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Piasek Island and Ostrów Tumski
Old Town Hall
Puppet Theater
Market Square and St. Elizabeth's Church
Monopol Hotel
Wroc?aw G?ówny railway station
University of Wroc?aw
Wroc?aw: miasto spotka?(Polish for "Wroc?aw - The Meeting Place")
Wroc?aw is located in Lower Silesian Voivodeship
Wroc?aw is located in Poland
Wroc?aw is located in Europe
Coordinates: 51°06?36?N 17°01?57?E / 51.11000°N 17.03250°E / 51.11000; 17.03250Coordinates: 51°06?36?N 17°01?57?E / 51.11000°N 17.03250°E / 51.11000; 17.03250
Country Poland
Voivodeship Lower Silesian Voivodeship
Countycity county
Established10th century
City rights1214
 o MayorJacek Sutryk
 o City292.92 km2 (113.10 sq mi)
Highest elevation
155 m (509 ft)
Lowest elevation
105 m (344 ft)
(31 December 2020)
 o City641,928 Decrease (4th)[1]
 o Metro
 o Demonym
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
Postal code
50-041 to 54-612
Area code(s)+48 71
Car platesDW, DX

Wroc?aw (Polish: ['vr?t?swaf] ;[a] German: Breslau ['bsla?] ; Lower Silesian: Brassel;[6] Czech: Vratislav)[b] is a city in southwestern Poland and the largest city in the historical region of Silesia. It lies on the banks of the River Oder in the Silesian Lowlands of Central Europe, roughly 350 kilometres (220 mi) from the Baltic Sea to the north and 40 kilometres (25 mi) from the Sudeten Mountains to the south. The official population of Wroc?aw in 2020 was 641,928, with a further 1.25 million residing in the metropolitan area.

Wroc?aw is the historical capital of Silesia and Lower Silesia. Today, it is the capital of the Lower Silesian Voivodeship. The history of the city dates back over a thousand years;[7] at various times, it has been part of the Kingdom of Poland, the Kingdom of Bohemia, the Kingdom of Hungary, the Habsburg Monarchy of Austria, the Kingdom of Prussia and Germany. Wroc?aw became part of Poland again in 1945 as part of the so-called Recovered Territories, the result of extensive border changes and expulsions after the Second World War.

Wroc?aw is a university city with a student population of over 130,000, making it arguably one of the most youth-oriented cities in the country.[8] Since the beginning of the 20th century, the University of Wroc?aw, previously Breslau University, has produced 9 Nobel Prize laureates and is renowned for its high quality of teaching.[9][10] Wroc?aw also possesses numerous historical landmarks, including the Main Market Square, Cathedral Island and the Centennial Hall, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In 1989, 1995 and 2019 Wroc?aw hosted the European Youth Meetings of the Taizé Community and hosted the Eucharistic Congress in 1997 and the 2012 European Football Championship. In 2016, the city was a European Capital of Culture and the World Book Capital.[11] Also in that year, Wroc?aw hosted the Theatre Olympics, World Bridge Games and the European Film Awards. In 2017, the city was host to the IFLA Annual Conference and the World Games. In 2019, it was named a UNESCO City of Literature.

Wroc?aw is classified as a Gamma global city by GaWC.[12] It was placed among the top 100 cities in the world for the Mercer Quality of Living Survey 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019 and in the top 100 of the smartest cities in the world in the IESE Cities in Motion Index 2017 and 2019 report.[13][14] In February 2021, belonging to Financial Times - fDi Magazine published the report "Global Cities of the Future 2021/2022", in which Wroc?aw was classified in 1st place among all medium and small cities in the world.[15]


Coat of arms of Wroc?aw (with the inscription Civitas Wratislaviensis) in Lauf Castle, c. 1360.

The city is believed to be named after Duke Vratislav I of Bohemia from the Czech P?emyslid dynasty, who ruled the region between 915 and 921.[16] The city's name first appeared in the 10th century probably as Vratislava. The oldest surviving document containing the recorded name of the city is the chronicle of Thietmar of Merseburg from the early 11th century, which records the city's name as "Wrotizlava", and cites it as a seat of a new bishopric at the Congress of Gniezno. The city's first municipal seal was inscribed with Sigillum civitatis Wratislavie.[17]

The original Old Czech language version of the name was used in Latin documents, as Vratislavia or Wratislavia. In the Polish language, the city's name Wroc?aw derives from the name Wrocis?aw, which is the Polish equivalent of the Czech name Vratislav. The earliest variations of this name in the Old Polish language use the letter /l/ instead of /?/. By the 15th century, the Early New High German variations of the name, Breslau, first began to be used. Despite the noticeable differences in spelling, the numerous German forms were still based on the original West Slavic name of the city, with the -Vr- sound being replaced over time by -Br-,[18] and the suffix -slav- replaced with -slau-. These variations included Vratizlau, Wratislau, Wrezlau or Breßlau among others.[19] In other languages, the city's name is: modern Czech: Vratislav, Hungarian: Boroszló, Hebrew: ‎ (Vrotsláv), Yiddish: ?‎ (Bresloi), Silesian: Wroc?aw, Lower Silesian: Brassel, and Latin: Vratislavia, Wratislavia or Budorgis.[20][21]

People born or resident in the city are known as "Vratislavians" (Polish: wroc?awianie). During the German era, the demonym was "Breslauer".


In ancient times, there was a place called Budorigum at or near the site of Wroc?aw. It was already mapped on Claudius Ptolemy's map of AD 142-147.[22] Settlements in the area existed from the 6th century onward during the migration period. The ?lans, a West Slavic tribe, settled on the Oder river and erected a fortified gord on Ostrów Tumski.

Wroc?aw originated at the intersection of two trade routes, the Via Regia and the Amber Road. The city was first recognized in the 10th century as Vratislavia on account of the Bohemian duke Vratislav I's stronghold there, hence the name.[16] When in 985, Duke Mieszko I of Poland conquered Silesia, Vratislavia's polonised form over time became Wroc?aw.[23] The town was mentioned explicitly in the year 1000 AD in connection with its promotion to an episcopal see during the Congress of Gniezno.[24]

Middle Ages

Church of Saint Giles
Church of Saint Giles seen from above
Church of Saint Giles (pl) erected in the 1220s at Ostrów Tumski, the oldest section of Wroc?aw

During Wroc?aw's early history, control over it changed hands between the Duchy of Bohemia (until 992, then 1038-1054), the Duchy of Poland and the Kingdom of Poland (992-1038 and 1054-1202). Following the fragmentation of the Kingdom of Poland, the Piast dynasty ruled the Duchy of Silesia. One of the most important events during this period was the foundation of the Diocese of Wroc?aw by the Polish Duke and from 1025, King Boles?aw the Brave in 1000. Along with the Bishoprics of Kraków and Ko?obrzeg, Wroc?aw was placed under the Archbishopric of Gniezno in Greater Poland, founded by Pope Sylvester II through the intercession of Polish Duke Boles?aw I the Brave and Emperor Otto III in 1000, during the Gniezno Congress.[25] In the years 1034-1038 the city was affected by Pagan reaction in Poland.[26]

The city became a commercial centre and expanded to Wyspa Piasek (Sand Island), and then onto the left bank of the River Oder. Around 1000, the town had about 1,000 inhabitants.[27] In 1109 during the Polish-German war, Prince Boles?aw III Wrymouth defeated the King of Germany Henry V at the Battle of Hundsfeld, stopping the German advance into Poland. The medieval chronicle, Gesta principum Polonorum (1112-1116) by Gallus Anonymus, named Wroc?aw, along with Kraków and Sandomierz, as one of three capitals of the Polish Kingdom. Also, the Tabula Rogeriana a book written by the Arab geographer Muhammad al-Idrisi in 1154, describes Wroc?aw as one of the Polish cities, alongside Kraków, Gniezno, Sieradz, czyca and Santok.[28]

The oldest printed text in the Polish language-Statuta Synodalia Episcoporum Wratislaviensis, printed in Wroc?aw by Kasper Elyan, 1475

By 1139, a settlement belonging to Governor Piotr W?ostowic (also known as Piotr W?ast Dunin) was built, and another on the left bank of the River Oder, near the present site of the university. While the city was largely Polish, it also had communities of Bohemians (Czechs), Germans, Walloons and Jews.[29][26][30]

In the 13th century, Wroc?aw was the political centre of the divided Polish kingdom.[31] In April 1241, during the First Mongol invasion of Poland, the city was abandoned by its inhabitants and burnt down for strategic reasons. During the battles with the Mongols Wroc?aw Castle was successfully defended by Henry II the Pious.[32]

After the Mongol invasion the town was partly populated by German settlers who, in the ensuing centuries, gradually became its dominant population.[33] The city, however, retained its multi-ethnic character, a reflection of its importance as a trading post on the junction of the Via Regia and the Amber Road.[34]

With the influx of settlers, the town expanded and in 1242 came under German town law. The city council used both Latin and German, and the early forms of the name "Breslau", the German name of the city, appeared for the first time in its written records.[33] Polish gradually ceased to be used in the town books, while it survived in the courts until 1337.[30] The enlarged town covered around 60 hectares (150 acres), and the new main market square, surrounded by timber-frame houses, became the trade centre of the town. The original foundation, Ostrów Tumski, became its religious centre. The city gained Magdeburg rights in 1261. While the Polish Piast dynasty remained in control of the region, the ability of the city council to govern itself independently increased.[35] In 1274 prince Henryk IV Probus gave the city its staple right. In the 13th century, two Polish monarchs were buried in Wroc?aw churches founded by them, Henry II the Pious in the St. Vincent church[36] and Henryk IV Probus in the Holy Cross church.[37]

St Martin's Church, the only remaining part of the medieval Piast stronghold that once stood in Wroc?aw

Wroc?aw, which for 350 years had been mostly under Polish hegemony, fell in 1335, after the death of Henry VI the Good, to the Kingdom of Bohemia, then a part of the Holy Roman Empire. Between 1342 and 1344, two fires destroyed large parts of the city. In 1387 the city joined the Hanseatic League. On 5 June 1443, the city was rocked by an earthquake, estimated at ca. 6 on the Richter scale, which destroyed or seriously damaged many of its buildings.

Between 1469 and 1490, Wroc?aw was part of the Kingdom of Hungary, and king Matthias Corvinus was said to have had a Vratislavian mistress who bore him a son.[38] In 1474, after almost a century, the city left the Hanseatic League. Also in 1474, the city was besieged by combined Polish-Czech forces. However, in November 1474, Kings Casimir IV of Poland, his son Vladislaus II of Bohemia, and Matthias Corvinus of Hungary met in the nearby village of Muchobór Wielki (present-day a district of Wroc?aw), and in December 1474 a ceasefire was signed according to which the city remained under Hungarian rule.[39] The following year was marked by the publication in Wroc?aw of the Statuta Synodalia Episcoporum Wratislaviensium (1475) by Kasper Elyan, the first ever Incunable in Polish, containing the proceedings and prayers of the Wroc?aw bishops.[40]

Renaissance and the Reformation

Map of the city from 1562, with its fortifications on the Oder River

In the 16th century, the Breslauer Schöps beer style was created in Wroc?aw.[41]

The Protestant Reformation reached the city in 1518 and it converted to the new rite. However, starting in 1526 Silesia was ruled by the Catholic House of Habsburg. In 1618, it supported the Bohemian Revolt out of fear of losing the right to religious freedom. During the ensuing Thirty Years' War, the city was occupied by Saxon and Swedish troops and lost thousands of inhabitants to the plague.[42]

The Emperor brought in the Counter-Reformation by encouraging Catholic orders to settle in the city, starting in 1610 with the Franciscans, followed by the Jesuits, then Capuchins, and finally Ursuline nuns in 1687.[16] These orders erected buildings that shaped the city's appearance until 1945. At the end of the Thirty Years' War, however, it was one of only a few Silesian cities to stay Protestant.

The Polish Municipal school opened in 1666 and lasted until 1766. Precise record-keeping of births and deaths by the city fathers led to the use of their data for analysis of mortality, first by John Graunt and then, based on data provided to him by Breslau professor Caspar Neumann, by Edmond Halley.[43] Halley's tables and analysis, published in 1693, are considered to be the first true actuarial tables, and thus the foundation of modern actuarial science. During the Counter-Reformation, the intellectual life of the city flourished, as the Protestant bourgeoisie lost some of its dominance to the Catholic orders as patrons of the arts.

Enlightenment period

The city became the centre of German Baroque literature and was home to the First and Second Silesian school of poets.[44] In the 1740s the Kingdom of Prussia annexed the city and most of Silesia during the War of the Austrian Succession. Habsburg Empress Maria Theresa ceded most of the territory in the Treaty of Breslau in 1742 to Prussia. Austria attempted to recover Silesia during the Seven Years' War at the Battle of Breslau, but they were unsuccessful. The Venetian Italian adventurer, Giacomo Casanova, stayed in Breslau in 1766.[45]

Napoleonic Wars

Entry of Prince Jérôme Bonaparte into Breslau, 7 January 1807

During the Napoleonic Wars, it was occupied by the Confederation of the Rhine army. The fortifications of the city were levelled, and monasteries and cloisters were seized.[16] The Protestant Viadrina European University at Frankfurt am Oder was relocated to Breslau in 1811, and united with the local Jesuit University to create the new Silesian Frederick-William University (Schlesische Friedrich-Wilhelm-Universität, now the University of Wroc?aw). The city became a centre of the German Liberation movement against Napoleon, and a gathering place for volunteers from all over Germany. The city was the centre of Prussian mobilisation for the campaign which ended at the Battle of Leipzig.[46]

Industrial age

The Confederation of the Rhine had increased prosperity in Silesia and in the city. The removal of fortifications opened room for the city to expand beyond its former limits. Breslau became an important railway hub and industrial centre, notably for linen and cotton manufacture and the metal industry. The reconstructed university served as a major centre of science; Johannes Brahms later wrote his Academic Festival Overture to thank the university for an honorary doctorate awarded in 1879.[47]

In 1821, the (Arch)Diocese of Breslau withdrew from dependence on the Polish archbishopric of Gniezno, and Breslau became an exempt see. On 10 October 1854, the Jewish Theological Seminary opened. The institution was the first modern rabbinical seminary in Central Europe. In 1863 the brothers Karl and Louis Stangen founded the travel agency Stangen, the second travel agency in the world.[48]

The Royal Palace from 1717 was once the residence of Prussian monarchs and German emperors. It now houses the City Museum.

The city was an important center of the Polish secret resistance movement and the seat of a Polish uprising committee before and during the January Uprising of 1863-1864 in the Russian Partition of Poland.[49] Local Poles took part in Polish national mourning after the Russian massacre of Polish protesters in Warsaw in February 1861, and also organized several patriotic Polish church services throughout 1861.[50] Secret Polish correspondence, weapons, and insurgents were transported through the city.[51] After the outbreak of the uprising in 1863, the Prussian police carried out mass searches of Polish homes, especially those of Poles who had recently come to the city.[52] The city's inhabitants, both Poles and Germans, excluding the German aristocracy, largely sympathized with the uprising, and some Germans even joined local Poles in their secret activities.[53] In June 1863 the city was officially confirmed as the seat of secret Polish insurgent authorities.[54] In January 1864, the Prussian police arrested a number of members of the Polish insurgent movement.[55]

The Unification of Germany in 1871 turned Breslau into the sixth-largest city in the German Empire. Its population more than tripled to over half a million between 1860 and 1910. The 1900 census listed 422,709 residents.[56]

In 1890, construction began of Breslau Fortress as the city's defenses. Important landmarks were inaugurated in 1910, the Kaiser bridge (today Grunwald Bridge) and the Technical University, which now houses the Wroc?aw University of Technology. The 1900 census listed 98% of the population as German-speakers, with 5,363 Polish-speakers (1.3%), and 3,103 (0.7%) as bilingual in German and Polish.[57] The population was 58% Protestant, 37% Catholic (including at least 2% Polish)[58] and 5% Jewish (totaling 20,536 in the 1905 census).[57] The Jewish community of Breslau was among the most important in Germany, producing several distinguished artists and scientists.[59]

From 1912, the head of the university's Department of Psychiatry and director of the Clinic of Psychiatry (Königlich Psychiatrischen und Nervenklinik) was Alois Alzheimer and, that same year, professor William Stern introduced the concept of IQ.[60]

Market Square, 1890-1900
Feniks Department Store, built in 1902-1904

In 1913, the newly built Centennial Hall housed an exhibition commemorating the 100th anniversary of the historical German Wars of Liberation against Napoleon and the first award of the Iron Cross.[61] The Centennial Hall was built by Max Berg (1870-1947), since 2006 it is part of the world heritage of UNESCO.[62]

Following the First World War, Breslau became the capital of the newly created Prussian Province of Lower Silesia of the Weimar Republic in 1919. After the war the Polish community began holding masses in Polish at the Church of Saint Anne, and, as of 1921, at St. Martin's and a Polish School was founded by Helena Adamczewska.[63] In 1920 a Polish consulate was opened on the Main Square.

In August 1920, during the Polish Silesian Uprising in Upper Silesia, the Polish Consulate and School were destroyed, while the Polish Library was burned down by a mob. The number of Poles as a percentage of the total population fell to just 0.5% after the re-emergence of Poland as a state in 1918, when many moved to Poland.[58] Antisemitic riots occurred in 1923.[64]

The city boundaries were expanded between 1925 and 1930 to include an area of 175 km2 (68 sq mi) with a population of 600,000. In 1929, the Werkbund opened WuWa (German: Wohnungs- und Werkraumausstellung) in Breslau-Scheitnig, an international showcase of modern architecture by architects of the Silesian branch of the Werkbund. In June 1930, Breslau hosted the Deutsche Kampfspiele, a sporting event for German athletes after Germany was excluded from the Olympic Games after World War I. The number of Jews remaining in Breslau fell from 23,240 in 1925 to 10,659 in 1933.[65] Up to the beginning of World War II, Breslau was the largest city in Germany east of Berlin.[66]

Aerial view of pre-war Breslau, 1920

Known as a stronghold of left wing liberalism during the German Empire, Breslau eventually became one of the strongest support bases of the Nazi Party, which in the 1932 elections received 44% of the city's vote, their third-highest total in all Germany.[67][68]

KZ Dürrgoy, one of the first concentration camps in the Third Reich, was set up in the city in 1933.[69]

After Hitler's appointment as German Chancellor in 1933, political enemies of the Nazis were persecuted, and their institutions closed or destroyed. The Gestapo began actions against Polish and Jewish students (see: Jewish Theological Seminary of Breslau), Communists, Social Democrats, and trade unionists. Arrests were made for speaking Polish in public, and in 1938 the Nazi-controlled police destroyed the Polish cultural centre.[70][71] In June 1939, Polish students were expelled from the university.[72] Also many other people seen as "undesirable" by the Third Reich were sent to concentration camps.[70] A network of concentration camps and forced labour camps was established around Breslau to serve industrial concerns, including FAMO, Junkers, and Krupp. Tens of thousand of forced laborers were imprisoned there.[73]

The last big event organized by the National Socialist League of the Reich for Physical Exercise, called Deutsches Turn-und-Sportfest (Gym and Sports Festivities), took place in Breslau from 26 to 31 July 1938. The Sportsfest was held to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the German Wars of Liberation against Napoleon's invasion.[74]

Second World War

Wartime destruction around the cathedral, 1945

During the invasion of Poland, which started World War II, in September 1939, the Germans carried out mass arrests of local Polish activists and banned Polish organizations,[72] and the city was made the headquarters of the southern district of the Selbstschutz, whose task was to persecute Poles.[75] For most of the war, the fighting did not affect the city. During the war, the Germans opened the graves of medieval Polish monarchs and local dukes to carry out anthropological research for propaganda purposes, wanting to demonstrate German "racial purity".[36] The remains were transported to other places by the Germans, and they have not been found to this day.[36] In 1941 the remnants of the pre-war Polish minority in the city, as well as Polish slave labourers, organised a resistance group called Olimp. The organisation gathered intelligence, carrying out sabotage and organising aid for Polish slave workers. In September 1941 the city's 10,000 Jews were expelled from their homes and soon deported to concentration camps. Few survived the Holocaust.[76] As the war continued, refugees from bombed-out German cities, and later refugees from farther east, swelled the population to nearly one million,[77] including 51,000 forced labourers in 1944, and 9,876 Allied PoWs. At the end of 1944 an additional 30,000-60,000 Poles were moved into the city after the Germans crushed the Warsaw Uprising.[78]

During the war the Germans operated four subcamps of the Gross-Rosen concentration camp in the city.[79] Approximately 3,400-3,800 men were imprisoned in three subcamps, among them Poles, Russians, Italians, Frenchmen, Ukrainians, Czechs, Belgians, Yugoslavs, Chinese, and about 1,500 Jewish women were imprisoned in the fourth camp.[79] Many prisoners died, and the remaining were evacuated to the main camp of Groß-Rosen in January 1945.[79] There were also three subcamps of the Stalag VIII-B/344 prisoner-of-war camp,[80] and two Nazi prisons in the city, including a youth prison, with multiple forced labour subcamps.[81][82]

In February 1945 the Soviet Army approached the city. Gauleiter Karl Hanke declared the city a Festung (fortress) to be held at all costs. Hanke finally lifted a ban on the evacuation of women and children when it was almost too late. During his poorly organised evacuation in January 1945, 18,000 people froze to death in icy snowstorms of -20 °C (-4 °F) weather. By the end of the Battle of Breslau (February-May 1945), half the city had been destroyed. An estimated 40,000 civilians lay dead in the ruins of homes and factories. After a siege of nearly three months, Festung Breslau capitulated to the Red Army on 6 May 1945, two days before the end of the war.[83] In August the Soviets placed the city under the control of German communists.[84]

Following the Yalta Conference held in February 1945 where the new geopolitics of Central Europe were decided, the terms of the Potsdam Conference decreed that with almost all of Lower Silesia, the city would become part of Poland in exchange for Poland's loss of the city of Lwów along with the massive territory of Kresy in the east, which was annexed by the Soviet Union.[85] The Polish name of "Wroc?aw" was declared official. There had been discussion among the Western Allies to place the southern Polish-German boundary on the Glatzer Neisse, which meant post-war Germany would have been allowed to retain approximately half of Silesia, including Breslau. However, Stalin insisted the border be drawn at the Lusatian Neisse farther west.[85]


Following World War II, the region became part of Poland under territorial changes defined by the Potsdam Agreement.[84] The town's inhabitants who had not fled, or who had safely returned to their home town after the war officially had ended, were expelled between 1945 and 1949 in accordance to the Potsdam Agreement and were settled in the Soviet occupation zone or in the Allied Occupation Zones in the remainder of Germany. The city's last pre-war German school was closed in 1963.[86]

The Polish population was dramatically increased by the resettlement of Poles during postwar population transfers during the forced deportations from Polish lands annexed by the Soviet Union in the east region, some of whom came from Lviv (Lwów), Volhynia, and the Vilnius Region. A small German minority (about 1,000 people, or 2% of the population) remains in the city, so that today the relation of Polish to German population is the reverse of what it was a 100 years ago.[87] Traces of the German past, such as inscriptions and signs, have been removed.[88]

Wroc?aw is now a unique European city of mixed heritage, with architecture influenced by Bohemian, Austrian, and Prussian traditions, such as Silesian Gothic and its Baroque style of court builders of Habsburg Austria (Fischer von Erlach). Wroc?aw has a number of notable buildings by German modernist architects including the famous Centennial Hall (Hala Stulecia or Jahrhunderthalle; 1911-1913) designed by Max Berg. In 1948, Wroc?aw organized the Recovered Territories Exhibition and the World Congress of Intellectuals in Defense of Peace. Picasso's lithograph, La Colombe (The Dove), a traditional, realistic picture of a pigeon, without an olive branch, was created on a napkin at the Monopol Hotel in Wroc?aw during the World Congress of Intellectuals in Defense of Peace.[89]

In 1963, Wroc?aw was declared a closed city because of a smallpox epidemic.[90]

In 1982, during martial law in Poland, the anti-communist underground organizations Fighting Solidarity and Orange Alternative were founded in Wroc?aw. Wroc?aw's dwarves, made of bronze, famously grew out of and commemorate Orange Alternative.[91]

In 1983 and 1997, Pope John Paul II visited the city.[92]

PTV Echo, the first non-state television station in Poland and in the post-communist countries, began to broadcast in Wroc?aw on 6 February 1990.[93]

In May 1997, Wroc?aw hosted the 46th International Eucharistic Congress.[94]

In July 1997, the city was heavily affected by a flood of the River Oder, the worst flooding in post-war Poland, Germany, and the Czech Republic. About one-third of the area of the city was flooded.[95] The smaller Widawa River also flooded the city simultaneously, worsening the damage. An earlier, equally devastating flood of the Oder river had taken place in 1903.[96] A small part of the city was also flooded during the flood of 2010. From 2012 to 2015, the Wroc?aw water node was renovated and redeveloped to prevent further flooding.[97]

Municipal Stadium in Wroc?aw, opened in 2011, hosted three matches in Group A of the UEFA Euro 2012 championship.[98]

In 2016, Wroc?aw was declared the European Capital of Culture.[99]

In 2017, Wroc?aw hosted the 2017 World Games.[100]

Wroc?aw won the European Best Destination title in 2018.[101]


Wroc?aw is located in the three mesoregions of the Silesian Lowlands (Wroc?aw Plain, Wroc?aw Valley, Ole?nica Plain) at an elevation of around 156-170 meters (Gajowe Hill and Ma?lickie Hill) above sea level.[102] The city lies on the Oder River and its four tributaries, which supply it within the city limits - Bystrzyca, O?awa, ?l?za and Widawa.[103] In addition, the Dobra River and many streams flow through the city. The city has a sewage treatment plant on the Janówek estate.[104]

Flora and fauna

John of Nepomuk Church in Szczytnicki Park, 16th-century

There are 44 city parks and public green spaces covering around 800 hectares. The most notable are Szczytnicki Park, Park Po?udniowy (South Park) and Anders Park. In addition, Wroc?aw University runs an historical Botanical garden (founded in 1811), with a salient Alpine garden, a lake and a valley.[105]

In Wroc?aw, the presence of over 200 species of birds has been registered, of which over 100 have nesting places there.[106] As in other large Polish cities, the most numerous are pigeons. Other common species are the sparrow, tree sparrow, siskin, rook, crow, jackdaw, magpie, swift, martin, swallow, kestrel, mute swan, mallard, coot, merganser, black-headed gull, great tit, blue tit, long-tailed tit, greenfinch, hawfinch, collared dove, common wood pigeon, fieldfare, redwing, common starling, grey heron, white stork, common chaffinch, blackbird, jay, nuthatch, bullfinch, cuckoo, waxwing, lesser spotted woodpecker, great spotted woodpecker, white-backed woodpecker, white wagtail, blackcap, black redstart, old world flycatcher, emberizidae, goldfinch, western marsh harrier, little bittern, common moorhen, reed bunting, remiz, great reed warbler, little crake, little ringed plover and white-tailed eagle.[107]

Wroc?aw South Park - Park Po?udniowy

In addition, the city is periodically plagued by the brown rat, especially in the Market Square and in the vicinity of eateries. Otherwise, due to the proximity of wooded areas, there are hedgehogs, foxes, wild boar, bats, martens, squirrels, deer, hares, beavers, polecats, otters, badgers, weasels, stoats and raccoon dogs. There are also occasional sightings of escaped muskrat, american mink and raccoon.[107][108]

Air pollution

Map of Wroc?aw's areas where PM10 standards were exceeded in 2015

Air pollution is a considerable issue in Wroc?aw. In a report by French Respire organization, from 2014, Wroc?aw was ranked the eighth most polluted European city, with 166 days of bad air quality per year.[109] Heavy air pollution mainly occurs in the colder months, during autumn and winter.[110]

According to Wroc?aw University research from 2017, high concentration of particular matters (PM2.5 and PM 10) in the air causes 942 premature deaths of Wroc?aw inhabitants per year.[111] Air pollution also causes 3297 cases of bronchitis among Wroc?aw's children per year.[111] Approximately 84% of residents believe that air pollution is a serious social problem, according to a poll from May 2017, and 73% of people believe that air quality is poor.[112]

In 2012, there were 71 days, when the PM10 standards, set by Cleaner Air For Europe Directive, were exceeded. In 2014, there were 104 such days.[113]

In 2014, the inhabitants founded an organization called the Lower Silesian Smog Alert (Dolno?l?ski Alarm Smogowy, DAS), to address the air pollution problem. Its goals are to educate the public and to reduce emission of harmful substances.[114]


According to Köppen's original definition, Wroc?aw has an oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification: Cfb). However it is common in the literature published in English to use the 0 °C isotherm for the coldest month (as opposed to the original -3 °C) as the boundary between the C and D types.[] Based on that definition, Wroc?aw has a humid continental climate (Dfb). It is one of the warmest cities in Poland. Lying in the Silesian Lowlands between Trzebnickie Hills and the Sudetes, the mean annual temperature is 9.04 °C (48 °F). The coldest month is January (average temperature -0.7 °C), with snow being common in winter, and the warmest is July (average temperature 18.9 °C). The highest temperature in Wroc?aw was recorded on 19 August 1892[115] and 8 August 2015 (+38.9 °C).[116] The previous records were +38 °C on 27 June 1935 and +37.9 °C on 31 July 1994. The lowest temperature was recorded on 11 February 1956 (-32 °C).

Climate data for Wroc?aw (Copernicus Airport), elevation: 120 m, 1981-2010 normals
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 16.3
Average high °C (°F) 2.9
Daily mean °C (°F) -0.1
Average low °C (°F) -3.4
Record low °C (°F) -29.4
Average precipitation mm (inches) 29
Average precipitation days 16 13 14 11 13 13 14 12 11 12 13 15 157
Average relative humidity (%) 84 80 76 69 70 70 72 71 77 82 86 85 77
Mean monthly sunshine hours 57 82 126 197 247 245 257 250 167 119 66 51 1,864
Source: [117][118][119][120][121]
Climate data for Wroc?aw (Copernicus Airport), elevation: 120 m, 1961-1990 normals and extremes
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 14.9
Average high °C (°F) 1.3
Daily mean °C (°F) -1.8
Average low °C (°F) -5.3
Record low °C (°F) -30.0
Average precipitation mm (inches) 28
Average precipitation days 7.3 6.6 7.2 7.7 9.6 10.0 9.7 8.4 7.9 7.1 9.2 8.6 99.3
Mean monthly sunshine hours 49.0 65.0 107.0 142.0 198.0 194.0 205.0 197.0 139.0 108.0 52.0 39.0 1,495
Source: NOAA[122]

Government and politics

Wroc?aw New City Hall - the seat of the city mayor

Wroc?aw is the capital city of Lower Silesian Voivodeship, a province (voivodeship) created in 1999. It was previously the seat of Wroc?aw Voivodeship.[123] The city is a separate urban gmina and city-county (powiat). It is also the seat of Wroc?aw County, which adjoins but does not include the city.[124]


Wroc?aw boroughs (until 1990)
The 48 administrative district quarters (since 1990)

Wroc?aw was previously subdivided into five boroughs (dzielnica):

Since 1990, the city has been divided into 48 district quarters (osiedle) - Bie?kowice, Biskupin-S?polno-D?bie-Bartoszowice, Borek, Brochów, Gaj, Gajowice, G?dów-Popowice P?d., Grabiszyn-Grabiszynek, Huby, Jagodno, Jerzmanowo-Jarno?tów-Strachowice-Osiniec, Kar?owice-Ró?anka, Klecina, Kleczków, Kowale, Krzyki-Partynice, Ksie, Ku?niki, Le?nica, Lipa Piotrowska, Ma?lice, Muchobór Ma?y, Muchobór Wielki, Nadodrze, Nowy Dwór, O?bin, O?taszyn, Oporów, Osobowice-R?dzin, Paw?owice, Pilczyce-Kozanów-Popowice P?n., Plac Grunwaldzki, Polanowice-Po?wi?tne-Ligota, Powsta?ców ?l?skich, Pracze Odrza?skie, Przedmie?cie O?awskie, Przedmie?cie ?widnickie, Psie Pole-Zawidawie, So?tysowice, Stare Miasto, Strachocin-Swojczyce-Wojnów, Szczepin, ?winiary, Tarnogaj, Widawa, Wojszyce, Zacisze-Zalesie-Szczytniki, and ?erniki.[127]

Municipal government

Wroc?aw is currently governed by the city's mayor and a municipal legislature known as the city council. The city council is made up of 39 councilors and is directly elected by the city's inhabitants. The remit of the council and president extends to all areas of municipal policy and development planning, up to and including development of local infrastructure, transport and planning permission. However, it is not able to draw taxation directly from its citizens, and instead receives its budget from the Polish national government whose seat is in Warsaw.

The city's current mayor is Jacek Sutryk, who has served in this position since 2018. The first mayor of Wroc?aw after the war was Boles?aw Drobner, appointed to the position on March 14, 1945, before the surrender of Festung Breslau.


Sky Tower is one of the tallest buildings in Poland. It offers office, commercial, residential and recreational space.

Wroc?aw is the second-wealthiest of the large cities in Poland after Warsaw.[128] The city is also home to the largest number of leasing and debt collection companies in the country, including the largest European Leasing Fund as well as numerous banks. Due to the proximity of the borders with Germany and the Czech Republic, Wroc?aw and the region of Lower Silesia is a large import and export partner with these countries.

Wroc?aw's industry manufactures buses, railroad cars, home appliances, chemicals, and electronics. The city houses factories and development centers of many foreign and domestic corporations, such as WAGO Kontakttechnik, Siemens, Bosch, Whirlpool Corporation, Nokia Networks, Volvo, HP, IBM, Google, Opera Software, Bombardier Transportation, WABCO and others. Wroc?aw is also the location of offices for large Polish companies including Getin Holding, AmRest, Polmos, and MCI Management SA. Additionally, Kaufland Poland has its main headquarters in the city.[129]

Since the beginning of the 21st century, the city has had a developing high-tech sector. Many high-tech companies are located in the Wroc?aw Technology Park, such as Baluff, CIT Engineering, Caisson Elektronik, ContiTech, Ericsson, Innovative Software Technologies, IBM, IT-MED, IT Sector, LiveChat Software, Mitsubishi Electric, Maas, PGS Software, Technology Transfer Agency Techtra and Vratis. In Biskupice Podgórne (Community Kobierzyce) there are factories of LG (LG Display, LG Electronics, LG Chem, LG Innotek), Dong Seo Display, Dong Yang Electronics, Toshiba, and many other companies, mainly from the electronics and home appliances sectors, while the Nowa Wie? Wroc?awska factory and distribution center of Nestlé Purina and factories a few other enterprises.

Petersdorff Department Store designed by Erich Mendelsohn

The city is the seat of Wroc?aw Research Centre EIT+, which contains, inter alia, geological research laboratories to the unconventional and Lower Silesian Cluster of Nanotechnology.[130] The logistics centers DHL, FedEx and UPS are based in Wroc?aw.[131] Furthermore, it is a major center for the pharmaceutical industry (U.S. Pharmacia, Hasco-Lek, Galena, Avec Pharma, 3M, Labor, S-Lab, Herbapol, and Cezal).

Wroc?aw is home to Poland's largest shopping mall - Bielany Avenue (pl. Aleja Bielany) and Bielany Trade Center, located in Bielany Wroc?awskie where stores such as Auchan, Decathlon, Leroy Merlin, Makro, Tesco, IKEA, Jula, OBI, Castorama, Black Red White, Poco, E. Wedel, Cargill, Prologis and Panattoni can be found.[132]

In February 2013, Qatar Airways launched its Wroc?aw European Customer Service.[133]

Major corporations

Shopping malls

Wroclavia Shopping Mall with a central bus station located underground


Map of Wroc?aw illustrating the A8 bypass and surrounding arterial roads

Wroc?aw is a major transport hub, situated at the crossroad of many routes linking Western and Central Europe with the rest of Poland.[137] The city is skirted on the south by the A4 highway, which is part of the European route E40, extending from the Polish-German to the Polish-Ukrainian border across southern Poland. The 672-kilometre highway beginning at J?drzychowice connects Lower Silesia with Opole and the industrial Upper Silesian metropolis, Kraków, Tarnów and Rzeszów. It also provides easy access to German cities such as Dresden, Leipzig, Magdeburg and with the A18 highway Berlin, Hamburg.[137]

The toll-free A8 bypass (Wroc?aw ring road) around the west and north of the city connects the A4 highway with three major routes - S5 expressway leading to Pozna?, Bydgoszcz; the S8 express road towards Ole?nica, ?ód?, Warsaw, Bia?ystok; and the National Road 8 to Prague, Brno and other townships in the Czech Republic.

Traffic congestion is a significant issue in Wroc?aw as in most Polish cities; in early 2020 it was ranked as the fifth-most congested city in Poland, and 41st in the world.[138] On average, a car driver in Wroc?aw annually spends 7 days and 2 hours in a traffic jam.[139] Roadblocks, gridlocks and narrow cobblestone streets around the Old Town are considerable obstacles for drivers. The lack of parking space is also a major setback; private lots or on-street pay bays are the most common means of parking.[140] A study in 2019 has revealed that there are approximately 130 vehicles per each parking spot, and the search for an unoccupied bay takes on average 8 minutes.[141]


The city is served by Copernicus Airport Wroc?aw (coded WRO), situated around 10 kilometres southwest from the central precinct. The airport handles passenger flights with LOT Polish Airlines, Buzz, Ryanair, Wizz Air, Lufthansa, Eurowings, Air France, KLM, Scandinavian Airlines, Swiss International Air Lines and air cargo connections. In 2019 over a 3.5 million passengers passed through the airport, placing it fifth on the list of busiest airports in Poland.[142][143] Among the permanent and traditional destinations are Warsaw, Amsterdam, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt am Main, Zürich and Budapest.[144] Low-cost flights are common among British, Italian, Spanish and Ukrainian travellers, based on the number of destinations.[144] Seasonal charter flights are primarily targeted at Polish holidaymakers travelling to Southern Europe and North Africa.[144]

Rail and bus

The main rail station is Wroc?aw G?ówny, which is the largest railway station in Poland by the number of passengers served (21,2 million passengers a year), and perhaps the most important railroad junction alongside Warsaw Central station.[145] The station is supported by PKP Intercity, Polregio, Koleje Dolno?l?skie and Leo Express. There are direct connections to Szczecin, Pozna?, and to Warsaw Central through ?ód? Fabryczna station. There is also a regular connection to Berlin Hauptbahnhof and Wien Hauptbahnhof (Vienna), as well as indirect to Praha hlavní nádra?í (Prague) and Budapest-Nyugati with one transfer depending on the carrier.

Adjacent to the railway station, is a central bus station located in the basement of the shopping mall "Wroclavia", with services offered by PKS, Neobus, Flixbus, Sindbad, and others.[146][147]

Public transport

As of 2020, the public transport in Wroc?aw comprises 99 bus lines and a well-developed network of 23 tram lines (with a length over 200 kilometres) operated by the Municipal Transport Company "MPK" (Miejskie Przedsi?biorstwo Komunikacyjne).[148][149] Rides are paid for, tickets can be purchased in kiosks and vending machines, which are located at bus stops, as well as in the vending machines located in the vehicle (payment contactless payment card, the ticket is saved on the card). The tickets are available for purchase in the electronic form via mobile (mobile app: mPay, Apple Pay, SkyCash, Mobill, Google Pay). Tickets are one-ride or temporary (0.25h, 0.5h, 1h, 1.5h, 24h, 48h, 72h, 168h).

Over a dozen traditional taxicab firms operate in the city as well as Uber, iTaxi, Bolt and Free Now.


Wroc?aw City Bike

There are 1200 km of cycling paths including about 100 km paths on flood embankments. Wroc?aw has a bike rental network called the City Bike (Wroc?awski Rower Miejski). It has 2000 bicycles and 200 self-service stations.[150] In addition to regular bicycles, tandem, cargo, electric, folding, tricycles, children's, and handbikes are available, operating every year from 1 March to 30 November. During winter (December - February) 200 bikes are available in the system.

Wroc?aw possesses a scooter-sharing system of Lime, Bird, Bolt and Hive Free Now - motorized scooter rental is available using a mobile application.

Electronic car rental systems include "Traficar", "Panek CarSharing" (hybrid cars),[151][152] "GoScooter" and "hop.city" electric scooters using the mobile application.

A gondola lift over the Oder called "Polinka" began operation in 2013.[153] Wroc?aw also has a river port on the Oder and several marinas.


In December 2020, the population of Wroc?aw was estimated at 641,928 individuals, of which 342,215 were women and 299,713 were men.[1] Since 2011, the population has been steadily rising, with a 0.142% increase between 2019 and 2020, and a 2.167% increase in the years 2011-2020.[154] In 2018, the crude birth rate stood at 11.8 and the mortality rate at 11.1 per 1,000 residents.[155] The median age in 2018 was 43 years.[156] The city's population is aging significantly; between 2013 and 2018, the number of seniors (per Statistics Poland - men aged 65 or above and women aged 60 or above) surged from 21.5% to 24.2%.[155]

Historically, the city's population grew rapidly throughout the 19th and 20th centuries; in the year 1900 approximately 422,709 people were registered as residents and by 1933 the population was already 625,000.[157] The strongest growth was recorded from 1900 to 1910, with almost 100,000 new residents within the city limits. Although the city was overwhelmingly German-speaking, the ethnic composition based on heritage or place of birth was mixed.[158][159] According to a statistical report from 2000, around 43% of all inhabitants in 1910 were born outside Silesia and migrated into the city, mostly from the contemporary regions of Greater Poland (then the Prussian Partition of Poland) or Pomerania.[158] Poles and Jews were among the most prominent active minorities. Simultaneously, the city's territorial expansion and incorporation of surrounding townships further strengthened population growth.[158]

Following the end of the Second World War and post-1945 expulsions of the pre-war population, Wroc?aw became predominantly Polish-speaking. New incomers were primarily resettled from areas in the east which Poland lost (Vilnius and Lviv), or from other provinces, notably the regions of Greater Poland, Lublin, Bia?ystok and Rzeszów.[158] At the end of 1947, the city's population was estimated at roughly 225,000 individuals, most of whom were migrants.[158] German nationals who stayed were either resettled in the late 1940s and 1950s, or assimilated.[160]

Contemporary Wroc?aw has one of the highest concentration of foreigners in Poland alongside Warsaw and Pozna?; a significant majority are migrant workers from Ukraine; others came from Italy, Spain, South Korea, India, Russia and Turkey.[161][162] No exact statistic exists on the number of temporary residents from abroad. Many are students studying at Wroc?aw's schools and institutions of higher learning.



Wroc?aw Cathedral in the oldest district of Ostrów Tumski

Wroc?aw's population is predominantly Roman Catholic, like the rest of Poland. The diocese was founded in the city as early as 1000, it was one of the first dioceses in the country at that time. Now the city is the seat of a Catholic Archdiocese.

Prior to World War II, Breslau was mostly inhabited by Protestants, followed by a large Roman Catholic and a significant Jewish minority. In 1939, of 620,976 inhabitants 368,464 were Protestants (United Protestants; mostly Lutherans and minority Reformed; in the Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union), 193,805 Catholics, 2,135 other Christians and 10,659 Jews. Wroc?aw had the third largest Jewish population of all cities in Germany before the war.[164] Its White Stork Synagogue was completed in 1840,[164] and rededicated in 2010.[164] Four years later, in 2014, it celebrated its first ordination of four rabbis and three cantors since the Holocaust.[164] The Polish authorities together with the German Foreign Minister attended the official ceremony.[164]

White Stork Synagogue, initially opened in 1829

Post-war resettlements from Poland's ethnically and religiously more diverse former eastern territories (known in Polish as Kresy) and the eastern parts of post-1945 Poland (see Operation Vistula) account for a comparatively large portion of Greek Catholics and Orthodox Christians of mostly Ukrainian and Lemko descent. Wroc?aw is also unique for its "Dzielnica Czterech ?wi?ty?" (Borough of Four Temples) -- a part of Stare Miasto (Old Town) where a Synagogue, a Lutheran Church, a Roman Catholic church and an Eastern Orthodox church stand near each other. Other Christian denominations present in Wroc?aw include Adventists, Baptists, Free Christians, Jehovah's Witnesses, Latter-day Saints, Methodists and Pentecostals. There are also minor associations practicing and promoting Rodnovery neopaganism.[165][166]

In 2007, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Wroc?aw established the Pastoral Centre for English Speakers, which offers Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, as well as other sacraments, fellowship, retreats, catechesis and pastoral care for all English-speaking Catholics and non-Catholics interested in the Catholic Church. The Pastoral Centre is under the care of Order of Friars Minor, Conventual (Franciscans) of the Kraków Province in the parish of St Charles Borromeo (?w Karol Boromeusz).[167]


Wroc?aw University of Technology - Faculty of Architecture

Wroc?aw is the third largest educational centre of Poland, with 135,000 students in 30 colleges which employ some 7,400 staff.[168] List of ten public colleges and universities:

Private universities:

Other cultural institutions:

Culture and landmarks

Old Town

The Old Town of Wroc?aw is listed in the Registry of Objects of Cultural Heritage and is, since 1994, on Poland's prestigious list of National Monuments.[185] Several architectural landmarks and edifices are one of the best examples of Brick Gothic and Baroque architecture in the country.[186] Fine examples of Neoclassicism, Gründerzeit and Historicism are also scattered across the city's central precinct. The Wroc?aw Opera House, Monopol Hotel, University Library, Ossolineum, the National Museum and the castle-like District Court are among some of the grandest and most recognizable historic structures. There are several examples of Art Nouveau and Modernism in pre-war retail establishments such as the Barasch-Feniks, Petersdorff-Kameleon and Renoma department stores.[187]

The Ostrów Tumski (Cathedral Island) is the oldest section of the city; it was once an isolated islet between the branches of the Oder River. The Wroc?aw Cathedral, one of the tallest churches in Poland, was erected in the mid 10th century and later expanded over the next hundreds of years. The island is also home to five other Christian temples and churches, the Archbishop's Palace, the Archdiocese Museum, a 9.5-metre 18th-century monument dedicated to Saint John of Nepomuk, historic tenements and the steel Tumski Bridge from 1889.[188][189] A notable attraction are 102 original gas lanterns which are manually lit each evening by a cloaked lamplighter.[190]

The early 13th-century Main Market Square (Rynek) is the oldest medieval public square in Poland, and also one of the largest.[191] It features the ornate Gothic Old Town Hall, the oldest of its kind in the country.[191] In the north-west corner of the square is St. Elisabeth's Church (Bazylika ?w. El?biety) with its 91.5-metre-high tower and an observation deck at an altitude of 75 metres. Beneath the basilica are two small medieval houses connected by an arched gate that once led into a churchyard; these were reshaped into their current form in the 1700s. Today, the two connected buildings are known to the city's residents as "Ja? i Ma?gosia", named after the children's fairy tale characters from Hansel and Gretel.[192] North of the church are so-called "shambles" (Polish: jatki), a former meat market with a Monument of Remembrance for Slaughtered Animals.[193] The Salt Square (now a flower market) opened in 1242 is located at the south-western corner of the Market Square - close to the square, between Szewska and ?aciarska streets, is the domeless 13th-century St. Mary Magdalene Church, which during the Reformation (1523) was converted into Wroc?aw's first Protestant temple.[194]

The Cathedral of St. Vincent and St. James and the Holy Cross and St. Bartholomew's Collegiate Church are burial sites of Polish monarchs, Henry II the Pious and Henry IV Probus, respectively.[195]

The Pan Tadeusz Museum, open since May 2016, is located in the "House under the Golden Sun" at 6 Market Square. The manuscript of the national epos, Pan Tadeusz, is housed there as part of the Ossolineum National Institute, with multimedia and interactive educational opportunities.[196]

Tourism and places of interest

The Tourist Information Centre (Polish: Centrum Informacji Turystycznej) is situated on the Main Market Square (Rynek) in building no 14. In 2011, Wroc?aw was visited by about 3 million tourists, and in 2016 about 5 million.[197] Free wireless Internet (Wi-Fi) is available at a number of places around town.[198]

Wroc?aw is a major attraction for both domestic and international tourists. Noteworthy landmarks include the Multimedia Fountain, Szczytnicki Park with its Japanese Garden, miniature park and dinosaur park, the Botanical Garden founded in 1811, Poland's largest railway model Kolejkowo, Hydropolis Centre for Ecological Education, University of Wroc?aw with Mathematical Tower, Church of the Name of Jesus, Wroc?aw water tower, the Royal Palace, ropes course on the Opatowicka Island, White Stork Synagogue, the Old Jewish Cemetery and the Cemetery of Italian Soldiers. An interesting way to explore the city is seeking out Wroc?aw's dwarfs - over 600 small bronze figurines can be found across the city, on pavements, walls and lampposts. They first appeared in 2005.[199]

Wroc?aw Zoo is home to the Africarium - the only space devoted solely to exhibiting the fauna of Africa with an oceanarium. It is the oldest zoological garden in Poland established in 1865. It is also the third-largest zoo in the world in terms of the number of animal species on display.[200]

Small passenger vessels on the Oder offer river tours, as do historic trams or the converted open-topped historic buses Jelcz 043.[201]

The Centennial Hall (Hala Stulecia, German: Jahrhunderthalle), designed by Max Berg in 1911-1913, is a World Heritage Site listed by UNESCO in 2006.[202]


?widnica Cellar (Piwnica ?widnicka), one of the oldest restaurant establishments in Europe.[203]

The city is well known for its large number of nightclubs and pubs. Many are in or near the Market Square, and in the Niepolda passage, the railway wharf on the Bogus?awskiego street. The basement of the old City Hall houses one of the oldest restaurants in Europe--Piwnica ?widnicka (operating since around 1273),[203] while the basement of the new City Hall contains the brewpub Spi?. There are many other craft breweries in Wroc?aw: three brewpubs - Browar Stu Mostów, Browar Staromiejski Z?oty Pies, Browar Rodzinny Prost; two microbrewery - Profesja and Warsztat Piwowarski; and seven contract breweries - Doctor Brew, Genius Loci, Solipiwko, Pol A Czech, Baba Jaga, wBrew and Wielka Wyspa. Every year on the second weekend of June the Festival of Good Beer takes place.[204] It is the biggest beer festival in Poland.[204]

Each year in November and December the Christmas market is held at the Main Market Square.[205]


The National Museum at Powsta?ców Warszawy Square, one of Poland's main branches of the National Museum system, holds one of the largest collections of contemporary art in the country.[206]

Interior of the National Museum

Ossolineum is a National Institute and Library incorporating the Lubomirski Museum (pl), partially salvaged from the formerly Polish city of Lwów (now Lviv in Ukraine), containing items of international and national significance. It has a history of major World War II theft of collections after the invasion and takeover of Lwów by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

Major museums also include the City Museum of Wroc?aw (pl), Museum of Bourgeois Art in the Old Town Hall, Museum of Architecture, Archaeological Museum (pl), Museum of Natural History at University of Wroc?aw, Museum of Contemporary Art in Wroc?aw, Archdiocese Museum (pl), Galeria Awangarda, the Arsenal, Museum of Pharmacy (pl), Post and Telecommunications Museum (pl), Geological Museum (pl), the Mineralogical Museum (pl), Ethnographic Museum (pl).

Wroc?aw in literature

Prominent writers from Wroc?aw, clockwise from upper left: Hauptmann, Mommsen, Tokarczuk and Krajewski

The history of Wroc?aw is described in minute detail in the monograph Microcosm: Portrait of a Central European City by Norman Davies and Roger Moorhouse.[207] A number of books have been written about Wroc?aw following World War II.

Wroc?aw philologist and writer Marek Krajewski wrote a series of crime novels about detective Eberhard Mock, a fictional character from the city of Breslau.[208] Accordingly, Micha? Kaczmarek published Wroc?aw according to Eberhard Mock - Guide based on the books by Marek Krajewski. In 2011 appeared the 1104-page Lexicon of the architecture of Wroc?aw and in 2013 a 960-page Lexicon about the greenery of Wroc?aw. In March 2015 Wroc?aw filed an application to become a UNESCO's City of Literature[209] and received it in 2019.

Films, music and theatre

Wroc?aw is home to the Audiovisual Technology Center (formerly Wytwórnia Filmów Fabularnych), the Film Stuntman School, ATM Grupa, Grupa 13, and Tako Media.[210]

Film directors Andrzej Wajda, Krzysztof Kie?lowski, Sylwester Ch?ci?ski, among others, made their film debuts in Wroc?aw. Numerous movies shot around the city include Ashes and Diamonds, The Saragossa Manuscript, Sami swoi, Lalka, A Lonely Woman, Character, Aimée & Jaguar, Avalon, A Woman in Berlin, Suicide Room, The Winner, 80 Million, Run Boy Run, Bridge of Spies and Breaking the Limits.[211]

Numerous Polish TV-series were also shot in Wroc?aw, notably ?wiat wed?ug Kiepskich, Pierwsza mi?o, Belfer, and Four Tank-Men and a Dog.

There are several theatres and theatre groups, including Polish Theatre (Teatr Polski) with three stages, and Contemporary Theatre (Wroc?awski Teatr Wspó?czesny). The International Theatre Festival Dialog-Wroc?aw is held every 2 years.[212]

Wroc?aw's opera traditions are dating back to the first half of the seventeenth century and sustained by the Wroc?aw Opera, built between 1839 and 1841. Wroc?aw Philharmonic, established in 1954 by Wojciech Dzieduszycki is also important for music lovers. The National Forum of Music was opened in 2015 and is a famous landmark, designed by the Polish architectural firm, Kurylowicz & Associates.[213]


The area of Wroc?aw is home to many popular professional sports teams; the most popular sport is football (?l?sk Wroc?aw club - Polish Champion in 1977 and 2012), followed by basketball (?l?sk Wroc?aw Basketball Club - award-winning men's basketball team and 17-time Polish Champion).[214]

Matches of Group A UEFA Euro 2012's were held at Wroc?aw at the Municipal Stadium. Matches of EuroBasket 1963 and EuroBasket 2009, as well as 2009 Women's European Volleyball Championship, 2014 FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship and 2016 European Men's Handball Championship were also held in Wroc?aw. Wroc?aw was the host of the 2013 World Weightlifting Championships and will the host World Championship 2016 of Duplicate bridge and World Games 2017, a competition in 37 non-Olympic sport disciplines.

The Olympic Stadium in Wroc?aw hosts the Speedway Grand Prix of Poland. It is also the home arena of the popular motorcycle speedway club WTS Sparta Wroc?aw, four-time Polish Champion.

A marathon takes place in Wroc?aw every year in September.[215] Wroc?aw also hosts the Wroc?aw Open, a professional tennis tournament that is part of the ATP Challenger Tour.

Men's sports

Women's sports

Notable people

Twin towns - sister cities

Wroc?aw is twinned with:[218]

See also


  1. ^ English pronunciation:
  2. ^ Latin: Vratislavia, Wratislavia.


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