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The southern Polish city of Wroclaw (Breslau in German) isn’t normally near the top of most travelers’ list of must-see places in the region, but it certainly should be. With more than 600,000 inhabitants, a history going back over 1000 years to the birth of the Polish nation and a carefully reconstructed historical center (most of which was flattened during WWII) this student city is lively and engaging, historically fascinating and delightfully Mitteleuropa. Located in Silesia, a region divided between Poland, the Czech Republic and Germany, Wroclaw has changed hands many times, belonging over the centuries to Poland, Bohemia and Prussia. ...

The southern Polish city of Wroclaw (Breslau in German) isn’t normally near the top of most travelers’ list of must-see places in the region, but it certainly should be. With more than 600,000 inhabitants, a history going back over 1000 years to the birth of the Polish nation and a carefully reconstructed historical center (most of which was flattened during WWII) this student city is lively and engaging, historically fascinating and delightfully Mitteleuropa. Located in Silesia, a region divided between Poland, the Czech Republic and Germany, Wroclaw has changed hands many times, belonging over the centuries to Poland, Bohemia and Prussia. This has bequeathed the city some striking architecture and a typically central European tangle of historical associations. Fans of Gothic and Baroque architecture risk sensory overload in Wroclaw’s churches and cathedrals, and those with a bent for military history shouldn’t miss the Racławice Panorama, a 360-degree 3D scene depicting the 1794 Battle of Racławice, which saw a ragtag Polish army defeat the mighty Russian imperial forces. Recently another army has invaded Wroclaw city center – this time a horde of bronze gnomes that can be found throughout the central area. Pick up a special map from the tourist office and head out on a gnome-spotting tour.

Marc Di Duca
About the Expert

Marc Di Duca has written and updated more than 40 guides, mainly for Lonely Planet but also for AA, Thomas Cook, Berlitz and Bradt. Having spent the last 20 years exploring the former communist world, his main field of expertise is Eastern Europe and Siberia.

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Late spring to early autumn