The most important architectural monument on the Rynek (Market Square) is the Gothic city hall, which... has been the symbol of Wroclaw for 700 years. It was started in the 13th century and altered and expanded several times through to the 16th century. The grand eastern façade can be recognised as the view on the postcards; it shows an astronomical clock from 1580 and an artfully decorated centre gable with terracotta patterns and steeples.
The main entrance is on the western façade with its eight-cornered Gothic city hall tower. Delicate stonemasonry and Renaissance windows decorate the southern façade. Here you will also find the entrance to Piwnica Swidnicka, the Swidnicka beer cellar from the 15th century. Today the city hall houses the Muzeum Historyczne (Museum of History) on the city's history. Particular highlights are the magnificently designed knight's hall on the 1st floor of the building and the citizen's hall on the ground floor.more
The Rynek (Market Square), which was called "Ring" at the time of German rule, is the centre of the old... town with its tessellated arrangement. This is the heart of Wroclaw where people meet to shop and eat. The Rynek is precisely what the advertising slogan for the whole of Wroclaw encompasses: a meeting place for visitors and locals. The square is surrounded by restaurants and beer gardens.
The city hall is on the southern edge of the Rynek, which is framed by an exceptional number of townhouses with magnificent façades from various eras and styles. The most interesting patrician houses are the Flemish-Renaissance style "Griffin's House" (Pod Gryfami) (no. 2), the Manneristic style "Wasa Court" (Dwor Wazow) (no.5) and "The Golden Sun" (Pod Zlotym Sloncem) (no.6) with its Baroque façade. Undoubtedly the most beautiful building of this ensemble is "The seven electors" (no. 8) with its Baroque façade, whereby the oldest part of the building dates from the 13th century.more
Cathedral Island (Ostrow Tumski), on which the diocese was founded in the year 1000, is where Wroclaw... has its roots. Here you will find some of the most beautiful churches in Wroclaw. The Gothic Church of the Holy Cross (Kosciol Sw. Krzyza) has two levels. The lower storey houses the three-naved Basilica of St. Bartholomew (Kosciol Sw. Bartlomieja), the upper storey the Hall Church of the Holy Cross. The two-tower Cathedral of St. John the Baptist (Katedra sw. Jana Chrziciela), with its high altar from the School of Veit Stoss, dates from the 13th century.
The Romanesque St. Gile's Church (Kosciol Sw. Idziego) from 1218 is Wroclaw's oldest church. Ostrow Tumski is the romantic part of Wroclaw. Cathedral Island is still lit up at night by gas lanterns; the lantern lighter walks his round in the early evening. And it's not only excursion boats which start their trips down the Oder River from Ostrow Tumski - a gondola ride will almost make you feel like you are in Venice.more
People like to get off here, as Wroclaw railway station to the south of the centre is worth seeing. The... tudor-style building dates from 1855-1857. The station was designed by the royal architect of the Upper Silesia Railway, Wilhelm Grapow. The historicised station building, a hall nearly 200 metres long with a partially glazed roof, was the largest building of its kind in Europe when it was opened.
The station underwent a significant extension in 1899-1904. The passageways were positioned in walled arcades based on the model of the Berlin city railway. The four northern platforms were covered with a four-naved departure hall; the fifth platform was given a separate monopitch roof. The old departure hall was replaced by a new concourse area. After the Second World War, many of the Art Nouveau ornaments were removed in favour of a more modern design. The air-raid shelters in front of the station were redesigned into a shopping centre at the start of this millennium.more
Wroclaw's market hall is located near the Oder River on Piaskowski bridge at the edge of the university... district. The Hala Targowa, built between 1906 and 1908, is completely different from the modern shopping malls - like an oriental bazaar, it appeals to all your senses and you can do all sorts of shopping here. To top it off, Wroclaw's market hall is a real eye-catcher: The parabolic frame construction with an interior as high as a church and which vaguely resembles the inverted hull of a ship is unmistakable.
The lively "stomach of Wroclaw" not only sells mountains of fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers on tightly packed stands, but also all kinds of delicacies, in addition to everything you could want for day-to-day life and, of course, all sorts of souvenirs. Gourmets and those who love good food will find everything their heart desires in the market hall - they just need to plan enough time for the visit.more
The old patrician houses on the Salt Market (Plac Solny), which borders the Rynek (Market Square) on... the south-western side, feature a large number of Renaissance façades; they have been reconstructed based on models from 1800. The showpiece is the neo-classical Old Exchange (Stara Gielda) built in 1822 according to plans by Carl Ferdinand Langhans which is located on the southern side of the square. The Oppenheim Palace is also well worth a visit.
The architectural diversity is made interesting by some Art Nouveau buildings. The centre of Plac Solny features the needle created by Adam Wyspianski in 1997, which matches the needle in the Hala Ludowa. In the same year the wrought-iron Triton Fountain was installed, which quickly became a popular meeting place for the residents of Wroclaw. Trade has also restarted on the old Salt Market - only today it is just a flower market. What is special is that you can buy flowers nearly all day long here.more
The lively Ulica Swidnicka (Swidnicka Road) is largely for pedestrians only. It is traditionally Wroclaw's... shopping mile. It therefore features some interesting historical department store buildings. The Neo-Baroque "Monopol" constructed between 1891 and 1892 is the oldest department store and hotel in Wroclaw. The "Renoma" (formerly "Wertheim") department store can be found at the Ulica Podwale crossroads. It was built at the end of the 1920s. It had an unusually large trading area for the time, just like the "Paul Schottländer" store which was built in 1897 and which now houses H&M.
Alongside the historical department stores you will also find numerous fashionable boutiques and stores as well as restaurants and cafés and the classical opera house. The building dates back to 1840 based on a design by Carl Ferdinand Langhans and has been altered several times.more
After the royal edict in 1812, which pronounced equal rights for Jews in Prussia, Wroclaw's Jewish community... started to grow. Around 4,000 Jews lived in Wroclaw when the White Stork Synagogue was built by Carl Ferdinand Langhans in 1829. This community increased to over 30,000 in the 1930s. The synagogue was the only Jewish place of worship to survive the war, albeit severely damaged. In the period after the war it served as a synagogue up until 1969, after which it was used as a storage room. Having undergone restoration again, the classical building is once again the centre of Jewish life in the city.
Concerts are held in the synagogue on the last Saturday of each month, starting at the end of the Sabbath after sunset. You can visit the synagogue after making an appointment with the Jewish Community (opposite in ul. Wlodkowica 9).more
The old Jewish cemetery is now under a protection order as the Muzeum Sztuki Cmentarnej (Museum of Cemetery... Arts). Here you can find the tombstones of many famous Wroclaw dignitaries, scientists and businessmen. The tombs of Ferdinand Lassalle, the founder of German social democracy, and the "Silesian nightingale" Friedericke Kemper are particularly worth seeing. The cemetery is the most significant testimonial to the centuries of Jewish life in Wroclaw.
The oldest tomb is the headstone erected for Rabbi David in the Ohlauer suburb in 1203. The Jewish community acquired the property in the mid 19th century; the first burial took place in 1856 and the last in 1942. Even though the inscriptions are missing on many of the 12,000 tombstones, a walk through the rows of graves illustrates just how much the Jewish citizens contributed to the city's prosperity.more
The Wroclaw Cathedral with its 98 meter high twin towers tower over everything else on the cathedral... island Ostrow Tumski and is one of the landmarks of Wroclaw. The Gothic-style cathedral was built in the 13th century and is dedicated to the patron saint John the Baptist. It was destroyed many times, but was rebuilt each time, also after it had been severely damaged in 1945. The Gothic choir is the oldest part of the church and was built after the incursion of the Tartar's in 1244. The three present naves as well as the Gothic Lady Chapel were built in the 14th century. The baroque elector chapel and Elisabeth chapel designed by Italian artists was added until the 17th century. Next to the chapels, the late Gothic triptych and the baroque pews are special sights to see.more
This National Museum in Wroclaw, opened just a few years after the Second World War, excels in its very... thorough overview of Silesian art. Housed in the former seat of the Silesian Provincial Government, it is still the most important museum in Silesia. The exhibition travels through time from the start of the 12th century up to the present day.
The collection of medieval Silesian art with its wonderful Madonnas and numerous sacral objects from Lower Silesia is excellent. The section on Polish painting from the 17th to 20th centuries is one of the best you will see on the topic of history of painting in Poland. There are also collections of arts and crafts, graphics, coins and seals which are well worth seeing. The museum frequently hosts films, special exhibitions and concerts.more
The Ethnography Museum in Wroclaw (Muzeum Etnograficzne) shows the section of Lower Silesia culture which... most directly reflects the social processes and development of the region, namely everyday and folk culture. The section on the culture of the Lower Silesian rural population in particular documents the change in the working and living conditions of people in the country over the past few centuries.
You can learn a great deal about the various population groups and their more or less paltry everyday life and familiarise yourself with the arduous working methods which were common in our grandmother's time. A large area is also dedicated to the rich Silesian folk art, which tells us a great deal about the change in values over the centuries. The collections of Silesian wood craft and cabinet making are particularly worth seeing.more
The most impressive way to enter St. Elizabeth's Church is from the north-west corner of the Rynek (Market... Square): Here there are two small Baroque houses linked by a gateway called Jas i Malgosia (Hansel and Gretel). This gateway leads directly to the courtyard of St. Elizabeth's Church, which is a remarkable example of Silesian brick architecture. Of the evangelical churches built before the war, St. Elizabeth's Church, first built in 1253 and restored in the 14th and 15th centuries, is considered the most significant and the largest.
The Basilica of St. Elizabeth has a formidable Gothic interior with tombstones and epitaphs of Wroclaw's aristocrats. Its tower is 91 metres high and has been a symbol of Wroclaw since the 15th century. Those who make the effort to climb the 365 steps will be rewarded with a spectacular view of the city. A monument to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the evangelical theologian who was executed in 1945 as a member of the resistance and who came from Wroclaw, stands in front of the church.more
Since 1811 the main building of Wroclaw University has been located in a Jesuit College founded by Emperor... Leopold 1. You enter the building that dates back to 1728 through an imposing Baroque portal; its façade on the Oder River side measures 171 metres (561 ft). The most valuable part from a cultural history point of view is the artistically painted Baroque Aula Leopoldina which is located on the first floor and is open to the public. The ceiling fresco by oil painter Christoph Handke shows the origin of the sciences, the sculptures by Franz Mangold from Bohemia depict the founder Leopold I with his two sons.
The newly renovated Ossolineum is located on Ulica Grodzka right next to the university. In addition to the huge range of books comprising old printed matter, manuscripts and Polish literature, the items in the Ossolineum library, which was moved from Lemberg (now Lviv) to Wroclaw in 1946, include graphics, miniatures, book plates, cards and coins.more
In the first thirty years of the last century Wroclaw - the fourth largest city in Germany at the time... - was an important centre for modern German architecture. Major constructions such as the Rudolf Petersdorff store created by the Allenstein-born architect Erich Mendelsohn (who became known for the Einstein Tower (Einsteinturm) in Potsdam-Babelsberg) are now modern classics. The building has always been used as a department store and remains largely protected from modernisations and conversions as one of very few buildings from this phase of expressionist architecture.
The building dominates the corner of Ulica Olawska and Ulica Szczewska from an architectural point of view and emphasises the suspense with a round façade which protrudes over the junction like an oriel. Mendelsohn was particularly apt at integrating light into architecture: He described his concept "as a luminous curtain falling from the sky”.more
Wroclaw's most beautiful park is the generously proportioned Park Szczytnicki, based on designs by Peter... Joseph Lenné. The park, which covers around one hundred hectares, offers a remarkable botanical diversity with its over 370 different types of trees and bushes. Wroclaw's residents are particularly proud of the old oak trees which are over 600 years old. The amphitheatre and a larch wood church from the 16th century, which originally came from Kedzierzyn in Upper Silesia, are also worth a visit.
The Japanese garden in the park is one of the few remaining traces of the "centenary exhibition" from 1913. This small piece of Japan surprises visitors with its lake, small island and romantic Japanese pavilion. In the middle of the park there is a somewhat weathered box-shaped play school - the only building which the famous Swiss architect Le Corbusier designed in Eastern Europe.more
The Cathedral Bridge (Most Tumski) connects Ostrow Tumski to the Sand Island (Wyspa Piaskowa) - the most... beautiful island in the city if you listen to the locals. In the Second World War the extremely built-up island was razed to the ground. The green land left as a result now invites you to while away the time and enjoy the view of old Wroclaw. In summer the Sand Island is a popular venue for numerous Wroclaw festivals.
Some of the sights are worth a visit. This includes the 14th century Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary on-the-sand (Kosciol NMP na Piasku) with its prized Gothic altars, a votive picture of the Victorious Madonna and majestic cloisters. There is a Romanesque tympanum in the southern nave. Opposite is the Baroque Church of St. Anna's (Kosciol Sw. Anny), which is now used by the United Church community of Lviv.more
The art gallery bwa Awangarda is located in the neat Hatzfeld-Palais and has an overview of the Polish... avant-garde. Students of the arts academy of Wroclaw get to present their diploma projects at this venue, and the program also involves theater, art, movies and music. If this is not enough avant-garde for you, just keep on wandering around the house because there are three more galleries, all belonging to BWA Wroclaw. The BWA studio is dedicated to street art, video art and off-theater and also serves as a studio. The BWA Design shows the most unusual pieces of art, which are too avant-garde to become a commercial success. The BWA gallery for glass and pottery is unique in Poland and presents art and conventional glass as well as modern pottery. more
The most interesting museum of the Silesian metropolis opened in 2009 on Wroclaw's 1,000 year anniversary.... The City Museum of Wroclaw shows the complete history of the city for the first time and also includes the German past. The museum is located in the former palace of the king of Prussia, Frederick II, a baroque palace that was originally built for Baron Spatgen in 1719. With the help of EU funds, the facade was renovated as well as the baroque garden and six public chambers on the main floor of the palace. Two of the rooms are dedicated to Frederick William III, who had donated the yellow cross in the yellow living room in 1813 and had signed the appeal “To my people.”more
Discreet on the outside, the Church of Maria on the Sands on the sand island (Wyspa Piaskowa) has only... one special feature: its double church towers. The church is located on the ruins of a Roman building. The brick building has three equally high naves and was bulit between 1334-1425. The naves are 41 meters high, have the region-typical Piast domes and are painted a plain white which underlines the modern church windows very well. The Roman tympanum in the southern nave is especially worth seeing. It derives from the predecessor church. The Virgin Mother icon from the 16th century adorns the northern nave and derives from Mariampol.more
The Most Grunwałdzki Bridge leads the way over the river Oder to the old city. During its construction... time in 1910, it was the second biggest chain bridge in Germany and to this present day is the biggest chain bridge in Poland. It was destroyed in 1945 and rebuild true to the original three years later. The bridge offers the most impressive view over the cathedral island and university quarter. The bridge and the surrounding became notorious in 1945. Gauleiter Hanke induced the destruction of the Luther church to build an airfield for the Wroclaw fortress. Polish forced laborers, prisoners and German civilians had to work here. Thousands died during this period due to airstrikes and artillery shells.more
The Wroclaw Zoo was founded in 1865. In the first half of the 20th century the zoo was known for its... 100 different species of rare animals and plants. Due to the destruction and economic crisis after the First World War, the zoo remained closed from 1921 to 1927. Enclosures for apes, bears, seals, bison and antelopes were opened between the wars. Nearly all the buildings were destroyed and all the animals killed in the Second World War.
The zoo reopened in 1948 and quickly became a favourite place for local families and tourists alike. The Wroclaw Zoo continues to enjoy huge popularity across the country and amongst numerous visitors from abroad and specialists in the region. 500,000 people a year visit the oldest and largest zoo in Poland with its almost 7,000 animals.more
The Centennial Hall (Hala Ludowa) is located on the edge of Park Szczytnicki. It was built in 1913 for... the centenary exhibition to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Prussian wars of liberation against Napoleon. The 130 m-diameter dome (427 ft) was the largest self-supporting building at the time, so large that St. Peter's Cathedral would fit into the rotunda three times over. The massive building was created by Max Berg, councillor for building and construction at the time, and as the first reinforced concrete building it was a groundbreaking step for modern architecture. The hall has been on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 2006.
The Hala Ludowa is still used for exhibitions and events, but even when it's not in use you can have a look round. Near the Hala Ludowa there are a few pavilions with colonnades: This exhibition building was built by Hans Poelzig for the centenary exhibition.more
The Raclawice Panorama is very popular with Polish tourists who know their history. After many years... of expensive restoration, the 114 metre long and 15 metre high giant round fresco by Wojciech Kossak and Jan Styk in its specially built rotunda was opened to the public again in 1985. It shows the victory of the insurgent Polish army, led by the people's hero Tadeusz Kosciusko, against the Russian troops in Raclawice in 1794 (one year before the third and final division of Poland).
Put up for the centenary celebrations in Lemberg (now Lviv), it was transferred from the Ukraine to Wroclaw along with many other Lemberg cultural items after the Second World War. The artistically-prized Panorama is a "must-see" for every official visitor to Wroclaw. Pope John Paul II, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and King Albert II and Queen Paola of Belgium, to name just a few, have already made a visit.more
St. Vincent's Church was founded by Henry the Pious in 1241 as a Franciscan monastery. The church, which... was badly damaged in the war, was returned to its former glory at the end of the 1990s; ownership was transferred to the Greek-Catholic community in 1997. St. Vincent's is one of the most impressive churches in Wroclaw.
The originally Romanesque church was redesigned in the Gothic style and extended in the 14th century. From 1662 to 1674 the church was given its Baroque interior. Highlights are the high altar by Franz Zeller and Georg Czermak from 1667. The altarpieces by the Baroque painter Michael Willmann are also of interest. From 1723, the Late-Baroque Chapel of the Sorrowful Mother was added to the south façade by Christoph Hackner. This chapel is one of the masterpieces of Wroclaw's Baroque architecture. The Baroque cloisters are now part of the university.more