A Polish city with an emphasis on pretty

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August 24th 2019
Published: September 2nd 2019
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When a traveller has visited the top 2 or 3 urban areas of one prominent nation, is it worth them delving beneath the surface and focusing on urban areas of smaller sizes? Well, if you lend some thought to this reflection, then in the case of Japan's Kyoto, Ukraine's Lviv, Uzbekistan's Bukhara and countless others besides, the advice is never to just assume that bigger is proportionally better. With that in mind, step forward Poland's Wroclaw, the nation's 4th largest city, but in many ways, certainly no 4th-placed contender, for what this pretty package has to offer. The best indication of the level of prettiness we are talking here in Wroclaw's city centre, a colourfully eclectic collection of buildings, each with its own colour and architectural style, each one destined to outclass its rivals. Nearby Wroclaw cathedral has charm in spades, and the twin spired exterior is a fine match for the ornate interior, flanked by a building or 3 of equally picturesque standing. One constatation to visiting Wroclaw is the number of commendable tourist attractions based on a water theme, and the city's terrific aquapark is an all age ranges aquatic playground, carefully planned out in ways in which makes the city's architectural styles also striking. The multimedia fountain show is perhaps best viewed on an evening time when a crowd gathers to watch sound, light and water jets harmonize and create a colourful and captivating display. Last, but by no means least is Hydropolis, the city's very own 'science of water' museum, with a focus on the role in which water plays in the everyday, in both obvious and lesser-acknowledged ways, with a superlative 'curtain of water' effect at the entrance, which expertly displays the artistic effects of a multitude of water jets, due to a carefully mathematical piece of precision programming. Museums abound in Wroclaw, and another curiosity which appears to be a must-include node on your itinerary is Kolejkowo, Poland's largest indoor model railway, where attention to detail is the order of the day, and the re-creation of Wroclaw in miniature on a train theme ensures that this also doubles up as a compact snapshot of a city which might even exceed your ability to cover the whole extent of during your stay. Wroclaw's main train station (not in miniature) is indeed one of Europe's more ornate looking pieces of design, and the shopping mall adjoining it (Wroclavia) is typical of the highly substantial nature of the city's shopping culture. Of a similar commercial standing, Galeria Dominikanska is yet another all-under-one-roof shopping complex, replete with a substantial food court, and enough in the way of options to make for a thorough shopping session in a nation which is comparatively easy on the wallet. If there are certain branches of alternative tourism which appeal, then why not focus on one of Wroclaw's pieces of curiosity, and go on a dwarf-hunting mission, seeking out as many of the city's 300 or so miniature metal dwarves dotted here and there, many of them themed to match the nature of the building which they are located in front of. Other landmarks of Wroclaw include buildings and structures of note such as the Opera House, Centennial Hall, various bridges, cathedrals, a synagogue and countless others besides, the main bulk of which are located sufficiently centrally to make for an easy A to B to C to D (etc) sightseeing route, made all the more effortless by the extensive bus and tram network which the city offers. On the whole, Wroclaw provides sufficient evidence to suggest that the key to a successful and satisfying city break is not necessarily in size, but more in substance, and the substantial nature of the city's fabric not only puts the city firmly on the Polish map, but also serves to suggest that there's every reason why any nation's more established tourist magnet(s) may justifiably be shunned in the shape of making your own discovery in the form of an inexplicably underrated gem such as Wroclaw.


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