Wroclaw, Cathedral Island, Padlocks and Museums

‘… In a few short years, the heart of Paris has been made ugly, robbing Parisians of quality of life and the ability to safely enjoy their own public spaces along the Seine…. The time has come to enact a ban on ‘love locks’ in order to return our bridges to their original beauty and purpose.’ – Petition Against Love Locks, Paris.

At customer feedback I rated the Best Western as excellent and awarded high marks for everything but it is has to be said that it is not a hotel for sleeping in late into the morning.  The room faced east and was adjacent to a very busy road so the combination of bright sunshine leaking in around the curtains and trams regularly clattering past meant for an early breakfast.

Leaving the hotel we walked towards the River Oder and the handful of islands that sit in a wide stretch of the river and which are connected by several bridges which immediately entitles it to the tag of the ‘Venice of the North’.  This isn’t a title that it holds uniquely of course because this has also been applied to AmsterdamBrugesSt. Petersburg, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Hamburg, Manchester, Edinburgh and even Birmingham amongst others.

Actually, I have to say that here in Wroclaw this description is stretching it to its absolute limit but it was pleasant enough criss-crossing the river on the bridges and strolling across the islands one by one towards our objective of Ostrow Tumski, the Cathedral Island, which actually isn’t an island any more since part of the river was filled in two hundred years ago.

To get there we had to cross the Tumski Bridge which has now become known as Lovers Bridge on account of that awful modern obsession with attaching padlock graffiti to any available railing which seems to have become an irritating epidemic all across Europe.  This is a lover’s plague whereby signing and locking the padlock and throwing the key into the river they become eternally bonded.

This tradition might sound all rather romantic and lovely but apparently all of these love tokens do lots of damage to the bridges because as they age and rust this spreads to the ironwork and thousands of padlocks need to be removed every year from bridges across Europe.  In Venice there is a €3,000 penalty and up to a year in prison for those caught doing it and that is a much, much higher price than I would be prepared to pay for eternal bondage!

This is what Tumski Bridge used to look like before mindless love lock vandals began to consider it acceptable to add metal graffiti…


I know which way I prefer it, I’ll let you decide for yourselves.

To anyone who thinks this is mean-spirited please bear in mind that in June 2014 the ‘Pond des Arts’ in Paris across the River Seine collapsed under the weight of these padlock monstrosities and had to be temporarily closed.  They are not just unsightly – they are dangerous!

Cathedral Island is the original site of the first permanent settlement in Wroclaw, sometime in the ninth century and shortly after it became established and became a bishopric work began to build a Cathedral.  Named after John the Baptist, Patron Saint of Wroclaw, the current incarnation of the cathedral started life in 1241 although it has had a great deal of restoration work since then because just like every European church it has suffered a mandatory burning down or two and the odd bomb over the years including the destruction of the twin towers in 1945.


There is a lift to a viewing platform up to the top of one of the towers and so we took the ride and enjoyed the views over the city and the surrounding countryside and after a couple of circuits or so of the spire we took the first available lift back to the ground where the temperature was more agreeable.

And so we left the islands and returned to the old town where we walked for a while along the south bank of the river.  Here we passed by two museums, the especially impressive National Museum built in the style of a German sixteenth century palace and over the road the Panorama of the Battle of Raclawice.

This is a concrete rotunda with just one exhibit, a 114 metre long by 15 metre high painting of the battle of 1794 when a Polish army defeated a superior Russian force in a struggle for independence.  This makes it the second largest panorama painting in the World just slightly shorter by six metres than the Arrival of the Hungarians in Ópusztaszer in Hungary and just ahead by 5 metres longer than the Gettysburg Cyclorama in Gettysburg, USA.

After the museums we went to the indoor market but it wasn’t as vibrant as some that we have been to and compared badly for example against Riga and Budapest and it seemed tired, run down and unexciting.  The guide book pointed out the importance of the roof as one of the best examples of early halls made of concrete in Europe and if you like concrete then I am prepared to concede that it was rather impressive.  Personally, I am not a huge fan of the grey stuff!

We had been walking  for over two hours and I was beginning to detect that the needle on Kim’s whinge meter was beginning to twitch so the priority now was to find somewhere for a coffee break so we walked back in the direction of Market Square and found a modern café where we stopped for a while for some of the group to top up sugar levels with cake in preparation for more walking in the afternoon.

The Official Travel Guide in Wrocław – visitWroclaw.eu

32 responses to “Wroclaw, Cathedral Island, Padlocks and Museums

  1. You whinge meter mechanic! Does Kim read this?


  2. I’m always impressed with the beauty of central and Eastern European architecture, particularly the rooves. (Is that spelling right, it looks odd instead of roofs!) Anyway why can’t we have red tiled roof thingys in England, so much nicer. Regarding wife-meters …. I have had a flap-o-meter for my missus for years and am surprised to have reached my 70th at all with the induced extra stress emanating from said direction, it will be going off scale waiting for the taxi in a couple of weeks to take us Heathrow at least 3 hours before appointed time. It’s quivering even now!


    • I confess that I would be the one with the flap-o-metre.
      Where do your travels take you from Heathrow?


      • We’ve been planning a Trans USA Rail trip for some time, Portillo inspired but I’m not wearing pink trousers. Mid April fly to San Francisco then meander to New York over 21 days taking in Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas (yuk), Durango, Silverton, Denver, Chicago, Buffalo, Niagra then into NY. Unusual for us to take a package trip but fancied this for years despite big hole in wallet! Daily short posts I think ….. Postcard from America! B. 👫


      • That Portillo series is a real inspiration. I look forward to following your adventures, pink trousers or not!


    • Dr B- if you have the option, try to include attending a showing of KÀ by Cirque du Soleil while in Las Vegas. We also endured a stop in Vegas (agree with your “yuk” comment) simply in order to see this show. It was marvelous.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve been to Wrocław a few times, but certainly you have seen more of it than me ☺️


    • Which is your favourite city and where do you recommend. I was hoping to go to Gdansk next time.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Good idea! Old city of Gdansk, although very compact, is beautiful. Not sure how interested you are in museums but Gdansk features two spectacular ones – Solidarity Center and World War II Museum – both brand new, interactive and very touching. Together with the Warsaw Apprising Museum in Warsaw there are the top ones in Poland.


      • Those Museums will be a hit for me for sure. Kim isn’t a big fan but this is the period that she finds most interesting so I will be OK with these two. Thanks for the tip.

        I visited the Uprising Museum in Warsaw a couple of years ago and thought it was excellent despite being rather confusing in layout but I guess that is deliberate?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sort of, perhaps.. you are right it wasn’t that easy to follow. Solidarity Center is great, we visited it last year and it is not that big, so 3-4 hours will suffice for a visit. Now the World War II Museum is special for another reason. This has just been built (sponsored by our previous government). Our current government (right wing) believes it’s not Polish enough, so they decided to join it with another one (which they built of course). All in all – the future of this spectacular museum is not sure, currently the tickets are free since they are not allowed (!?) to sell them :/


      • I’ll bear all of this in mind. Thanks for the information.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. They should give the franchise for cutting down the locks to a local charity and then they sell them for scrap metal value, There’s money in scrap!


  5. That padlock thing has made its way to the States too. So annoying.


  6. Wroclaw definitely on my list!


  7. I like the sound of Wroclaw!


  8. Here we do not have locks but threads and thing s like that:) human nature is the same everywhere 🙂


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