Wrocław itself could be called a hidden gem on the map of Poland. Despite its unquestionable beauty, charm, and potential, it is still not as well-known among foreign tourists as Krakow or Warsaw. However, once you decide to take a trip to Wroclaw, it is worth getting to know it deeper and to visit some places that are not so well known among tourists. Here’s presenting the top 10 hidden gems in Wrocław.
1. Neon Gallery
Walking along the streets of Wroclaw, it is sometimes worth to turn off from the main route and look into the surrounding yards. On one of them at Ruska Street, there is a stunning gallery of neon signs. Currently, there are over 20 neon signs that come from the collection of Neon Side Wrocław Foundation. Thanks to its activity, several dozens of historic neon signs from Wroclaw and the surrounding area have been found and restored. You can see their signs that once illuminated the buildings of Wrocław cinemas, hotels, etc. Neon lights can be admired daily, but it is especially worth to go there after dark to see them in all its glory. In the meantime, you can eat or drink something in the bar located next door.
2. Penitent Bridge
The panorama of Wroclaw can be seen from at least a few places. However, probably the most interesting of them is the Penitent Bridge. It is a small bridge at 45 meters, which connects the towers of St. Mary Magdalene Church. The interesting name of the bridge, however, has nothing to do with its former destiny. From the very beginning, it was used as a viewpoint. The name, on the other hand, comes from the legend, according to which the repenting souls of the travelers who died in the city would appear at night on the bridge. It is also known as Witches’ Bridge because of another legend which says that the shadows visible on the bridge are the souls of the girls who used to seduce men without wanting to be married. The bridge is open daily from 10:00 to 18:00, and the admission ticket costs from 2 to 5 PLN.
Leśnica is a distant housing estate about 10 kilometers from the center of Wroclaw, which makes it not very popular and well-known, but it is definitely a place worth visiting. It is a former town, which was incorporated into the borders of Wroclaw in 1928. However, Leśnica retained its small-town character. It is characterized by low buildings, composed mainly of tenements. The most characteristic place, however, is the palace which is the headquarters of Centrum Kultury “Zamek”. It is a cultural institution that organizes numerous sports activities (yoga, dance, aerobics), instrumental classes (piano, guitar) and also art classes. In addition, events and festivals such as the Festival of Good Beer, Fantasy Days or Midsummer Night take place in the palace and the park surrounding it every year.
4. Parrot House
Wrocław is known for its ZOO and Afrykarium, but only some people know that there is also a place entirely reserved for parrots in the city. Parrot House on Ruska Street occupies the entire two-story building where used to be a pub. After reconstruction, it became home to almost 50 parrots from several species. Parrot wings are not pruned, so they can fly freely around the place. They are also happy to come to people and sit on their shoulders. In addition, visitors can feed them using specially prepared grain. The Parrot House is open daily from 10:00 to 19:00. You can buy a normal ticket for 19 PLN, and a half-price ticket for 15 PLN.
5. Backyard with murals on Roosevelt Street
Nadodrze is mainly associated with gray tenement houses, but some people know that real art can hide in their backyards. An example is the yard of tenement houses located at Roosevelt and Jedności Narodowej streets, where a magnificent mural was created. There is a fragment of the paradise garden here – with prehistoric and tropical creatures. Apart from them, there are surreal, mythical and fairy characters. There are an animal corner, an oniric alley and a fragment devoted to the deceased fans of Śląsk Wrocław and historical figures. But the most important part of the mural are the residents of the houses surrounding the yard. The originator of the project was Mariusz Mikołajek, who along with other artists and the help of the residents made the ugly and gray courtyard turn into a magical land full of colors. This example shows that in Wroclaw, miracles can be hidden everywhere.
6. Mammoth’s Park
Wrocław also has some interesting attractions for children. One of them is the Mammoth’s Park (Park Mamuta) located on the Oporów estate, whose main attraction is a huge mammoth shaped fun construction. The mammoth in Wroclaw is over 6 meters high and it was not a coincidence in this place. On the site of today’s park has been found a huge mammoth tusk. The construction consists of climbing walls, ropes, and slides (inside the tusks). There is plenty of greenery around, as well as paths, bicycle stands, and exercise machines. The residents of the estate came out with the initiative to create this project.
7. Cafe Równik
For a little over a year, an unusual cafe – Cafe Równik – has been operating on the Nadodrze estate. The cafe has been opened by the Association of Creators and Followers of Psychostimulation, which since 1994 deals with the therapy of children with developmental disorders (such as down syndrome, autism or dysphasia). It is the protégés of the association that currently work in the cafe as waiters. Work is the next stage of therapy for them. Therefore, anyone who visits this place can not only drink coffee or eat a delicious cake, but also can play the role of therapist and contribute to the development of friendly employees who, thanks to the support received at Cafe Równik, may in the future be able to start working with non-disabled people.
The old and abandoned buildings of Wrocław do not have to arouse fear or be unsightly – it was proved by the artist Joanna Rajkowska, who created an unusual project in the city. Rajkowska decided to look at the decaying building of an old transformer station at Na Niskich Łąkach street, built in the 1930s, excluded from use in the 90s. The building underwent transformations, as a result of which a new ecosystem was created. Modernist construction slowly overgrows with various plant species, and water flows out of the two windows of the building. The artist, with the support of specialists from many areas, has planted in it, among others ferns, ivy, and mosses. This experimental installation was created as part of the project “Wroclaw – entrance from the yard” (“Wrocław – wejście od podwórza”), under which dozens of artistic interventions were carried out in the public spaces of Wroclaw, primarily in the backyards.
9. Księgarnia Hiszpańska
The Spanish Bookstore (Księgarnia Hiszpańska) is a special place. Although the name suggests, it is not just a bookshop. In addition to a wide selection of books, this place also offers aromatic coffee and tea and the opportunity to use our multilingual reading room. Besides, it is a place of events thanks to which Poles and Hispanic inhabitants of Wrocław can learn about their cultures. Periodical conversations (known as Spanish Meetings), thematic meetings, concerts, exhibitions and workshops for children take place there. It is also an animal-friendly place. If you are interested in Spanish culture or you just want to spend time in a lively place full of smiling people, go to the Spanish Bookshop in Zaułek Solny.
If you visit Wroclaw, you can also include travel… in time. Near the Market Square, there is a unique bar called Przedwojenna, which transfers its clients to the times before the First World War. Inside you will find old, not necessarily matching furniture and you will hear music from the era flowing from the speakers. The menu is full of typically Polish simple snacks such as herring, sausages, steak tartare or gzik. And all this in the company of beer, wine, and vodka. The bar is open 24 hours a day. In spring and summer, you can also take advantage of its beer garden outside.
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