Wroclaw’s influences are reflected in its architecture, with its huge Germanic churches, Flemish-style mansions, and Baroque palaces. The city’s center is known as the Rynek, with a 13th century town hall with a magnificently ornate façade. Today the town hall is the Historical Museum. In one corner of the Rynek are two mysterious Baroque houses known locally as Hansel and Gretel, which are linked to St. Elizabeth’s Church, the finest of Wroclaw’s churches. The 90-meter tower on the church is the city’s most recognizable landmark. In the Jewish quarter nearby you can see the largest synagogue in Poland, the Synagoga pod Bialym Bocianem, even though the majority of the inhabitants of this area were driven out by the Nazis. North of the Rynek is the historic university quarter, with an abundance of affordable cafes and small bookshops. Also worth exploring is the Wyspa Piasek, an island featuring the 14th century church of St. Mary of the Sands with an exquisite vaulted ceiling. The island can be approached by crossing one of two little bridges from the heart of the city.
Wroclaw’s best-known attraction is the Raclawice Panorama, a painting commemorating the Russian army’s defeat in 1894 by Polish militias at Krakow. The painting is massive, measuring 120 meters long and 15 meters high and commissioned by the militia’s leader Tadeusz Kosciuszko. Nearby is the National Museum which has colorful exhibitions featuring 20th century Polish artists like Josef Szajana.