Wrocław (German: Breslau, Yiddish: ברעסלוי) is the major city and capital of the province of Lower Silesia, situated on the Oder river. The city has a population of 637,683 (2017). Wroclaw along with the region was historically ruled by the Polish dynasty of Piasts, then Austrian Habsburg Monarchy until the area was lost to Prussia after the War of the Austrian Succession. The city flourished under Prussian and later German rule. Following the Second World War, the city became part of Poland and is now the fourth largest city of the country.
Archaeological findings indicate settlement on the site as early as the Stone Age, several thousand years ago. Wrocław originated in the 10th century ce at the crossroads of the amber trade route between the Roman Empire and the Baltic Sea and the trade route linking the Black Sea to western Europe; it was administered by the Polish Piast kings. In 1000 King Bolesław I (the Brave) fortified the place and established a bishopric on Ostrów Tumski (“Cathedral Island”).
Wrocław contains numerous educational institutions (including the University of Wrocław), theatres and music centres, and a botanical garden and zoo. Buildings of historical interest include the cluster of churches at Ostrów Tumski, the Gothic town hall, and the Aula Leopoldina, a Baroque assembly hall at the university. Centennial Hall (1911–13), a noted example of reinforced-concrete architecture, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2006. The city hosts the Jazz on the Oder Festival and the “Wratislavia Cantans,” an oratorio and cantata festival that ranks as one of the most important music events in Poland.