The Polish city Wroclaw, the City of Dwarfs, dates back to 1242. Over the period of last eight centuries it has been ruled by different powers that include the Germans, Communists etc. Therefore remains of these past rulers can be seen all over the city.
Somehow whenever I visit a new city I get more fond of its history rather than what the city is now. I feel that knowing about the history of the city gives you a sense of belonging to the place and therefore it garners deeper interest into what the city is now like. The people of Wroclaw have definitely done a good job of not only preserving the city’s history but also making it presentable to anyone who visits the city without any prior knowledge. Just outside a public library near the University of Wroclaw is a pathway that has been decorated with the most important years of the city’s past… So let’s take a walk through Wroclaw’s history on that pathway.
It is interesting to make cross references when you come across these years. 1526 is also the year when Babar conquered India and laid foundations of the Mughal Dynasty, which ruled India for the following 331 years.
So now that we know a good deal of this city’s history, let’s start the city tour. A good starting point at the city centre for the tour is the statue of Alexander Fredro, a Polish comedian-poet of the 19th century (1793-1876).
In this square you will see many different buildings that were rebuilt after the war period as more than three-quarters of the square was destroyed during the world war. In one of the corners of the square you can also see a picture of the place taken 1945, by the end of the Second World War. The black-n-white, framed picture displays the devastative results of the war on the city and turning your head just 10 degrees to the right gives you a glance on what the place looks like now. See the following pictures of the same place from the same angle.
There are many interesting stories hidden in every corner of this city. I discovered a few of them during my visit and here is the most interesting one. It is about the church you see in the picture below. A tradition narrates that this Church used to be a catholic church in the 16th century. But in 1526 the father of the church (who was catholic) met the Evangelical priest in a local pub. They ended up playing a card game with the father of the Catholic Church putting his church on the bet. He lost and the church was transferred to the Evangelical faith! Some days later the top of the church tower fell off and that gave people a chance to theorize that God was against the decision of transferring the church to the other faith.
The image below is of a street popular for meat exchange during the 15th and the 16th century. Butchers used to rely on a barter system of trade for the meat and used to sell one animal’s meat for another. The streets used to serve as the meeting place and has some dwarfs of the animals as a reminder of its past. Someone told me, by the way, that according to a legend touching the goat’s horn enhances venereal prowess so I decided to take a try in that!
I always have been fond of visiting universities so having the University of Wroclaw in my tour made a great day. The university’s front is adorned with artifacts of traditionalist art in a seemingly Gothic fashion. This university was founded in 1702 (making it the second-oldest in Poland) and schools 30,000 pupils. This university produced 9 Nobel Prize winners in the 20th century!
The River Odra cuts through Wroclaw and one of its islands constitute as the Old Town of the city. One of the river islands, the Sand Island (Wyspa Piasek) holds a special significance because of the destruction it underwent during the Second World War. The following two pictures show the same place at the island: one in 1945 and the other a few days ago in 2016.
And Yeah… the island is a happy island now as it is evident from the fact that the Tumski Bridge over river Odra, connecting the mainland to the island, is now popular as a Lovers’ Bridge: ladened with locks of all colors and sizes!
As I mentioned earlier, the past power that reigned over the city have left their traces all over it. An important period of the city’s history was the Soviet Communist Rule (1945-89). At several instances you come across buildings dating back to that time and from their peculiar appearance you can tell so.
The tour is not over yet… Remember at the very beginning I said Wroclaw is the ‘City of Dwarfs’? This is because dwarfs are the cultural symbol of this city and you can spot these cute and spectacular miniatures all over the city! So for the last stop of this tour let’s take a walk around the Dwarfs dwelling in Wroclaw!
I really hope you enjoyed the virtual tour of this exciting city. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below and let me know if you feel I have missed out on something important. I hope to be your guide again soon for the virtual tour of some other place. Take care and love your life.