When you are wandering the streets of Wroclaw, look high at the great buildings, but also look low, towards the ground. Look for the gnomes!
There is a history behind them, and they have to do with Poland’s anti-Soviet reisitence in the 1980’s. Basically, this guy, Waldemar Fydrych dressed up as a gnome to protest against the Soviet regime. The Soviets realised that it would look really dumb to shoot a man dressed in a long cap and so they left him to be. As he handed out sanitary towels (hard to get at the time in Soviet era Poland), and pretended to be a Major to get out of military service. Brilliant or barmy, he had a lot of balls to stand up to one of the more terrifying regimes that existed in the latter part of the 20th century.
This blog explains the history behind the gnomes a lot better than I do. And they are cute. Cute to look at, cute to find, and especially cute to give a rub to. Florianek (below) is meant to be especially lucky. Well, I did have a very lucky time in Wroclaw. I got guided round locked churches, managed to swindle sweet opera seats and had my best meal in the country, here, in Wroclaw. Really, I was very impressed with the city, and I have to thank, my sweet little gnome for helping me…
How many gnomes are there? Well, the internet states anything from 15 to 50. I saw a pitiful four. Yeah. Pitiful.
But hey, they were a fun task to find, and I am sure one day, just like Zelda, there will be an online guide to find each and every statuette in Wroclaw. Until then, if you are visiting Wroclaw, see if you can spot a few of these little munchkins!