In the heart of Old Town in Wroclaw is Main Market Square, which from the very beginning has been the cultural centre of the city. Even today it is vibrant with life at any time of the day or night. This is one of the largest markets in Europe, with11 streets leading to it. Tenement houses surrounding it are a mixture of architectural styles, the grandest of which is the Tenement of the Griffins. At the heart of the Market you will find the late gothic Town Hall, housing in its basement the “Piwnica Świdnicka”, the oldest restaurant in all of Europe, famous for hosting among others, Chopin, Słowacki, Wybicki and Goethe. Still today it often hosts cabarets and chamber music concerts featuring some of the best artists.
In the western part of the Main Market Square is a very distinctive glass fountain. Its creation was controversial, because its design had been pushed through in 1996 by the then mayor of the city, despite protests by historians and those concerned about preservation of historic monuments. Initially, it was supposed to be there for only two years, but it still works, and many people cannot imagine the city without it. Residents have nicknamed it the “soap-holder” or “urinal”.
In the market of Wroclaw, you cannot miss the symbol of the city, dwarfs. They first appeared in 1982, in the form of drawings on the walls thanks to the Orange Alternative—an underground protest movement associated with the anti-Communist opposition. In June 1988 over 15000 people walked through the streets of Wrocław dressed up as dwarfs. In their current form dwarfs have become deeply rooted in Wroclaw since 2001. For example, Bibliophile sits next to the Lower Silesian Public Library, Deaf and Blind at the entrance to City Hall, and Mailman on a mailbox at the post office. You can find more of their colleagues hidden all over the city. All you have to do is look for them!
Adjacent to the northeast corner of Market Square is Salt Square, also known as the Polish Market. Originally salt was traded here, but it is often known today as Flower Square, because now you can buy flowers here until late at night. It is worth mentioning that below the Square is an underground shelter, large enough to accommodate approximately 300 people.
During the summer, the Market Square blooms with restaurants and pubs with outdoor umbrellas, attracting a variety of bands and artists—painters, sculptors, musicians and mimes. The market is also the traditional place for New Year celebrations with a big concert that brings together an audience numbering in the thousands.