Wrocław is by far one of the most beautiful cities in Poland. It has long history, splendid old town, lots of modern buildings, nice promenades by the river, big parks, sparkling Christmas Faire, modern art museum, concerts, multimedia fountain, puppet theater and opera house, dozens of dwarfs and the best ZOO in Poland. The fact that we live in Wrocław and our daughter is the third generation born in here doesn’t influence my judgment :-).
Our grandparents came to Wrocław (then called Breslau) after the II World War from different parts of Europe to build their lives in here. At the same time German citizens were forced to leave or run away from their homes . This great exodus preceded by the atrocities of the WWII (during spring 1945 most of the town was bombed and demolished) changed this city for ever. Now it’s a young, well organized, open, vibrant town but it took more that 50 years of demolishing, rebuilding and creating to get here.
1000 years of history is visible in Wroclaw’s coat of arms. The black eagle symbolizes that this land used to belong to the first polish royal family – Piast. The lion with two tails is a symbol of Kingdom of Bohemia which Wroclaw was part of. There are also two heads – the young man with long hair – John the Evangelist, and the old bearded man – John the Baptist. Letter “W” stands for the latin name of the city “Wratislawia” and legendary founder Wroscisław. You will find Wroclaw’s coat of arms made out of colorful bricks in the pavement just in front of the Town Hall in the Rynek (the main square). You can also look around for it on the lamp posts and buildings including the Town Hall.
Town Hall in Wroclaw is pearl of Gothic architecture. It was build for a log time. We are talking here about 250 year of building! It’s good that now days they build a bit faster but the effect is spectacular. I think it makes a great impression on anybody who sees it for the first time. I could write a separate post only about Ratusz but I’m not going to. There are a few things you just have to notice:
- model of Ratusz in 1:100 scale which means that 1cm of the model represents 100cm of the real building.
- more dwarfs everywhere, even Dwarf Info Center
- fountain with bear. The original had cups on chains and after turning the faucet in his ear you could drink water out of it.
- check the facade of south elevation. If you look closely under the windows you will notice small sculptures which represent daily life of medieval Wrocław’s citizens. You can find women going to the market with a bag full of geese, musicians, fight and men playing dice.
- there is an entrance to the oldest in Wroclaw restaurant called Piwnica Świdnica. There is a tunnel under the pavement so they could get barrels with wine and beer to the restaurant without crossing a very busy market square.
- if you look up you will notice funny gargoyls rain gutters. People use to believe that evil will run away if it sees itself, that is way there are so many monsters on Town Hall’s walls.
For all sweet thooths
Do you like doughnuts? If the answer is yes you have to check out Stara Pączkarnia at Kuźnicza Street. There is a variety of different flavored doughnuts covered in icing . What is even more intriguing is that they are being made before your eyes.It’s heaven in mouth for all sweet lovers! Don’t be suprised if you have to stand in line to get them.
My daughter loves to see how candies are made and then eat them! The free show itself is very interesting for everyone. Even if will not understand anything because it’s in polish you will get the idea by just simply watching how this candies are being made. After the show you can made yourself a lollipop, try the sweets and of course buy a bag or two. The candies come in a variety of sizes, flavors and colors. To tell you the truth I don’t like this candies because it’s all sugar but I still enjoy the show. You will find this Candy Shop in the Rynek.
Dwarfs are everywhere in Wroclaw, there are already 165 and counting. They are small so you have to watch carefully not to miss them. Don’t only look low because they sometimes seat on windowsills and deliver cakes or do laundry in Odra river. They carry bags, drink, eat, sleep, fly on pigeons. There is a dwarf fire brigade, dwarf wedding and dwarf builder, librarian, cyclist and many others. You will find lots of them on special dwarf map which you will buy in Tourist Info Points or on Krasnale web page. It’s a great way to discover Wrocław with kids, instead of strolling around one more boring city they go for dwarf hunt!
You will find next attraction for whole families in the building of old railway station Dworzec Świebodzki. Before entering it look up at the two statues holding a clock in the middle. They are Pomerania and Silesia and they personify two regions connected by this rail. Inside you will find a fantastic model of imagined town called Kolejkowo. It has elements of known places in Wrocław which perhaps you will identify like Rynek or the entrence to Dworzec Świebodzki. There are also other know buildings in Karkonosze mountains region. Even if you don’t recognize them it doesn’t make a difference the experience still will be great. It’s best to come when there are not many people so you can freely explore both levels of Kolejkowo. In each part there are trains, cars or trams moving but also lights turning on and off and lots of inhabitants in daily life situations. You can spend hours trying to find and count cats and dogs, Wroclaw’s dwarfs and a variety of funny situations. Try to find a thief climbing a balcony or a couple kissing and a detective taking a photo of them.
Downstairs is accessible for strollers, there is a corner for smaller kids with blocks to play with, changing table in the bathroom and a special platform for children so they can see everything from their own level as well as grownups.
Please check their webpage for ticket prices and working hours.
MaluMika – let’s paint pottery
Great idea for a handmade souvenir from Wrocław. It’s just 15 minutes walk from the Rynek (ul. Jagiełły 3/5). You choose what you want to paint, take paint brushes and stencils and start creating. It’s good to first draw your desig with a pencil, so if something goes wrong you can always erase it. When you are ready just pay for your item and …leave it. That is acctually a problem if you don’t plan to stay long in Wrocław – you can collect it after few days. Please ask before you start when you can pick up your pottery. Good news is that the owner is American, so no communication problems.
I bet you never thought that Wroclaw has one of the most spectacular ZOOs in Poland with the first oceanarium in our country. Afrykarium is a real tour around African fauna with giant fish tanks (lot’s of fish, turtles, five species of sharks), tunnels, big enclosures for Nile hippos. Amazing manatees, aardvarks, naked mole-rats, and dozens of free-flying birds can also be found here. There is a cloakroom which is good because it is very hot in Afrykarium, restaurant and a gift shop.
It’s good to check out the feeding shows timetable on the web site. You can see a show with feeding penguins, seals, manatees, morays and many more.
Personally I like a lot Madagascar House with lemurs climbing and fruit bats hanging down from the ceiling. There is also part for nocturnal animals, since it’s pretty dark in there you can see them moving and eating.
A vast area about European animals is a chance to see bison, wolves, lynx and bears in close to their natural environment.
It’s worth to visit the Small Mammals House with monkeys and sloths slowly moving above your head.
Wroclaw’s ZOO is a home to very rare species such as okapi, bear cuscus, red hartebeest, Philippine mouse-deer, L’Hoest’s monkey, long-necked turtle, and the Komodo dragon.
Visit to the Wroclaw ZOO will take a whole day and you will run out of time. So plan ahead and choose what you want to see.
Please check their web page Wroclaw ZOO
Panorama of the battle of Racławice
In this funny looking round building you will find a great panorama, a large painting (it’s 114 meters long!) which shows a 18th century battle between Polish insurrectionist force of regulars and peasant volunteers and the Russian army. Well we won the battle and lost the war which is a repeating story of Polish uprisings. For a nation which lost its state a victory like that was very important hence our great battle- painters Kossak and Styka decided to create a monumental picture. It took them nine months . It was a big hit from the start and brought numerous tourist to Lwów where it was originally displayed. After IIWW it was moved to Wrocław.
When you enter the platform, from which you observe the painting, the first impression is created thanks to a dark tunnel you have to go through. Special kind of perspective, lighting, artificial terrain make it all look real. You almost expect soldiers on horses to ride out of that paining any moment now.
During the show you can listen to the comment about the Panorama in English, German and many more languages. The audioguides are free of charge.
Before the show visit the small rotunda exhibition room with relief map representing the topography of the battlefield. Along the wall you can also see uniforms and weapons of both armies.