European Quartet One Melody

 
Wrocław, the historic capital of Silesia, is one of the biggest and oldest Polish cities. Vratislavia was first unambiguously mentioned as a mighty city around the year 1000. It was then that a Polish ecclesiastical settlement was created there. In the 14th century the city fell under the sway of the Czech king, John of Luxembourg and broke its ties with Poland. Later Vratislav, together with the rest of Poland fell under the sway of the Hungarian monarchy, and it is from those times that the Hungarian name of the city, Boroszló, dates. Together with the Czech crown, Wrocław was incorporated into the Habsburg monarchy and renamed Breslau. In the 18th century the entire Silesia was taken over by Prussia, and thus Wrocław was incorporated into the Kingdom of Prussia, and later the German Reich, where it remained until 1945. After  World War II, Wrocław was returned to Poland. The city is full of monuments from this thousand year, turbulent history.
Town Hall in Wroclaw / © Polish Tourist OrganisationWrocław University - the Aula Leopoldina Hall / © Polish Tourist OrganisationFountain in the centre of Wroclaw / © Dariusz Zaród │Polish Tourist Organisation
Wroclaw / © Dariusz Zaród │Polish Tourist OrganisationBolesławiec clay pottery / © Polish Tourist OrganisationWroclaw - Centennial Hall - a UNESCO site / © Polish Tourist Organisation
Wroclaw / © Polish Tourist OrganisationKsiąż castle / © Polish Tourist OrganisationBolesławiec clay pottery / © Polish Tourist Organisation
Visitors usually start their sightseeing from the Market Square, close to two Gothic churches, St. Elizabeth’s Church – the burial site of Wrocław’s patron saint, and St. Mary Magdalene’s Church – which has one of the oldest and most beautiful Romanesque portals in Central Europe.
 
It’s hard to overlook the Baroque architecture of Wrocław University, and the Leopoldine Hall inside with its captivating illusionist painting and rich stucco decoration. The University Church also has wonderful frescoes. A further two interesting spots include the Piaskowa Island and Ostrów Tumski, a medieval residential quarter, an islet with a number of Gothic churches, including the stunning Cathedral. On the ‘islands’ it is hard to miss the Church of the Holy Cross and St. Bartholomew. The great medieval architect known as Magister Lapida Wilancius divided the interior of the building into two floors occupied by two separate churches. The premises of the Wrocław University with the Aula Leopoldina Hall and its beautiful Baroque decorations, as well as a statue of a naked fencer standing next to the main building, are especially worthy of a visit. The university is merely one of the 35 academic institutions of the city; no surprise then that so important an academic centre has been home to as many as 10 Nobel Prize laureates. The Wrocław Thanks Jimi Festival in 2007 saw the Guinness World Record for the largest number of guitars simultaneously playing the same song.

Wrocław also has a modern site from the 20th century that has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO – the People’s Hall, recently renamed the Centennial Hall. Other places to see in Wrocław include the Botanical Gardens and Szczytnicki Park, which include Poland’s only Japanese Garden, which is worth a longer trip to the east of the city. A stroll along Wrocław’s green belt, which runs along Europe’s longest city moat (3,860m), is also recommended.
 
Another interesting part of Wrocław is the Salt Square – Plac Solny. Visitors cannot fail to be impressed by the huge late Gothic town hall. Its tower houses the oldest clock tower bell, installed back in 1368. The Town Hall cellars are home to Piwnica Świdnicka, one of the oldest European restaurants. As many as 8000 Baroque, Classicist, Secession and Modernist tenement houses are preserved all over the city. Wrocław houses 18 large museums, the most interesting of which include the National Museum, the Museum of Medal Art and the Museum of Military Engineering. Over 17 theatres and concert halls are active in the city, among them the Wrocław Philharmonic and Opera as well as the Polish, Capitol Music, Pantomime Theatre and others. Interesting projects include the Pieśń Kozła Theatre and the Guest Mime Theatre of the Wrocław University of Technology.
 
A Magical City
Wrocław is full of magical places. In the Medieval Slaughter House there is a statue commemorating the slaughtered animals. On Świdnicka Street, near the pedestrian subway you’ll find a statue of the Leprechaun, the symbol of the Orange Alternative which is an artistic movement that opposed communism in the 1980s. On the south side of the Town Hall stands a fountain in the shape of a teddy-bear, a favourite meeting place for children. It is a copy of a 1904 bronze sculpture that stood on the site until 1945. The statue of the classical comedy writer, Aleksander Fredro stands on the Market Square. For the adventurous we recommend climbing the 300 steps to the scenic terrace at the top of the St. Elizabeth’s Church tower which stands next to the house of Hansel and Gretel. There is an elevator in the Cathedral tower which goes to a scenic terrace at 60m. In the evening, visitors can take a pleasant stroll along the narrow streets of Ostrów Tumski, illuminated by the hazy light of gas lamps.
 
A City of Culture
Wrocław is a city breathing with culture. It has an opera house, an operetta and many theatres. The city was home to Jerzy Grotowski’s experimental Laboratorium Theatre, as well as the Polish poet Tadeusz Różewicz and the founder of Wrocław’s pantomime theatre, Henryk Tomaszewski. Many spectacular events take place in the city, including the Actors’ Song Festival and the Wratislavia Cantans Festival. Wrocław also has many museums, the most important being the National Museum with paintings by outstanding Polish artists, such as Jan Matejko, Jacek Malczewski and Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz (Witkacy). Another highlight is the famous Racławice Panorama, painted by a group of artists led by Jan Styka and Wojciech Kossak. This giant 360 degree circular painting, 120m in circumference and 15m high, presents the Battle of Racławice, in which the Poles commanded by Tadeusz Kościuszko defeated the Russians in 1794. This monumental artwork was brought to Wrocław from Lvov in 1946. Wrocław has been chosen as the European Culture Capital for 2016.
 
Wrocław’s Surroundings
Lower Silesia, of which Wrocław is the capital, has a wide range of tourist attractions. It takes just an hour and a half to reach the 400 room, 13th century castle in Książ. Of particular interest is the Baroque Maximilian Hall. Wrocław is also just a stone’s throw from Wojnowice, the Gothic castle surrounded by a moat, the only one of its kind in Europe. Treasure hunters should also visit Złotoryja, where you can pan for gold in the Kaczawa River. The annual international gold prospecting contest is held here in May. The wooden Churches of Peace in Jawor and Świdnica are on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
 
Souvenirs                                                                                                                                                                         
Silver jewellery, often decorated with precious and other stones from Lower Silesia, artistic glassware and crystal glass, ceramic ware from Bolesławiec, Lower Silesian porcelain as well as small stained-glass pictures, wooden toys, traditional T-shirts and other products are all on sale around the city.
 
 

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Wrocław – Europe Cultural Capital in 2016: Location

Poland GPS latitude/longitude: 51.10007 , 17.02880

 

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