Like the best of any Eastern European city, the history starts in the Old Town. And thankfully my hotel is just a few steps away from the Rynek – the main town square – and its impressive Town Hall.
Developed between the thirteenth and sixteenth century, today it’s one of many museums in Wroclaw – but you don’t have to go inside to see signs of the past.
The monument to the left, at the front, is the Pillory – a place where ne’r do wells would be stoned, hung or generally given a hard time. On an overcast afternoon there’s slightly less in the way of maulings; the worst disturbance appears to be what I take to be a religious group handing out sweets and leaflets.
The rest of the large Square is surrounded by cafes and restaurants, including the ubiquitous tackiness of McDonalds, Burger King and KFC. On a Tuesday lunchtime in mid September there seem to be few takers for the eateries offering outdoor seating. Perhaps it’ll liven up later.
However, it’s not at ground level where the real joys are seen here. Look up almost anywhere in this district and the buildings offer up their stories of the past.
One of the great things about the Old Town is that it’s relatively flat, and a short walk takes me to the University district. Here, a few more bars tout for customers who aren’t there
The approach to the University complex itself is dominated by its church – the Parish Of The Most Holy Name of Jesus. The building is by no means the largest in Wroclaw, but it has a pretty big door.
Just around the corner, from something very big to a man who appears to be holding something very small, and I have no idea what he’s about to do with it.
As you might imagine with a University, there is culture everywhere. Each building around here has plaques and notices, presumably telling of their history and importance. It’s hard to tell, since most of them are in Polish and have no nearby translations. But that’s no bad thing – the designs and imagery alone tell their oown stories; you just have to be open minded enough to work it out.
A couple of streets away is the Ossolinskinch Instituition, the home to some of Poland’s most important cultural publications. At the moment it appears to be closed to visitors, though the neighbouring gardens offer a tranquil moment, so long as you can avoid all of the other visitors attempting to get that perfect shot of the design.