Have you ever heard of the Wroclaw Gnomes? If not, then get ready to be enchanted by a culture-defining phenomenon that has been delighting tourists and locals alike for many years. As one of Poland’s top tourist attractions, the Wroclaw gnomes are hard to miss. Sizes ranging from small to larger-than-life statues, their colourful and quirky designs capture the heart and imagination, an engaging spectacle you don’t want to miss out on!
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Wroclaw is one of Poland’s most beautiful cities. The city in recent years has started to grow its international profile. It now draws in thousands of visitors each day that flock to see the city’s beautiful architecture, picturesque squares, historic cathedrals and warm hospitality.
However, the city has another attraction not like any other I’ve ever seen. It’s the hundreds of tiny gnomes or dwarfs that you can find dotted all over the city! These Wroclaw Gnomes or Krasnales as they are called locally have become a tourist attraction themselves. More and more have been seen popping up around the city each year!
To be honest I didn’t know much about them before I visited Wroclaw. If you didn’t know they were there you probably wouldn’t notice them at all. That is until you wonder why people are crouching down in random places such as corners and alleyways taking pictures of the floor! Probably the best way of finding these little creatures is looking for people crouching down and taking pictures than trying to find them yourself, although that’s not as much fun!
The history behind the Wroclaw gnomes:
Although these gnomes have become a cute tourist attraction, they represent a dark time in Polish history when Poland was under communist rule. The ‘Orange Movement’ was an underground protest movement based in Wroclaw in the 1980s that used absurdity and nonsense to stage a peaceful yet subversive protest.
The organisation initially painted dwarfs on walls that had been freshly painted to cover up anti-government slogans. This dwarf graffiti soon became the organisation’s trademark and appeared across all major cities of Poland.
Between 1985 and 1990 the ‘Orange Movement’ staged several ‘happenings’ across various Polish cities. These ‘happenings” encouraged people from all walks of life to join in and protest against the government. One such gathering on 1 June 1988 in Wroclaw became known as the Revolution of the Dwarfs. This was after over ten thousand people marched through the city wearing an orange dwarf hats and carrying and shouting the slogan ‘There is no freedom without dwarfs’
It was after this, that free elections took place in 2001. To commemorate the part in which the Orange Movement played bringing about political change a single ‘Papa’ gnome was installed. ‘Papa’ is now known as the first of the Wroclaw Gnomes and is situated on the corner of Swidnicka Street near the subway where many Orange demonstrations took place.
Today more than 300 gnomes or dwarfs are thought to be installed across the city. Nobody knows the exact figure, with more appearing all the time. Most of the early gnomes were commissioned by the Mayor of Wroclaw in an attempt to create a new tradition in the city. However, most of the newer Wroclaw Gnomes are sponsored by local businesses.
Finding the Wroclaw gnomes:
The best way of finding the gnomes is to just go out and explore this beautiful city. It won’t be long before you notice your first one, after that, you’ll be finding them all over the place. Keep a close eye on the tourist sites, popular restaurants and businesses.
If you want to find as many as possible you can always pick up a map from one of the many tourist shops but I think searching for them without a map is a lot more fun! Don’t forget to look upward, not all of them are on the floor!
Here are a few of my favourite gnomes:
What else to do in Wroclaw besides gnome hunting?
Wroclaw is my favourite city in Poland and would return again and again if I could. The city not only has a great history, it has some of the most beautiful buildings in Poland as well as a laid-back cosmopolitan atmosphere. You can spend days walking around exploring the city as well as checking out further afield.
One bonus for me was how it was lacking in the typical stag and hen parties found in Krakow, the city is bustling with visitors but it retains its authentic atmosphere.
For more information on what to do in Wroclaw, check out my post on the 11 best things to do in Wroclaw.
Thanks so much for stopping by, I appreciate every one of you who takes the time to read and make it to the end! I have lots of exciting new content coming in the next few weeks so make sure you pop back to catch up!