Sights in Wroclaw for the weekend - 25 sights worth seeing.
Wroclaw is one of the most beautiful and popular cities in Poland. You can come here on a weekend in the dark and never be bored. The many sights, attractions and restaurants mean you're always discovering something new. The capital of Lower Silesia is also appreciated abroad, it can often be found in the lists of the most attractive cities in the world for tourists. Wroclaw is not only historical sights, but also new attractions for children and adults that are constantly appearing.
What is worth seeing and visiting in Wroclaw?
I offer you a short guide to its most interesting sights. Who knows, maybe after your next visit you will name the city of Wroclaw.
1. Tumsky Island in Wroclaw
Tumski Island is the oldest part of Wroclaw, the history of which dates back to the 10th century. The Silesian Piasts, who built their fortress on an island at the mouth of the Olava and Oder rivers, are responsible for the founding of the city. In the 14th century, the island came under the authority of the church, and sacred monuments are the most valuable objects in this part of the Old City.
The most impressive of them is the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, called the mother of Silesian churches. The current cathedral is a three-nave Gothic basilica dating from the 13th-14th centuries. It is considered the first completely Gothic church in Poland. The cathedral is an architectural gem, full of intricate decorations, and a place where you can listen to the music of the largest organ in Poland. It is also worth recommending the wonderful panorama of Wroclaw, which can be seen by taking the elevator to the cathedral tower.
Tumsky Island hides many unique sights, such as the church of St. Giles, which is the oldest existing church in Wroclaw. It is also worth visiting the Gothic Cathedral Church of the Holy Cross and St. Bartholomew, in front of which stands the world's largest statue of John of Nepomuk. In addition to the churches, the Archbishop's Museum, which houses the Henryk Book of the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries, deserves attention. It was in it that the first sentence in Polish was written.
Although Tumsky Island has not been an island since the 19th century, it is still connected by bridges. The most famous is the Tumsky bridge, also known as the bridge of lovers. Hundreds of locks with declarations of love and initials are stacked on both sides of its metal structure. The keys to them should be sought in the depths of the Oder, which flows beneath it, because love must be eternal.
A visit to Tumsky Island should end with the Botanical Garden of the University of Wroclaw, the entrance to which is located next to the cathedral. Silence reigns here, and walking through the alleys is a real pleasure. Wroclaw Botanical Garden is full of different types of plants, greenhouses, ponds and benches where you can relax. Could there be a better place to rest before getting to know the city?
It is worth returning to Tumsky Island in the evening. With the onset of darkness, he shows his second, charming face. This may have something to do with the gas lanterns that are still lit by the lighthouse keeper. More than a thousand years of history, which, along with legends, seems to crawl out of every nook and cranny of this climatic place.
2. Dwarfs of Wroclaw
City of Dwarfs is one of the names under which Wroclaw can be found. The first figurines of smiling elves in orange caps and holding a flower began to appear in the city in the 1980s. They were the work of the "Orange Alternative" movement, which fought the communist system in this way. They placed the drawings on the paint stains left on the walls after the communist authorities painted over the anti-socialist signs and slogans.
In 2005, gnomes came down from the walls and flooded the streets of Wroclaw in the form of sculptures. To see them, you don't need to make a special effort, because there are almost 400 of them and they are located in different parts of the city. One of the ideas of how to spend an interesting day in Wroclaw can be a walk along the path of Wroclaw gnomes. A meeting with them guarantees an improvement in mood and the appearance of a smile on your face.
3. Market square in Wroclaw
The Market Square in Wroclaw is one of the most beautiful old places in Poland and one of the largest old town squares in Europe. With a length of 213 m and a width of 178 m, it ranks third in Poland after the markets in Krakow and Olecko. Beautiful architecture, atmospheric apartment buildings, many restaurants and places worth visiting make it the most popular attraction in Wroclaw.
The Market Square is surrounded by 60 of the more than 8,000 historic apartment buildings that have survived in the city. The most valuable monument is the Old Town Hall, which is the largest and oldest town hall in Poland. This late Gothic building was built in stages from the end of the 13th to the 16th century. For more than 740 years, until December 2017, Piwnica Swidnicka (German: Schweidnitzer Keller), which is the oldest beer hall in Europe, worked in its cellars.
In the market square you will find many gnomes, including a statue of the Gnome Pope. Also, be sure to pay attention to the infamous pillar, the "Zdroj" fountain, built in 2010, and the statue of comedian Oleksandr Fredro, transported from Lviv. The market has many characteristic places, for example, two medieval apartment buildings called "Jas and Malgosia". It looks as if they are holding hands, but in fact they are the remains of a gate that leads to the churchyard, liquidated in the 18th century. To this day, you can read there the inscription Mors Lanua Vitae - "Death is the gate of life".
If you are interested in what the market square looks like from above, be sure to climb the tower of the Gothic Basilica of St. Elizabeth, located behind the apartment buildings. The wonderful view from the terrace, located at a height of 75 meters, is compensated by overcoming more than 300 steps.
4. Museum "Mr. Tadeusz" in the Profit House under the golden sun.
Most people walking through Wroclaw's market square do not know that an original manuscript of the Polish national epic is kept in one of the beautifully restored tenement houses. In the multi-apartment building "Under the Golden Sun" is the Museum "Pan Tadeusz" - one of the newest attractions in Wroclaw, which combines history with modern technologies.
Visiting the museum allows you to get acquainted with the work and life of Adam Mickiewicz from birth to death. The poet's biography is complemented by memorabilia and portraits of his relatives and friends. Beautifully preserved interiors, multimedia presentations and exhibits in boxes are impressive.
A steam curtain separates the exhibition dedicated to the manuscript from the exhibition "Mission: Poland" dedicated to Jan Nowak Jezeranski and Wladyslaw Bartoszewski. From their biographies, we learn about the fate of the generation that had to fight for an independent and sovereign Poland. All this is complemented by collections of works of art and priceless collections of documents donated to Ossolineum.
5. Stare Jatki in Wroclaw
Next to Wroclaw's market square there is a small street where butchers used to sell meat since the 13th century. The street is called Jatki, and upon entering it, you will feel the medieval atmosphere. Fortunately, the sewers are no longer filled with waste, and the former butcher shops have been replaced by galleries and art workshops.
The street is on the route of most trips to Wroclaw. The monument to slaughtered animals, funded by consumers, is the most popular. Not only children want a picture with sculptures of a chicken, a pig, a calf, a rabbit, a goat and a goose with an egg.
6. Repentant Bridge (Witch's Bridge)
Wroclaw is sometimes called the city of bridges. It has the most bridges in Poland, and it is among the ten cities with the largest number of bridges in Europe. No one knows for sure how many there are. Probably somewhere between 100 and 300 depending on the counting method.
The highest bridge is the Penitent Bridge, also known as the Witch Bridge. In fact, it is a 45-meter-high pedestrian bridge connecting two towers of the Polish Catholic Cathedral of St. Mary Magdalena. Having overcome the spiral staircase, you have the opportunity to see one of the most beautiful panoramas of the city. However, the bridge is not only beautiful scenery, but also legends. One of them says that in the evening you can see the souls of young women who, instead of getting married and looking after the house, preferred to have fun. The second name comes from the times of witch hunting. According to legend, if the accused woman managed to cross the bridge, it was believed that Satan was helping her, and she was sentenced to death. But if she fell from it, she was excused.
The cathedral itself is one of the most interesting churches in Wroclaw and is definitely worth a visit.
7. University of Wroclaw
The University of Wroclaw is a derivative of the Leopoldine Academy operating in the city. It was founded in 1702 by Emperor Leopold I. The main building of the university dates back to 1728-1738 and is one of the most beautiful Baroque monuments in Wroclaw. A visit to the Oratorium Marianum (Musical Oratory) and Aula Leopoldina, whose decorations are more reminiscent of a temple than a lecture hall, will give you an unforgettable experience. The entrance to the Mathematical Tower guarantees a wonderful view of the Old Town and the nearby islands.
On the square in front of the university building there has been a fountain with the figure of a naked young man holding a sword (Fencer's Fountain) for more than a century. For some, the sculpture symbolizes a poor student state, but there are legends about it. One of them indicates that the young man is the author of the sculpture Hugo Lederer, who came to Wroclaw and lost everything at cards with the students, except for the sword. The sculpture is meant to be a warning against recklessness and gambling. It is interesting that an identical sculpture stands in the outer courtyard of Chokha Castle.
8. Colorful courtyards in Wroclaw
The colorful backyards you'll find walking down Franklin Delano Roosevelt Street and entering Gate 5A, for example. As soon as you do this, backyards hidden behind 19th-century apartment buildings will appear before your eyes. While most of the apartment buildings are old and run-down structures, the backyards are colorful, full of painted fairy-tale characters, heroes, replicas of famous works, and the people and their pets who live here.
The idea was born in 2013 by the artist Mariusz Mykolaiek, who started painting portraits of residents of the street. Roosevelt. A year later, together with other artists and residents, he initiated the project "Atelier Podwórko Sztuki". In two years, they turned the dreary yards into something special. In addition, they managed to attract people of different ages to it, and joint work made it possible to create and deepen good-neighborly contacts. After seeing the wonderful results of this project, in 2016 the Backyard - Discovering Art project was initiated in the backyard across the street.
In total, not only panels, but also sculptures and bas-reliefs were created on an area of more than 3,000 m². In addition to Roosevelt Street, there are colorful courtyards on Slovyanska and Yednosti Narodova streets. The place is interesting and unforgettable.
9. Panorama Ratslavytska
"Panorama of Ratslavytska" is one of the paintings that everyone should see. Jan Styka, Wojciech Kossak and other artists in 9 months of 1893-1894 created a work that allows us to move to April 4, 1794. We move to the battlefield near Raclawice and watch how the troops under the command of Tadeusz Kosciuszko defeat the Russians.
Raclawycka Panorama is the largest of the existing paintings in Poland. The monumental work with a height of 15 meters and a length of 114 meters surprises with its size and the realism of the depicted scenes. By combining oil painting, appropriate perspective, decorative elements and special lighting, it was possible to create a three-dimensional impression. To better absorb the atmosphere of those events.
10. National Museum in Wroclaw
A beautiful Neo-Renaissance building, wrapped in ivy and picturesquely located on the south bank of the Oder River, is the main residence of the National Museum in Wroclaw. After buying a ticket to the Ratslavy Panorama, you can visit its permanent exhibitions, as well as the Four Domes Pavilion and the Ethnographic Museum for free.
The National Museum is one of the most important and largest museums in Poland. His collection includes more than 200,000 exhibits, including collections transported from Lviv. There are six galleries on three floors dedicated to the art of Silesia, Poland and Europe, as well as the last one called "Cudo-Twórcy". A huge collection of paintings and sculptures from different periods and even household items that have changed over the years means that everyone will find something for themselves here.
11. Oder cruise in Wroclaw
Want to relax and see Wroclaw from a different side? Take a cruise on the Oder River. This is a great opportunity to admire the buildings of the city from river level, as well as get a closer look at the bridges. You can also, for example, go from the city center to the Wroclaw Zoo or admire a beautiful sunset on the Oder River. There are many possibilities. This is one of the attractions of Wroclaw, which will appeal to both adults and children.
Hydropolis is a knowledge center dedicated to water. Its location is a historical Neo-Gothic underground pure water tank of the 19th century with an area of 4,600 m2. This is one of the places on the Wroclaw map that can be interesting for the whole family. 9 thematic zones are a source of knowledge for children and adults about water, its inhabitants and its importance for humans. Everything is presented in an interesting form.
Even before entering the building, a 46.5-meter-long water printer awaits visitors, which evokes the imagination of decorative water curtains. However, the heart of the exhibition makes the biggest impression. This is a room with a 360-degree screen 60 meters long, from which we receive information about the birth of water and its presence on Earth.
13. Hall of the Century
The Century Hall (German: Jahrhunderthalle) is located next to Krakow's Market Square and the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, one of 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Poland. It is considered one of the most important works of world architecture of the 20th century. It is also one of the symbols of Wroclaw, like the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Colosseum in Rome.
The designer of the hall was the outstanding Wroclaw architect Max Berg. Its creation in 1911-1913 was connected with the desire to organize in its interiors the Centennial Exhibition dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the victory over Napoleon near Leipzig. For those times, the building was a unique object. The 42-m-high hall is covered by a reinforced concrete dome with a diameter of 67 m. Already from afar, it creates an impression that is enhanced when viewing the multimedia exhibition in the Cognitive Center.
14. Pavilion "Four Domes" and the Museum of Modern Art.
The "Four Domes" pavilion, like the famous hall, was built for the Centennial Exhibition in 1912-1913. It belongs to a complex of halls, and its designer was Hans Pelzig. From the film shown in the Knowledge Center, you can learn that in 1948 it was also one of the exhibition grounds of the "Conquered Territories" exhibition. The symbol of the exhibition was erected in front of the entrance to the pavilion, originally with a height of 106 meters, and now a spire with a height of 90.3 meters, designed by Stanislav Hempel.
Since 1953, the Wroclaw Film Studio of Feature Films has been located in the building. More than 400 great Polish films were shot here, including Andrzej Wajda's Ashes and Diamonds or Sylvester Henchzynski's famous comedies On Your Own, Not Mommies, and Love or Die.
In 2009, the pavilion was transferred to the National Museum in Wroclaw. Currently, it houses the Museum of Modern Art with one of the richest and most interesting exhibitions of Polish artists. There are also temporary exhibitions. This is an amazing museum, where space and light are used so that visitors can get closer to the works of such artists as Beksynskyi, Novosilskyi, Kantor and Abakanovych.
15. Wroclaw fountain in the gazebo
300 water nozzles, 3 fire nozzles, 800 light points and an area of about 1 hectare has the largest multimedia fountain in Poland. It is located in the immediate vicinity of the Centennial Hall and is one of the free attractions of the city. The Wroclaw Fountain is surrounded by a historic gazebo built in 1913. Interesting architecture, lots of greenery, benches or grass on which you can spread a blanket attract Wroclaw residents and tourists. The evening performances look especially beautiful, when the water begins its dance to the music, and the light creates bright images.
16. Japanese garden in Wroclaw
There are many green areas in Wroclaw, and one of the most interesting is the Japanese Garden, which is part of Szytnicki Park. The garden is another remnant of the 1913 World's Fair. You enter the grounds through a beautiful gate and then follow a path laid among exotic plants to reach the pond located in the center of the garden. It is full of koi and you can see birds swimming on the surface. This is a great place for walking and relaxing, where you will feel like you are in Japan.
17. Wroclaw Zoo and Afrikarium
Even if your childhood is over and you don't have your own children yet, be sure to visit the Wroclaw Zoo. It is the oldest zoological garden in Poland, founded in 1865. Once inside, you will be able to see up close the largest number of animal species in Poland, including many of them endangered.
But the biggest impression will be made by the modern Afrikarium pavilion. Visiting it gives unforgettable impressions, transporting visitors to the Black Continent. Thanks to the huge aquariums, the unusual flora and fauna of Africa are at your fingertips. You can literally look into the eyes of a shark or a hippopotamus and see how agile these giant mammals are.
18. Depot History Center in Wroclaw
You won't find a better place to learn about the history of Wroclaw from 1945 to the present day than the Zaysnia History Center. 1,800 m² of exhibition space on two levels guarantee a journey through time lasting several hours and an introduction to the post-war history of the city. Multimedia elements, projectors, sound recordings, touch screens, more than 500 original exhibits and even more reproductions of photographs and documents help in this. The history of Wroclaw is presented in chronological order, but also contains many side plots, often little known. Skillful reproduction of the atmosphere of the past, which strengthens the message, deserves recognition.
It is worth going to the Depot with children. At the entrance, they receive a museum card, which is used to collect stamps placed throughout the exposition. This is an interesting game that stimulates interest in history.
19. Koleikowe Wroclaw
Attraction for children and adults. Koleikowe Wroclaw is the equivalent of Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg and the largest model railway in Poland. On 900 square meters of the exhibition, you will see Wroclaw in miniature, but not only the capital of Lower Silesia. There was also the highest peak of Karkonosze, and even the Polish version of Presidents' Mountain.
Kolejkowe Wroclaw is a world in miniature, where the sun sets every 9 minutes and the night lasts 4 minutes. A combination of fun, humor and not always polite, with realistic depiction of buildings, vehicles and ships. Light, sound, movement, and for little researchers, the task is to find figures hidden on the model. This makes the place even more attractive.
20. Museum of cemetery art. Old Jewish cemetery
Poles, Czechs, Germans - these are the three nations with which the history of Wroclaw is connected. The fourth nation that influenced the appearance and meaning of the city was the Jews. To learn about their history, go to 37/39 Slenzhna Street. There is the Old Jewish Cemetery, transformed into the Museum of Sacred Art - the only museum of its kind in Europe.
The cemetery was founded in 1856, and the last burial took place in 1942. Among the exhibits, it is worth paying attention to the tombstone of David, son of Shalom, who died in 1203, which is the oldest surviving Jewish tombstone in Poland. In total, there are about 12,000 gravestones in the cemetery, ranging from typical Jewish matzahs to real architectural works of art in the Baroque, Renaissance, Moorish and even Egyptian styles.
Walking through the streets among the sarcophagi, chapels and obelisks, full of symbols, makes you think, but only with a guide you will learn something that cannot be missed. From April to October, on Sundays at 12:00, a guided tour with a museum employee is held. This is a two-hour fascinating history lesson during which you will hear about the fate of Wroclaw's Jews and the history of the city. You will meet doctors, financiers, scientists who influenced the fate of Wroclaw and the world. Among the buried people you will find, for example, Edith Stein's parents, Ferdinand Kohn, a botanist and microbiologist, and Henrik Teplitz, a banker who founded Bank Handlowy in Warsaw. Tours of the cemetery are included in the price of the entrance ticket, so it is worth taking advantage of this opportunity even more. The museum is located 5 km from the center.
21. District of Four Confessions (Four Temples)
A visit to the District of Four Religions, also known as the District of Four Temples and Mutual Respect, will continue your acquaintance with the diversity and religious tolerance of Wroclaw. In fact, this is not a traditional district, but a district located near the Market Square, the boundaries of which are limited by the streets of Sventa Mykola, Pavla Vlodkovica, Sventa Antoniego, and Kazimierz Velka. It is here, at a short distance from each other, that a Catholic church, an Evangelical church, an Orthodox cathedral and a synagogue are located. The area is full of charming corners, cafes and restaurants, as well as a number of cultural and educational events.
22. Neon Gallery (Neon Gallery)
The district of four denominations is worth visiting during the day, but be sure to do it at night as well. In addition to music clubs and pubs, the courtyard at Ruska Street, 46 p. is recommended. The yard itself is small, but in the evening it makes a huge impression.
This is due to the Neon Side Gallery operating at this location. Its owner - Tomasz Kosmalski - has been saving historical illuminated advertising from destruction for more than ten years. To date, his foundation has saved almost 60 neon signs not only from Wroclaw, but also from Lower Silesia. About 30 of them were hung in the backyard, which gave it a unique atmosphere. It is interesting that the "Advertising" company worked here for several dozen years, dealing, in particular, with the production of neon. Today, the backyard is one of the most favorite places for Instagrammers, as well as a great place to spend an evening in an unusual setting.
23. The Royal Palace in Wroclaw.
Visit the Historical Museum located in the Royal Palace in Wroclaw. From 1750 to 1918, it was the residence of the Prussian kings from the Hohenzollern family. A museum since 1926.
The main exhibition is the permanent exhibition "1000 years of Wroclaw", which tells about the history of the city from the founding of the bishopric to the present day. It combines multimedia elements with nearly 3,000 exhibits, including costumes, military, paintings and sculptures. Lovers of royal rooms will also be satisfied, many of them have been restored with great precision. After sightseeing, I recommend visiting a small baroque garden. However, I do not recommend this museum for children because they might get bored.
24. Wroclaw Water Park
What to do after a day of walking around the city? We recommend relaxing in the Wroclaw Aquapark. This is a large complex of swimming pools where, in addition to swimming pools, you will find a jacuzzi, slides and a wonderful sauna. It is divided into an indoor and an outdoor part, bath shows are organized at certain times. You can spend a whole day in the water park, relaxing and also enjoying gastronomy.
25. Christmas market in Wroclaw
The Christmas market in Wroclaw is the largest fair of its kind in Poland and for many the most beautiful. It is a periodic attraction with many interesting places for adults and children. It has a warm atmosphere that makes it a fantastic meeting place. Try delicious mulled wine from the shoe rack, choose from a wide selection of delicacies, listen to Christmas tunes or buy a unique gift. You don't have to be bored at the fair.
Is it worth coming and visiting Wroclaw?
There are a lot of interesting places and sights in Wroclaw, so if you are not familiar with this city yet, be sure to visit it.