Walk in Wroc豉w: Market Square and 安idnicka Street

Market Square is a heart of Wroc豉w. Along with 安idnicka and Kazimierza Wielkiego streets, it's a favorite place of both locals and tourists. No wonder! Walking the streets among old and fabulous buildings must be amazing. Find out for yourself - take a tour down the 安idnicka Street trail and make sure to visit the Market Square.

Market Square: St. Elizabeth's Church

Market Square: St. Elizabeth's Church

The full name is St. Elisabeth's of Hungary Basilica though it is also called Garrison Church or St. Elisabeth's Parish Church. It is the seat of the Deanery of Silesian Military District. This 14th century church is situated near Market Square and is one of Wroclaw's biggest churches. It was founded by Prince Boleslav III and originally belonged to Red Star Crusaders i.e. Hospital Brothers who lead St. Elisabeth's Hospice. Later it became one of two parish churches in the city (besides St. Magdalene's). For a very long time it was famous for its extremely tall tower built in 15th century, spire-shaped of height of 130m, being one of the tallest in the world at that time. Unfortunately, in 1529 there was a strong gale which knocked down the

dome with the spire onto the cemetery near the church. The event was commemorated with the plaque at the feet of the tower. It was rebuilt between 1531 and 1535 in Renaissance style and the shape which can still be seen today. It is not as tall as it used to be, it still impresses, though. During the Reformation the church was taken over by Protestants. It was taken under Ambrose Moiban's wings, Martin Luther's friend. While the French army was conquering the city at the turn of 1806/1807, artillery fire damaged the dome, the roof of the church and the chapel, causing a lot of damage in the library, too. It took over a decade to restore the church. Nevertheless it was the fire which brought the worst destruction to the church, not wars or battles. On 20 September 1975 a fire started which consumed the upper part of the tower. During the restoration works a blaze started whose consequences were far more terrible: on 9 September 1976 the whole church caught fire. The losses were horrifying: the magnificent organ built between 1750 and 1761 by Michael Engler and his son and by Gottlieba Zieglera who finished the work after Engler's death, burned completely. The reconstruction started in 1981 and lasted until 1997. The renovated church was consecrated by Pope John Paul II during his visit to Poland. The reconstruction works have not finished, though. The chapels and the furnishings are being restored as well as epitaphs inside and outside the church. A new organ is planned to be built, too. This Gothic church is worth a visit also because of the observation deck on the top of the tower where a splendid panoramic view of Wroclaw and its surroundings can be enjoyed.

Old Market Sqaure and City Hall

Old Market Sqaure

Of course, it is just a medieval market square which has turned into a popular tourist attraction and a promenade. It is one of Europe's largest old market squares. It is rectangular with dimension of 205m long and 175 m wide. It was created along with the location of Wroclaw between 1214 and 1232 during the times of Henry The Bearded, being one of the few places in the city where retail merchandise was allowed. As years went by, first detached patrician houses were built, then the complete frontages appeared until 1350. The houses around Market Square were altered and redecorated many times over the ages and at present they all represent various styles and ages. The most important is the central complex which consists of City Hall, New City Hall and a number of tenement houses. There also used to be a cloth hall but it was demolished between 1821-1824 after the trade privileges were done away and it was replaced with Classical houses. In one of the buildings of the complex there was Jerzy Grotowski's Teatr Laboratorium where now there is research centre of his artistic activity. There are eleven streets leading to Market Square, two in each corner (安idnicka, O豉wska, Gepperta, Ruska, 鈍. Miko豉ja, Odrza雟ka, Ku幡icza, WitaStwosza), besides there is also KurzyTarg (Hens Market Square) on the east side built in 14th or 15th century and two narrow streets of Wi瞛ienna and 安. Doroty. Since 19th century until mid 1970s there was a tram line on the market which later was moved to Trasa WZ (East-West Street). After the great renovation between 1996-2000 which included the market surface and the elevations, cars were banned on the east side of Market Square. One will surely be attracted by the intriguing names of houses e.g. House Under Griffins with a tall Mannerism gable, probably the most magnificent in Market Square, House Under Golden Eagle, Under Golden Sun, Under Blue Sun, Under Seven Prince-Electors with its richly decorated frescos, Houses Under Old Gallows, Under Golden Pitcher, Under Green Pumpkin, Under Golden Pelican, Under Mulberry or Under St. John's Head which took the name of the previous houses demolished in 19th century. Two little houses in the north-west corner cannot be missed - they used to belong to the altarists taking care of the altar in St. Elisabeth's Church. At present they are linked with an arcade gate and are playfully called Hansel and Gretel.

City Hall

In 1261 when Wroclaw was under Magdeburg Law, the first City Hall was built. It had one storey, cellars and a tower on the west side. Townsmen gathered there every year to elect 11 jurors and 8 councillors. During the year the building was used for trade purposes. When between 1327 and 1329 the city purchased alderman's rights and was exempted from the obligation of swearing an oath to the prince, Jurors' Room and Council Room were built in one of the corners. The city hall grew larger and larger to achieve its present size and shape between 1470 and 1510 which has been preserved thanks to numerous restorations from the 19th until 21st centuries. Nowadays it is one of Poland's best preserved historical city halls in Poland, being at the same time one of Wroclaw's most precious architectural monuments. This beautiful building resembles a prince's castle with its rich reliefs and ornaments on the elevations and in the interiors, among which stand out Townsmen Hall, Court Hall, Jurors' Office Room and Jurors' Room, Council Office Room and Council Room, and Alderman's Room. The Great Hall takes up the major part of the first floor and has a beautifully decorated vault with 161 carved keystones. Its decoration was to represent the political power of the city. The former City Hall houses Historical Museum of Wroclaw City, specifically - Museum of Burgess Art. All of the rooms mentioned above are open to visitors. The eastern fa蓷de of City Hall is part of Wroclaw's logo and is easily recognized Wroclaw's mark. In the cellars there is Piwnica 安idnicka (Cellar of 安idnica), one of the oldest eating places in Europe.

Market Sqaure: Aleksander Fredro Statue

Market Sqaure: Aleksander Fredro Statue

It comes from Lviv and has stood on Wroclaw Market Square since 1956. It replaced Emperor Frederic Wilhelm III's statue in front of City Hall. It was cast in bronze and represents the poet in a sitting position, wearing a Polish robe, holding a roll of paper and a quill. It is placed on a tall sandstone pedestal covered with inscriptions on three sides. It was designed by Leonard Marconi, founded by Lviv's Literary and Artistic Circle and built in 1879. It stood in Lvov until 1945, then it was transported to Wilan闚 in Warsaw and finally brought to Wroclaw. It was unveiled to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the poet's death. It has become a favourite meeting point and the centre of artistic events.

Solny Square (Salt Square)

Solny Square (Salt Square)

This medieval market square was created in 1242 when after the Mongolian Deluge the city was re-located. It was slightly bigger than today, it dimensions were 84,5m long and 94m wide. During the ages it had different names: Polish Market Square, Salt Market Square, Salt Square and then in 1827 it became Blcher Square as Field Marshal Blcher's Statue was erected there. It regained its historical name after World War II. One corner of Solny Square meets with Market Square, in the others begin two streets of Gepperta, Ofiar O鈍i璚imskich, Ruska and Kie豚a郾icza. The south-western corner is closed. There are no buildings on the square and it is surrounded by historical tenement houses, a former early 20th century department store, a skyscraper built between 1930-1932 by Heinricha Rump, the Pharmacy Under the Moor and the Classical building of the Old Stock Market which takes up half of the southern frontage. It was built in 1822 and designed by Carla Ferdinanda Langhansa. The western frontage which seems to be the oldest, is a post-war reconstruction of 19th century architecture in fact. There is an interesting area beneath the square. There is a 1000m2 bunker with room for up to 300 people. During the war it had its own toilets, sewage system and two exits. One of them can currently be found in the female toilet. The underground structure was built by Richard Konwiarz. On the square there is a fountain and a spire by Adam Wyspia雟ki, including the one in Centennial Hall. One can also enjoy a variety of aromas as there is a flower market on the square, too.

安idnicka Street: Brama 安idnicka (安idnicka Gate)

Brama 安idnicka (安idnicka Gate)

During the Middle Ages Wroclaw was a fortress and it was secured by two lines of walls, then 安idnicka Gate was one of the main gates to the city. It led south to 安idnica. In fact, there were two gates: the older one, on the interior line, built in the second half of the 13th century, had the form of a tower and was square-based; the newer one, on the exterior line, was built at the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries. Later it was rebuilt a number of times until the 17th century along with all system of fortification. The fifth version of the gate, from 1693, was a triumphal arch with Wroclaw's coat of arms above the entrance. It was rebuilt again in the middle of the 18th century but after Napoleon's siege of Wroclaw the victorious French leader ordered the city walls to be demolished and 安idnicka Gate stopped existing. What is preserved until today is the guardroom which was built during the 18th century renovation. It was redesigned in 1844 in Neo-Renaissance Florence style and kept its military character as it housed the General Police Chief Office. Nowadays the guardroom has become a little art gallery.

安idnicka Street: St. Mary Magdalene's Church

安idnicka Street: St. Mary Magdalene's Church

It was one of Wroclaw's two medieval parish churches, besides St. Elisabeth's Church. At the end of the 11th century a small church was built and used by Dominicans. In 1226 they moved to St. Adalbert's Church which made the one they left a parish church. The small building was immediately demolished and a new Romanesque one dedicated to St. Andrew Apostle and St. Mary Magdalene was built. It lasted only 9 years though, until the Mongolian Deluge. Another church was built between 1242 and 1248; however it burned down in 1342. Then it was decided to erect a large late Gothic one, using surviving fragments of previous churches. It was built between 1342 and 1362 gaining its present appearance, except for the upper parts of the towers. It is 62.8m long, 32.1m wide, the nave is 22.9m tall and the aisles 9.4m tall. The towers were finished much later, in the 15th century. Their distinctive feature is Witches' Bridge, also called Penitents' Bridge, linking the two towers on their upper level. It was mentioned in documents already in 1459. Two cone domes covered with lead were completed in 1481. A famous Sinner's Bell, Silesian's biggest one of the perimeter of 6.3m and the internal height of 1.8m was placed in the southern tower in 1386. It was destroyed in 1945, unfortunately. The church used to be richly decorated, it was enlarged in 1512 and had 16 chapels and 58 altars. It was Protestant from 1523. Yet in 1948 there were Lutheran services. Then it was handed over to the Polish Catholic Church in 1972 after being rebuilt for 10 years. Inside the original 16th century pulpit is preserved. At the turn of the 20th and 21st century the roof was renovated and the coloured chequered pattern of red and green was reconstructed along with Witches' Bridge.

安idnicka Street: Opera


This 19th century building owes its magnificence to three Karls. It was built between 1837-1841 by Karl Ferdinand Langhans, as a municipal theatre which was located there until the end of the 19th century. Originally it was a rather monotonous quadrilateral building with a thick row of windows. However, its modern stage and its auditorium for about 1600 spectators was impressive. 25 years later there was a huge fire and the building needed to be rebuilt. It was accomplished by Karl Ldecke between 1866-1869. The building received some beautiful decoration in the interior. Unfortunately, it burned down again and was rebuilt by Karl Schmidt between 1871 and 1872. At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries the building was taken over by the opera and remained untouched for the next decades, including World War II and the first decade of the People's Republic of Poland. The original busts of German artists (Beethoven, Goethe, Mozart and Schiller) were removed from the fa蓷de, though. They were found politically incorrect. The changes came after Stalin's death although it was rather a coincidence. The building was enlarged from Wolno軼i Square side between 1954 and 1956 (design by Andrzej Frydecki). Soon after that the older part of the building was restored. Even though it has lost a lot of the original design by Langhansa, it is still a glamorous and perfect setting for opera shows. After the previous renovation of 2006 it looks like new, with its rich 19th century ornaments.

安idnicka Street: Boles豉w Chrobry Statue

Boles豉w Chrobry Statue

It stands in 安idnicka Street in the place where until 1945 Emperor Wilhelm I's statue stood. It depicts the first Polish king Boles豉w Chrobry on horseback. It is one of the newest Wroclaw's monuments and it was unveiled on 15th September 2007. It was designed by Dorota Korzeniewska, Maciej Albrzykowski and Gra篡naJaskierska-Albrzykowska on the initiative of Krzysztof W鎩cik, Tomasz Kabat and Krzysztof Mironowicza, founders of Pro Wratislavia Foundation. The interesting thing is that it is Wroclaw's first post-war equestrian statue. Possibly lack of experience let a tiny error creep in, visible for the specialist only, though. They point out that such species of horses did not exist in medieval Europe. The statue is 10m tall including the base. The king's figure and the horse are bronze and weigh altogether about 6.5 tonnes. The king is holding an imperial symbol - St. Maurice's Lance. Around the base there is a bronze ribbon where a map of Europe from 1000 is placed along with some reliefs representing pope Sylvester II, king Otto III, St. Adalbert of Prague and some inscriptions in Polish, German and Czech.

安idnicka Street: Anonymous Pedestrian's Monument

安idnicka Street: Anonymous Pedestrian's Monument

A very original Wroclaw monument, situated on two sides of the junction of 安idnicka and Pi連udski streets. It commemorates establishing the martial law in Poland and was unveiled in the night of 12 and 13 December 2005. It consists of 14 bronze figures, 7 on each side who seem to be emerging from pavings. The author's (Jerzy Kalina) intention was to make a passer-by reflect on time elapsing and the sense of life. What is interesting, it all began with the installation "Crossing" which Jerzy Kalina created for a TV program at the junction of 安i皻okrzyska and Mazowiecka streets in Warsaw. After dismantling the figures were taken to the National Museum of Wroclaw for 28 years and 30 years later it became an inspiration for a new bronze monument.

Market Square area: University Library

University Library

It is the main Wroclaw University library, of course. It is located in three buildings: at 7/9 Szajnocha St., 10 Szajnocha St. and 3/4 安. Jadwiga St. All three buildings are historical, two of them were libraries before World War II. The most important one, from the readers' point of view is at 7/9 Szajnocha St. It is a pseudo-Gothic red-brick building called "Redigeranum", where besides the Main Reading Room there are catalogues, information points, a lending library and the main store house. The library was established in 1945 when a group of scientists directed by professor Stanis豉w Kulczy雟ki arrived in Wroclaw. Its task was to start a new library using the former Municipal Library rooms. Dr Antoni Knot became its first manager, a person from Professor Kulczy雟ki's group. The book collection was created based on surviving, diverse Wroclaw libraries which were partly evacuated outside the city and on various Lower Silesian libraries.

Market Square area: Royal Palace

Royal Palace

It belongs to the Municipal Museum of Wroclaw. It dates back to 1717. The Baroque palace with the garden was built in Viennese style for Baron Heinrich Gottfried Sp酹gen's family. It became royal when it was purchased by Prussian King Frederic II The Great. Royal architect Johann Boumann The Elder adjusted the palace to the king's needs. A new 2-storey wing housing Music Room, Bedroom, Study, Library, Ball Room, Dining Room and Marshal's Room was built, it has not been preserved, though. The interior was decorated with Rococo ornaments. Between 1795 and 1796 King Frederic Wilhelm II ordered Karl Gotthard Langhans to redesign the oldest part of the palace in Classical style. Some more alterations took place during Frederic Wilhelm III's reign in 1809 and then during Frederic Wilhelm IV's reign between 1843 and 1846 when a new southern wing was added in Florence Renaissance style, designed by Berlin architect Friedrich August Stler. A fragment of this building has been luckily preserved. Since 1918 the palace has belonged to the city which decided to open a museum there - which took place on 20th September 1926. The side wings were used by military authorities until 1938 and then became a part of the museum, too. During World War II the palace was destroyed, only the oldest part, former Sp酹gen Palace with its northern wings and a fragment of the southern wing were rebuilt. Between 1963 and 1999 it was a seat of the Archeological Museum and then until 2004 of the Ethnographic Museum. A thorough renovation was finished in 2008 and the modernized building was adjusted for the Municipal Museum of Wroclaw. There are exhibitions such as - 1000 years of Wroclaw's History, "Wroclaw's Fine Arts of 19th and 20th Centuries", some original Baroque bourgeois interiors e.g. Beyersdorf Room, and Oriental Art Collection.

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