Saturday, February 12, 2011

42/365: Prisoner Dwarf, or a day in Wrocław

42/365: Prisoner Dwarf
42/365: Prisoner Dwarf, originally uploaded by Magic Madzik.

February 11th

A while back I wrote about the Orange Alternative. The Wrocław Dwarves are a whimsical monument to that movement's struggle against Communism. They are scattered all over the town, and you have to keep your eyes well peeled if you want to find them all. More information on their official website:

A lot to see in Wrocław, even on a single rainy day. I spent the night there before hopping on a train to Germany. So, what did I see?

Tumski Bridge

The Tumski Bridge, for instance, built in 1889, which has apparently always been the place for lovers and those seeking love to go- old stories speak about chance meetings, special prayers (there are two churches close by) to find the one and only, and mistletoe hung from the beam. But in recent years a new tradition has grown. If you have found your true love, you must walk across the bridge, snap a padlock shut on the railing and throw the key into the river. This will guarantee you 'til death do us part'.

Padlocks on Tumski Bridge

Wrocław also has a gas lamp district, on an island in the middle of the Odra river. The above-mentioned bridge is one of those leading onto it.

I was lucky enough to catch the lamplighter at his task.

Lighting the gas lamps

And on that same island, my favourite part of the walk:

The Nativity

In the Blind and Deaf chapel at the Blessed Virgin Mary church, there is a mechanical nativity which is lit up from Christmas until Lent. Although we have a similar one in Warsaw (which I even got to turn on and off as a kid, since my parents knew the priest in charge), it's not nearly as insane as this one. The lights flash in time to the music, and there are countless figurines, toys and souvenirs all rigged up to the mechanism. They move, dance, twirl, sway, ride around and pop out of peep-holes.

The Mechanical Nativity

This Nativity was built in 1967, and features toys and trinkets from all the years since. I found quite a few Disney characters hiding between the Christmas trees, next to wooden folk toys and soviet-era tchotchkes.

The Mechanical Nativity

The Mechanical Nativity

And of course, Evil Android Papa Smurf:

Scary Smurf

A big thank you to my former flatmates Marta and  Maciek for showing me around


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