Poland In Your Pocket was invited to visit Wrocław and (re)discover a few sites and venues that the municipality included in a two-day programme that aimed to give a general picture of what this great town has to offer. We also had the chance to listen to mayor Rafał Dutkiewicz talk about some of the new initiatives the city is planning for 2017 in order to keep up the pace set during its record-setting 2016. The well-rounded itinerary touched upon all of the elements which make a city a great place to visit – history, art, leisure, gastronomy, music and architecture – and left no doubt that with or without the official title, Wroclaw will always be a European Capital of Culture and an important tourist destination in Europe.
9 places you shouldn’t miss while in Wroclaw
1. Centrum Historii Zajezdnia (The Depot History Centre)
Opened in September 2016, this is the new cultural centre, slash museum, slash gallery, slash historical archive in town. Located in an old tram depot on Grabiszyńska street, its main focus is the postwar history of Wroclaw and Lower Silesia. The venue also organises other cultural and educational projects and it’s a short tram ride from the city centre. Make sure to try the pierogi at their restaurant.
Related: Phoenix From the Ashes: The Rebuilding of Wrocław
Completed in 2012, Wrocław boasts the tallest building in Poland*, which rises some 212m into the atmosphere (*by most measures, including highest floor – the antenna at the top of Warsaw‘s Palace of Culture actually reaches 231m). As the city’s only skyscraper, Sky Tower literally looms alone over the city centre, and its vertical thrust can be seen from many miles away.
Just about halfway between the Old Town and the Centennial Hall you’ll find a 1893 neo-Gothic water tank turned high-tech multimedia museum dedicated – most appropriately – to the very stuff it used to hold. Divided into eight thematic parts and started off with a short 360-degree film which takes you from the Big Bang to nucleosynthesis to the formation of planets to the origin of Earth’s aqua, Hydropolis is a friendly-for-all-ages discovery zone.
Opened in 2014, The Hundred Bridges Brewery has Wrocław’s rich brewing tradition at the heart of what they do. Though outposted well outside the centre, if you know your hops you’ll be happy to make the trip to this riverside brewpub, aptly positioned near Warszawski Bridge. Their mezzanine-level bar puts you directly over the action taking place in the ground floor production plant.
Brand-new to the Wroclaw Zoo is the impressive African aquarium complex – or ‘Afrykarium’ – three levels of exhibits focussed on the diverse water environments of Africa, including hippos, sharks, manatees, crocodiles, penguins, and more.
With Wrocław developing rapidly in the late 19th century it was determined that the city required an exhibition hall and the hundred year anniversary of Napoleon’s defeat at the Battle of Leipzig (1813) was deemed a timely occasion for an expensive, over-the-top exhibition hall that would figuratively flex the architectural muscle of the German Nation. Max Berg, who had been appointed as official city architect in 1909, quickly set about designing his career-piece.
Modernised and re-opened to the public as a branch of the National Museum dedicated to contemporary art. Constructed in 1913 to serve as part of the exhibition space surrounding the Centennial Hall, it originally housed a historical exhibition commemorating Prussia’s defeat of Napoleon 100 years prior. Now restored to its former glory and featuring some blindingly white minimalist decor, it is home to works by prominent 20th- and 21st-century Polish artists.
This is a very welcome addition to the increasingly foodie-esque ul. Świdnicka. The mid- to higher-price, imaginative, and lovingly prepared food is made even better by the laid-back interior featuring a huge wall-and-ceiling mural (portraying Mama herself), a mezzanine, plenty of plants to rest an eye on, and ample natural lighting.
Located in a building designed to look like the body of a string instrument, the National Forum of Music coordinates eleven musical ensembles and nine international festivals, including Wratislavia Cantans, Jazztopad, Musica Polonica Nova, and Musica Electronica Nova.