When the Polish Tourist Organisation invited me to the Polish city of Wrocław I had no idea what to expect, in fact I had never even heard of it! Of course I googled photos straight away, and that is when excitement set in, and not just because of the rows of colourful buildings. The city is within easy reach from the UK, just under 2 hours from Stansted infact, so door to door, I was able to get there within hours from my own house.
On arrival into Poland I was still pronouncing Wrocław as ”Wro-claw”, because, who wouldn’t!? Turns out I couldn’t have been saying it more wrong. The city is actually pronouced “Vrohts-wahf”, because whilst the Polish alphabet has similarities to the English alphabet, it is not exactly the same. ”W” in Polish is pronounced with an English V and the ”ł” is pronounced as the English W.
Okay now we have that covered, we can talk about the actual city itself! We were picked up from the airport and took a 25 minute transfer to the city centre, not far at all. We were staying at the Novotel Wrocław Centrum and lucky for us our rooms were available to check into early. The hotel looks like any other building from the outside, but inside is like a different world. With a modern, industrial feel the hotel is home to 192 contemporary guest rooms, a fitness centre, sauna, bar and restaurant.
We were staying in an executive room, and it was so nice to leave my bags and grab a shower before lunch. We ate in the Novo Square Lounge Bar which is a medium sized restaurant next to the bar. The menu offered a range of international dishes so I, being the cultural gal I am, opted for a Club Sandwich with a side of fries (very tasty).
We then had a guide who took us on a walking tour of the city, which is split between old and new. This was a great way to explore the city as it was great walking through the different neighbourhoods and watching both the architecture and history transition. There is a huge amount of history in this one city and I could sit here for hours writing about it, but I will try to keep it short and sweet!
Wrocław started as a Bohemian stronghold situated at the intersection of two long-existing trading routes, the Via Regia and the Amber Road. The city was first recorded in the 10th century as Vratislavia, thought to have derived from the name of the Bohemian duke Vratislav I. In 1241 the city was destroyed after the Mongols invaded eastern Europe, the city was then rebuilt south of the river and a new market square was put into place which began to flourish again.
The city has changed hands over the years, being took over by the Czechs then the Hapsburg Empire in 1526 when many of the city’s recognisable buildings were constructed. In 1741, Wroclaw then became part of Prussia, Frederick the Great decided the whole of Silesia would be his and the city’s name changed to Breslau, it then later became part of Germany (the German border is still fairly close today).
The city has an important educational background, an academy was founded in 1702 which later became Wroclaw University in 1811 and the city began to flourish even quicker. During WWII the city was turned into a fortress by the Germans and it was besieged by the Russians in 1945 during which Wroclaw was destroyed (largely by the Germans in fact). Germany later surrendered the city and it became part of Poland again, the Germans were expelled and the city rebuilt. Today the city is thriving, with increasing industries in manufacturing and hi tech. It has also become a popular tourist destination, particularly amongst the Czechs, Germans and Spanish who are all very much welcome in the city today.
Below are just a few snapshots of my time in Wroclaw, if you want to find out more on things to do, check out my Wroclaw Weekend Guide!