The European Capital of Culture 2016, Wroclaw is a historic city located in the west of Poland. A postcard-perfect square and millennia-old story have made Wroclaw a very popular weekend break destination, with the alluring attractions complemented by a charming old-world atmosphere.
Wroclaw's compact Old Town is a mishmash of pastel colours and most buildings are painted a different shade. It's particularly photogenic at the Market and Salt squares, or by climbing the steps or the St. Mary Magdalena's Church tower. Various restaurants and bars line the squares and have al fresco terraces during the summer. While the two squares are the city's tourist focal point, they have preserved a local atmosphere.
The city is built in and around the Odra River, comprising 12 islands and an idyllic assortment of bridges and parks. A collection of cobblestone streets wind through Cathedral Island, an area of enticing boulevards, old mansions, and cultivated gardens. Much like the Old Town, this island has absorbed the influences of history, notably Bohemian, Austrian and Prussian styles.
It often feels that Wroclaw has synthesised the best of its history to create its own resplendent character. Gothic design dots the city, a Bohemian ambiance encourages strangers to greet, and there are dozens of small dwarf statues scattered across the central streets. Finding and photographing them on a day of dwarf hunting is part of the experience.
Wroclaw's size is very much part of the appeal. Most visitors don't need more than two legs or perhaps two wheels to get around. A small tram network winds slowly through the city and connects the Old Town with Cathedral Island. Tourism has been boosted significantly by Wroclaw-Copernicus Airport, located 11 kilometres west of the city centre. A local bus runs from the airport to the city while Wroclaw Glowny is a major hub on the Polish railway network.
The historical narrative counts some 1800 years of unusual ideas in Wroclaw and dwarfs are just the latest bizarre piece of culture. Originally the work of a single sculptor, the 30 – 40cm-high metal dwarfs become good luck symbols for local businesses and it's estimated that over 200 dot the city.