Wroclaw is the capital of Lower Silesia and the fourth biggest city in Poland. It is also one of the oldest and most beautiful cities in the country, situated upon the Odra river on 12 islands connected by more than 100 bridges and footbridges. Because of its location it is sometimes called the Venice of the North. Throughout history Wroclaw was influenced by Austrian, German, Bohemian and Polish cultures. The city was ceded to Poland in 1945 as a result of border changes after the Second World War. Nowadays it is an important cultural and intellectual centre with numerous theatres, museums and galleries. It is also the third largest educational centre of Poland, with 135,000 students in 30 colleges.
Wroclaw is a city of international cultural reputation, rich in monuments and marvelous architecture. Despite considerable war damages, many historic buildings remained untouched and others were restored or reconstructed. The most renowned part of the city is the beautiful Market Square, one of the biggest old market squares in Europe. This bustling place is surrounded by colourful tenement houses, graceful restaurants and cafes. In the heart of the square stands the magnificent Town Hall which is a unique example of secular Gothic architecture. It is a real masterpiece.
A delightful 13th century Old Town encloses numerous interesting buildings, of which over eight thousand are historic tenement houses. The impressive edifice of the University of Wroclaw with its magnificent baroque Aula Leopoldina ceremonial hall spreads over a river bank.
Across the Odra river lies the oldest part of the city. Ostrow Tumski (the Cathedral Island) was once a separate island. The place enchants with the excellent medieval sacral architecture. Among the impressive gothic churches is the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist which overlooks the area being one of the main landmarks of Wroclaw. Its two towers dominate the skyline and give opportunity to admire a panoramic view of the city.
For those interested in exploring the city from different perspective, Wroclaw offers a chance for gnomes quest. There are over 60 statues of gnomes scattered around the Old Town. They have been appearing on the streets since 2005 and they commemorate the Orange Alternative movement and the year 1982.
While staying in Wroclaw it is a good idea to visit the Centennial Hall which was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Frequently visited is a nearby Wroclaw Zoological Garden, the oldest zoo in Poland. A great impression makes the Raclawice Panorama, a monumental (15×114 meter) panoramic painting depicting the Battle of Raclawice during the Kosciuszko Uprising. Viewing of the paining stretched on the inside of a cylindrical platform creates a special kind of perspective and the feeling of standing in the midst of a historic event.
Wroclaw is an extraordinary place definitely worth visiting.