Wrocław is the capital of Lower Silesia and pretty often is listed among the most liveable places in Europe. Why? First of all, Wrocław is a place with a seriously complex history which has already lasted for more than 1000 years. The city known for its impressive baroque architecture is full of historical sites and vibrant cultural venues. Wrocław is also described as “Poland’s Venice”, because of numerous rivers and bridges. As well as because of institutions and universities that has produced nine Nobel prize winners. But despite science, culture and art, Wrocław is a city full of kind and open-minded people, who to enjoy slow life and connection. That’s only a pick of the list. Let’s explore some more and check 10 must-see things in Wroclaw!
Market Square (Rynek)
Yes, Old towns are typical “a must have” on the lists of places worth visiting, and another yes – they can be boring unless you’re historical buff. But I tell you this – Wrocław’s Market Square is exceptional. At 3,8 hectares, Wrocław’s Rynek is not just the largest in Poland, but also in all of Europe. The fact that its architectural layout nowadays is almost the same as when it was planned in the middle of the 13th century is striking. Especially that a lot of the buildings, including the rows of colourful tenements that frame the square, needed a proper restoration after the SWW. Hanging out, both during the day and night, Rynek is the very core of Wrocław. The centre of the square contains the Cloth Hall and the Town Hall, which are a unique example of Renaissance and Gothic architecture. Say whatever you want
about old towns: Wrocław’s Market Square entices the visitors with its unique atmosphere.
Old Town Hall (Ratusz)
A crown jewel of Wrocław’s Market Square is Ratusz (Old Town Hall). It’s standing next to another building, bundled together, making thereby one significant Gothic complex buildings in one. The Old Town Hall’s long history reflects developments that have taken place in the city since its initial construction in the 13th century. Initially, it was a single story building and was expanded over the years. The best example is on the east facade, where you will find the iconic astronomical clock, dating to 1580. Today Ratusz is used for civic and cultural events such as concerts which are happening in its Great Hall. Additionally – as with many town halls in former German territories – there’s a beer cellar in the basement, and one of the oldest restaurants in Europe, Piwnica Świdnicka. And the best part of it? Entrance is for free!
Racławice Panorama (Panorama Racławicka)
On 4 April 1794, the Battle of Racławice took place and ended with a victory of Kościuszko Uprising against Russia. To pay tribute the 100th anniversary of the battle, painter Jan Styka started working on a cycloramic painting. To finish, he had to invite other artists to help him complete it. The last picture has monumental 15×114-metre long, and it’s the most ambitious concept in those times. The Panorama has been a great success from the very beginning. Since 1985 the Panorama is present at the rotunda in Wrocław, still inspiring modern-day artists to dream big.
Centennial Hall (Hala stulecia)
The Centennial Hall belongs to the most prominent landmarks in the history of 20th-century architecture. Designed by the iconic architect, Max Berg construction was finished in 1913 for the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Nations. Hall is a technological wonder from the end of Wrocław’s German era. Hala stulecia has a maximum capacity of 11,000, under a dome 69 metres high and 42 metres in diameter. Recognizing its revolutionary design, if not its beauty, the Hall was included on the UNESCO World Heritage listing in 2006. The unique construction, the multifunctional space and appealing location, are only a few of the Halls
features. Hala Stulecia is right now, one of the most wanted places to organize exhibitions, conferences, congresses, cultural and sporting events, both from Poland and from abroad. Hall is surrounded by the Pergola, which boasts one of the largest multimedia fountains in Europe. Aren’t you entertained?!
On the south of the Centennial Hall lies the largest park in Wrocław. Szczytnicki Park is a 100-hectare strip of greenery and trees. It was established in 1875 as a private garden, it was later transformed into a city park. Thanks to its unique composition, the Garden appears each season differently. A separate part of Szczytnicki Park is the Japanese Garden. It’s the only permanent feature of the park. Established in 1913, the Japanese Garden remains parks key attraction to this day. Szczytnicki Park is heritage listed. All because of its rose gardens, beautiful rhododendron orchards and the arboretum. It seems like a perfect place to lie down and chill, contemplate or just enjoy slow living out in the open.
University Botanical Garden (Uniwersytecki Ogród Botaniczny)
Not only University Botanical Garden is the second oldest botanical Garden in Poland, but also contains over 11,500 plants in an area of 7.5 hectares, from numerous climate zones and environments, such as alpine, underwater, rocky, tropical and subtropical. Managed by the Faculty of Biological Sciences, the Garden has a long crescent-shaped pond, an aquarium, shop and cafe. The place is open from May to August and occasionally organize evening concerts and events for children, which lasts until the end of summer. If you’re patient enough, the Garden can also tell you something about the places where these exotic flowers come from. With just a little imagination, you can visit faraway lands and know how life looks down there.
Hydropolis Centre for Ecological Education (Hydropolis)
What is the best place for building a high-tech museum with interactive and multisensory installations? Exactly, sewerage! On behalf of the Wrocław’s Municipal Water and Sewage Company, in 2015 was opened to the public Centre for Ecological Education “Hydropolis”. A science centre is dedicated to water and explore this topic from various angles. The centre is located in a historic neo-Gothic underground reservoir, used for drinking water from the time of its construction in the 1890s. In 2002 place was added to the register of monuments. The Hydropolis is one of the largest science centres of that specification in Europe. It’s also the only centre in Poland that presents almost all types of aquatic environment. In an area of
more than 4,600 m², the visitors can choose from over 70 different interactive features and multimedia installations. You can travel to the depths of the Mariana Trench, find out about the history of water engineering and learn about various theories of the origins of water in the Universe. Every room has multimedia tablets with engaging details about amazing discoveries of the underwater world, the nature of water and its use in human life. Unless you’re an Aquaman, you won’t get bored down there!
Market Hall, (Hala Targowa)
If you love to bargain and you would like to experience the real culture of Wroclaw, I suggest visiting the city’s, Market Hall. Berlage’s Amsterdam stock exchange was the main inspiration for the the exterior of the Hall. Go and sense a medieval Historicist feel! Hala Targowa is not only a great place to shop all kinds of stuff, but also grab some local and regional cuisine – wink, wink pierogi – and try some Polish pottery there. Site is open 8:00-18:30 every other day, except Sunday. Be aware that at some stands you will not be able to pay by credit card. So take cash (polish złoty) with you!
Four Denominations District (Dzielnica Czterech Świątyń)
There is a unique area of the Old Town in Wrocław, between streets Kazimierza Wielkiego, św. Antoniego, Pawła Włodkowica and św. Mikołaja. The district features four different temples, put nearby, representing four different denominations: a Roman Catholic church, a Lutheran church, an Orthodox church and a synagogue. People started to call it a Four Denominations District. Across the district runs two trails, specifically for tourist: the culture trail and the historic trail. The Four Denominations District is a home of many cultural and educational events. The Synagogue is a place where every summer there are concerts and exhibitions organized under the name “Summer in The White Stroke Synagogue”. There are also multiple good hotels, restaurants, cafés, bars, galleries and music clubs situated that area.
The Monument of an Anonymous Passer-by (Pomnik Anonimowego Przechodnia)
The Monument of an Anonymous Passer-by, or simply called “Transit” (Przejście) is a striking art installation relating to the period of martial law in Communist Poland in the 1980s. The sculpture represents a group of 14 lifelike bronze people sinking into the ground on one side of Swidnicka Street and reemerging on the other side. Among nameless and anonymous people, you can spot absolutely typical people. We pass every day – a woman with a child, a man carrying his luggage, an elderly person. Local artist Jerzy Kalina created the monument in 1977, in one of Wrocław’s museums. Later, he moved the sculpture onto the streets, where it’s chilling symbolism reminds all of us about those tragic events. Striking, but at the same time beautiful and essential.