Wroclaw is the capital of Lower Silesia and is also a historic capital of Silesia. It is the largest city in western Poland.
During Wroclaw’s early history, its control changed hands between Bohemia, the Kingdom of Poland and, after the fragmentation of the Kingdom of Poland, the Piast-ruled duchy of Silesia.
The city has also been part of Austria, Prussia and Germany. Before World War II, Wroclaw (Breslau in German) was the capital of the German province of Prussian Lower Silesia. It became part of Poland in 1945 as a result of border changes after World War II. The city, like many cities in Central Europe, saw much violence and destruction. Wroclaw was almost completely destroyed during the end of the War as the Red Army fought its way into Germany towards Berlin, being declared a “Fortress City” (Festung Breslau in German) by Hitler.
Since the war the city has been wonderfully restored and can now be counted among the highlights of Poland and of all Central Europe.
The city is situated on the River Oder, on 12 islands connected by 112 bridges, and is often called ‘Venice of Poland’. The most popular is the Grunwaldzki Bridge – suspended bridge, erected in 1908-1910. Nearby Zwierzyniecki Bridge connects the city with the Zoological Gardens (one of the oldest in Europe).
The Tumski Bridge constructed in 1889 joins the Cathedral Island to Sand Island and used to be regarded as the borderline between the municipal jurisdiction (on Sand Island) and the church jurisdiction (on Cathedral Island).
This is primarily a university town and some 10% of the population study at some institute or other. This results in the blooming cultural scene and nightlife.
In July 1997, the city was heavily affected by a flood of the River Oder, the worst flooding in post-war Poland (the Millennium Flood). About one-third of the area of the city was flooded.
Wroclaw is one of the hosts of UEFA Euro 2012, and has been selected as a European Capital of Culture for 2016.
Market Square (The Rynek) – one of the biggest town squares in Europe, architectural centre-point of the city, centre of tourist life
Town Hall – construction began in the 14th century, one of the few major buildings to survive WWII
Cathedral Island (Ostrow Tumski) with Wroclaw Cathedral – a group of islands on the Oder River with beautiful Cathedrals and a few hundred year old buildings. It is complete with hand-lit oil lamps lit nightly
St. Elizabeth’s Church – medieval building with a 90m high tower with spectacular views over the old town
St. Maria Magdalena Church – with two church towers connected by a small bridge known as the Pennants’ Bridge, where you can walk along and enjoy the cityrama
The Centennial Hall – designed by architect Max Berg and constructed in 1911-1913 when the city was part of the German Empire. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2006
Wroclaw Aiguille – a distinctive object placed close to the Centennial Hall
Also worth exploring:
Szczytnicki Park with Japanese Garden
Zoo – The oldest and largest (in terms of the number of animals) Zoo in Poland
Municipal Stadium – arena Euro 2012
University of Wroclaw
Panorama Raclawicka (“Raclawice Panorama”)
Wroclaw water tower
White Stork Synagogue
Old Jewish Cemetery in Wroclaw