The Market Square (Rynek) with its Town Hall is located in the heart of Wroclaw and it is one of the majestic gothic constructions in Central Europe. The Market Square is the second biggest in Poland (the first one is in Cracow). It is surrounded by the Gothic and Renaissance style bourgeois houses. Two of the most interesting ones are: The house of the Sun and of the Gold (late Baroque style) and The House of the 7 Electors with the paintings on its façade from the XVII century. The walk through the area of the Market Square is a great opportunity to discover hidden, magic places.
The Town Hall represents the late gothic style of Silesia and it is one of the best preserved town halls in Poland. The most historic part is the old tribunal that represents the Roman style. The construction of the Town Hall took many years and it was done between XIII and XVI centuries. In one part of the Town Hall there was a 67 meter tower constructed with a helmet in a Renaissance style. And on top of it there is the oldest bell in Poland that dates back to 1368 while in the façade of the Town Hall there is a medieval astronomical clock from the XVI century built in. At present the Town Hall houses the Historical Museum of Wroclaw where the Silesian art is presented. Around the Town Hall there are numerous restaurants and cafeterias with outdoor terraces. It is worthwhile taking advantage of it and resting for a while enjoying the beauty of The Town Hall and the very special atmosphere of Wroclaw.
Piwnica Swidnicka is one of the oldest converted cellar-restaurants in Europe. It is located in the Town Hall in the main Town Square and it dates back to the medieval times (XV century). It has 10 dining areas that occupy the total area of 900 meters. The restaurant serves a variety of traditional Polish and International cuisine.
The Salt Market (Plac Solny): the old market square, today flower market and crafts market. One of the most interesting buildings on the square is the Stock Exchange building designed in the classicist style by architect Carl Ferdinand Langhans in 1822 (he also designed the Opera in Wroclaw, Lipsk y Berlin; he was a son of Carl Gotthard Langhans, born in the outskirts of Wroclaw, the architect of the famous Brandenburg Gate in Berlin).
The Church of St. Elisabeth constructed in the XIII century in gothic style with a tower that offers fantastic panoramic views of the city and it is the highest in Wroclaw. After the Second World War it was damaged by the fire 3 times (1960, 1975 and 1976) and it required the complete reconstruction that took a lot of time and eventually the church and the tower were opened to public in 1997.
Jas and Malgosia– two medieval buildings connected with each other by an arch, most probably constructed in the XV century. They formed part housing complex built for the monks. Between the two buildings, below the arch there was an entrance to the cemetery, closed in XVIII century. Today, there is an inscription in Latin saying: “Mors Ianua Vitae” that means: The death is the door to life”. In 1728 an architect, Christoph Hackner incorporated a number of elements in the baroque style into the door between the buildings. The actual names of the buildings “Jas (Hansel- the lower building) and Malgosia (Gretel- the higher building) come from those who arrived to Wroclaw to settle down after the Second World War. The two buildings connected with each other with an arch resembled two children from the fairy tale “Hansel and Gretel”of Grimm brothers. Next to the door of the building Jaœ there is an entrance to the Museum of Gnomes.
Royal Palace of Wroclaw, also called Spatgen Palace or Palace of the Kings of Prussia. Its oldest part dates back to 1719 and in 1750 it was purchased by the King of Prussia, Frederick II, the Great and from that moment it was named the Royal Palace. Initially the palace represented the baroque style with some classicistic elements. In this palace, on 10th of March 1813, his son, Frederick William III Hohenzollern, whose army was defeated by Napoleon Bonaparte, created a military decoration called the Iron Cross. In the following years, a number of extensions was added to the palace (the Neo Renaissance style) and after the First World War the palace was converted to a museum. During the Second World War a big part of the palace was burned down and it was demolished in the 50’s. In the most recent years the main building was a base of the Ethnographical Museum and the Archeological Museum and at present it is converted in the City Museum.
The Opera of Wroclaw was constructed in 1839-1841; it was a project of Carl Ferdinand Langhans, with a modern stage and the auditorium for approximately 1600 spectators. In the interior of the opera most of the original decorative elements are present today: especially the ceiling with portraits of the famous compositors, the main chandelier and the Emperor box. The total surface of the decorative elements made of gold equals 10 000 m2 while the total surface of the crystal mirrors is 200 m2. Among the artists that performed there were: Antonina Miklaszewska - Campi, Carl Maria von Weber, Franz Liszt and Niccolo Paganini. From 1997 the Opera also presents some of the productions outdoors, next to the People’s Hall in the Szczytnicki Park. Until now the operas of Verdi: AIDA and CARMEN, and NABUCCO of Bizet were presented this way.
The Synagogue: the small synagogue in Wroclaw is situated in the Pawla Wlodkowica Street nr 9. It was built in 1945 and at present all the Sabbaths and other Jewish festivities are celebrated there.
University of Wroclaw: A document of foundation of the University in Wroclaw by the Polish King Ladislaus Jagellon was first announced on 20 July 1505. Unfortunately because of the protest of the University of Cracow the project was rejected by the Pope Julius II and the actual inauguration didn’t take place until 20 July 1702 when the Emperor Leopold I founded the Jesuit Academy with all the privileges of other European Universities. In 1811 the Leopoldina Academy joined the University of Viadrin in Frankfurt Oder forming the University of Silesia (of Frederic Wilhelm) with 5 faculties: Catholic theology, Evangelic theology, law, medicine and philosophy. From 24 August 1945 the University became a part of the Polish National Academic Institutions. 15 November 1945 a Polish professor Ludwik Hirszfeld gave the first lecture and on 9 June 1946 an official inauguration of the University of Wroclaw took place.
Leopoldina Hall is located in the University main building and it was created 15 XI 1702. It was named after its founder, the Emperor Leopold I. It is one of the biggest Baroque and most representative interiors of this kind in Poland. In the Leopoldina Hall illusionist frescoes made by J.Ch. Handke, sculptures by F.J. Mangoldt and stucco works made by I.A.Provisore can be admired.
Oratorium Marianum is located in the University's main building. Originally it was a chape, later converted to the Musical Room hosting the very famous musicians like Liszt or Paganini.
Church of the Holy Name Jesus (Kosciól Imienia Jesus): it is located next to the main University building and it was constructed in 1689-1698 by the Jesuits and it represents the baroque style.
Library Ossolinskich (Ossolineum) was founded for the Polish nation in 1817 by Józef Maksymilian Ossolinski and it was officially inaugurated in Lvov (Ukraine) in 1827. It was one of the most important Polish cultural centres and only the Library Jagiellonskich in Cracow had a bigger collection. From the moment it was set up to 1945 the Library was located in the convent and the Carmelites Church in Lvov. Before the Second World War Ossolineum owned 220 000 of books, 6 000 of manuscripts, 9 000 autographs, 2 000 diplomas and 3 000 maps. It also had a complete collection of Polish newspapers and magazines from XIX and XX century. During the German Occupation (29 June-27 July 1944) the Library Ossolinskich was incorporated to the Library of State of Lemberg and in the same year of the occupation of Lvov by the Soviet Army, the Germans moved the large part of the collection to the Library Jagielonskich in Cracow and later to the village of Adelin in Lower Silesia. In 1947 the collection was moved again this time to the Library Ossoliñskich in Wroclaw. Poland also managed to recover a large part of the collection from the Soviet Union and another part of the collection stayed in Lvov. At present, the museum has in its collection the manuscripts of the most famous writers and poets in Poland: Adam Mickiewicz, Henryk Sienkiewicz, Wladyslaw Reymont, Juliusz Slowacki and Stefan Zeromski.
Indoor Market (Hala Targowa) was a project of Richard Pluddemann and it was constructed in 1906-1908. The exterior of the building was similar to the design of the Stock Exchange in Amsterdam and the interior represented the Modernist style. The full renovation was completed in the 80’s and since then it is one of the biggest indoor markets in Wroclaw.
National Museum of Wroclaw was opened to public in 1948. Its collection of medieval art is one of the most interesting in Europe. It also presents the examples for the Polish Art from XVII-XIX century (the ones that arrived in Poland from Lvov ad Kiev after the World WarII) and some 20 000 pieces of contemporary Polish Art.
Panorama Raclawicka located in the Slowacki Park is a giant rotunda displaying the panoramic painting 120 meters by 15 meters painted by Jan Styka and Wojciech Kossak. It represents the battle of Raclawice in 1794 in which the Polish Army led by Tadeusz Kosciuszko defeated the Russian troops. The painting dates back to 1893 and it took 9 months to complete it. Initially it was displayed in Lvov until the Second World War broke out and during the war it was secured in a store room. In 1980 it was recuperated to be displayed in the specially constructed rotunda and since then it the one of the most visited tourist attractions in Wroclaw.
Ostrów Tumski (The Cathedral Island) with the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Archbishop’s Palace, the Church of the Holy Cross and the Church of Saint Bartholomew. It is the oldest part of the city of Wroclaw. It represents the splendid medieval religious architecture in the Gothic style and is full of old churches and quiet, mysterious allies. The archaeological works discovered the existence of the small wooden church on the island dating back to the XI century. In that time on the island of Ostrów Tumski there were about 1 500 inhabitants. In all probability the base of the Piast dynasty of Silesia was established here in the X century. It was constructed of wood and surrounded by the fence made of wood and soil. The first construction made of bricks was the chapel of Saint Marcin. In the end of the XIII century the medieval town developed and it was converted in a castle and in 1315 in the whole island of Ostrów Tumski religious jurisdiction was applied.
Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist: the first church was constructed here already in the X century. After the year 1000, in which the foundation of bishopric took place, it was replaced by another one, much bigger and much more impressive built in a Pre- Roman style. In XIII century a new renovation took place and the cathedral was rebuilt in the Gothic style. In 1540 the cathedral was destroyed by the fire and afterwards renovated in the Renaissance style. During the battles with the Swedes in XVII century the cathedral was destroyed again but this time the renovation didn’t not take much time and still in the XVII a Baroque chapel was constructed adjacent to the cathedral. Another fire that destroyed the cathedral occurred in 1759 and this time the renovation process was very slow taking approximately 150 years. The renovation was done in the classicist style while the interior of the cathedral was renovated by Karl Ludecke in the Neo Gothic style. Once the archbishopric was established in Wroclaw in 1930 the cathedral was converted to Archcathedral. In 1991 on top of the two towers of the cathedral there were two helmets placed (each one weighs about 17 tons) and at present the towers are approximately 97 meters high. In one of the two towers there was also a specially designed lift constructed that allows access to the viewing platform to admire the magnificent view of the city.
Tumski Bridge (Most Tumski): the first wooden construction existed here already in the XII century and it separated the municipal jurisdiction (on the Sand Island) from the sacred one (Ostrów Tumski, the Cathedral Island). The metal bridge was installed here in 1889.
Botanical Gardens were founded in 1811 in the island of Ostrów Tumski. It has a precious flower exhibition, greenhouse and cactus display. The whole collection has approximately 7 500 species of plants and flowers and is the biggest of the kind in Poland.
Grunwaldzki Bridge (Most Grunwaldzki) is the suspended steel bridge constructed in 1908-1910 as a part of a project to connect the city centre with the districts on the outskirts. Initially it was called the Emperor Bridge and then it was renamed the Liberty Bridge. Thebridge was officially opened on 10th of October 1910 in the presence of the Emperor Wilhelm II.
Centennial Hall (Hala Ludowa) is placed on the UNESCO list from the 13 of July 2006. It is a good example of the architecture of the early XX century, project of Max Berg. It was constructed in 1911-1913 and in those days considered very modern in its form and structure. 42 meters high, 67 meters in diameter of the dome, the widest - 95 meters diameter of the interior and the total surface of 14 000 m2 was one of the very few reinforced concrete buildings in the world. Thanks to the large auditorium, moving stage and a folding sports field, it is possible to organize exhibitions, galas, sport events on a large scale. The People’s Hall is suitable to receive up to 1 000 spectators in its auditorium and in all the 56 exhibition areas as many as 10 000. The cost to build it was enormous in those days and it was estimated at 2 million German marks. The company Sauer in Frankfurt del Oder (also exists today) designed a giant organ consisting of 16 706 flutes making it in those days the biggest instrument of that type in the world. Initially the organ was used in the People’s Hall and at present it is placed in the Wroclaw Cathedral.
Iglica is a characteristic steel tower in front of the People’s Hall. It is 96 meters high, weighs 44 tons and it was installed on the 3 of July 1948 to celebrate the Exhibition of the Regained Territories by the Polish after the Second World War.
Szczytnicki Park was created in the XVIII century; there are more than 370 species of trees and bushes growing there.
Japanese Garden was founded for the first time in 1909-1912 to celebrate the World Exhibition of 1913. Unfortunately once the celebrations were finished the garden became more and more neglected. In 1996-1997 the idea of recreation of the garden was made possible with the help of the Japanese Embassy and the Polish and Japanese gardeners from Nagoya led by Yoshiki Takamura. Once the work was finished 2 months later in 1997 due to a flooding on a scale never experienced in Poland, the garden was under water for 3 weeks. The majority of the plants needed to be replaced and the Japanese Garden was eventually re open to public in 1999.
Zoological Garden first time opened in 1865 and it is the oldest one in Poland. In 2005 there were 7 000 animals of 565 species in the park, among others: 1100 mammals, 1500 birds, 1700 reptiles, 100 amphibias and 2600 fish.
Zwierzyniecki Bridge (Most Zwierzyniecki) connects the city centre with the districts on the outskirts of Wroclaw. It is next to the Zoological Garden and Hala Ludowa (Centennial Hall). In 1655 a wooden bridge already existed here and during the plague in 1704 there was a control point to check travellers’ permits to enter the city.
Interesting facts about Wroclaw
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