Wrocław Poland - Ostrów Tumski and Beyond

Several colleagues told me that I must go to Ostrów Tumski during my visit to Wrocław.  I already knew that those living in Wrocław had a gracious and welcoming spirit but that became even more clear when one of my colleagues volunteered her Saturday to show me around town.  We were scheduled to meet at 11 am at one of the churches near the bridge to Ostrów Tumski.  I got up early to go gnome hunting but saw so much more on that journey.  I initially walked south toward the canal.  I saw a variety of beautiful buildings that looked extra gorgeous against the bright blue sky.  I couldn't have asked for better weather at this time of year.
Walking along the canal, I saw grand statues.
Turning back toward the Old Town, I saw whimsical accents on a building that housed a spa.
I wasn't sure what to make of this lone wall standing in an empty field.
I could clearly see the mix of old and new everywhere I turned in Wrocław.  The architecture was a combination of German embellishment and communist era concrete.
I took the underpass beneath a busy street into the Old Town.
I passed St. Mary Magdalene Church and made a mental note to come back later to check out the Bridge of Penance between the two towers at the top.
I passed some old favorites including the Town Hall...
...and the entrance to St. Elizabeth's Basilica.
Across town to the Northwest, I chanced upon an artistic surprise -- a giant folding chair overlooking a random intersection.
I walked down the Old Shambles, a back alley now lined with colorful galleries including the one below with adorable ceramic pooches in the window.
In the past, this alley was lined by butcher shops and the street is now marked by statues of the various animals that were once slaughtered on this strip of road.
After a productive morning of exploration, it was time to meet my colleague outside Kościół Najświętszej Marii Panny na Piasku (Church of St. Mary on the Sand).  
Inside, the church featured vaulted German-style ceilings.
My colleague led me through a small side door into a room decked out in holiday flair.  If I hadn't been there with a local, I never would have known it existed.  A nun working in the building turned on the power when we walked in and the whole thing pulsed with light and motion.
We continued on toward the Cathedral, Ostrów Tumski's main attraction.
For just 5 złoty (<2 euro), I bought a ticket to climb the tower.  I assumed I'd have to walk the whole way up and was steeling myself for the climb.  About 40 steps up, I arrived at the ticket office and then was guided into an elevator for a smooth ride to the top.
The sweeping views of Wrocław were worth the trip.
The whole observation deck was surrounded by fencing on all sides so it wasn't too scary even for those that don't like heights.
Back at ground level, we continued our walk through Ostrów Tumski past an old convent with beautiful silver balls out front.
We ducked down some of the side alleyways on the island.
We emerged and were struck by how grand the yellow and brick buildings looked.
Exiting the historic complex, we chanced upon a bit of graffiti on a brick wall.
We passed the art museum and took a moment to peek inside at the grand hall.
We passed the Panorama Racławicka, a building purpose-built to house a 360 degree battle scene painting.  Unfortunately, we timed our visit poorly and would have had to wait 30+ minutes to get in.  We satisfied ourselves with a brief look around the lobby and then moved on.  I'll save this attraction for our next visit!
We stopped into Hala Targowa (the local market hall) for lunch.  The place was abuzz with vendors and clients doing their weekly shopping.
We stopped at the cafe on site for an inexpensive meal of ruskie perogies, compote, and a 'bouquet' of salads (<10 złoty).
After lunch we went back to Rynek to see what was going on.  We were delighted to find an ice sculpture demonstration in progress.
My crowning acheivement of the day was my return to St. Mary Magdalene church to climb the tower and cross the Bridge of Penance.  I paid my admission fee (5 złoty) and made the ascent on foot with no helpful elevator this time.
I emerged onto the bridge between the two towers and had the place to myself.
The wind howled across the bridge as I enjoyed views of Wrocław Old Town below.
I especially liked the whimsical red and green tiled roof of the church below.
I took one last look across the town...
... and then descended the stairs back into the church.
Unfortunately, my time in Wrocław had come to a close.  I grabbed a taxi back to the airport.  I was relaxing in the backseat after my 8+ mile walk that day when I saw something typical of Wrocław; something that made me sit up and take notice.  The town had my rapt attention all week.  There was a locomotive engine in the distance seemingly pointing into the sky.
Who knows what Wrocław will have in store for me next time.  I can't wait to visit again soon!  

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Sidewalk Safari: Wrocław Poland - Ostrów Tumski and Beyond
Wrocław Poland - Ostrów Tumski and Beyond
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Sidewalk Safari
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