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On the Trail through Wrocław’s Bridges

Publication Date: December 19, 2022
Post thumbnail - On the Trail through Wrocław’s Bridges

They connect two banks of the river, the islands with the land, but also – metaphorically – make a bond between people. Bridges, the main characters of this article, are the distinguishing marks of Wrocław, which, for this reason, is often called ‘Venice of the North.’

Wroclaw has more bridges than any other city in Poland – as many as 101! And above that, it has 33 little footbridges which connect banks of numerous canals. The walking trail through Wrocław’s bridges is a great pleasure for the guests of our ISBA Conference 2033 – it is one of many options for leisure time during the afternoon. Therefore, we would like to serve a few suggestions as to what places you should focus on during the stroll.

Wrocław is the city of bridges... because it started from the bridge! Ostrów Tumski - the oldest and one of the most beautiful parts of Wrocław – today is a complex of historic tenement houses, sacral buildings, gardens, and quaint cafes. Until the XIX century, Ostrów Tumski was an island. It is the place of the origins of Wrocław: people who wanted to get to the island or leave it had to cross the river by swimming or… building a bridge. That was ages ago…  today Ostrów Tumski and the nearest islands are fringed by many colourful bridges. 

The bridges connect not only places but also people…. For a long time, on the Tumski Bridge, the so-called love bridge, citizens of Wroclaw being in love have been hanging locks on the bridge as a symbol of their affection. Unfortunately, because of their weight during the renovation of the bridge, the locks were removed and hanging them again became forbidden. However, love is stronger than any prohibitions… The tradition of hanging locks has moved then to the railing of the nearest boulevard.

The oldest bridge in Wrocław is the historic Sand Bridge (Most Piaskowy), built in the XVI century. The title of the most beautiful, however, could be given either to Zwierzyniecki Bridge, located near the Zoo, or Grunwaldzki Bridge, located near Grunwaldzki Square.

Walking around Ostrów Tumski, especially crossing the Sand Bridge, you should strain your eyes looking for another symbol of Wrocław – the dwarf Oder Washer (Pracz Odrzański). Made of bronze, a little figure round about above the surface of water is “washing” its clothes. But we have already talked about dwarves, so let’s go back to the bridges.

Some bridges connect the banks of rivers, but in Wrocław, we also have a bridge in the air. The Penitent Bridge is a construction built 45 meters aboveground. The footbridge connects two towers of Mary Magdalene Cathedral, located near the market square. It is one of the most favoured viewpoints visited by tourists, from where they can admire the panorama of Wrocław. There is also a legend related to the footbridge.

It tells about a reckless young woman who rather than working and marriage, preferred games and plays. Because of that, her own father cast a curse upon her. As penance, the girl must sweep the floor on the top of the tower all days and nights for ages. The story goes that some people have heard her moaning and the sounds of sweeping…

But that is only the legend. What about bridges nowadays? Today Wrocław also has its reasons to be proud. In the capital of Lower Silesia is located the longest reinforced concrete underslung bridge in Poland. It is Rędziński Bridge, which is 612 meters long, and if we measure it with elevated highways, it reaches 1742 meters. It is the highest construction of that type in Poland, and - last but by no means least – the Rędziński Bridge is very photogenic…

Summer evening. Grunwaldzki Bridge in Wroclaw, Poland

Therefore nobody should have any doubts that Wrocław is the city of bridges… Nevertheless, as it was mentioned at the beginning, the bridge is not only physical construction. “Wrocław – the meeting place” is the official slogan of Lower Silesia; it tells how the city and its habitants are perceived in Poland and abroad. The citizens of Wroclaw are characterised by open-mindedness, leading up to the meeting and creating common ground – the metaphorical bridge. ISBA Conference 2023 perfectly fits in this context, connecting people open to cooperation and sharing their experiences – people worth meeting to create bridges connecting ideas from different countries and continents.

See you in Wrocław!

More information about Wrocław’s bridges you can find on this website: www.visitwroclaw.eu/en/places/bridges

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