Eastern Europe is fairly often associated with grey, dull and sober, which is undeserved, as Wrocław proves. The streets are clean, the people are hospitable and there is much to experience. In 2016, Wrocław will be the European Capital of Culture. It is a small piece of recognition for a pleasant gem.
Wrocław is situated on the river Oder in the southwest of Poland. Under the name Breslau, it was a German city until mid-1945. After the Second World War, the Polish borders were shifted and Wrocław was born. It was more than a change of name, because the city changed from Nazism to Communism. A difficult period of restoration works began, but eventually the city quietened down. In recent history Wrocław underwent another metamorphosis. The city has cast off the grey Communist mantle and has started to blossom.
Kings, emperors and presidents have frequently visited Wrocław. They then stayed in one of the stately patrician houses at the Rynek (Old Market Square), such as the House under the Golden Sun, the House of Seven Electors or the House under the Blue Sun. For meeting and consultation with local leaders, the Gothic Ratusz (Town Hall) was nearby.
Wrocław was founded on a small island in the Oder: Ostrów Tumski. On this site, the first wooden church was built in the 9th century. Nowadays the impressive Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist is located here. Those who climb the tower have a great view of the city.
The Racławice Panorama also creates an impressive image. The painting measures 15 by 120 metres and is completely cylindrical (360o). The subject of the canvas is the Battle of Racławice, when Polish insurgents fought in vain against the Russians (1794). Because of its dimensions and shape, the painting makes a lasting impression; it is a true experience. The latter is actually true for Wrocław as a whole, a city that will quickly win a place in your heart.
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