What to see in Wroclaw Old Town
Wroclaw is the capital city of the dolnoslaskie region, located in south-west Poland. It is one of the most gorgeous cities in our country. During its long and eventful history it was part of not only Poland, but also Czech and Germany. Today, Wroclaw is eagerly visited by people from all around the world thanks to its countless interesting monuments, which attract crowds of tourists every year. This is one of those cities, that everyone should visit at least once.
This article will give you information about the most interesting and significant attractions in Wroclaw.
The Old Market Square
The Old Market Square in Wroclaw is one of the largest market squares in Europe, with one of the biggest town halls in Poland. The layout of the Old Market Square is associated with its earliest location on the left bank of the Odra river, within the current borders of Wroclaw. According to an art historian named Marian Morelowski, in the first half of the 13th century, before the area of the Old Market Square was set out, this was the location of a building where cloth was sold. Since the moment when the Market Square was set out, it has been the cultural and social centre of the city.
The Town Hall
The Town Hall in Wroclaw is a late-gothic building located at the Market Square in Wroclaw. It is one of the best-preserved historical town halls in Poland.
The Town Hall was not the first building at the Market Square in Wroclaw. Initially, the city of Wroclaw, which gained its location in the 13th century, most likely didn’t need a special building for the 5-person city council. Its first members were most likely chosen in 1261. According to written documents, the oldest part of the Town Hall was constructed around the year 1299.
The Salt Market in Wroclaw is an assistant market of the Old Town in Wroclaw. Unlike the Market Square, the space of the Salt Market doesn’t have many buildings. Half of the southern frontage is occupied by the classicist builsing of the Old Stock Market from 1822. There also three historicizing tenement houses here.
This plaza has a long tradition in organizing flower markets. In the late 20th century, an architectural acent known as Mala Iglica was added at the Salt Market. It is an obelisk shaped like a flame of fire, which refers to the events from the 15th century, when the people of Wroclaw burned things that they considered too sumptuous after hearing the sermons of a Franciscan named Jan Kapistran.
The Church of st. Elizabeth
The Church of st. Elizabeth in Wroclaw is a gothic church with an approximately 91-meter tower, located in the north-west corner of the Market Square in Wroclaw. The first church in this area, originally under the calling of st. Wawrzyniec, was most likely constructed in the early 13th century. The church was officially consecrated under the name of st. Elizabeth by bishop Tomasz I on November 19th 1257. The three-nave basilic was founded by Boleslaw III Rozrzutny and created in the early 14th century in reduction gothic style.
Stare Jatki is the historical name of a street in the Old Town of Wroclaw. In the beginning, Stare Jatki was a small street created by two rows of butcher shops as a result of spatial and legal transformations made by prince Boleslaw Rogatka in 1242. The prince acquired local inns from monks and passed them to the mayor. His decision caused his successors to protest in the following years. The name „Stare Lawy Miesne” appeared in documents for the first time in 1375. In the late 20th century, Stare Jatki was occupied by art galleries and a music pub. In 1997, a monument of slaughter animals was put at Stare Jatki to commemorate the original function of Stare Jatki.
The „Jas” and „Malgosia” tenement houses
„Jas” and „Malgosia” are two medieval tenement houses at the south-west corner of the Market Square in Wroclaw, connected with an arcade. They were most likely constructed in the 15th century. The „Jas” tenement house, which is slightly lower, actually consists of two former houses, which were part of the southern frame located next to the church and the cemetery. The Jas house gained its current height in the late 16th century.
The „Malgosia” house was also constructed in the 16th century, at the eastern edge of the cemetery. During the thorough reconstruction in 1564, it gained a third floor and a new roof.
The former city prison in Wroclaw
The former city prison is located at the intersection of Wiezienna and Nozownicza streets in Wroclaw. The building was first mentioned in documents in 1349, while the first documents mentiong the prison originated from 1403. It was originally a three-story gothic tower, which had rooms for prisoners and guards inside. In 1683 or 1689, the prison building was reconstructed and gained its current shape. The western wing was elevated and a parapet wall was constructed. Up until 1792, this was the only city prison in Wroclaw. It was thoroughly renovate between 1968 and 1975.
The Main Building of the University of Wroclaw
The Main Building of the University of Wroclaw is a monumental building of the Wroclaw college. The cornerstone for the construction of this building was layed on December 6th 1728 in the place of a former medieval Piast castle. The permission of constructing the Jesuit college and the necessary funds came emperor Leopold I, and the further construction was funded by his successors.
The western wing was finished in a raw state in 1730, and the eastern wing and mathematic tower were constructed between 1734 and 1737.
The University Church of the Blessed Name of Jesus
The University Church of the Blessed Name of Jesus is a baroque-styled church constructed by Jesuits between 1689 and 1698. It was designed by an Italian architect named Teodor Moretti and constructed by Mateusz Biener and Jan Knoll. The church was consecrated in July 30th 1698.
In the 19th century, and especially between 1879 and 1893, most of the baroque-styled altars in the side chapels were reconstructed. In April of 1945, the church received the most precious monuments of sacred art from other churches in Wroclaw. In September of 1946, the church was donated for the needs of the academic chaplaincy of Wroclaw.
Ossolineum is a Polish institute of science and culture in Wroclaw. It is one of the oldest and most important centers of Polish culture, which is mostly evidenced by its huge collection, which includes works of such important people, as Nicholas Copernicus, Jan Kochanowski and Adam Mickiewicz. Ossolineum was founded in 1817 by Jozef Maksymilian Ossolinski and opened in 1827 in Lviv. Up until 1939 it consisted of a library, a publishing house and the Lubomirski Princes Museum. Up until 1945, Ossolineum was located in an oold monastery in Lviv. But currently it can be found in Wroclaw at 37 Szewska street.
The Nankier Square in Wroclaw is located in the very centre of the city, in the Old Town district. It currently connects Szewska street with Piaskowa street. It is also extended by Uniwersytecka street. The Nankier Square is approximately 200 meters long and has plenty of monuments, including:
- the Palace of the princes of Opole from between 1363 and 1369,
- the church of st. Maciej from the 13th century,
- the church of st. Klara and st. Jadwiga with a monastery complex,
- several tenement houses from the 19th century
The Market Hall
The Market Hall in Wroclaw was constructed based on the design by Richard Pluddemann and Heinrich Kuster between 1906 and 1908. It was constructed to organize trade in the city centre, which earlier took place at the New Market among others. The Market Hall replaced a 14th-century mansion of bishops from the lubuskie region, which was transformed into the Sand Arsenal in the early 16th century. The building was not severely damaged by warfare in 1945, and right after the end of World War II it was used for its original purpose.
The Piasek Island
The Piasek Island is one of the Odra river islands within the historical area of the Old Town of Wroclaw. The name of the island originated from the local church of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the Sand.
In the beginning of the middle ages, the main north-south route was already running thorugh the island. Up until the 19th century, when Napoleon Bonaparte ordered the destruction of the Wroclaw fortifications, the Piasek Island was locate directly in front of the Piaskowa Gate, which was the northern entrance to the city.
Ostrow Tumski is the oldest, monumental part of Wroclaw. The earliest castle at Ostrow Tumski, which was the headquarters of the first Piasts, was most likely constructed in the 10th century. In the late 13th century, the castle was expanded. It gained a defensive wall with at least two towers.
In 1382, king Waclaw IV of Czech came up with the idea of constructing a new royal castle with two towers, but the idea was never completely fulfilled. Ostrow Tumski was often visited by Nicolas Copernicus, who was a scholastic of the church of the Holy Cross between 1503 and 1538.
The Archcathedral of st. John the Baptist
The Archcathedral of st. John the Baptist is a gothic parish church located at Ostrow Tumski in Wroclaw. After the year 1000, an early pre-Romanesque church was replaced with a larger construction in a form of a three-nave basilic. In the late 11th century, a new cathedral was constructed from the initiative of Kazimierz Odnowiciel.
The current cathedral was constructed mostly in gothic style, between the 13th and 14th centuries. Its shape is the result of baroque additions and modern restoration after the destructions from World War II.