Wels History, Austria
Wels is known as the second biggest city in the Upper Austria State. The rich Wels History breathes in the city’s attractions. From the pavements to the buildings, Wels is indeed a city of culture and history.
Wels History – First Settlements
The very first inhabitants of Wels arrived in the city during the Neolithic Era, which was around 3500 BC. During this era, the residents of the place lived as farmers, who stayed in wooden rectangular dwellings. The walls of these houses were made of clay. The very first real dwellers of the city are unidentified but the ones confirmed to have settled in Wels were the Illyrians (1000 BC).
Wels History – Roman Occupation
When Emperor Augustus ascended the throne of Rome in 15 BC, he expanded the empire towards the North. By the time Emperor Claudius reigned over the empire, Wels became a province of Rome. It was then given the status of city when Hadrian became the emperor.
Wels was made colonia (big city) during the time of Emperor Caracalla. The fame of Wels did not end there. It was made the capital city of Ufernoricum by Emperor Diocletian in about 300 AD. By the 4th and 5th century, the inhabitants of Wels were mostly Christians. When the Roman Empire deserted the province of Noricum –Wels is a part of – in 488 AD, the city lost its significance.
Wels History – Habsburg Occupation
When the Habsburgs obtained Wels, the city gained many benefits. Wels once more became an important city and thrived under the rule. During the rule of Rudolf IV – known as the Founder – and Duke Albrecht III, the city was free from all taxes on liquor and was granted “Stapelrecht”. The latter was a grant that all woods transported on the Traun River would be sold in Wels for three days.
Wels History – 16th and 17th Century
The Protestant Reformation Movement became popular in Wels. Protestantism was embraced even by the nobility of the city. However when the Counter Reformation started at the latter part of the 16th century, many Protestant residents fled from the city. When the Peasants’ War broke in 1626, the suburbs were damaged and the economy of Wels suffered greatly.
Wels History – 19th Century
Industrialization kicked in Wels during the 19th century. Major road projects were constructed including the Horse Car Railway. Steam locomotives were also adopted by the city. During the mid-19th century, a number of industrial firms were created.
Welser Volksfest, a renowned welfare, was instituted by the citizens and businessmen of the city of Wels in 1878. This opened the city to the world as an important location for international trade fairs.
Wels History – 20th Century
Wels, like other European cities, suffered relentlessly when World War I and II broke. Shortage of food and massive attacks were faced by the citizens of the city. After the war, Wels faced health problems due to the illness brought about by former prisoners of concentration camps.
The economy started to flourish after 1948 when Dr. Koss was elected the mayor of the city. By 1964, during the time of Leopold Spitzer, Wels rose as a statutory city. Once again, the city regained its fame that it experienced in the past.
Wels History may be relatively different from Graz History and Salzburg History, but it continues to prove that it is worth to be recognized as one of the key cities of Austria. Now, it proudly stands as one of the cities the country should boast of.
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