THE BEST VIEWS OF THE CITY CENTER
Rynek square will inevitably be your point of reference when you arrive in Wroclaw. It is the main square or old market square, the city’s heart and the liveliest place. Just a few steps away, we can find two churches that stand out for their size, their history and also because of their towers from which we can enjoy the best views of Wroclaw.
First of all, the Church of St. Elisabeth, located on one of the corners of Rynek Square, is a beautiful Gothic church built in the 14th century. We can recognise this church easily thanks to its tower, which is almost 100 metres high, and its roof covered with colourful tiles. Originally the tower was 130 metres high, but in the 16th century, it was destroyed and rebuilt in renaissance style 30 metres shorter. You can try climbing the tower on foot to enjoy a magnificent panoramic view of the city centre.
If this church is closed for any reason, don’t be disappointed, as there is another church just a few metres away on the other side of the market square. The church of St. Mary Magdalene also built in the 14th century in Gothic style. There is a legendary bridge suspended 45 metres above the ground at the top of its Gothic towers known as the “Bridge of Penitents” (Mostek Pokutnik).
According to a local legend, this bridge is known as the witches’ bridge because a good witch called Martynka helped a young girl named Tekla. She was serving her penance on this bridge for having been too lazy, not helping her parents and refusing to get married as she wanted to live a free and responsibility less life. The story ends with the witch Martynka aiding the young girl escape from the tower, and the moral of the story reminds the young girls that they should work, study or help their families.
Those who reach the Bridge of Penitents can see Martynka and Tekla’s small sculptures commemorating this story. From here you can also admire some lovely views of the central part of Wroclaw and a partial view of Rynek Square. There is no lift to the bridge either, so you will have to walk up the narrow spiral staircase.
Church of Santa Isabel: sw. Elzbiety 1/2, 50-111 Wroclaw. Price around 5 zlotys.
Church of St. Mary Magdalene: Mostek Pokutnic w Katedrze sw. Marii Magdaleny.
Punkt widokowy. Price around 8 zlotys.
BARSZCZ; THE UNPRONOUNCEABLE NAME OF A PURPLE SOUP
Being so close to the German and Russian borders, Polish cuisine is heavily influenced by these countries. Typical Polish dishes are barszcz, a beetroot soup, salmon or herring, schabowy or battered pork chop, and for dessert, a drozdzowka, a yeast cake, are typical Polish dishes that will remind us of Poland’s neighbouring countries.
The famous “Borscht” or “Barszcz” is a type of soup that travellers will hardly find in other countries of the world except in this part of Central Europe. Due to Wroclaw’s history and its migratory movements, this soup can also be found in countries such as Russia and Ukraine, although there are different ways of making it. This dish is usually served hot during the cold winter months, and in summer, you can find a cold version cooked differently. Most restaurants offer this dish on their menus, and you can choose to have it as a first course.
Polish barszcz is different from other borscht because the ingredients with which it is served are different. In other countries, it is served with meat and sour cream. In Poland, however, the main ingredient is beetroot, which also gives it its deep purple colour.
The traditional Polish recipe is made by fermenting the beets beforehand and using the leftover sour liquid for cooking the pieces of fermented beetroot and other vegetables such as onions, garlic or carrots. The final result is a sweet and sour soup that Poles love. Many restaurants skip this step, as the beetroot’s fermentation takes longer and make it by cooking all the vegetables simultaneously. A little sour cream is added to give the soup that sweet and sour taste and smoother texture to the soup when serving.
To make a quick homemade version of this Polish soup, you can use beetroot, garlic, lemon juice, vegetable or meat stock, sugar, pepper and salt. We can choose to bake the beetroots or buy them ready-made in jars, then cut the beetroot into strips or small pieces and add them to a vegetable or meat stock. Then add the lemon juice, a teaspoon of sugar, and pepper and salt to taste into the same pot. Once it has boiled for 10 to 15 minutes, remove the pot and leave to rest. As you can see, it is a straightforward dish to make if you want to try cooking it at home.
Suppose you want to have the cold version of this soup by leaving it in the pot to cool down and serve it cold. It is a delicious and appetising dish to have in summer.
Enjoy your meal! Smacznego!
HALA TARGOWA MUNICIPAL MARKET
During your visit to Wroclaw, you will find different shopping areas where you can buy those little mementoes to take home as souvenirs to recall your visit to Poland. Starting with shops specialising in local souvenirs to shopping centres such as the Feniks Shopping Centre in Rynek Square or the Dominikanska Gallery where you will find practically everything you are looking for.
In Wroclaw, shops are usually closed on Sundays and holidays. So the first place that you should stop by when visiting Wroclaw on a Sunday or holiday is the tourist office on Rynek Street. Here, you can buy magnets, postcards, the famous gnomes, and they can also provide you with more information about timetables and specialised shops. The most popular things to buy in this city are tapestries, gnomes, as well as mosaics, flowers and local wines.
In this section, we would like you to experience first-hand daily life in this Polish city, the local people’s customs and lifestyle; although this place is not very touristy. It is worth visiting as it is an attractive gastronomic space. Besides discovering local Polish products, we can familiarise ourselves with their prices and compare them with those in our countries. This is also a great venue to meet some of the farmers and livestock producers selling their goods. In short, we would like to invite you to get to know an interesting local market place, the Hala Targowa municipal market.
From the outside, the building may look like a train station. The market was a very modern construction for its time, created in 1908 by two German architects Richard Plüddemann and Heinrich Küster. Heinrich Küster was responsible for the innovative use of reinforced concrete in the structure of the municipal market.
The small central market sells food products such as fruit, vegetables, fish, meat, pulses, mushrooms, pickles, cheeses, wines and all kinds of local products, which can also be tasted in the two small bars, where you can eat inexpensively. You can find handicraft products on the upper floor, such as wickerwork or leather and even clothes and gifts. In the basement, located under the clock tower in the corner, you will find a restaurant. It is situated at 15 Piaskowa Street, only a 10-minute walk from the central square of Wroclaw and on the way to the small islands of the Oder River where the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist is. Although most of the stalls are closed, some small shops are open on Sundays.
Tourist office: Rynek 14.
Hala Targowa Central Market: Piaskowa 15.
HANSEL AND GRETEL’S COTTAGES IN WROCLAW
Rynek Square is the heart of Lower Silesia’s capital, one of Poland’s as well as Europe’s largest squares, where it all begins and ends. There are so many monuments on the square that you will find it challenging to decide what to focus on and where to start taking the most beautiful photo in memory of this fantastic city.
This section will focus on one of the square’s corners, specifically on the northwest side, which hides some small but fascinating and charming monuments.
The little corner where we would like to draw your attention into is the Church of St. Elizabeth, which we have already recommended you to climb to enjoy the views of the city, but will you be able to take a photo of the church with its slim 91.5-metre high tower? Give it a try!
The church suffered a fire in 1976, resulting in extensive damage to the ceiling and roof and various internal elements of the interior’s wooden decoration. Outside the church, you will see a group of gnomes posing like firefighters. No doubt here you can take another souvenir photo of this city, the gnomes with the church of St. Elisabeth in the background.
Next to St. Elisabeth’s church, there are two tiny, colourful and beautiful houses connected by an arcade. The houses are known as Hansel and Gretel’s houses, although they are called Jas I Malgosia Domy or John and Margaret. Initially, these cottages were used to house priests and church caretakers. Unlike most of the monuments on the square, these two houses survived the bombing during the last war. This, together with their picturesque and unique appearance, makes these two charming houses one of the most photographed places in the city.
Location: St. Elizabeth Church: Swietej Elzbiety 1-2.
Small houses of “Hansel and Gretel”: “Jas i Malgosia Domy”
ONE OF THE MOST UNUSUAL SCULPTURES IN THE WORLD.
Wroclaw is a city full of surprises, monuments with great cultural and architectural value, and perhaps that is what the country is least known for. But once the traveller decides to take the time to discover it, there is no turning back, as they will fall in love with it and will want to keep coming back.
We would now like to introduce you to one of the most intriguing monuments in the city, the Monument of the Anonymous Passers-by. According to the American magazine Budget, it’s “one of the most unusual places in the world” and “one of the ten most peculiar works of art in the world”. In Polish, it is called “Przejscie”, which means “passage” and is the brainchild of Polish artist, filmmaker and set designer Jerzy Kalina. “Passage” was installed in Wroclaw in 2005, although the foundation for this work was another temporary work called “Passer-by”, which Kalina created for Warsaw in 1977.
The Monument of the Anonymous Bystanders is, above all, a fantastic group of 14 life-size bronze figures so that we could see ourselves reflected in one of them. The work is divided into two groups, each consisting of seven people, depicted on either side of a zebra crossing. The first group that will cross is gradually submerging; we can see the cobblestones’ movement, how these people are losing their stability, and being absorbed by the pavement. On the other side of the street, they emerge from the ground as if they passed through underneath the pedestrian crossing. And once again they resume their path and start walking; we can find ordinary people, an old lady with a cane, a man with a suitcase, another carrying a tyre, a mother with her child in a pram, men wearing work uniforms, all of them with clothes from the eighties.
Its inauguration in 2005 coincided with an important date, 24 years after introducing martial law in communist-era Poland. The Polish artist Kalina represents the beginning and the end of this law created by the communist government to suppress opposition groups in the government. Many people who fought against communism were afraid to express their disagreement openly, as many were arrested, others disappeared, and others had to go underground. Therefore, the first group that is going to cross the pavement and is falling down shows the beginning of this law in 1981 and the second group that has already crossed the pavement and is coming out of the ground marks the end of this law and thus marks the rebirth of the Polish people. Once we are familiar with its history, this work will leave us speechless. And you, would you like to see this peculiar monument on-site?
The intersection of Swidnicka Street with Pilsudskiego Street
Now, we’d like to invite you to do something that requires three things. First, you have to be curious; second, you have to be an observer; and third, you have to be willing to walk. In Wroclaw, there are little creatures that go around the city playing pranks and mimicking people. Sometimes with a touch of humour, they are gnomes.
According to a local legend, during the city’s creation, the humans noticed a kind of imp living in the area around the river Oder, making it very difficult for them to cope. The humans asked the gnomes to help them to stop this imp, and from that moment he disappeared, so after fulfilling their promise to man, the gnomes decided to stay and live with the inhabitants of Wroclaw to build the city and settle here, so welcome to the city of the gnomes!
What is true is that in the 1980s, still in the Soviet era, people in Wroclaw wanted to protest against this government and did not know how to do it. In the end, they decided to use an anonymous figure to show their disagreement and disenchantment with the communist government. Thus the “Orange Alternative Movement” represented by a gnome with a flower and an orange hat was born; subsequently, these gnomes were drawn all over the city. As a tribute to this vast solidarity movement “Orange Alternative” personified by the gnomes, in 2001, the local authorities decided to create and put up the first ‘Papa Dwarf’ figure as a memorial to the people who were very creative and fought for what they wanted, the re-establishment of the Polish government. Such was this initiative’s success that every year, more and more gnomes are placed all over the city to the point of becoming a tourist attraction.
There is a gnome route on which visitors can search for and discover each of the little figurines found at every turn in Wroclaw. There is a story and a purpose behind each of these statues. You can buy a map at the tourist office on Rynek Square, or you can discover them while walking around.
How many gnomes will you be able to spot? Will you find the traveller gnome? The one on a lamppost? The drunk gnome? or the firefighter? Maybe the photographer gnome? The musicians? the gnomes trying to move a huge round stone? or the one on a lion? Perhaps the one lying on a bed? or the balloon man gnome?
Undoubtedly, this is a minor challenge that we invite you to take on. It is also a fun and interesting way to get to know the city and all the hidden corners of one of Poland’s most beautiful and surprising cities. Good luck with your hunt!
RYNEK AND THE OLD CITY HALL
As the Main Square is going to be our point of reference during our visit to Wroclaw, it is essential to talk about this place so that you can discover all its hidden corners and secrets. Especially about the old town hall, one of the most photographed monuments in the city.
As discussed in previous sections, the Rynek or old market square is the old city centre. All kinds of events and gatherings are held here, be it cultural, religious, sporting or student affairs and the famous and bustling Christmas markets. The Rynek is such a large square that during the Euro 2012 football championships, it hosted around 30,000 fans; can you imagine how big it is?
The 60 houses that surround the perimeter of the square are worth paying attention to. Each one is different from the other, and the results of meticulous research and reconstruction work carried out by a good part of the population after World War II. They were determined to raise the city from the ashes. Many of these colourful houses were restored in different architectural styles imitating the original square with remains of baroque and renaissance mansions. You will find another block of distinct buildings in the centre of the square, including the town hall, perhaps the most impressive building in the entire country.
The old town hall was built in different stages from the 13th to the 16th century. Its facade is in Gothic style and hides numerous treasures, sculptures and all kinds of decorations, among which the astronomical clock from the year 1580 stands out. Its tower, which is more than 60 metres high, was built in the mid-16th century.
Another highlight is one of the oldest restaurants in Europe, located in the Gothic Town Hall basement. The Piwnica Swidnicka, named after a town called Swidnica, 50 kilometres from Wroclaw, from which beer was brought to be sold in the restaurant during the Middle Ages. The restaurant dates back to the 13th century and therefore has almost 800 years of history. Numerous kings, priests, artists and nobles have visited the restaurant, and famous figures like Goethe and Chopin were also spotted in the restaurant. Also, This restaurant’s basement reportedly contains a network of tunnels that connect to other buildings.
LET’S WALK TO THE SPIRITUAL HEART OF WROCLAW
Wroclaw was founded initially on one of the twelve islands scattered along the course of the Oder River as it flows through the city. These little islands are located in an area referred to by locals as Little Vatican because of the concentration of numerous churches within a very small area, which is more than a kilometre away from the mainstream touristic centre around the main square.
For those of you interested in getting to know the spiritual heart of Wroclaw, we recommend that you grab a map at the tourist office and get ready for a nice walk. It will take about 20 minutes to reach our final destination, the famous Cathedral Island (in Polish Ostrów Tumski). On the way, we can make a few stops to admire other monuments and buildings that we will come across.
Departing from Rynek Square, we walk along Wita Stwosza Street, where we leave the previously mentioned Gothic Church of St. Mary Magdalene on our right. Continue along this street, and at the end, you will come across the Dominican church of St. Wojciech. From there, take a left and continue along Piaskowa street, leading to the municipal market and the river Oder’s banks. You will understand why the locals call this area “the little Vatican” or “the Polish Venice” once you have witnessed the panoramic views of Churches and small islands.
You should see a branch of the Oder River from here and a small reddish bridge called Most Piaskowy, built in 1861. We must cross this bridge to reach the small island of Piasek, where the small Catholic parish church dedicated to the Virgin Mary is located. Go around this church to get to the Tumski Bridge, which will finally lead you to the Cathedral Island where, apart from the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, you will find numerous religious buildings such as the Church of the Holy Cross and St. Bartholomew, the statue of St. John of Nepomuk and the St. Martin’s Church.
Swietego Wojciech Catholic Church: plac Dominikanski 2.
Central Market Church: Piaskowa 17.
Plaza de la Catedral de San Juan Bautista: Plac Kaírituny 18.
A STOP NEXT TO THE ODER RIVER
Wroclaw is a very vibrant city. With just 640,000 inhabitants, it is the fourth most populous city in Poland. In this lively and crowded city, there are quiet and hidden corners where you can take a break and breathe some fresh air and do something relaxing at the same time, which will help you experience another, calmer and more leisurely aspect of the city.
The river Oder (Odra) and its tributaries, such as the Olawa, Sleza, Bystrzyca and Widawa, flow through Wroclaw, dividing the city into small islands connected by numerous bridges. Taking advantage of this natural wonder, we invite you to take a break in a charming place located next to the river and the National Museum.
To do so, head towards the municipal market, look for the reddish bridge along the Oder and then head towards the Pokoju bridge. Before you get there, you will find the Piaskowa marina next to the Xawerego Dunikowskiego boulevard.
This boulevard is a vast esplanade and viewing platform by the river where locals and tourists alike gather. It is an oasis among so many historic buildings and is well worth a short break, especially during the summer months and on sunny days.
There is a place called Zatoka Gondoli, very close to the National Museum, where you can sit, for instance, in the Barka Café with a fantastic view of the Cathedral Island (Ostrów Tumski ).
On the other hand, if you prefer to go on a boat trip, there is a wide range of options to choose from in this part of the port. The easiest and most comfortable way would be to catch a tourist boat and go on a panoramic tour, choosing from among the many offered, depending on the duration, route, type of boat and timetable that best suits your wishes and time available.
For those who are adventurous enough, sporty or independent, renting a kayak or paddleboat to explore the river Oder at your own pace is possible too.
Bulwar Xawerego Dunikowskiego.
Zatoka Gondoli: Jana Ewangelisty Purkyniego 9, 50-155
Wellcome to Europamundo Vacations, your in the international site of:
Bienvenido a Europamundo Vacaciones, está usted en el sitio internacional de: