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Bytów [ˈbɨtuf] (listen) (Kashubian: Bëtowò; German: Bütow, [ˈbyːto] (listen) is a town in the Gdańsk Pomerania region of northern Poland with 16,888 inhabitants (2004). In the Słupsk Voivodeship (1975–1998), it was the capital of Bytów County in the Pomeranian Voivodeship (since 1999).
The origins of Bytów can be traced back to the early Middle Ages when a fortified stronghold once stood near the town. Bytów was later mentioned, under the Latin name castrum nomine Bitom, by notable Gallus Anonymus in his Chronicles describing medieval Poland. In 1346 as Bütow it obtained Chełmno town rights from the Teutonic Order, which controlled it since 1329. During the Thirteen Years' War (1454–1466), the town was the sight of heavy fighting and changed hands over time. Eventually, King Casimir IV Jagiellon granted the town to Eric II, Duke of Pomerania, as a perpetual fiefdom. After the Partitions of Poland, Bytów became part of German Prussia and remained in Germany until the end of World War II. At the final stages of the war, Bytów was the center of heavy artillery shelling initiated by the Red Army; as a result over 55% of buildings were destroyed.Throughout its whole history, Bytów was known to be a multicultural town inhabited by Kashubians, Poles, Slovincians, Germans and Jews. Since 2000 a bugle call is played during important events which taking place in the area. Bytów is a popular tourist destination in the region of Pomerania and is famous for its medieval Teutonic Castle built in the late 14th century.
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