Wrocław, the historic capital of Silesia, is one of the biggest and oldest Polish cities. Vratislavia was first unambiguously mentioned as a mighty burg about the year 1000. It was then that a Polish ecclesiastical see was created there. In 1335 the city has fallen under the sway of the Czech king John of Luxembourg and broke its ties with Poland. Later Vratislav, together with the entire Poland, fell under the sway of the Hungarian monarchy, and it is from those times that the Hungarian name of the city, Boroszló, dates. Together with the Czech crown, Wrocław was incorporated into the Habsburg monarchy and renamed to Breslau. In 1741 the entire Silesia was taken over by Prussia, and thus Wrocław was incorporated into the Kingdom of Prussia, and later the German Reich, until 1945. After the Second World War, Wrocław returned to Poland.

Wrocław is full of monuments marking its thousand years of history. It is best to begin visiting the town in its oldest part, or the former islands on the Odra River and its forked tributaries. The most renowned of these are Ostrów Tumski and the Piasek island, a medieval residential quarter, today one of the Polish Monuments of History.

On the “islands” it is hard to miss the Church of the Holy Cross and St. Bartholomew. The great medieval architect known as Magister Lapida Wilancius divided the interior of the building into two floors occupied by two separate churches.

The city center is surrounded by an urban moat, one of the few preserved in Europe. The premises of the Wrocław University with the Aula Leopoldina hall and its splendid baroque decorations are especially worthy the visit. The university is merely one of the 35 academic institutions of the city and Wrocław was a home to as many as 10 Nobel Prize laureates.

Another interesting part of Wrocław is the area around the town square and the Salt Square - Plac Solny. Visitors cannot fail to be impressed with the huge late Gothic town hall. Its tower, measuring 220 feet, houses the oldest clock tower bell, installed back in 1368! The town hall cellars are home to Piwnica Świdnicka, one of the oldest European restaurants dating back to 1273.

As many as 8000 baroque, classicist, secession and modernist tenement houses are preserved all over the city. Wrocław houses 18 large museums, the most interesting of which include the National Museum, the Museum of Medal Art and the Museum of Military Engineering. Over 17 theaters and concert halls are active in the city, among them the Wrocław Philharmonic and Opera as well as the Polish, CAPITOL Music, Pantonime Theater and others. Interesting projects include the Pieśń Kozła Theatre and the GEST – the Mime Theatre of the Wrocław University of Technology.

Wrocław can be reached by plane, car, or train. When traveling by rail, one can reach the beginnings of railways in the Polish lands; the railway between Wrocław and Oława, built in 1842, was the first rail link on the territory of modern day Poland.

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