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All of you who visited the beautiful Polish city, Wrocław, this is not a big news. One of Wrocław’s most popular, memorable and iconic attractions is not a cathedral, not a castle or monument, but a legion of little people: Gnomes, dwarves or ‘krasnale’, to be precise.
In Wrocław’s city center these merry munchkins are simply ubiquitous – dotting doorways, alleyways and street corners; constantly underfoot but only seen by the observant. You may well overlook the first few that cross your path, but inevitably – and often literally – you will stumble upon these popular local residents. Keep your eyes peeled and you’re bound to notice the little fellas engaged in a variety of activities about town – from guarding public space to passed-out drunk. Beloved by locals and tourists alike, and the object of more photos than the towering Cathedral, these prolific pranksters have become the unlikely symbol of one of PL’s most picturesque cities.
When researching the actual number of them, I couldn’t get straight answer though. Although it is somewhere in between 163-165!
My little family visited Wrocław in 2012, and I have to say we were not able to find all of the “krasnale”, but I think we found a great amount of them! And it was especially a great entertainment for my 2.5 year old then daughter:)
I hope you enjoy few of the pictures we took with these amazing little creatures!
The first dwarf to call Wrocław home was “Papa Dwarf”, placed on Świdnicka Street in 2001. This father of the dwarves is slightly larger than the others, with a different style of construction, precedes his brethren by a few years, and carries a graver history and meaning.
Papa was placed on this main street into the city as it was here that the Orange Alternative, an anti-communist underground movement that claimed the dwarf as its symbol, used to meet in the Eighties to protest against the authoritarianism of Poland’s Soviet masters.
By adopting the imagery of the dwarf, often in graffiti over government slogans, while maintaining a non-violent stance, the group brought a lightness and hope to the struggle against communism.
You can pick up a special map from tourist information (Rynek 14) showing where to find 30 of the most centrally located gnomes, and there is even a special, dual-language (Polish and English) website dedicated to Wrocław’s gnomes – www.krasnale.pl – where you can find their history, photos and other information, including downloadable maps of their various locations. Spend an afternoon as a gnome-watcher and see how many of these mischievous miscreants you can spot as you stroll around town. Happy hunting!