Poland, Useful Travel Guides

Thursday, 18 November 2010

The Gnomes of Wroclaw

Wroclaw is the meeting place: meeting of new with old, modern with tradition, trendy with old fashioned, industry with culture and art, city with gardens, islands with rivers. The bridges of real and abstract nature seems to be crossing all over the city. Perhaps one of the most unusual of these meetings is that of the tiny fairy tale gnomes. What differs as well is that although it’s possibly the most exciting thing for children this time also adults can see the little creatures. Dating back to what was originally graffiti of Wroclaw’s Orange Alternative movement of the communist era, the little gnomes started to appear in the city in 2005 being the creation of local artist Tomasz Moczek. 
A Very Full Gourmet Gnome
The first 32 were commissioned by the City’s Council, the others by local businesses which more than tripled this number. There is even a map available listing all the 123 gnomes and telling their little stories. Now it’s the major tourist attraction as children are looking forward to sightseeing and gnomes hunting in one. The locals give them affectionate glance on the way to work and the gnomes are just doing all sorts of! There are two Sisyphuses pushing the ball, 
A Very Sleepy Gnome
the Sleepy guarding the entrance to the Dwarf’s Village, the Football Fan supporting Silesia, the Gourmet who’s eaten too much, the newly wed Mr&Mrs Dwarf, the Cinema Lover, The Prisoner and the Dumpling Eater, the Postman, the Washer on the bank of Odra river and the ones that are leading their lives on the lamp posts. 
Gnome with Ball and Chain in Prison
It’s a real challenge to spot them all and it’s a great fun as well  - enjoy it! we did. 

A useful overview of the City of Wroclaw by Polish Culinary
More information about Wroclaw from Poland Trips

Monday, 13 September 2010

Wroclaw, Flag Day 2010

Flag Day – formally a ‘Flag of the Republic of Poland Day’ since 2004 is annually organised on the 2nd May. The date was chosen to coincide with the ‘Polonia Day’ – celebrated as the reunion day for all the Poles, around 20 millions are now living outside their country. The aim was to help polish people identify themselves again with the national symbols after years of communist regime and teach the young generations about polish symbols and history. Although it is not a public holiday itself, in reality it ends up as being a day off and a national holiday for almost everybody as the National Flag Day celebration falls in between the unfortunate, traditional since communist era 1st May ‘Labour Day’ – with the working class parade and the 3rd of May, the ‘Constitution Day’ a very important holiday which was banned until 1990.
Wroclaw Flag Day 2010
Nowadays the polish white and red flag will fly out of the windows for the 3 consecutive days. The 1st of May is a joyful and weather willing – picnic atmosphere day with possibly a few parody like labour style parades in the cities. The 2nd of May hosts some lovely, happy and colourful celebrations.  
Cyclists at Flag Day Wroclaw
 This creates a suitable preparation for the national pride – Polish Constitution Day on the 3rd of May, when Poland celebrates the creation in 1791 of the first modern constitution in Europe.
Flag Wavers at Flag Day Wroclaw
On our trip to Wroclaw we were lucky enough to not only watch but also to participate in the Flag Day celebrations on the Main Market Square under the rays of sunshine. 
Young Flag Wavers at Flag Day Wroclaw
Surrounded obviously by lots of flags - the big ones for the adults and the smaller ones for the children we entered the smiling crowd of celebrating Poles. 
Flag Day Wroclaw
Here are some photos of the event – we hope you will enjoy them as much as we did taking them on that happy occasion.
Flag Day Wroclaw
Flag Day Wroclaw
Flag Day Wroclaw
Radio Wroclaw interviewing at Flag Day Wroclaw
Flag Day Wroclaw
All the photographs of the event can be viewed at our website Imagine Poland. 

Usefull Links

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Wroclaw, Thanks Jimy Festival 2010

A Jimy Hendrix Festival in Wroclaw and it was going to be held in the main square the day after we arrived, May 1st.
Poster advertising the event
 I did some more investigation on the internet and discovered that this festival was in its eighth year and in 2009 a guinness world record had been achieved with 6,346 guitars playing along to 'Hey Joe' under the direction of Leszek Cichonski one of the best European blues rock guitarists.
Leszek Cichonski
This year saw 4,597 guitarists registered, not quite as many as the  previous years record but you have to admit thats a lot of guitarists.

Some of the artists featured on stage were Greg Koch, Marek Piekarczyk, Mieczyslaw, Mark Raduli and former lead singer of Genesis, Ray Wilson.
It was a great event to photograph, so many opportunities.

The atmosphere was fantastic, an event attended by all ages. The afternoons festival ending with everyone raising their guitars at the end of the last song, what a sight !

There was then a procession to the next venue on one of Wroclaws islands for an evening concert.
I have marked the date in my calandar for next years event, this is not to be missed.

Usefull links are

Thanks Jimy
Guitar Instruction, 'you tube
Hey Joe, Wroclaw
Wroclaw and Lower Silesia, Culinary Delights

All the photographs from this event and other images of Poland can be viewed at  Imagine Poland

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Wroclaw, The University

One of the special places on our list to visit was Wroclaw University which is located on the banks of the Odra river and only a ten minute walk from the Rynek ( Market Square ).
The main university building is open to the public and houses some spectacular attractions. Entry costs are variable depending on how many areas you wish to visit.
Looking across the River Odra towards Wroclaw University
On the ground floor is the Oratorium Marianum  a beautiful and ornate concert hall whose decorations we found quite stunning although not to sure about the modern purple/mauve seating.
Also on the ground floor is a small museum which displays the history of the university since 1702, one of the exhibits which stands out in my mind was a poster photo showing the devastation of the area at the end of WW2.
Staircase leading to Aula Leopoldina
A staircase decorated in a fresco style leads up to the main hall, Aula Leopoldina this room is quite spectacular and well worth the visit. Here you will find a sense of the history, traditions and ceremony of Wroclaw University. On the walls in between the windows are oval portraits of many of the university founders and if you look upwards you will see frescoes by Christoph Handke, also watch out for the sculptures by Franz Joseph Mangoldt.
Wroclaw University,the Aula Leopoldina
Wroclaw University, the Aula Leopoldina
Displayed on the walls of the final staircase which lead to the Mathematicians Tower are paintings and photographs depicting the history of the university.
The final attraction at the top of the staircase is The Mathematicians Tower which gives an amazing panoramic view of Wroclaw and the River Odra from its terrace.
Wroclaw University, the Mathematicians Tower
Views over Wroclaw from the University Mathematicians Tower
At each corner of the tower looking out over the City are symbolic statues depicting four faculties Theology, Philosophy, Medicine and Law.
Wroclaw University, statue at the corner of the Mathematicians Tower
Wroclaw University, statue at the corner of the MathematiciansTower 

In the courtyard area to the front of the University can be found the statue of the Naked Swordsman It is rumoured the statue depicts a previous student of the university who after a drunken evening lost all his money and clothes playing cards keeping only his fine sword.The statue was erected as a warning to others.

The Naked Swordsman, Uniwersitecky Square, Wroclaw

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Wroclaw Indoor Market, Hala Targowa

For our one week stay in Wroclaw we needed to stock up on food especially fruit and vegetables. Having done our research we knew there was only one place to go' Hala Targowa', the indoor market. To get there was only a ten minute walk from our city centre apartment just along Plac Nowy Targ to where it joins the road called Andrzeja Modrzewskiego - Frycza, the market building is at this corner right opposite the Sand Bridge which crosses the River Odra.
Wroclaw, Hala Targowa, The Indoor Market
The  gloomy building exterior is constructed of red brick and dominates this busy corner but once inside you feel  the atmosphere of  a busy traditional market.
Wroclaw, Hala Targowa, the interior
Wroclaw, Hala Targowa, produce on sale
The ground floor is full of stalls selling a wide range of  produce, you will have to go a long way to find a comparable selection of such quality. Vegetable, fruits, meats, polish sausages, cheeses and flowers on the ground floor then  arranged around the first floor balcony cobblers, lingerie, hairdressers, currency exchange booths, clothing etc .
Wroclaw, Hala Targowa, produce on sale
Take a moment to rest at the balcony and watch the market life below. If the sight of all this food has made you feel hungry then stop at the busy little pierogi bar on your way out.
We made our way back to the apartment having bought far more than intended but happy knowing we would eat well the following week.

All our photographs from Hala Targowa can be viewed at  www.imaginepoland.com

Useful Links

Polish Cuisine
Poland its Regions
Polands Official Travel Website

All photographs copyright Imagine Poland

Monday, 21 June 2010

Wroclaw, Plac Solny, The Flower Market

The southwest corner of the Rynek in Wroclaw opens out to another square called Plac Solny which was originally the Salt Market whose last salt stalls were abolished in 1815. Also sold here were leather and honey. Now the square houses a much more colourful Flower Market which is a delight to the eyes.
Plac Solny, The Flower Market
All types of flowers with their many colours and shades are on display either as stunning bouquets or beautiful single stems. The choice is yours and if you follow the Polish tradition buy them in odd no's. as even no's are used at funerals. Also chrysanthemums are for visiting the cemetery/funerals and roses of course are for lovers.
 The flower sellers colourful stalls surround a gushing ornate fountain erected in 1997 which is topped with design made from forged iron. More to the centre of the square and to one side of the flower stalls is a tall needle sculpture.
Surrounding the square are the high traditionally styled houses with restaurants and bars at street level. On the south side your eye is drawn to the Old Stock Market  (Stara Giełda) designed by a local architect Carl Ferdinand Langhans ( 1782 - 1869 ) this is quite an imposing building with a magnificent entrance.
Entrance to The Stock Exchange
It was not until we arrived back home and were doing some research for our book that we discovered that under the flower market area was a wartime shelter which was capable of housing three hundred people.
Before you leave the Flower Market look high and low and see if you can spot some of  the little residents of Wroclaw.

All our photographs of The Flower Market at Wroclaw can be viewed at


Useful Links
Historic Wroclaw

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Wroclaw, Rynek Glowny ( Market Square )

The characteristic landmark of the city, where all the routes begin is traditionally the Rynek . Wroclaw has Poland's second largest . You will see it on the majority of the postcards with its stunning Town Hall dating back to 13th century and quite rightly so as the square is the main gathering point for both social and cultural events.
The Town Hall, Wroclaw
The Astronomical Clock at the Town Hall
The Whipping Pillar in front of the Town Hall
On the eastern facade of the Town Hall - now the museum - your eye catches immediately the famous astronomical clock and in front you will see the old Whipping Pillar - now only a peaceful meeting place. The imposing 5 floor department store 'Feniks' built at  the beginning of the twentieth century - in its early years topped by a huge illuminated glass globe shattered by lightning in 1930 is located on the eastern side of the Rynek and will provide you if not with all the shopping required, certainly with fantastic views from the upper floors over the Old Town. Also on Feniks top floor can be found a very useful Internet and IT facility
The southeastern facade of the Town Hall with its stunning embellishments gives a shelter for the artists - drawing and selling their pictures on the pavement.

Artists displaying and selling their paintings in the shadow of the Town Hall
In the town halls medieval cellars next to the Piwnica Swidnicka Beer Cellar you will discover Wroclaw's oldest brewery the Spiz Brewery. At the entrance to the cellars is replica statue of the Breslau Bear, there is a fountain from its mouth which if you want good luck then you must touch it.
A replica of the Breslau Bear near the Spiz Restaurant
A more imposing monument  a hundred metres away is to  Alexander Fredro one of Poland's most prominent writers and playwright.

Monument to Aleksander Fredro prominent Polish playwright and writer
Also on this side of the Rynek can be found the two main tourist and cultural information centres - one the 'Wroclaw Info' has limited free Internet access for tourists both have very helpful English speaking staff. The Western side is dominated by the lively jetting Wroclaw Fountain giving joyful enjoyment to young and old and illuminated in the evening.

The Rynek Wroclaw Fountain
It's also from here that you will see and be enchanted by two fairy like Baroque houses named 'Hansel and Gretel linked by an archway through which can be found St Elizabeths Church which has one of the tallest towers in Wroclaw with panoramic views of the Rynek and beyond from the top. The opposite corner of the square will take you to Plac Solny which houses the open air colourful flower market open 24/7.
You can spend an entire day on the Market Square as there are many beautiful features to discover.  See if you can find any of the numerous little gnomes hiding in the least expected places.

Some of the Ryneks inhabitants, The Gnomes
Three mysterious passage-ways link the Town Hall buildings and all this among the countless number of colourful bars, cafes and restaurants with their outside seating and colourful sun shades, there was certainly no shortage of places to eat, drink, relax and meet people.

Words I would use to sum up Wroclaw Rynek - Vibrant, Historic, Colourful, Traditional.

During our stay in Wroclaw we ate in restaurants around the Rynek, drank in its bars/cafes or just sat under lush green foliage of the trees on one of the many benches and soaked up the scenery.

All our photographs of Wroclaws Rynek can be viewed in the image gallery at www.imaginepoland.com

Please come back to see our next review on Wroclaws Flower Market and Indoor Market

Useful Links
Wroclaw Info
Wroclaw Description