The capital of Lower Silesia has a huge Old Town built on several islands connected by over 100 bridges. Apart from its unique location, Wroclaw amazes with its volume of Gothic, Baroque and Art Nouveau architecture. Several musical and theater festivals, as well as its busy nightlife, attract many visitors from Poland and abroad. Wroclaw's complicated history, combining the cultural influences of Germany, Bohemia, Austria and Poland, has left its mark on the atmosphere of the city.
While most tourists flock to the popular destinations of Krakow or Warsaw, visiting the smaller town of Wroclaw is your best bet. Immediately you’ll notice that the picturesque old town has many buildings painted in rich colors that bring the city to life, and show the city’s youthful vibe.
The colors range from subtle earth tones to pastels, nothing too over the top. No matter what your mood, or how dreary the weather is when you travel, you’ll definitely leave happier and more cheerful after a visit. The medieval market square, lined up with restaurants and incredible architecture, is also jaw-dropping.
Market Square Wroclaw
When you visit Wroclaw, you start seeing the Market Square as the heart of the city. This is where shopping, food and business gather for everybody, even if you’re a local or a tourist. While you are walking around one of the largest markets in Europe, don’t forget that most of the buildings there are replicas.
Wroclaw’s Market Square was completely rebuilt from the pile of ruins that was Wroclaw after the Second World War and the Siege of 1945. Most of what you see today is the work of those who resettled in the city after the expelling the Germans from it. They even replaced the statue seated south of the Town Hall. Now you can see the famous Polish writer Aleksander Fredro but this was the seat of King Frederick II of Germany. And this wasn’t the only thing that changed.
The buildings around the square have different styles, ranging from Art Nouveau to Gothic. The impressive facades of the townhouses deserve all the attention they can get. The Old Town Hall, the New City Hall and many houses occupy the middle part of the ring that surrounds the square. I have learned through the years that one of the best things to do when walking around a historical city is to look up and see the details in every building. Wroclaw seems made exactly for that.
At Rynek 11, you can see a structure designed by Heinrich Rump. It offers a small glimpse into what this square would look like if the plans from Max Berg, who designed the Centennial Hall, would have come to fruition. His idea may sound ludicrous today but it was almost put into place.
He wanted to demolish the building surrounding the Rynek and replace them with concrete towers more than 20 stories high. Nothing big happened to the buildings surrounding the square but we can't say the same for those in the middle of it. Offices built in a Modernist style replaced two-thirds of them. But because of damage done during the Second World War, the buildings obtained the Baroque and Classicism styles they had before.
History of Wroclaw Market Square
The history from the Wroclaw Market Square dates back to the 13th century. Most of what you see in the old city center follows the Magdeburg Law. Over time, the houses surrounding the square started to appear and by the middle of the 14th century, they had formed something like what we have now. Back then it was and it still is one of the largest squares in Europe with 213 by 178 meters.
When you walk around the Market Square, it's hard to ignore the beauty that is Wroclaw’s Town Hall. Construction of the building started somewhere in the 13th century and it last 250 years. This is why it showcases a mix of architectural styles from Gothic to Renaissance. And it even has an astronomical clock.
Next to the Market Square, you can find Plac Solny with an impressive architecture that deserves a lot of pictures. This square was the place for salt, leather products and honey. Today is a 24 hour flower market. Look at the light posts here and you will find a few of the famous Wroclaw Dwarfs! Don’t think that Wroclaw Market Square is a bunch of old buildings. We said before that this is the heart of Wroclaw and there is enough to do around the area. During the summer, the square is full with people on its bars.
National Museum Wroclaw
A treasure trove of fine art, 200 meters east of the Panorama of Racławice. Medieval stone sculpture are on display on the ground floor. Exhibits include the Romanesque tympanum from the portal of the Church of St Mary Magdalene, depicting the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. There are also 14th century sarcophagi from the Church of Saints Vincent and James.
Of interest are the collections of Silesian paintings, ceramics, silverware and furnishings from the 16th to 19th centuries. The 2nd floor holds Polish art from the 17th century to the present.
The collection covers most of Poland’s big names. These include Jacek Malczewski, Stanisław Wyspiański, Witkacy (Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz) and Jan Matejko. Be prepared for moody portraits and massive battle scenes. Among the modern painters, Władysław Hasior, Eugeniusz Stankiewicz-Get and Tadeusz Makowski are names to look out for.
|Address||plac Powstańców Warszawy 5, Wroclaw|
|Telephone||+48 71 343 56 43|
Wroclaw Market Hall
The Wroclaw Market Hall is from 1905-1908. Today, on two floors there are over 190 shops. It'ss not only a shopping center, but also a tourist attraction. The two towers in ul. Świętego Ducha hark back to the building of Arsenal.
During World War II the building wasn't seriously damaged. At first the Red Army used it as stables but soon it returned to its original use. In the beginning of the 80's the Hall was renovated. In 2016 its facade was revitalized.
Today, it's a shopping center not only for the Old Town citizens, but for everyone, including professors, nuns and priests from Ostrów Tumski. Many owners of the restaurants buy their products here. The Market Hall belongs to the tourist trail, visited by 30-35 groups a day.
The building in ul. Piaskowa has four floors. Apart from the main hall with stalls and the gallery, there are two large cellars. A part of them serve as storerooms. In the cellar, under the clock tower, you'll find a restaurant.
|Address||ul. Piaskowa 17, Wroclaw|
The Depot History Center Wroclaw
The Depot History Center is one of Wroclaw's most remarkable sites. Located in the heart of Grabiszynska street, here the coastal workers' strike began. This strike resulted in the creation of the Solidarity group, which lead to the rise of a peace movement that helped overthrow Poland's communist dictatorship.
You won't find many places that tell the story of Wroclaw better than here. Visitors in June and July will find plenty to discover. Besides the museum's main exhibition, Wroclaw 1945 - 2016, which looks at the city's post-war history, there are also two temporary outdoor exhibitions.
Museum of Bourgeois Art Wroclaw
The unusual name here hides the main attraction: the Gothic interiors of the Old Town Hall. Look for the Great Hall (Sala Wielka) on the 1st floor, with carved decorations from the second half of the 15th century. Adjoining it is the Princes’ Room (Sala Książęca), built as a chapel in the middle of the 14th century.
The historic rooms house several exhibitions, including the Wrocław Treasury (Wrocławski Skarb) of gold and silverware from the 16th to 19th centuries.
Centennial Hall Wroclaw
The Centennial Hall is one of the major monuments of Wroclaw. The fact that the Centennial Hall made it to this list is a great honor. It's no surprise to me, because it's a breakthrough facility in the history of architecture.
A hundred years ago, its form, structure and materials used, broke the structural constrictions of the time. Even today, it is a subject of research on the architecture of that era. In October, the American Getty Foundation awarded 200,000 dollars to conserve the Wroclaw's Centennial Hall.
The Centennial Hall is from 1913, built for the 100th anniversary of the allied defeat of Napoleon, as a place for exhibitions presenting the history and commercial output of Silesia.
Constructed in 1911-1913 between Szczytnicki Park and a zoo, its purpose was holding mass events. An innovative concept of the urban construction specialist, Max Berg, won the contest.
Berg designed a building devoid of the decorations so characteristic of the 19th-century architecture, to emphasize the truth of the material used to build hall – reinforced concrete. Light and resilient, with great technical limits, but at the beginning of the 20th century people were afraid that it would fall.
Natives of Wroclaw did not understand why Berg did not care to use steel, as many of his predecessors had done. But they did admire the monumental character of the 42-meter-high structure modeled on famous Gothic structures, with the biggest dome in existence at the time (65 meters in diameter), that overshadowed Rome’s Pantheon.
They were proud that a world-class building was being constructed in their city. The concrete from the Opole's Silesia concrete plant was subject of strict tests. Granite from Strzegom strengthened areas carrying significant loads, and the windows were made of ironwood imported from Australia.
The outcome was the grand opening on 20 May 1913. Apart from the Hall, the guests visited the Four Domes Pavilion, the Pergola and the recreation facilities. They also admired the Japanese Garden designed by duke Fritz Maximilian von Hochberg, assisted by a Japanese gardener, Mankichi Arai.
They were impressed by the largest pipe organ in the world at the time – with 222 registers and 16,706 pipes, designed by Sauer, a famous Frankfurt-based company. Today, pieces of the pipe organ are in Wrocław's Archcathedral, and some pipes – in the Częstochowa's Basilica in Jasna Góra.
Before World War II, the Hall was the venue for speeches given by major officers of the Nazi Party, including Adolf Hitler. The Hall survived World War II without sustaining major damage. Only the pipe organ was put in disrepair.
The Hall opened in 1948 with an Exhibition of Regained Territories. A steel spire, built especially for that occasion and designed by Stanisław Hempel, survives until today.
UNESCO Heritage Site
In 2006 the Centennial Hall became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Restoration finished in 2010. It cost 200 million zlotys to renovate the facility and its surroundings. Another renovation is being planned.
With the consent of UNESCO, the renovation would include a lowering of the floor to increase audience capacity – from seven to ten thousand people – so that the venue would be able to host more people at upcoming major sporting events. In 2014 Wroclaw hosted the World Volleyball Championships.
|Address||Wystawowa 1, Wrocław|
|Telephone||+48 71 347 51 50|
The University of Wroclaw has a rich history of more than three centuries. Founded by Leopold I Habsburg the university evolved from a modest school run by Jesuits into one of the biggest academic institutions in Poland. At the beginning of the 19th century the university had five Faculties. Philosophy, catholic theology, evangelical theology, law and medicine. Later it expanded by many sections, laboratories and a natural museum. The latter exists until today.
After the Second World War a group of Polish professors from Lvov started teaching and research activities at the University of Wroclaw. They created the Faculties of law and administration, arts, natural sciences, agriculture, veterinary, medicine, mathematics, physics and chemistry. Some of these Faculties were soon transformed into other universities.
Noble Price winners
Since the beginning of the 20th century, the University of Wroclaw produced 9 Nobel Prize winners. Among them are Theodor Mommsen, Philipp Lenard, Eduard Buchner, Paul Ehrlich, Fritz Haber, Friedrich Bergius, Erwin Schrödinger, Otto Stern and Max Born.
Today, the first focus of the university is scientific research. The scholars have many links with their fellow researchers from other higher education institutions in Poland and throughout the world. The success of the researchers has been recently recognized by Polish authorities, who increased funding for both equipment and research at the university by 80% compared to earlier years.
Like in most countries, in Poland the national quality assessment system is part of a national strategy for improving quality of education. Every four years the Ministry of Education evaluates faculties of all Polish universities. In 2016 9 out of 10 of the Faculties qualified in the highest group and one was the second highest.
The Academic Incubator of Entrepreneurship is a unit designed to aid students in starting their own businesses. The Academic Incubator of Entrepreneurship cooperates with the Wroclaw Technology Park, a technological center with laboratories, office space, conference center and modern multimedia equipment. The aim of the Technology Park is to create conditions for the use of scientific and industrial potential of Wroclaw and the region and to stimulate the advanced technologies industry. The University of Wroclaw is one of its shareholders.
Today the University of Wroclaw is the largest university in the region and teaches over 40,000 students and around 1300 doctoral students at 10 Faculties. 9000 students graduate from the University every year.
A Night At The Opera
The Wroclaw Opera is famous for its spectacular performances and a trip to the opera is an unforgettable experience. The company stages almost 200 per year, ranging from Baroque to modern opera. There are also a number of family shows and ballets.