Miedzianka

Miedzianka

480-520 m above sea level

The village is situated at from 480 to 520 m above sea level, between the Bóbr river valley and the Miedziany Potok valley, and lies close to Janowice Wielkie, Mniszków and Ciechanowice. In its years of splendour, Miedzianka was considered one of the most beautiful little towns of the Sudetes mountains.

It had a palace, churches, a brewery and a square with a fountain, surrounded by beautiful town houses. Miedzianka was a buoyant mining centre which had been active since the 13th century. Little is left today, most of the population resettled and the buildings in ruin as a result of mining damage.

Although the beautiful little town is no more, with barely a few surviving houses, it is still a charming place well worth a visit, affording a picturesque view over the Sokole and Ołowiane mountains, the Bóbr river valley, and the Giant Mountains. Visitors' attention is drawn to the lone-standing historical church, erected as an Evangelical church in 1826. Today it functions as the Chapel to John the Baptist, and a mass is said there every Sunday. Just behind the church are fragments of the palace gate, while cellars are what remain of the palace itself. Just before entering Miedzianka, travelling from Janowice Wielkie, a conciliation cross stands in the meadow to the left, while right at the beginning of the village on the right are the remains of the Miedzianka Brewery buildings.

A castle – probably belonging to the Piast dynasty, and marked on old maps – is believed to have stood on a rocky precipice above the Bóbr river.

Miedzianka is undoubtedly a special place because of its history, the mining-related events that occurred there, and because of its industrial legacy.

Miedzianka, created and destroyed by mining.

The date taken as the start of mining in the vicinity of Miedzianka is the year 1136, although no documents back this up. Its establishment is linked to Mniszków, which was the oldest and largest estate in the vicinity and once embraced the area currently occupied by Miedzianka. In 1372 the houses situated on Miedziana hill (Miedzianka) were split off from Mniszków, when the lord of the lands was Clericus Bolze[JdW1] . He is attributed with the construction of Bolczów castle, the surviving parts of which are popular to this day. In Miedzianka itself, which at the time was still part of Mniszków, Duke Bolko II of Świdnica raised a castle in 1353; it was thoroughly converted in 1518, and was altered further following a fire in the 17th century.

In those days the sale of land was quite common, and Miedzianka was no exception.

It passed from one owner to another, including Herman Czirn, Hans Kunz, Willrich and Heinz of Lubomierz. All of them resided in the infamous Sokolec "Falcon Stone" castle, built on one of the hills in the Sokole range. Just a fragment of the castle walls has survived to this day.

Their reign came during the tough time of the Hussite wars, a period which did not spare Miedzianka. Mining was falling into decline, and the town itself was consumed by fire. Only some of the buildings survived intact through to the end of that terrible war. Miedzianka had to wait to the mid 15th century before experiencing its next mining boom, when the owner became the elder of the Świdnica-Jawor Duchy, Konrad von Hochberg. Mining operations gradually gathered pace, and the next famous person to rule Miedzianka was the foreman of Złoty Stok mine, Diepold von Burghaus. He transformed the town into a leading centre of mining in the Western Sudetes, and it was on his request that King Louis II of Hungary and Bohemia granted Miedzianka the rights of a mining town. Miedzianka's deposits were gradually exhausted, and so the system of work was altered. Two brothers, merchants from Jelenia Góra, set up the production of vitriol, and a leaching plant was constructed which rinsed the cinders from the nearby slag heaps. The business proved so profitable that once again the small town became the main production centre in the entire Austrian Empire.

Miedzianka was growing, and a result of this expansion was its division into an Upper and Lower Miedzianka (the latter connected to Janowice Wielkie). At this time there were approximately 160 shafts and drifts, mills and other plants in operation. Mining blossomed for some time, but eventually the beds began running out. It was the year 1579, the mines were closing down, and the property of the miners' guilds was confiscated. The Thirty Years' War accelerated the process of Miedzianka's demise. Plagues laying waste to the population, the burning of the town by Croatian soldiers, and numerous robberies wrecked the mining town's power, and when the warfare ceased there were only 5 mines still prospering. Despite there still being those keen on restoring the greatness of the mining operations, their attempts mainly ended in failure.

In the early 18th century Miedzianka was home to the Mining Office of the Świdnica and Jawor Duchy. Work was renewed, old mine drifts were drained and new ones dug, while the scope of work in the Ciechanowice region was extended.

An interesting fact of this period is that for many years King Frederick II, persuaded by a fraud going by the name of Herzer, was spending money in the search for cobalt, very sought-after for the production of blue paint. The small quantities of the mineral supposedly extracted at Miedzianka proved a swindle, as the cobalt had actually been smuggled from Saxony into a local mine.

The town had its ups and downs. Fires in 1729 and 1752 upset town life, but the homes were quickly rebuilt, and normalcy was soon restored. The functioning of the mines also varied, with booms and periods of stagnation. In 1776 a certain Preller, known for running a vitriol processing plant in Szklarska Poręba, conducted mining works in the "Helene" and "Adler" drifts, and in addition he built a new drift – the "Fredreike Juliane" – where a new mineral was discovered, a variety of tennantite – "Julianite" – named in honour of an inoperative mine. A branch of the minting office was located in Miedzianka in 1802, and there are said to be old written documents including the following entry: "Copper mining built its smelting furnaces, over 70 of them, close to the old town of Miedziana Góra on the Bóbr".

A fire that broke out on the night of 15 October 1824 decimated the homes. 67 buildings were consumed, including the Evangelical and Catholic churches, both schools and the hospital, and 146 families were left without shelter. The palace owner, Count Matuschka, formed the Union of Conflagration Victims to provide help, while the people of Jelenia Góra organised a charity concert for the victims, and Countess von Reden, owner of the Palace in Bukowiec, bought 73 pairs of shoes for those in need at the market in Cieplice. Town and mining archives were lost in the fire.

Over the following years, work in the mines ceased to bring in the expected profits. Attempts were made to merge companies, embracing ever larger areas for extraction, until around 1927.

The years of war spared Miedzianka until the moment when the Russians began showing interest in the mining lands. A period which was to prove tragic in its consequences for Miedzianka had thus begun. Operations began intensifying at a substantial pace, and the intimidated miners worked in constant rotation. What was being extracted was kept secret, although some guessed. Those who lacked good sense either lost their lives or vanished in mysterious circumstances; nothing was said about uranium. New shafts cut into the old ones, causing the ground to shake in Miedzianka. The lack of mining documentation and the arbitrariness of the operations crushed the might of this 900-year-old mining town. Part of the town subsided, causing a real threat to the lives of its residents. The 1950s came to an end, and only shafts, drifts and collapsed slag heaps remained of the mining. No documentation of the days when uranium was mined is available. In the next decade a ban was imposed on refurbishments in the town, and step by step the ruined Miedzianka yielded its crown. The year 1972 was the start of the population's resettlement to the Zabobrze estate in Jelenia Góra, when the order was given to eliminate Miedzianka.

The plans were to demolish the buildings and afforest the town's land, as it was believed that Miedzianka's history would thus be erased. Yet in defiance of this, it's history lives on. A few homes, an imposing church, and the magical view over the mountains still draw people in just as they did during the town's years of splendour.

The different faces of Miedzianka

Up until around the year 1811 spinning was a buoyant craft in Miedzianka, and linen cloth was also woven here – all of the work being handicraft. The cause of the end of this weaving period was the opening of a large, mechanised spinning mill in nearby Marciszów. During their years of prosperity, the weavers of Miedzianka constituted quite a wealthy group of people. Particularly interesting is that, as one of the main towns in the canton, they were relieved of military service. Apparently a large portion of the linen goods during the Thirty Years War was smuggled to one of the homesteads, from where it was transported via tunnels to Bolczów castle.

Miedzianka constituted a picturesque little town, situated on a hill, and its breathtaking views over Śnieżka peak and the Sokole and Ołowiane ranges brought in crowds of tourists. Tall townhouses and their beautiful facades overlooked the town square, narrow alleys wound up and down the hill, benches and fountains added to the charm, and the chatter on the streets bolstered the town's life.

"Miedzianka health resort" – such a description was often given on old postcards, despite the town never having actually been given such a title. The fact that it lacked a sanatorium and accommodation made it difficult to obtain such a status.

"Miedzianka gold" used to be poured into tankards in the town, which held festivals in honour of beer. There was a Brewery in Miedzianka, and devotees of this golden drink would visit the town in their droves to taste its "gold" on the picturesque hill.

The "Giant Mountains Society" RGV was established on 1 August 1880 in Jelenia Góra, and opened a branch in Miedzianka. The town's authorities, in conjunction with this group, provided an obelisk in honour of the services of the pharmacist  Louis Chaussy.

Old map and castle

A castle is marked on one of the old maps, shown in a totally different place than the Miedzianka palace. Because of its location, the castle is presumed to have watched over the crossing of the Bóbr.

Cross – a reminder of death

This mediaeval cross, carved out of stone, bears the inscription "MEMENTO" – "remember". In the Middle Ages and during the early Renaissance monastic congregations used the greeting "MEMENTO MORI" – "remember that you'll die" - the meaning of which was intended to remind one of the earthliness of life. Man is born naked and in this manner departs, and as such aspiring to gain material goods does not provide anything. After all, when you leave this world, you leave it all behind anyway.

The cross stands in solitude on a boundary between fields, far from the buildings of Miedzianka. Because of attempts to steal it, the cross was moved to a nearby farm for some time. However, it was later reinstated to its rightful place.

Two Churches

Most of the Miedzianka population belonged to the Evangelical faith, while Roman Catholics constituted the minority. Two churches and their towers used to dominate over the townscape, but sadly that day is no more. When the time came for the pulling down of Miedzianka, soldiers of the Internal Security Corps set explosive charges beneath the stately historical building. Just a brief moment, the church was lifted into the air, and then nothing but a pile of rubble and clouds of dust remained.

Today the Catholic church still stands proudly in the middle of the former town square, with baroque sculptures inside keeping watch. Holy masses are said here every Sunday.

 

Translation Jonathan Weber

Sources:

1. Kapałczyński W., Napierała P. „Zamki, pałace i dwory Kotliny Jeleniogórskiej". Fundacja Doliny Pałaców i Ogrodów Kotliny Jeleniogórskiej. Wrocław 2005.

2. "Słownik geografii turystycznej Sudetów. Rudawy Janowickie". Red. M. Staffa. Wyd. I-BIS. Wrocław 1998

3. "Dolina Zamków i Ogrodów. Kotlina Jeleniogórska - wspólne dziedzictwo". Red. O. Czerner, A. Herzig. Muzeum Okręgowe w Jeleniej Górze. Berlin i Jelenia Góra 2003

4. Ciołek M. „Romantyczna rezydencja w Wojanowie i jej twórcy: Fryderyk A. Stueler i Peter J. Lenne". http://www.dziedzictwo.pl

5. Portal Wiedzy Onet.pl. http://portalwiedzy.onet.pl

6. „Kronika Miedzianki". Manuskrypt Dory Puschmann z domu Ende

7. „Gułag Miedzianka". Michał Mońko. http://michalmonko.blogspot.com/2006/01/guag-miedzianka.html. 2006

8. Accounts and documents from people who lived in Miedzianka following World War II.