Why not Poland? When everyone marches to either Greece, France or Italy for the summer holiday, I asked myself – why not Poland?
So there we were, driving under the heavy rain, crossing the border from Germany to Wroclaw. We’re in Poland, we exclaimed upon crossing the border, and all of a sudden, a bumpy stretch of uneven road welcomed us. We laughed, knowing that there is more to Poland than these bumpy roads. Luckily, the road smoothened after about an hour of driving, the rain stopped, signaling an exciting adventure up ahead.
Wroclaw is the 4th biggest city in Poland with a population of around 6 million people. Because of it’s location, the city has extensive heritage, having been a part of different kingdom and territories at various times in history – Kingdom of Poland, Kingdom of Bohemia, Kingdom of Hungary, Habsburg Monarchy, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire, Weimar Republic and Nazi Germany. If these are not enough, it must be important to note that the city suffered widespread destruction during the second world war.
Battle-scarred. Wounded. Beaten. And yet, Wroclaw stood up and tried again. Now Wroclaw enjoys the wisdom of experience and the openness to modernity. If this is not a sign of divine strength, I definitely have no idea how to call it.
So just imagine the mix of heritage and history underneath the city’s modern front. Imagine the richness of its creativity and the depth of its conviction displayed in different spectrum of architectural repertoire, avant-garde creations and though-provoking exhibitions . No wonder Wroclaw was chosen as the European Capital of Culture for 2016. And no wonder art is celebrated here. Yes, art, and not to mention vodka, as there seem to be wide vodka selections on every supermarket (I see that this is not a surprise to many).
imagine the mix of heritage and history underneath its modern front. Imagine the richness of its creativity and the depth of its conviction displayed in different spectrum of architectural repertoire, avant-garde creations and though-provoking exhibitions
The city is impressively modern in its countless big malls housing popular brands, innumerable trams connecting to different parts of the city, well-preserved landmarks, well-maintained parks and an increasing construction of apartment buildings soon to rise in the city.
Amidst the changes and challenges presented in history, here is Wroclaw now, a city bright with potential and charm
Religion is apparent, so is the remembrance of communism. Amidst the changes and challenges presented in history, here is Wroclaw now, a city bright with potential and charm. And with charm comes a bit of humor and wit – consider a bar beside the entrance of an old Cathedral now turned marketplace (Hala Targowa), consider the 350 gnome sculptures posted all over the old town (one can do gnome searching all day long), and the hilarity and genius of countless restaurants and bars surrounding the magnificent Wroclaw Cathedral. Craving for whiskey while eyeing the elegant cathedral? Go ahead, sit down at Whiskey in a Jar Bar and Restaurant, do your whiskey toast while admiring the holiness of the cathedral. Amen.
Easy does it in Wroclaw. The city’s steady pace can certainly put visitors at ease. There seemed to be no rushing to see the next attraction, no need to see as many tourists spots as possible. There were no buses loaded with curious tourists, or jumpy locals selling souvenirs. What it has is a city ready to take you in by letting you observe its people, its architecture, it’s surroundings. By this, you get to think and enjoy the city at your own pace and at your own whim.
It’s a modern city, yes, but the need to rush is not a part of the city description. Calm it down and just enjoy.
It’s a modern city, yes, but the need to rush is not a part of the city description.
This is why I felt like being drawn by the culture. The gentle bustle and hustle, the charm of standing in an unfamiliar place, swamp by the voices of the foreign.
My experience in Wroclaw is magnified when I saw The Anonymous Pedestrians (Pomnik Anonimowego Przechodnia), sculptured forms placed right in one of the city’s busy sidewalk.
While Google presents different interpretations, I stand on my own based on my experience of the city – the excitement of traveling to a place and being gently drawn and taken in, down to where your feet becomes one with what used to be the unfamiliar.
20 July 2018
Text and photos by Cathy Perez