About Wrocław

Wrocław

The city of Wrocław grew around a Bohemian stronghold where the Via Regia and Amber Road crossed.

Herb_wroclaw.svg

It first appears on records of the C10 as Vratislavia.

Breslau_c1736

As is usual in Poland, the city changed hands a number of times, before falling into German hands up to, and including, WW2.

Breslau_Ring_Ostseite_(1890-1900)

Breslau, as it was then called, survived the war relatively intact (and, in  fact, it had a huge number of refugees from other parts of Germany) until February 1945 when, with the Soviet Army approaching, Gauleiter Karl Hanke declared the city a Festung (fortress) to be held at all costs. 18,000 people froze to death in the January 1945 evacuation of women and children as temperatures dropped to -20C. By the end of the three-month Siege of Breslau, half the city lay in ruins and 40,000 civilians lay in those ruins.

Destroyed

From a (refugee-inclusive) population of over 1 million, by 1945 the city’s population had fallen to 189,500 Germans and 17,000 Poles. Most of the Germans fled or were expelled and the city was re-populated by Poles during the resettlement programmes we’ve talked about elsewhere, in 1945-1949.

oder

The city lies on the river Oder – in fact, the oldest part of town is Cathedral Island (Ostrów Tumski), now landlocked. Flooding in 1997 left 1/3 of Wrocław under water.

Wroclaw_Islands

On Cathedral Island you’ll find Wrocław’s market square, the rynek, and Town Hall,

rynek

rybek2

ratusz

Churches of St Elizabeth and St Mary Magdalene, Wrocław Cathedral,

St E

St MM

Archikatedra we Wrocławiu

Tumski Bridge aka Lovers Bridge or Cathedral Bridge, the Church of St Giles and the Archbishop’s Palace

 tumski

St G

archbish

There’s no denying the Centennial Hall and Discovery Centre is not classically beautiful … but it IS a remarkable looking building.

CH5

Perhaps, knowing the “hat box” was built in time for the 1913 celebration of the centenary of the Battle of Leipzig, it actually makes more sense, as a product of its time.

CH14

CH6

CH1

Getting this out of the way now – they were celebrating a German battle because Wrocław was, at the time, Breslau in Germany. Poland did not exist, except in the hearts and minds of the Polish people, and Wrocław is pronounced Vrotswahv.

When the workers were building the Hall – the first of its kind – they honestly believed it would collapse. So a surprise, then, that it just celebrated its own centenary and, by the way, it’s the only UNESCO Heritage site listed in Wrocław.

CH2

CH11 pavilion

CH3

Situated just east of the city centre, the Hall is easily accessible by tram or bus and surrounded by the Szczynicki Park, Poland’s oldest zoo and the Japanese Garden, this is also where you’ll find one of Wrocław’s newest attractions – the Pergola Fountain. The fountain puts on a show every hour, on the house, from 10:00 to 22:00 every day from May to October. Some performances are just 3½ minutes long, some last 18; some are to classical music, some to modern; best are the after-dark shows on Friday and Saturday when the Fountain REALLY shows what it’s made of.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

CH4

?????????????????????????????????

Don’t worry if you’re visiting in winter – the area is transformed into a skating rink!

CH7 ice

 Next, well now we’re just going to show you some more of what Wrocław has to offer her visitors.

Let’s start with the Racławice Panorama (Polish: Panorama racławicka) , a monumental (15 × 114 meter) cycloramic painting depicting the Battle of Racławice has been displayed in Wrocław  since 1985.

pan ppl

pan

pan bldg

The Ossolineum was founded in Lwów in 1817 and is Poland’s second largest library, after that at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków.

osso2

osso

In the south of Wrocław  stands the 1904/5 Water Tower, now a restaurant. It was built under city architect, Karl Klimm, as were Zwierzyniecki Bridge and the Faculty of Architecture of the Wrocław  University of Technology.

water

zy

arch

The White Stork Synagogue in ul. Pawła Włodkowica (1829, rededicated 2010) is the only synagogue in Wrocław to have survived WW2.

syn

Wrocław Central Station (Wrocław Główny) was built in 1855 – 1857, designed by the then royal Prussian architect. Does it remind you of a castle? The Museum of Architecture is the only one of its kind in Poland and is housed in a complex of C15 monastic buildings.

wroc stn

Muzeum_Architektury

Wrocław Palace (Pałac Królewski) was formerly Breslau City Palace (Breslauer Stadtschloss) and houses the Wrocław City Museum.

schloss

palace2

palace

Wrocław Opera House was built in 1841. The University of Wrocław is gorgeous, but not as spectacular as its predecessor Leopoldina. And of course it’s not all old – Sky Tower is the tallest residential building in the EU.

opera

university

uni2

leopoldina

sky tower

There’s yet more …

The Monopol Hotel, the arsenal, the public bath.

Monopol

arsenal

bath

And because, like New York, Wrocław  is so good you should see it twice (?!) we’re back at the Ratusz. Only about 10% of the Town Hall was destroyed or damaged in WW2.

Ratusz 1860 ratusz today

A phoenix rises from the fires of destruction, though in this case we prefer the original Barasch Brothers’ Department Store to the post-war reconstruction Phoenix Department Store (Dom Handlowy Feniks).

barasch 1904 Feniks

Appetite whetted? We have just a few suggestions for excursions from Wrocław  that you might like.

Świdnica, with its Peace Church is only about 30 minutes by private bus from the main bus station in Wrocław .

Swidnica1

Swidnica2

Swidnica3

Or hire a car and visit Jawor, too.

Jawor3

Jawor1

Jawor_Ratusz

The Churches of Peace were named after the |Peace of Westphalia of 1648 which permitted the Lutherans to build three evangelical churches in the Roman Catholic part of Silesia.  Construction materials were limited to wood, loan and straw, the churches had to be built outside the city walls, without steeples and bells,and the construction time was limited to one year. In 2001 the two remaining churches were listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites.

JG Pan

If you’ve got a car, and especially if you like hot springs or the mountains, head down to Jelenia Góra (+/- 110km).

JG4

Jelenia_Gora3

Jelenia_Gora2

Jelenia_Góra1

JG Ratusz

Paulinum_hotel_Jelenia_Gora

About 70km south-west of Wrocław is the pretty town of Walbrzych.

1375857_728574643838707_285089552_n

PL_Walbrzych_AniolStroz

The town is well worth a look but it’s most famous for the nearby Książ Castle (aka Schloss Fürstenstein), today in the eponymous Landscape Park.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Zamek_Książ19.Foto_Barbara_Maliszewska

Książ_-_zamek_2

Minolta DSC

Zamek_Książ_07

ZamekKsiaz-AJurk155

And if you’re even slightly in love with our decorated earthenware, go to Bolesławiec to see the galleries and workshops and perhaps buy some ceramics and art. The Bolesławiec Clay Festival is held in August each year.

bol

B Clay

Nearby Kliczków Castle is now a hotel.

B Klitz2

B Klitz

One last thing – when you’re in Wrocław , keep an eye open for the dwarfs. These tricksy little ones can be found all over the city – they never stand still long enough to be counted, but official estimates place the total at over 180.

dwarf

dwarf5

dwarf4

Getting to Wrocław

Wrocław  is just off the A4/E40, so if you’re driving to Kamionka Wielka it’s a short diversion or a handy night stop.  It’s 270km from Kraków, which can also be reached by a fast (3 hour) coach service.

airport

Ryannair, Wizzair and EuroLOT, among other, serve Wrocław -Copernicus Airport (day bus 406 or night bus 249 runs to the city centre). The city is also a main rail hub and a Eurolines coach destination.

bus 406

Trams and buses take care of public transport in the city – tickets are either single-journey or time-based.

K valid

VALIDATE YOUR TICKET as soon as you get on the bus or tram as tickets are sold at many places (kiosks, corner shops) and need to be validated to travel. The single-journey ticket is 3.00zł for normal lines or 3.20zł for express or night lines. Time-based tickets, like those in Kraków, are valid from the time of validation for 30 minutes, 60 or 90 minutes, 24, 48 or 72 hours.

tram

Of course there are also a number of taxi companies and, with central Wrocław  being relatively compact, not too expensive.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s