July 12 - 15, 2002

Once upon a time Wroclaw was Breslau and then on a whim it became Lvov. Well, maybe we should explain. What is now Wroclaw was for a thousand years part of the Holy Roman Empire which was really rather bloody, German, and only sometimes able to exert imperial power. But Breslau all that time was governed by ethnic Germans. It had a German population that was sometimes larger and sometimes smaller than the Polish population. Until. Until Hitler set off WWII, lost it, and Stalin took Lvov and made it into Lviv, part of Ukraine. All the Poles were expelled and a good number of them and of their ancient Polish treasures went to live in Breslau, now called Wroclaw. The upshot of the story is that there are lots of Polish and lots of German things in town.

We found that we could take a direct bus from Zakopane to Wroclaw, and so we did for twelve hours, setting out before 6 am, and passing through Krakow at breakfast. In fact, we stopped momentarily just where we had arrived by bus ten days  earlier from Lviv.

Wroclaw makes a nice trio with Lviv and Krakow. All three were originally built around a market square or "rynok" and at one time had massive walls about them. All three have preserved their squares, partially because of poverty induced by communism. All three have wonderful old churches and a very active cultural life. And all three once had vibrant Jewish lives that are now present mostly as museum memories. We're glad we got to see all of them. But if you had to see only one it should be Krakow. For us Lviv is a close second; it is so much more laid back, and in its own way prettier. Where does that leave Wroclaw? A proud third. See it if you can.

Highway Sign
Main Wroclaw Train Station

Guidebook to Breslau/Wroclaw
Rynek & Town Hall
Rynek from above

Jewish Cemetery — now a Museum

Old, Old Breslau

Sports Hall
World's largest concrete building in 1910
Japanese gardens

Outdoor opera in park
Church in Rynek

Updated September 22, 2002