Opole is best known within Poland for the National Festival of Polish Song, which has taken place annually in June since 1963 and is broadcast nationwide on TV. Though it’s a fairly large regional industrial centre, it also has an attractive Old Town with pleasant waterside views along the Młynówka Canal, which flows through the historic centre.
Lying on the border of Upper and Lower Silesia, the city is the capital of its own voivodeship (province) called Opolskie. The region is known for an active German minority, one of the few communities of its kind to survive the war. They number about 100,000 and are represented in local government.
The first Slav stronghold was built here in the 9th century. In the 13th century Opole became the capital of its principality and was ruled by a line of Silesian Piasts until 1532, even though it was part of Bohemia from 1327. Later, Opole fell to Austria, then to Prussia, and after significant destruction in WWII returned to Poland in 1945.