After a scenic ride through Germany, we arrived in Wroclaw (pronounced ‘vrohtz-wahv’), the fourth largest city in Poland. It is a city that has been part of the kingdoms, empires, and republics of Poland, Hungary, Bohemia, Austria, Prussia, and Germany. CIEE arranged for us to stay in a quaint hotel right in the middle of the city where we had walking access to my favorite place in Wroclaw, Market Square, also known as Rynek. Rynek is the city’s municipal center and is also the social and cultural center of Wroclaw; it is a place of magnificent Gothic and Baroque architecture, pastel colored buildings, performance art, terraced cafes and restaurants.
On our guided tour of the city we learned that the citizens of Wroclaw share their city with a community gnomes, each with a quirky personality and no more than a foot tall. We saw them hanging out at the foot of doorways, peeking out of alleyways, and going about living life as wizards, travelers, merchants, and professors! The gnomes started out as a peaceful protest to the Soviet regime in the 1980s and the people of Wroclaw and the people on the city have continued to create and install them since. No one knows how many gnomes there are, but officials estimate there are over 400 of them.