Wrocław - European Capital of Culture 2016. Let me take you for a walk!
January 1, 1970
Looking for a good destination for a getaway weekend in Europe? You’ve heard about Kraków and Warsaw, but Wrocław…you don’t even know how to spell it? Let me help you, some call it WrocLove and I think it fits perfectly. Please, let me present you a city which with I fall in love 10 years ago when I decided to leave my home and come here to study. During this time I moved few times to different cities around the globe, but finally I always come back here.
The city is placed in the South-West Poland, just around 300 km from Berlin, so it could be a nice stop in a road trip between Germany, Czech Republic and Poland.
I am currently working and living in Wroclaw and I decided to write a post about this city as I am sincerely proud of it. Proud because I could feel and observe its amazing development during the last 10 years. The old and charming districts are being revitalized, small art galleries opened and finally, the river is starting to play a new, important role in the city. Not mentioning the amount of new cafeterias, bars, restaurants or (lately very popular) food trucks that are opened every month.
As you might know, Wroclaw, as many others cities in this part of Europe, was almost completely destroyed during the second world war and because of new political division a lot of people had to leave their homes. Many of Polish Lwowians (today Lviv in Ukraine) found their new home in here and started to build together with other expats a new identity of the city. Now, after many years, I can say that this city has a soul. This was as well the main concept for Wrocław as the cultural capital of Europe. Showing that instead of denying our roots and trying to forget what happened, it is much better to take the advantage of a rich history and build an invisible bridge between the past and current habitants. Let me take you for a trip through the center of Wrocław. You can see a map below to follow the route if you feel like, I usually take my friends to these places as I find them either charming, magical or interesting. Of course you can find much more attractions and historical places to visit and this is only one of many path you could follow during the visit.
Market Square – Rynek
The heart of the city started to beat already many, many years ago and luckily stayed almost unchanged during few centuries. Please see below the photo of the one of the most colorful market squares in this part of the world. During the summer you can find here a lot of bars with open terraces serving beers from the local breweries or fresh cocktails. In the winter the scene changes a bit, people stay rather in cozy bars and drink hot wine or hot beer with orange, cinnamon and cloves (sounds strange, but it is really tasteful!)
When walking through the center, don’t get surprised when finding a dwarf. These small creatures became a symbol of a city and you can find them in many places, however, some of them are really well hidden, so keep your eyes open! In the 80’s the dwarfs were used as abstract elements in the peaceful protest against communism called “Orange Alternative”. Nowadays, they are just making people smile.
Take a few minutes’ walk from Market Square to Więzienna Street to get a picture of a prisoner dwarf. He is sitting behind the bars of a former prison. Don’t hesitate to enter the magical prison’s patio to have a drink and, if you are lucky, hear some music in live.
Wyspa Słodowa – Malt Island
If you keep walking, you will soon get to the river and discover many different islands! The most popular one is “Wyspa Słodowa”, an island where all the people gather to have a barbecue, play guitar or participate in open-air cinema during summer months.
If you prefer to chill on a hammock chair, I highly recommend you to step into one of the bars placed directly on the river and attached to the Słodowa island. My favorite one is Barbarka, its good either for a solo relax with a book, late meeting with friends or a party during the weekend. Have a sit and enjoy the view on the main University’s building, nicely highlighted in the night.
While being in Wrocław you shouldn’t miss a walk through the bridges (almost 100 of them around the city) and experience the peaceful atmosphere of Ostrów Tumski (Cathedral island). It is the oldest part of the city where you can find an arch cathedral and many other church properties. On your path you will likely hear a violinist and see a lot of brides and grooms taking pictures on the bridge of love. Similar to many bridges in
Not far away from the Ostrów Tumski you can find a Botanical Garden.
It is a very cheerful and green area in the middle of the city and highly recommend for a walk. Recently there were created few cultural spaces inside of the Garden because of the European Capital of Culture. If you come to Wrocław in 2016, check out the cultural program, for sure you will find many interesting events both in the closed spaces like galleries or museums, either in parks, passages or even in the botanical garden.
Boulevard of Xawery Dunikowski
After spending some time among the nature, I recommend you to slowly get back to the center, but with different path. Boulevard of Xawery Dunikowski was recently renewed and when taking this path you will be able to see Ostrów Tumski from a different perspective, as well step by to the National Musem that is placed in this area, or maybe take a kayak and paddle a bit around Wrocław.
On the way to the our next point, I recommend you to visit the main building of Wrocław’s University, enter to Hala Targowa to buy some local fruits or just follow any narrow street you find interesting.
“Pod Kalamburem” – a bar with a soul
One of the last places on my map is an Art Café “pod Kalamburem” that was opened next to the old Theater Kalambur which existed here since 1958 and always was an artistic center of the city.
The times changed, the decades passed, the theater doesn’t exist anymore, but the café bar still has its unique atmosphere and is a meeting place of many local artists. Step in and have a coffee. Maybe someone will be playing piano and will take you into the past.
Podwale: Bułka z Masłem and Dzielnica Czterech Świątyń
On the last part of the trip, we will move a bit further from the Market Square, but still stay in the centre. Check out the map to see the exact way. Follow Swidnicka street, you will pass the Opera and turn right to The Inner City Moat. It is a lovely area of the city to just stroll around and take in some nice peaceful sites.The moat harks back to the days when the city was a fortification.
Following this path, you can step by for a refreshing drink to one of my favorite places in Wrocław called Bułka z masłem (bread with butter). It’s good for any time of a day and season. In summer the numerous plants and trees give a pleasant shadow, while in autumn it looks like a small park with colorful leaves everywhere lighted with candles. A must go in Wrocław!
Last but not least… After this pleasurable stop, take a way to The Four Temples District (Dzielnica Czterech Świątyń) where within a distance of only 300 meters, there are: Orthodox Cathedral, Roman Catholic temple, the White Stork Synagogue and the Protestant-church. In 2005, the temples were joined with a cultural path and considered as a monument to history. Worth to go!
Hope my map helps and this walk will be a nice inspiration for your trip to Wrocław.