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Wrocław (Known as Breslau in German), is a city in western Poland and with a population of over 630,000, the 4th largest in the country. It lies on the river Oder in the Silesian Lowlands of Central Europe and is the historical capital of Silesia and Lower Silesia. Today, Wrocław is the capital of the latter and is classified by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network as a global city. It is recognised as having a high standard of living and was awarded the status of 2016 European Capital of Culture (alongside San Sebastián in Spain).

Above: Gothic gables of the Town Hall (east façade)

Historically Wrocław bears the stamp of several cultures. Settlements had been in the area since at least the 6th century . The city (and it's name) originated in the 10th century with a Czech duke (Vratislaus I) who founded a Bohemian stronghold here. A Polish bishopric was established here in the year 1000. Later on, after the fragmentation of the Kingdom of Poland, it became the capital of the Piast-ruled duchy of Silesia. It then came under Czech rule in 1335 and later (in 1526) was absorbed with the rest of the Czech state into the Habsburg Empire. In 1741, it was transferred to Prussian rule. During the last months of World War II, German forces put up fierce defences in the city which left almost ¾ of the city in ruins. However, as a result of border changes after World War II, Wrocław became part of Poland in 1945.

Above: The 13th century Main Market Square (Rynek)

The photos on this web page were taken in 1998 and show a small selection of the many sites the city has to offer the visitor. The main attractions include Wrocław old town (sights include the 13th century Main Market Square (Rynek), Town Hall, Church of St Elizabeth (which has an observation deck 75m up), Royal Palace, the Kameleon Store, The Cathedral of St Mary Magdalene, Bernadine Church and Monastery), Ostrów Tumski (the oldest part of the city, known as the Cathedral Island, on which stands the Cathedral of St John the Baptist - built originally in the mid 10th century and several churches), and The People's Hall (originally known as the Centennial or Century Hall - designed by Max Berg in 1911-13 and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site). In addition of note in the city are The Jewish Cemetery, A wide selection of museums, parks, the University of Wrocław and a number of buildings of architectural significance. Of course, as well as the regular sightseeing, the city has a wide range of cultural activities on offer for the visitor and the city boasts world-class sport and music venues. In summary, Wrocław has a great deal for the visitor and something to suit almost every taste.

It may be worth noting for the English-Speaking visitor, the pronunciation of Wrocław is far from what it would appear to the lay-person. In Polish and English, it is Pronounced 'VROTS-waff', although you may come across variations on this (Source: BBC here).

Above: In with the new - Contrasting buildings (1998)

Above: Vehicles in Wrocław, 1998. During the Pre-September 1989 Communist Poland era, cars manufactured in Poland under licence of the Italian manufacturer FIAT were commonplace. Also, the number (license) plates were black, as opposed to white nowadays (with exceptions). Today, the majority of cars to be seen on the roads in Poland are akin to those seen in Western Europe.

References and Further Reading:

1. Wrocław In Your Pocket (downloadable guide) here

2. Centennial Hall in Wrocław on UNESCO web site here

3. Wrocław Tourist Information here

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