memory.loc.gov/service/pnp/ppmsca/01000/01062v.jpg In 1945 Germans decided to defend Wroclaw against the Red Army at all cost. 700.000 civilians were evacuated but only 30% survived deadly marches eastwards in harsh winter conditions and the allied bombardment of Drezno later on.
The civilians who remained in the city joined defence units. Even children were drafted and fought.
The relentless siege lasted 80 days. The city was completely ruined. 80.000 German civilians died, including 3000 suicide cases.
From shadowy courtyards to bars and restaurants frequented by ghosts, a spine-chilling atmosphere permeates every corner of Wroclaw, Poland's spookiest city
Saturday 31 October 2009
Favourite haunts ... the Rynek, Wroclaw's medieval main square
For centuries, Poland was a military crossroads between east and west Europe, a battleground coveted by her neighbours. It's a legacy that has left the country steeped in legend and lore, ghosts and spooks – and nowhere more so than Wroclaw, a city that at one time or another in the last millennium was part of Poland, Bohemia, Austria, Prussia, and Germany. It's nine years since I came to live in Poland, and in that time I've stayed in scary Reszel Castle, haunted by the last woman in Europe to be torched for witchcraft, as well as the medieval-themed Torture Room of Lagów Castle. But these don't even come close to Wroclaw, a city whose labyrinthine streets and shadowy courtyards, shrouded in Frankenstein- esque fog, could have been built with a Hammer horror set in mind.
On my latest trip I visited its most haunting spot, the city's Jewish cemetery, an overgrown remnant of a culture all but extinguished here some 60 to 70 years ago. Walking on soggy autumnal ground, I zigzagged through sunken graves, the stones twisted to angles long since set by wind and earth. A cat, not used to visitors, eyed me with suspicion. In the distance a couple of figures huddled over a crooked tombstone. Grave diggers? Body snatchers? Neither. Tourists, and – as it turned out – the only ones I'd see pretty much all weekend.
Much of Wroclaw – pronounced "rock-law" by Brits, "rot-slav" by the locals – disappeared under Soviet shellfire in 1945, and the medieval city I see is a perfect imitation, meticulously rebuilt from the ruins. Not that I could tell. Cobbled alleys curved and then disappeared into a shivery October mist; the historic centre is strangled by a tangle of rivers and canals. I checked into the Monopol, a 19th-century creation reinvented as a design hotel, just moments from the Rynek, the city's main square.
No matter how many times I see it, the Rynek always takes my breath away. In the middle lies the town hall, a 13th-century building whose roof bristles with spires and gargoyles, while a collection of gabled burgher houses, richly decorated with intricate patterns, frame the square. Housed in one such building, the Dwór Polski Hotel (Kielbasnicza 2, dworpolski.wroclaw. pl), is an antique venue whose gloomy corridors come lined with stuffed falcons and suits of armour. The chills of the past seemed to follow me as I creaked around under the watchful gaze of the portraits. One of them, King Zygmunt III, used an apartment here as his base while secretly courting Anna Habsburg.
Back outside, muffled against the first frosts, I approached the Hansel and Gretel building, two skinny tenement houses linked together by an overhanging archway symbolic of a couple holding hands. Some say this is Wroclaw's most romantic building, but the Latin motto on the archway tells a different story: "Death is the gate to life." Indeed, this was once the setting of a murder most horrid. Possessed by a demonic dwarf who resided in the nearby St Elizabeth's church, an errant grandson butchered his grandmother in a devilish frenzy. According to some, her shrieks can still be heard.
Unconvinced, I made steps to ghostly target number two, the House Under the Golden Dog (Rynek 4) now a touristy restaurant filled with steps and shadows. Frederick the Great once stayed here – and, for him, once was enough. While he was penning a letter a phantom force seized the quill from his hand, throwing the monarch to the ground. Today it's said that visitors can hear mysterious sounds coming from the cellars. All I could hear, however, was the distant din of a crowded pub.
Wroclaw is, to all intents and purposes, a student city, and a lively nightlife comes as part of the package. I headed to Pracoffnia, a cellar bar with a portcullis over the courtyard entrance. Formerly a medieval prison, the candlelit confines are now populated by a polo neck-wearing crowd perched on thrift-store furniture, downing vodka shots. But, the toilet aside, there were no alarming surprises, so I went back into the night, past the church of St Mary Magdalene, a Gothic glory with a 45m-high bridge connecting its twin towers. The shadows that swirl below are said to be those of local maids doomed to eternity.
When the Red Army laid siege to Wroclaw in 1945, the Nazi high command turned the city into a fortress, using the Gothic torture chambers under Partisan Hill as their headquarters. Screams are said to haunt the corridors, although the only ones I heard emanated from the blondes who now use the spot for clubbing. Prowokacja, it's called, and you need plenty of bling to get in. Instead, I got my ghoulish kicks in Abrams' Tower, a bar in a medieval fortification on the fringe of the old town with dim lighting and arty prints on the bare brick walls. Over wine, I chatted with the Californian owner, Frederick, an artist turned restaurateur. "I'm convinced this place is haunted," he said. "The ghost is known to the old regulars, back when this place was decorated with lots of antique sewing machines. One night all the pedals and wheels on the machines started whirring and spinning on their own." Just as he finished his sentence, a picture clinging to the wall thumped to the ground. Spooked? You bet.
Wroclaw gets to bottom of cold snap 27.12.2010 14:29 Poland’s first heated benches have been placed in front of Wroclaw city hall in the south west - a perfect addition to the street furniture if you fancy a quick sit-down in zero degree temperatures.
The five heated benches are part of a project sponsored by a Finnish power company and under the patronage of Wroclaw local authorities.
The idea originates in Sweden, where the same company held a campaign in which Stockholm residents decided which parts of the city needed additional lighting.
Wrocław’s heated benches have been manufactured from 100 percent recyclable aluminium and equipped with warming LED lighting, which have a low energy consumption rate.
Designers of the benches say that each needs four times less energy than one made of iron.
The seats, which can be heated to up to 20 deg.C, are also furnished with special thermostats, adapting temperature to conditions and time of day.
Another four benches will be mounted before the end of the year in places decided by a poll carried out among Wrocław residents.
I think that every city has to find it's own niche, speciality, strength, economical core and goal. Wrocław is both interesting for other Poles to do business with and as a touristic destination, and in the same time an interesting destination for the neighbouring Czechs and Germans, due to it's German and Bohemian roots and attractiveness as a city.
Wroclaw is the second after Warsaw in terms of revenue (3.814 billion zł in 2012) and expenses (3.804 billion zł in 2012) budget in Poland. Income per capita is also second only to Warsaw. In Wrocław manufactured buses, trams, railroad cars, home appliance, chemicals and electronics. Their factories and development centers have much foreign corporations, such as WAGO ELWAG, Siemens, Nokia Siemens Networks, Volvo, HP, IBM, Google, Opera Software, QAD, Bombardier Transportation, DeLaval, Whirlpool Corporation, Bosch, WABCO, f*gorMastercook, Tieto, PPG Deco Poland and others. In Wroclaw, the offices are located in major Polish companies, including Getin Holding, Akwawit-Polmos Wrocław, Telefonia Dialog, Gazoprojekt, MCI Management, Protram, Selena, Koelner, AB SA, Impel, Kogeneracja SA, EKO Holding. Since the beginning of the 21st century, the city has had a developing high-tech sector. In Wrocław Technology Park there are many hign-tech companies: Baluff, CIT Engineering, Caisson Elektronik, ContiTech, Ericsson, Innovative Software Technologies, IT-MED, Mitsubishi Electric, Maas, IT Sector, Technology Transfer Agency Techtra, Vratis, PGS Software and IBM. In Biskupice Podgórne (Community Kobierzyce) there are factories of LG (LG Display, LG Electronics, LG Chem, LG Innotek,) Dong Seo Display, Dong Yang Electronics, Toshiba, and many other companies, mainly in the electronics and home appliances. Have their headquarters here, the following banks: Crédit Agricole Bank of Poland, Bank Zachodni WBK, Euro Bank, Santander Consumer Bank as well as financial and accounting centers: Volvo, Hewlett-Packard, KPIT Cummins, UPS, GE Money Bank, Credit Suisse. The city is home to the largest number of leasing companies and debt collection in the country, including the largest European Leasing Fund, there is also a headquarters of AmRest, a franchisee network of KFC, Pizza Hut, Burger King and Starbucks. Wrocław is a major center for the pharmaceutical industry: U.S. Pharmacia, Hasco-Lek, Galena, 3M, Labor, S-Lab, Herbapol, Cezal. In February 2013 airlines Qatar Airways launched in WrocławEuropean Customer Service. Nearby Wrocław are Bielany Retail Park and Bielany Trade Center, located in Bielany Wrocławskie. Due to the proximity to the border with Germany and the Czech Republic share of Wrocław and the region of Lower Silesia in exports and imports of these countries is very high. As of the end of 2010, Wrocław enjoyed a low unemployment level - 6.1%.
Ofcourse this looks the same as similar places in the Netherlands, Germany, the USA and probably Warsaw, Krakow and Poznan. But this is a start from which a vibrant business centre in the periphery of Wrocław can be developed and built.
I am really impressed and amazed with the Wrocław economy. It's advanced stage, it's modernism, it's innovative spirit and core and it's diversity. Next to that I think that Wrocław has a great future as Commercial, touristic and cultural city.
There maybe are also possibilities to develop commercial, trade and service sector facilities next to Wrocław – Copernicus Airport. A good example for that Airport could be Schiphol Airport next to Amsterdam. That is not only an Airport, but also a shopping area, a horeca area and congress area.
It is good to read about Wrocław – Copernicus Airport, that car parking will be expanded to 1,000 spaces, and a conference centre with a hotel will be built on site. That's a good start.
Many people love the Cosmopolitan atmosphere of Schiphol and it's exellent shopping mall with Fashion boutiques, restaurants, bars, liquor stores, electronic shops, shoe stores, supermarkets, business clubs, hotels, company warehouses, a business distric nearby (Amsterdam and Hoofddorp). Hoofddorp a small town nearby grew rapidly die to Schiphol, although Schiphol blocked it's expansion to the East, due to the Sounds of the airtraffic in that direction.