Wroclaw, one word and yet, it means so much. I do not really know why I chose my home town for my first post. Probably because I thought it will be the easiest theme, so why not? Now, after a few days’ work on it, I see how hard it is. I’ve been writing this blog post for so many hours, now. Then when I think: ‘It is done. I’ve written everything’, there comes the thought: ‘Oh, I forgot about THIS…. I must write about THAT!’, and everything starts from scratch. I am sure I will be updating this blog, or this little diary of mine – name it whatever you want – many more times, so please, be patient with me.
Starting from most obvious facts – Wroclaw is the fourth largest city in Poland and the city’s history is really incredible and vast. Wroclaw had to get through 1st and 2nd World War, but it was actually really WW2 that destroyed it. Not every building could be reconstructed and a lot of historical treasure disappeared forever.
Wroclaw needed some time to stand back on its own legs but now is really worth seeing and getting to know. This is exactly why I am writing this post – you have to see that place! 🙂 The city, as I see it now, is a place that has so much to experience. It is the place where I was born and where I lived for 25 years. It is a place where the past and the future meet. Wroclaw is old and young, historical and modern, slow and fast. How else can I describe it? It is a place where all my thoughts, feelings, experiences and hopes really belong. It is a magical place which you have to see, touch, hear, feel, taste and befriend.
Wroclaw has so many lovely and romantic places, buildings, gardens, islands, pubs and cafes where you can find some quiet and chill. I visit all those old corners gladly and I am always curious what Wroclaw shows me next. And every time it actually amazes me with something new.
Not surprisingly did Wroclaw receive in 2016 the great title of the European Capital of Culture and is actually called WrocLove, making it easier for international tourists to pronounce its name but also making a super important point. It is really easy to fall in love with! At the Rynek, the marketplace, you can find the amazing, antique, gothic City Hall which was built as early as 13th century. It is surrounded by elegant tenement houses, the famous Plac Solny (Salt Market) with beautiful flower stalls, a gorgeous modern glass fountain and small but cute little gardens of local coffee houses. This centre of town offers many performances and festivals which you can see and enjoy for free. All of them create an incredible and unique atmosphere, where the locals and tourists meet. You just have to see it. By the way, did you know Wroclaw’s tagline is ‘The Meeting Place’? So, so true… If you only have some free time, you should definitely go to Wroclaw in December and see the Christmas Market. The whole centre is full of many tiny booths and stalls selling mulled wine, waffles, grilled meats, sweets and all the handcraft you can imagine. The Wroclawians meet there to enjoy a warming drink and take time out and catch up with friends and family.
Wroclaw has also got many legends. One of my favourites is the one about the Witches’ Bridge (Mostek Czarownic/Pokutnic) which is 45 meters tall and is located at St Mary Magdalene’s church. That famous bridge has been linking the two towers of the church since 1459! The tickets are not expensive and cost only 5 zloty (€1.20) and you can visit it any time of the year from 10am to 7pm. But please, do not forget that the church has no lift! You have a lot of stairs to take but the view is worth it. Remember to read the story of the witch, too!
You can find the local dwarves which are the icons of Wroclaw everywhere in the city centre. In the beginning, there were only just a few of them but now they have become so popular that every year or even every couple of months there is a new one appearing. I really recommend looking for them and trying to find them all but it can be quite hard. The cutest one is the dwarf couple in front of the municipal registry office <3.
Wroclaw has many isles as well but the most beautiful and romantic one is, no doubt, the Ostrow Tumski. The centre of the isle has the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist with many local gardens and churches. The Cathedral is a gothic church with neo-gothic additions. It sounds a little complicated with the mix of styles but the roof was destroyed in 1540 and only restored 16 years later. Unfortunately, another fire in 1759 burnt it again together with other towers and the sacristy. The repairs needed time and the pieces were redone by Karl Lüdecke in neo-gothic style.
You can visit the cathedral temple and the top with an incredible view for only 5 zloty (€1.20). The terrace is a little windy so take your cap or put the hoodie on but go – it is worth it!
What you cannot miss is the small but really amazing Tumski Bridge or, as everyone says, the Lovers’ Bridge (Most Zakochanych) with hundreds of padlocks and a beautiful view. It was completely renovated in 1945 after the damages of WW2. Until today, you can see holes after all the bullets it had taken. Since October 1976 the bridge has been recognised as a historic monument.
One of the most popular viewpoints is located in new Sky Tower where on the 49th floor you have a fabulous view of the city. The tickets cost about 10-15 zloty (€2.40 – 3.60) but the trip is really worth it. Unfortunately, the visit there is not long – you can only stay for 20 minutes! If you wish to stay longer, you have to buy another ticket…
I can’t forget to mention the food and drinks, of course. Wroclaw has a lot of fantastic and unique pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes. The places are always original and I have never found such lovely corners in other countries. Many of them are located in old tenement houses, basements and cellars and tempt your stay with lots of comfy sofas, ambient candles and amazing music (from jazz to rock to chillout). These are also the places to try delicious food and the famous Polish ‘Grzaniec’ (mulled wine or beer) with honey, cinnamon, vanilla, cloves etc. If I can recommend a few of them, they would be:
Thirsty? Try: Academus – which I really love, especially the table right under the stairs; Panczo – with a lot of great beers; Artzat Café; Maskarada; SpeakEasy – which looks a little bit like a mix between a bookshop and a bar, and is just amazing; Salvador – where you can enjoy great drinks and later, dance the night away on a small but cute dancefloor. I should also mention HEX, the Board Game Café with its massive tables, small but lovely bar with beer, toasts and snacks, and a whole wall full of board games. It is a really awesome place to meet friends and play.
Hungry? Try: Motyla Noga where the food is super delicious. Please try the duck – simply amazing! French Bakery Café ‘Giselle’ where you can try some amazing French pancakes or toast, Facecook where all dishes are made from baked potatoes (yummy!), as well as Przystanek Wrocek which actually is a place for students but has really tasty, ‘home’ food, great hamburgers and fresh lemonade. If you are in Wroclaw, you just must see them and enjoy the treats!
And please, do not forget the famous pączki (doughnuts) which you can buy at nearly every corner of Wroclaw. I recommend Stara Pączkarnia (Old doughnut bakery) where the doughnuts are always fresh, with many fillings and are baked all through the day. Everyone in Wroclaw loves them.
Wroclaw is developing and changing all the time. What I saw last time we visited was the Hydropolis. The whole exhibition is dedicated to water and its role in city life, and – I must say – it was really interesting and well made. Tickets are not too cheap – 27 zloty (€6.50) but I can really only recommend the place.
Like I said, Wroclaw is a modern, chilled out, rock’n’roll city tha never stops amazing you with new, cool stuff. Are you looking for a tattoo? Go to the Rock´n´roll Tattoo Studio! The atmosphere is just amazing and the artists totally friendly. The designs are unique and super personal, too. Easy – make an appointment and go crazy! I did. 🙂
Coming back to more facts – Wroclaw has good public transport. It’s not ideal but you can travel with buses or trams almost everywhere in the city, and you can buy tickets at nearly every bus/tram stop. A single ticket costs about 3.40 zloty (€0.80) but it is only a single fare and only valid for non-express buses which cost a little bit more – 3.60 zloty (€0.90). It is also possible to buy a one-day ticket that costs as little as 11 zloty (approx. €2.65). It is better, however, when you buy a weekly, 7-day ticket which costs 30 zloty (€7.20) but you can use it the whole week for all the trams and buses.
What you must also see: ZOO, Botanic Garden, Japanese Garden and Panorama of the Battle of Raclawice. At the moment, I do not have any photos of those but it is my plan for the future.
Wroclaw is an amazing and unique place to see. I could write about the new Train Station, all the churches, galleries, museums, theatres, gardens and so much more, but I never find the time or even a piece of paper to take notes! It is a city of incredible people, and most importantly – lots and lots of students who make that place so fantastic. It is a city you have to see for yourself. Like Wroclaw says – Wroclaw is THE meeting place.