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marianne Wroclaw - A travel report by Marianne
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Wroclaw,  Poland - flag Poland -  Dolnoslaskie
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marianne's travel reports

Traveller in Wroclaw

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Wroclaw is Poland's fourth largest city. All sight are concentrated in the compact city centre which can easily be explored on foot.

Wroclaw Central Train Station
Wroclaw Central Train Station

We arrived by train at Wroclaw Glowny from Krakau. Polish trains are comfortable, fast and cheap. Wroclaw's train station is a mock Tudor crenellated building with a jumble of turrets and a sight in itself. It is 15 mins on foot from the centre, which can also be reached by one of the many trams or buses. Tickets are bought in advance at newspaper kiosks near the tram / bus stop.

Two days were sufficient for us to see all the sights which apart from the obvious sights included a visit to Panorama Raclawice and Hala Ludowa (see lower down). We also went on a gnomes hunt.

It appeared that tickets to the Panorama were also valid for the National Museum. The collection includes medieval sculptures, the tomb with an armour-clad knight surrounded by weeping mourners. Other items on display are 15th century altarpieces and an extensive collection of Polish paintings.


Grunwaldzki, early 20th century steel suspension bridge with massive granite pylons

Zwieryniecki, very pitoresque cast –iron bridge flanked by stone pillars, built in 1897

Tumski, elegant bridge flanked by stone statues. It leads to Ostrow Tumski.


Hala Targowa, market hall, modernist red-brick building from 1908. On the ground level fruit & vegetables and home-made Polish delicacies, upper level handicraft stalls.

Old Butchers Stalls, Jatki Street, the place where animals were slaughtered. The stalls are not the original ones, but the street is still as narrow as in medieval times. At the entrance is a group of animal statues.

Former Petersdorff Department Store built in art deco style. It has an eye catching façade a mixture of concrete, glass and horizontal lines. Its most striking feature is the curved glass corner overhanging the pavement.

Favourite spots:
Rynek and Town Hall
Rynek and Town Hall
Wroclow's impressive market square, or Rynek in Polish, is ringed by colourful buildings, all from different architectural periods and range from Gothic to Art Nouveau. Many of them are faithful reconstructions as the city was partially destroyed in WW II. The 10-storey office building at Rynek 11 is incongruous in style but an example of post-war reconstruction.

The red-brick town hall, or Ratusz, is an eye-catcher. It is a mix of styles and has interesting details such as the jumble of Gothic turrets, spires, gargoyles and an astronomical clock. It emerged from the war almost unscathed so that what you see is pratically all original. The townhall is a combination of various building and so big that three alleyways run through it.

It now serves as the City Museum, Muzeum Miejski, and has themed exhibition which change every few months. The chance to see the ineterior is sufficient reason for a visit.

What's really great:
Plac Solny and flower stalls
Plac Solny and flower stalls
Plac Solny is the square adjacent to Rynek, much smaller but equally colourful. Solny means salt, the commodity which was originally sold here. These days flower sellers have their stalls here.

Ostrow Tumski is he oldest part of the city. It is an island in the river Odra and a cavalcade of churches.

Just behind the cathedral are the botanical gardens a dream of exotic flowers and an impressive cacti collection.

Now head east for a pleasant walk through the university quarter, jam-packed with historic buildings, cafés and inviting restaurants. Return to the centre via Grunwaldzki Bridge.

Anoymous pedestrians Statue
Anoymous pedestrians Statue
There is no doubt about it Rynek and Ostrow Tumski are interesting to see and pleasant placed to visit, but very much like other market squares and old city centres in other Polish towns.

Wroclaw has something extra on offer. Bronze statues scattered across the city and a panorama painting.

THE ANONYMOUS PEDESTRIANS STATUE is at the corner of Pilsudskiego and Swidnicka streets and not far from the railway station. It is a life-size bronze statue of 14 people descending into the earth.

It commemorates the introduction of martial law and in particular the many people who disappeared in the middle of the night on 13 december 1981. Especially poignant is a mother with a pram and a man only visible from the waist.

(more about this martial law can be found here; )

The official name of the statue is 'Transition'. It was designed by Jerzy Kalina and erected in December 2005.

Two gnomes pulling  and pushing a boulder
Two gnomes pulling and pushing a boulder
See tips for accommodation

The GNOMES are tiny bronze sculptures wearing funny hats and funny faces. They are only 50 cm tall and hide in unexpected places all over the old town. They are the work of Tomasz Moczek, a local artist

The gnomes are difficult to find because they are so tiny. These are the streets where you will find them;
Kietbasnicza, opposite Elizabeth Curch. Gnome sitting next to his house.
Kuznicza, just north of Rynek. Gnomes guarding a steel hatch.
Swidnicka, near the pedestrian underpass. Big gnome on a pedestal.
Swidnicka, near Rynek. Two gnomes pulling a granite boulder.
Olawsksa, apparently a whole lot, but I didn't find them

The gnomes sculptures appeared in 2005. Gnomes have been connected with Wroclaw since the 1980s when the Orange Alternative Movement started. Their main purpose was peaceful protest against the communist regime. They painted bright ornage gnomes on buildings to make their point, always avoiding direct conflict with the security

Tumski Bridge
Tumski Bridge

PANORAMA OF RACLOWICE is a circular painting of 15 X 114 metres depicting Poland's victory over the Russians in 1794. Tadeusz Kosciuszko led the Polish peasant army but victory was short-lived as the rebellion was put down and Poland was wiped off the map. Its territory was divided into three part that went to Russia, Austria and Prussia.

Panoramas are life-size circular paintings, very popular in pre-film and pre-television 19th century. The viewer has the illusion of being part of the historical event. Panoramas are called paintings without borders because when looking at them the viewer doesn't see the real world.

This is done on purpose so that the painting cannot be compared to things or objects seen in reality. The viewer thinks that he sees as far as the horizon or is walking along a road leading away from him. Illusory effect such as as the distant horizon, the immense brightness of the sky heighten the impression of infinite space.

Replica of Soldiers
Replica of Soldiers
Normally speaking when looking at a painting your eyes can see what is arround the painting. Thus comparing the real world with the painted world. Because you can't see the real world, the painted world becomes the real world. That's why a panorama is so 'real'.

The entrance to the panorama is through a darkened corridor. At the end is a viewing platform in bright light. It took some time to adjust me eyes to this light which heightened the feeling of disorientation. The viewing platform is surrounded by real sand and real branches and leaves which merge with the painting. The lower and top frame of the painting are concealed. This gives the illusion of depth, as if the horizon is miles away.

The painting shows scythe-bearing peasants, a multitude of soldiers, Polish carabineers firing single shots, Russians charging the Polish cavalry, a group of prisoners-of-war being led away from the battlefield, a group civilians lost in prayer under a roadside cross and much more.

Wroclaw Centre
Wroclaw Centre

Visit is by guided tour only. The explanation is in Polish but audio guides in lots of languages are provided free of charge. Tickets are for timed entry slots each 30 minutes. The panorama is very popular and therefore it is wise to buy a ticket in advance. While waiting for your time slot you can watch a video about the restoration of the painting and another one about other panoramas in Europe.

Most panorama painting are paintings of battles such as the Wroclaw one but also the Battle of Stalingrad in the museum of Volgograd, the Siege of Sevastopol in the museum of Sevastopol. The only non-war Panorama is Panorama Mesdag in The Hague which shows the seashore and fishing boats on the beach.

The panorama is open 9 am – 5 pm May – Sept, and 10 am – 4 pm the rest of the year and closed on Mondays.

It is located on Ul. Purkyniego not far from the city centre, opposite Radisson Hotel.

Other recommendations:
Hala Ludowa
Hala Ludowa

HALA LUDOWA or Centennial Hall hosted in 1913 the World Exhibition in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Napoleon's defeat at Leipzig. The hall was designed by modernist German architect Max Berg. The 65-metre wide and 42-metre high dome is a true piece of engineering.

Today the Hall serves as a sports and entertainment hall and can be adapted for large scale cultural events. The full seating capacity is 7200. The grounds around the hall house colonnaded pavilions. A 96-metre tall steel needle points straight into the air. It commorates the 1948 Exhibition of the Reclaimed Territories (i.e. returned to Poland).

It is worth to have a look inside the hall which can be visited (entrance fee)

Hala Ludowa is east of the centre between Szcytnicki Park and the Zoo right on the bank of the Odra River.

More photos in my Wroclaw slide show.

Published on Thursday October 18th, 2007

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Fri, Nov 16 2007 - 01:04 PM rating by horourke

Extraordinary detail and interest

Wed, Nov 14 2007 - 11:31 PM rating by downundergal

Another excellent report. We are always rewarded by your high standard of writing, photography and keen observations.

Mon, Oct 29 2007 - 12:10 AM rating by shalini_md

Hi Marianne, great report! The gnome sculptures and panorama paintings sound very interesting.

Thu, Oct 25 2007 - 09:34 AM rating by eirissa

An excellent report. Shamefully, I haven't been to Wroclaw yet but after reading your report I feel almost obliged to go there and follow your tips.

Thu, Oct 25 2007 - 07:56 AM rating by frenchfrog

I would love to have you as a tour guide! Great report! well done

Sun, Oct 21 2007 - 05:16 AM rating by magsalex

Marianne, very informative. Certainly looks like a place worth visiting.

Fri, Oct 19 2007 - 11:27 PM rating by bineba

Thanks for another great report. This one was especially interesting for me as my father was born in Wroclaw (or, as it was then, Breslau).

Fri, Oct 19 2007 - 05:27 AM rating by zrusseff

Marianne, a real in-depth coverage of Wroclaw: I feel like I had a visit there myself! Great descriptive account. Thanks.

Fri, Oct 19 2007 - 02:28 AM rating by adampl

Marianne, superior report again. I haven't been in Wrocław for a long time and haven't seen the bronze statues yet. Now I know I have to visit the city again as a lot of things have changed. Thanks.

Fri, Oct 19 2007 - 01:49 AM rating by davidx

An excellent and informative report on a place I should love to see.

Thu, Oct 18 2007 - 11:30 PM rating by mistybleu

Marianne, another great report. I live the pictures of the bronze statues, it must have been quite bizarre seeing them along the street. Great


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