Architecture


Learning about the architectural monuments of Wroclaw can be a fascinating travel back in time. It is worth starting off with Ostrów Tumski, the oldest part of the city and the cathedral, which is domineering in its panorama - a Gothic building from the 13th and 14th century, in 1992 equipped with new helmets. The storeyed, hall church of St Cross Church (kościół św. Krzyża) also deserves attention. The City Hall, founded in 1288 by Prince Henry IV Probus, is considered one of the most impressive Gothic works in Silesia. These churches, along with several others constitute, an exceptional set of buildings with characteristic Gothic constructions on a European scale. The late Gothic church, one of the most beautiful ones in Europe, is a gem among Wroclaw monuments. The western and southern façade, full of dainty carvings, deserves particular attention. A chain of exceptionally attractive architectural items is situated along the main axis of the city, indicated by ul. Świdnicka. One should mention here: Gothic churches, Classicistic opera, buildings of the hotel "Monopol" and department stores.

 

The largest attraction of the Baroque set of university buildings is the Leopold Hall (Aula Leopoldyńska). The extraordinary richness of wall paintings and carvings gives evidence of the exceptional character of this monument. Creating the illusion of elongating the room and heightening its ceiling constitutes an interesting feature.

Many valuable works of architecture were created in Wroclaw in the first half of the 20th century. Max Berg’s Centennial Hall (Hala Stulecia),Richard Pluddemann’s Market Hall (Hala Targowa) and the Department Store (currently a bank) at ul. Łaciarska, designed by Hans Poelzig, are considered as precursory buildings in reinforced concrete construction. The "Kameleon" department store, attracting attention with its façade covered with travertine and with an original rounded corner, was designed by the great German architect Erich Mendelsohn in 1927. At the same time in Wroclaw, "Wertheim" (currently the Renoma Department Store), designed by architect Hermann Dernburg, was built. This is a leading work of European modernism – with an expressive composition, clear spatial arrangement and simple, functional form typical for this architectural trend. The brick water tower at ul. Na Grobli, built in 1866-1871 as designed by John Moore and Christian Johann Zimmermann, has also been considered as an outstanding work.

In the 20s, several modern housing estates for poorer social groups were built in Wroclaw. Housing estates: Biskupin, Sępolno, Grabiszyn, Pilczyce, Kowale, Muchobór and Księże Małe were designed by various individual architects. They were very functional, equipped with shops, schools, green areas, recreational facilities, etc. The architects’ achievements were summed up in 1929 in an exhibition entitled “A residence and a work place”, in German abbreviated as WUWA. Among others, a house for the lonely at ul. Kopernika designed by Hans Scharoun, considered as an outstanding work of the 20th century, was built especially for the exhibition.

The most interesting examples of modern Wroclaw architecture are predominantly churches. One can mention: Holy Spirit Church (kościół Ducha Świętego) at ul. Bardzka,Our Lady Church (kościół Matki Bożej) at ul. Wejherowska, Christ the King Church (kościół Chrystusa Króla) at ul. Młodych Techników.

Interesting modern buildings include the "Dolmed" Medical Centre (Centrum Medyczne) at ul. Legnicka.

The city panorama includes the Grunwaldzkie housing estate, with its buildings with characteristic façades. So-called infill construction has become a Wroclaw speciality in recent years. Infills, frequently having sophisticated architecture, enliven the monotony of the streets.

It seems that the exceptional dynamics of this type of construction heralds rapid changes in quality and quantity in Wroclaw’s architecture.