Opole [ɔˈpɔlɛ] ( listen) (German: Oppeln, Silesian German: Uppeln, Silesian: Uopole, Czech: Opolí) is a city located in southern Poland on the Oder River (Odra). With a population of approximately 127,792 (January 2017), it is the capital of the Opole Voivodeship and, also the seat of Opole County. With it long history dating back to the 9th century, Opole is considered to be one of the oldest towns in Poland. The origins of the first settlement are connected with the town being granted Magdeburg Rights in 1217 by Casimir I of Opole, the great-grandson of Polish Duke Bolesław III Wrymouth. During the Medieval Period and the Renaissance the city was known as a centre of commerce due to its position on the intersection of several main trade routes, which helped to generate steady profits from transit trade. The rapid development of the town was also caused by the establishment of a seat of regency in Opole in 1816. The first railway connection between Opole, Brzeg and Wrocław was opened in 1843 and the first manufacturing plants were constructed in 1859, which greatly contributed to the city's regional significance. During its existence Opole belonged to Poland, Bohemia, Prussia and Germany. Prior to World War II it was located in eastern Germany and was one of the largest centres of Polish minority in the entire country. In 1945 the region fell into the Soviet Occupation Zone of Germany.
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