwum Urzędu Miasta i Gminy Strzelce Opolskie.
  • [1.6] W. Szymankiewicz, Takie są Strzelce Opolskie, Wydawnictwo Instytut Śląski, Opole 1994. s. 11.
  • [1.7] W. Szymankiewicz „Takie są Strzelce Opolskie” Wydawnictwo Instytut Śląski, Opole 1994. p. 9
  • [1.8] C. Grunhagen „Regesten zur Schlesischen Geschichte”, t. 7, cz. 3, Wrocław 1886. p. 135
  • [1.9] I. Kęsicka i M. Morga „Ziemia strzelecka. Szkice monograficzne” Instytut Śląski w Opolu, Wrocław 1970. p. 66
  • [1.10] I. Kęsicka i M. Morga „Ziemia strzelecka. Szkice monograficzne” Instytut Śląski w Opolu, Wrocław 1970. p. 74
  • [1.11] Dane Magistratu Strzeleckiego. Archiwum Urzędu Miasta i Gminy Strzelce Opolskie
  • [1.12] W. Szymankiewicz „Takie są Strzelce Opolskie” Wydawnictwo Instytut Śląski, Opole 1994. p. 11