Płock (pronounced[pwɔt͡sk] (listen)) is a city in central Poland, on the Vistula river. It is in the Masovian Voivodeship (since 1999), having previously been the capital of the Płock Voivodeship (1975–1998). According to the data provided by GUS on 31 December 2020 there were 118,268 inhabitants in the city. Its full ceremonial name, according to the preamble to the City Statute, is Stołeczne Książęce Miasto Płock (the Princely or Ducal Capital City of Płock). It is used in ceremonial documents as well as for preserving an old tradition.
Płock is a capital of the powiat (county) in the west of the Masovian Voivodeship. From 1079 to 1138 it was the capital of Poland. The Wzgórze Tumskie (“Cathedral Hill”) with the Płock Castle and the Catholic Cathedral, which contains the sarcophagi of a number of Polish monarchs, is listed as a Historic Monument of Poland. It was the main city and administrative center of Mazovia in the Middle Ages before the rise of Warsaw as a major city of Poland, and later it remained a royal city of Poland. It is the cultural, academic, scientific, administrative and transportation center of the west and north Masovian region. Płock is the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Płock, one of the oldest dioceses in Poland, founded in the 11th century, and it is also the worldwide headquarters of the Mariavite Church. In Płock are located also the Marshal Stanisław Małachowski High School, the oldest school in Poland and one of the oldest in Central Europe, and the Płock refinery, the country’s largest oil refinery.
The area was long inhabited by pagan peoples. In the 10th century, a fortified location was established high of the Vistula River’s bank. This location was at a junction of shipping and routes and was strategic for centuries. Its location was a great asset. In 1009 a Benedictinemonastery was established here. It became a center of science and art for the area.
During the rule of the first monarchs of the Piast dynasty, even prior to the Baptism of Poland, Płock served as one of the monarchial seats, including that of Prince Mieszko I and King Bolesław I the Brave. The king built the original fortifications on Cathedral Hill (Polish: Wzgórze Tumskie), overlooking the Vistula River. From 1037 to 1047, Płock was capital of the independent Mazovian state of Miecław. Płock has been the residence of many Mazovian princes. In 1075, a diocese seat was created here for the Roman Catholic church. From 1079 to 1138, during the reign of the Polish monarchsWładysław I Herman and Bolesław III Wrymouth, the city was the capital of Poland, then earning its title as the Ducal Capital City of Płock (Polish: Stołeczne Książęce Miasto Płock). As a result of the fragmentation of Poland into smaller duchies, from 1138 it was the capital of the Duchy of Masovia, and afterwards the Duchy of Płock. In 1180 the present-day Marshal Stanisław Małachowski High School (Małachowianka), the oldest still existing school in Poland and one of the oldest in Central Europe, was established. Among its notable graduates is scholar and jurist Paweł Włodkowic, a precursor of religious freedom in Europe, who studied there in the late 14th century.
In 1237 Płock was officially granted town rights, renewed in 1255. In the 14th century King Casimir III the Great vested Płock with vast privileges. The first Jewish settlers came to the city in the 14th century, responding to the extension of rights by the Polish kings. In 1495 the Duchy of Płock was integrated directly with the Polish Crown as a reverted fief.