23 Apr The Gnomes of Wroclaw, Poland
Whilst the colourful city of Wroclaw has plenty of impressive buildings, the thing I’ll remember most about Wroclaw is something a little smaller…the army of tiny gnomes!
Before I go on…if you’re reading this aloud in your head thinking Wroclaw is pronounced something along the lines of “War-claw” or “Raw-claw” as I thought, it’s not. I was informed by our guide that the correct pronunciation is actually “Vrots-whaf”, which couldn’t be further from the spelling!
Anyway, back to the gnomes.
The gnomes are all over the city, and it’s a lot of fun trying to spot them. Since they don’t even come up to my knee in height, they’re easy to miss until you sometimes, quite literally, stumble over one. When I went to draw out cash from the ATM, I looked down to find one of these little fellas drawing out money next to me!
There are hundreds of these bronze statues lurking about the streets and they’re all doing different things, so if you fancy hunting for them you can get a gnome map from the tourist office to help you find their locations. Since they’re scattered everywhere my guess is it would take you more than a day or two to see them all!
Despite their cute appearance, the gnomes have a much deeper message behind them. The origin of gnomes in Wroclaw dates back to the 1980s, when they were used as the symbol of the ‘Orange Alternative’ movement against Communism. As part of their peaceful protests against communism, this surrealist art community sketched gnomes where anti-Communist graffiti had been removed. The miniature sculptures you see today were started by artist Tomasz Moczek, who received a commission from the City’s Council in 2005. Since then, local business have sponsored the gnomes, and now they are a major tourist attraction.
I spent more time pointing my camera at Wroclaw’s gnomes than anything else. They’re adorable and fun, and I’m really just a big kid at heart!
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