Formerly Breslau, Wroclaw returned to Polish hands in a land trade-off at the end of WWII. In nearly 1000 years of history, it has served many masters and its (rebuilt) sights attest to this. The many museums will give you a taste for the past, and the galleries a sense of the present. For the animal lovers, the Zoo is a must-see — big, lots of animals, petting zoo included — what more could you want? If walking around the Zoo works up a sweat, cool off in one of the many recreation spots, or enjoy a leisurely shower in your hotel. Dinner in a nice restaurant and an evening of music or dancing in the night clubs should round out the day nicely.




Two cities in one, Wroclaw combines a German past with a Polish present. Initially an isle-based market town under no particular ruler, Wroclaw was blessed with a bishopric from the new Polish nation almost a millenium ago. But this early claim by Poland quickly came under attack when a century later the Poles effectively fought off the Germans. Their defeat, this time, was so decisive that Henry V’s troops exited too quickly to gather up their dead and dying, leaving them as fodder for the dogs. Hence even today the battlefield is called ‘Dog’s Field’.

Failure on the battlefield was followed by a different type of advance: Germans began settling in the area, and their strength in numbers proved sufficient to rename Wroclaw ‘Breslau’ when this region fragmented into independent duchies in the following century. Connections with the west deepened when Breslau joined the Hanseatic League, and its bishop became a prince under the Holy Roman Empire.

This changing of hands continued until the present day: in 1335, the Bohemian kings took over, then in 1526 the Austrian Hapsburgs, and finally in 1763 the Prussians. At this point, Breslau tolerantly contained a mixed religious and ethnic population, but it developed into a predominantly German city.

So German that when WWII wound down, Nazis spent 4 months under siege here, leaving 70% of the town in ruins when the Soviets finally broke through. And, so German that Poland did not claim it when the war ended; its tiny Polish population and centuries-long rule by others left it without strong ties to the newly-drawn Poland. Its transfer arose from compromise. The Soviets got some of the east, and to compensate, Poland got some of the west. The now-Ukrainian town of L’viv (once Lwow) emptied of Poles who then moved on to fill the equally emptied Wroclaw. Since the war, Wroclaw has been rebuilt and now displays its long multinational tradition in industry and architecture.


Odra River
A natural site worth seeing, the Odra River bisects Wroclaw. The city owes its origins to the river: it was this watery route that transported goods to and from this early market town.
Hala Targowa
Wroclaw remains a market town. An updated version of the 1908 original, the Market Hall offers a colorful variety of food and other essentials.
Town Hall
Symbol of Wroclaw for 700 plus years, the Town Hall owes its beginnings to a Tartar sacking. Originally a simple affair, the Hall was added to over the centuries until it fully reflected Wroclaw’s position as an important European trading center.
Market Square
Like most post-war towns in Poland, ‘old’ refers more to historic age than reality. Although Wroclaw suffered damage in WWII, its sparkling new ‘Old Town’ proves what a little effort can achieve. Originally established in the 13th century, the present day square remains one of the largest in Europe.
Old meets New
A common site in this millennial-aged city, old contrasts with new as Wroclaw once again rebuilds it past and builds its future.
Wroclaw University
Built in the 18th century, this Baroque masterpiece sits on the site of the old defensive castle. Its crowning glory is the main assembly hall which pulls together the various contributions of the Baroque period to splendid effect. You can also enjoy a view of the city from the observation tower perched on top.
Panorama of Raclawice Battle
So big it required a home of its own, this bigger than big painting glorifies the defeat of Russian troops by Kosciuszko and his bravely insurgent army in the year before Poland was fully partitioned. This painting is yet another contribution from the displaced citizens of Lwow.
Ostrow Tumski Bridge
Constructed at the end of the last century, the Ostrow Tumski Bridge joins the religiously-dominated island with the rest of the city. Cross this bridge to reach the oldest part of Wroclaw where trade initially began and now churches abound.
Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
While the site is original, the Cathedral is the fourth to be built on it. The first church housed the newly appointed bishop of Wroclaw, while this version was the first done in Gothic style. Mostly destroyed in WWII, it has been renovated since.
The Houses
of Johnny and Maggie
Two tiny 16th century Baroque houses called ‘Jas and Malgosia’ in Polish mark the gateway to the Church of St. Elizabeth.
Church of St. Elizabeth
You cannot miss the 90 m tower which took a century and a half to build. This Gothic beauty remains one of Wroclaw’s most incredible churches, despite the considerable competition.
along the Odra
Enjoy a watery respite after a long day of sightseeing in this docked steam boat-cum-cafe.

Wrocław ZOO

ul. Wroblewskiego 1
tel. 48 30 24-26
fax. 48 37 68
open from 9-dusk
admission costs 5 zl. with lower rates and annual tickets available

If its lions, tigers, and bears you want, then visit the Wroclaw Zoo: it currently houses over 4000 animals representing almost 600 different species. That includes lions, and tigers, and bears. The Zoo opened in 1865, grew slowly over the next 40 years due to its remote location (at the time), and then in a burst of new century enthusiasm, expanded rapidly in the first decade of the 20th century.

But that growth spurt halted during both wars, and at the end of the second, the Zoo reopened yet again with only 150 animals. Having beautifully recovered since, today the Zoo offers you: a petting zoo, an African safari-like open range, bears, big cats, small mammals, elephants, birds, monkeys (the orangy orangutan picture courtesy of Wroclaw Zoological Garden Guide), deer, reptiles, and an aquarium. The Zoo not only takes care of these animals, but also runs a successful breeding program (over 100 species now breed in captivity here), research programs, and a number of activities intended to better acquaint the human animal with its cousins.

You can take tram 1, 2, 4, or 10, or bus ‘E’, 145, or 146 to get to the Zoo. Parking is in the People’s Hall across from the Zoo.