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The city of Wroclaw, the administrative capital of the Lower Silesian Region, has sat on the banks of the River Oder for more than a thousand years. With visible remnants of Czech, German and Polish rule, the present-day city of Wroclaw is a true European melting pot. The city was designated by the European Union for a period of one calendar year during which it organises a series of cultural events with a strong European dimension. The objective of the European Capital of Culture programme is promotion of greater mutual acquaintance and intercultural dialogue between European citizens. Wroclaw has magnificent manor houses, churches and university with a whole array of Nobel Prize winners, are all witnesses of the town's former splendour. Ostrow Tumski, once an island on the Oder, summons up the earliest period of Wroclaw's history. Its soaring medieval churches tower over the Old Town which stretches along the other bank of the river. The Old Town is the focal point of city life, with its busy Market Hall (Hala Targowa), New Stock Exchange (Nowa Gielda), countless banks and office buildings and, amid them all, the splendid Wroclaw Opera. Wroclaw's Centennial Hall is often used as a venue for the Opera, as it enables the staging of large-scale performances with top performers. Constructed out of reinforced concrete, the Centennial Hall (Hala Stulecia) is a groundbreaking masterpiece in the history of world architecture. Inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list, it is an object of local pride. Since 2009, the Hall has had an extraordinary neighbour, Europe's largest fountain with synchronised water, sound and light displays. Another exceptional attraction is the Raclawice Panorama, a monumental cycloramic painting depicting the 1794 battle between Poles and Russians. The decorations and lighting effects used in the oval room, where the 114m x 15m painting is exhibited, create a 3-D effect. Small figurines of dwarves are a charming decorative landmark of Wroclaw. Their number is continually growing, special tours are organised to look for them and even guidebooks are devoted to this phenomenon.

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