2016 is a special year for the city of Wrocław, probably one of the most important years in the post-war history. This year Wrocław is the host of the European Capital of Culture which means over 1000 cultural events during the entire year. Music, fine arts, theatre, visual arts, performances, deep culture, backyard events, pro-civil initiatives - all of that comes together to create a unique cultural spirit of the city. Join one of the numerous events to become part of that amazing experience!
About the project
The main objective of the ECoC, one of the most important programs of the European Union and of the European Commission, is a mutual understanding, a rapprochement and an intercultural dialogue amongst Europeans. The cities that bear the title of the European Capital of Culture are going to be the focus of European attention for the whole year.
Wrocław is the first Polish city to be awarded with this prestigious title in its current form. This metropolis, which has been shaping a new identity, forming and developing for 70 years now (since the end of World War II), is enjoying its own diversity and multiculturalism, and is regaining its rightful position on the map of Europe. Wrocław as ‘the Meeting Place’ unwaveringly puts culture at the heart of its plans.
The European Capital of Culture Wrocław 2016 is a long term program with its culmination in 2016. It consists of 400 projects–almost one thousand artistic events, festivals, concerts, performances, screenings, happenings and campaigns that take place in the urban space of Wrocław, as well as social, cultural, and educational programs directed at the inhabitants of Wrocław and Lower Silesia.
To see what's going on please visit: http://www.kalendarz.wroclaw2016.pl/
City portal: www.wroclaw.pl
Mobile city guide: mobi.wroclaw.pl
Information on Lower Silesia: www.dolnyslask.info.pl
Wrocław is the fourth-largest city in Poland and the largest in the west of the country, with a community numbering over 630,000 inhabitants. It lies across the Oder river and four tributaries, and as many as 12 islands are to be found within its boundaries – it is criss-crossed by over 100 bridges. The city is the administrative, economic and cultural capital of Lower Silesia.
The site was once a crossroads on ancient trade routes: a silk route from China to western Europe and an amber route from the Baltic coast to the Roman Empire. Wrocław naturally became a regional commercial, political and cultural centre, and its convenient geographical location and rich commercial tradition today too contribute to an ongoing development. The city has at its disposal a network of connections by road, rail, water and air.
In its thousand-year history Wrocław has belonged to several states. As a result it has become a city linking the work and traditions of various nations, of Czechs, Germans and Poles. Following the Second World War, the largest population exchange in Europe took place here. New residents arrived in the devastated city from all corners of Poland, the local community being rebuilt almost from the ground up.
Wrocław is a city of tolerance and many faiths: Catholicism, Protestantism, the Orthodox faith and Judaism. Multicultural and open to new ideas and challenges, it is famous for its hospitality, and its cultural life fascinates and attracts. The extraordinary history of the city is constantly enriched by prestigious scientific, cultural and sporting events. It is Wrocław which will in 2016 become European Capital of Culture and in 2017 it will play host to the World Games.
Above all, however, the cultural calling card of the city are the numerous theatres, the opera, musical theatre and Philharmonic, the clubs, the museums and the galleries, which together provide an uninterrupted sequence of artistic events. Wrocław has also played permanent host to the Wratislavia Cantans International Festival, the New Horizons International Film Festival and the Dialog International Theatre Festival.
Do not leave Wrocław unless you have seen:
The Market Square is the heart of Wrocław, vibrant with life at all times of the day and night. At the centre is to be found a block of buildings threaded with passageways, along with the edifice of the Town Hall, a monument of Gothic and Renaissance architecture unique in Europe. Currently located in the Town Hall building, former seat of the city authorities, is the Museum of Bourgeois Art, while standing before the eastern facade is a faithful copy of the medieval pillory, and before the western a statue of the poet Aleksander Fredro. The Market Square is surrounded on four sides by bourgeois tenement houses, of which the best known are the House of the Seven Electors, the House of the Golden Sun, and Hansel and Gretel.
The Royal Palace, also known as the Palace of the Spätgens or the Castle of the Prussian Kings, is a palace complex with a baroque garden which was from the 18th to the 20th centuries a residence for Prussian royals of the Hohenzollern dynasty. It is currently home to Wrocław City Museum. A part of the building is occupied by the meticulously restored royal chambers, while two wings house the exhibition '1,000 Years of Wrocław'.
The District of Four Denominations is bounded by the streets Kazimierza Wielkiego, św. Antoniego, Pawła Włodkowica and św. Mikołaja. To be found in close proximity in this part of the Old Town are four holy places of various faiths: an Orthodox church, a Roman Catholic church, an Evangelical church of the Augsburg Confession and a synagogue. The district is one of the tourist attractions of the city – marked out here are two tourist trails, a cultural and a historical. A further asset of the area is the quantity of accommodation it has to offer, as well as the numerous cafés hosting cultural events, galleries and clubs located along Włodkowica and in Pasaż Niepolda.
The main building at the University – the oldest of the universities in Wrocław, founded over 300 years ago – is to be found in a baroque complex comprising a former Jesuit college and church. Located here too is the University of Wrocław Museum, which conceals a pearl of the Lower Silesian baroque, the Aula Leopoldina and Oratorium Marianum, where for 200 years eminent artists have performed. In the astronomical observatory in the Mathematical Tower it is possible to see former equipment which includes a 14th-century astrolabe, a celestial globe from the 16th century and compasses dating from 1665.
Wrocław Stadium is the most modern multipurpose structure in Lower Silesia. It takes the distinctive and recognisable form of a lantern and has become a part of the panorama of the city. It stands out for its innovative elevation above all, the stadium building having been screened with a mesh of glass fibre covered with teflon, the sole elevation of this type in Poland. A specially designed lighting technology allows the colour of the elevation to be varied.
Ostrów Tumski is the oldest part of Wrocław. The site of a former fortified settlement, lapped by the waters of the Oder river, which gave rise to the town is home to wonderful historical architecture. Most magnificent of all is that reconstructed following the destruction of war, the Gothic St John the Baptist Cathedral and the unusual Collegiate Church of the Holy Cross and St Bartholomew, a two-storey brick hall church. Also to be found here is the Archdiocesan Museum, which has for over 100 years collected relics of sacred art and holds the famous Book of Henryków from the 13th and 14th centuries containing the first sentence written in the Polish language. Only here can a lamplighter be seen illuminating the gas lamps along the streets come nightfall.
The Panorama of the Battle of Racławice by Jan Styka and Wojciech Kossak is a unique presentation of the Battle of Racławice of 4 April 1794, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Kościuszko Insurrection. The 15 x 114 m work has been placed in a specially constructed rotunda and, thanks to a combined effort, both painterly (a special perspective) and technical (lighting, artificial terrain and a darkened, winding approach), visitors are able to enter an unusual and spectacular use of illusion.
TheBotanical Garden came into being in 1811 as a scientific unit of the University of Wrocław and covers an area of 7.4 ha, with the greenhouses occupying 3,300 m2. One of its curiosities is a geological section of a Lower Silesian black coal deposit, constructed over 140 years ago on the site of the rockery. Adjoining the garden is the Natural History Museum with its fascinating collection of fauna and flora, the oldest and largest institution of its type in the country.
Szczytnicki Park is the largest park in the city, established in 1785 as a private garden and later connected to a municipal park. Its main attraction is the Japanese Garden, created in 1913, the remarkable composition of which sees it present different natures as the seasons pass, with the elements of Japanese architecture alone remaining immutable. With the arboretum, beautiful groves of rhododendrons, rosarium and Japanese Garden, Szczytnicki Park enjoys a place on the list of sites of historical value.
Centennial Hall, universally acknowledged as one of the most important works in world architecture of the 20th century, was designed by the eminent architect Max Berg. It came into being in 1913 for the international exhibition on the centenary of the Battle of Leipzig. This early-modernist, domed construction of reinforced concrete has a vault with a diameter 1.5 times that the dome of the Pantheon in Rome, but with a weight forming only 42% of the mass. It was recently renovated and extended with a conference centre in accordance with the plans of its author. Since 2006 is has been present on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
In the vicinity of Centennial Hall, within the beautiful Pergola and Szczytnicki Park, is Wrocław Fountain. This is one of the largest fountains in Europe, covering an area of c. 1 ha. Contained in a basin measuring 115 x 108 m are 300 nozzles of various types (geysers, as well as foaming, dynamic, misting, spot, palm and water nozzles) able to spurt water to a height of 40 m, as well as three fire nozzles, while the bottom is covered with 800 lighting points. All of this forms a part of free multimedia displays which take place to the rhythm of music, with projectors and coloured laser lights supplementing the performance.
Wrocław Zoological Garden is the oldest zoological garden in Poland as well as the largest by number of animals exhibited. Occupying 33 ha, the site features several historic 19th-century buildings, including the bear tower, elephant house and monkey pavilion. Among the newest attractions are the butterfly pavilion, a pool with fur seals, which may be observed during feeding, and the Madagascar pavilion.
Also to be found in Wrocław is the largest aquapark in Poland – Aquapark Wrocław – with both indoor and outdoor pools operating throughout the year, and a spa and fitness centre. To be found at the Glinianki complex is WakePark Wrocław, a water sports centre offering attractions including a water ski and wakeboard winch, a school, equipment hire, Banana Tiki Bar, Boardshop, an artificial skimboard track and pedaloes.
An additional attraction for visitors to Wrocław is Wrocław City Bike, a network of unstaffed bike hire points. The city bikes are immensely popular, with the network already spanning the whole of the city centre and expanding still. The first 20minutes of the ride is free with each hire. To make use of the service it is necessary to register in advance. A current map of bike routes, parking areas, hire points and bicycle racks may be found at www.gis.um.wroc.pl.
A panorama of the city may be admired from observation points located in the very centre, on a tower of the St John the Baptist Cathedral at Ostrów Tumski, on the Mathematical Tower at the main University building, on Witches' Bridge atop St Mary Magdalene Cathedral and on the tower of the Garrison Church at the north-west corner of the Market Square.
Cruises on the Oder also make for memorable experiences. Eight vessels sail the river, departing with willing passengers from four moorings: Kardynalska on Bulwar Włostowica, Zwierzyniecka on Wróblewskiego street, the Zoo at the rear of the Zoological Garden, and that by the Covered Market on Bulwar Dunikowskiego. From within Gondola Bay, located beside Purkyniego street between the National Museum and Polish Hill, at the junction of the former City Moat and the Oder, it is possible to hire canoes as well as both rowing and motor boats.