Ostrow Tumski in Wroclaw

 

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Ostrow Tumski is the oldest part of the city of Wroclaw. It was formerly an island between branches of the Oder River. Archaeological excavations have shown that the western part of Ostrow Tumski, between the Church of St. Martin and the Holy Cross, was the first to be inhabited. The first, wooden church (St. Martin), dating from the 9th century, was surrounded by defensive walls built on the banks of the river. The island had approximately 1,500 inhabitants at that time.

The first constructions on Ostrow Tumski were built in the 10th century by the Piast dynasty, and were made from wood. The first building from solid material was St. Martin's chapel, built probably at the beginning of the eleventh century by Benedictine monks. Not long after the first cathedral was raised, in place of the small church. In 1315 Ostrow Tumski was sold to the church authorities. Since the island ceased to be under secular jurisdiction, it was often used by those who had broken the law in Wroclaw, as a place of sanctuary. An interesting indication of the special status of the island was a ban on wearing anything on the head, effective even on Tumski Bridge beyond the border pole of this small "ecclesiastical nation".



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