This post is also available in: Ελληνικα (Greek)
Resembling a different type of Venice, Wroclaw is a city with countless bridges, little green islands and gothic architecture. Something out of fairy-tale, full of mystery and playful energy, hugging the river banks of Oder with cobbled roads and gardens with elegant mansions.
We decided to dedicate our last day to explore the gardens of Wroclaw and the summer festivals.
After having a tasty French breakfast sitting on wooden swing seats of Bistro Giselle, we passed by Kuźnicza, where two dwarfs were repairing an ATM machine and we went in the direction towards Piaskowa, where the Hala Targowa marketplace is housed.
The Market was built in 1908 and the interior resembles a cathedral with elliptical arches. It is a beautiful place where the locals sell high quality fruit and vegetables as well as a large range of local cheeses, dried and fresh meats. We also discovered Greek products such as olives and halva. The first floor is filled with small little shops selling kitchen utensils and clothes. If I lived in Wroclaw I would definitely frequent at this market!
Of course, we couldn’t have left this place without picking up some fresh fruit! Our plan was to get some sun and inspiration from the park of the Polish poet Juliusz Słowacki. Inside the cultural park with artistic sculptures, the panorama Raclawice can be found along with the national history museum, the museum of architecture, the museum of communication and last but not least the Dominikańska gallery.
Opposite the national museum I found the most stylish chair that the park had to offer, right next to a little girl with a large pair of glasses and braided hair. It was obvious that she was waiting for someone to come and sit next to her, but she was annoyed that the person was late. So, I also took on a jaded look as had the queen of gardens Slowacki, I crossed my arms over my chest and looked towards the tallest tree.
I’m sure that anyone that has ever sat in that chair automatically takes on a theatrical role!
Along the length of the River Oder, we found some cosy looking bars with sand, cocktails and reggae music. We passed the Grunwaldzk Bridge on our way towards the famous Japanese garden. And so, we arrived at the Szcytnicki Park!
It’s a magical place that looks like a small green oasis for relaxation. The colourful water fountain brings cool mist and music towards the UNESCO listed architectural masterpiece that is Centennial Hall.
Local workers were setting up some sort of stage above the water for an event evening. We walked around the fountain underneath the green pergolas, admiring the water paradise whilst enjoying the geometrical harmony.
The Japanese garden designed by an eastern culture enthusiast ‘Frederic Von Hochberg’ in 1913 in collaboration with the Japanese artist Mankichi Arai, is a small exotic paradise with little streams, pergolas and many flowers. It is an oriental hiding place for inspiration, tranquillity and relaxation.
As we passed over the wooden Japanese bridges, we closed our eyes to feel the cool waterfall and to take in notes of purple azalea. The cherries blossomed mid-April giving the garden a tint of pomegranate red. The colours of the garden at this time of year are gentle and hypnotic. We sat on the wooden floor inside the tea house and took a look at the concerts and cultural summer events of this fairy-tale city.
Every year locals and visitors from across the world discover the amazing festivals Wroclaw has to offer. Many of Wroclaw’s cultural events last over 40 years, such as Wratislawia Cantans and Jazz on the Odra, but there are also many new events in the city such as the Wroclaw NonStop and the W-Parade. The go.wroclaw.pl website is very useful for finding the latest cultural events.
We returned back to the old city at the time when most of the concerts were starting.The air brought notes of flute and strings. Outside of the Wroclaw Philharmonic, an entire Dwarf orchestra was set up by the river. They didn’t want to practice inside the building so that that they could feel coolness of the water hugging sound. The project ”Circulating Ocean” by Toshio Hosokawa, describing the water cycle: The morning coolness from the ocean, the clouds, waves and the rain that falls on land. Τhe Circulating Ocean symbolizing life, our connection with nature, limits and perfection!
The sound of an oboe took us to the ocean of memories by Tarkovsky.
It started to get dark…
While we were searching for a restaurant in the centre, we stumbled across a small wooden door. Spioch who guards the dwarf’s underground gate had fallen asleep. I bent down to open it, but saw two long-bearded firefighters running angrily towards me. They we’re telling off sleepy Spioch, who had let tourists peek into the secret life of dwarfs. The two serious gentlemen guard the Garrison Church of St. George day and night, which has been wrapped in flames three times throughout cities history.
Across from the church, next to the colourful bikes we discovered a unique Indian restaurant called Mango Mama, a space decorated with natural materials, exquisite cuisine and warm lighting. Fresh curry with rich aromatic spices, dishes with coconut milk, mango and chili took us from Mumbai, exotic Goa and Delhi. It was definitely an exotic night and we wanted to continue with some cocktails at one of the best bars in Wroclaw.
Whilst searching for nice bars, we met Wroclovek the sweet little dwarf! He symbolizes the heart of the city and promises harmony between people and dwarves. We couldn’t pass him without touching the little heart he holds in his right hand!
Returning to the Airbnb, we crossed the Salt Square with the flower market and the Cocktail Bar by Incognito. There a second small dwarf lady Dwarfette supporter of the Republic. She raised her polish constitution into the air as soon as she saw us and startled us with her screeching soprano voice.
Further down we met Ottus and Dlugi. Small Ottus was looking for work abroad and rumours say he had been in Holland for some years. Of course, the Polish brought him back and now he is a broker collecting resumes. He works so much that he’s only got one shoe! Dlugi on the other hand is the banker of all the dwarfs. Everyone loans money from Dlugi, and of course Scrooge gathers the names of all dwarfs that owe money.
It seems that even though it’s late the dwarfs are still busy. It turns out they lived in the city to make life easier for people.
Everyone is welcome in Wroclaw! And that is because the Krasnale are very hospitable and friendly.
We met 50 little heroes who guided us, inspired us and gave us good energy. According to official figures, the dwarves reach one 163, but some believe they reach 350! So, I made a MAP with our own dwarfs, to map out our favourite routes, alleyways, islands, shops, parks and bridges.
It’s impossible to truly discover all the secrets of Wroclaw in one trip… It felt like every corner hides a treasure of inspiration!