The Tiny Inhabitants of Wrocław
Their biggest population can be found in Wrocław – and it is still growing! You can meet them all around the city. They have different professions; there’s a postman among them and a smith, a musician, a scientist, a doctor, a weightlifter and a dentist, a cook, a mathematician, a firefighter and even a pilot. And many more… They’re busy little creatures, doing a variety of things all day long. You can see them working, riding bikes, smelling flowers, washing cars, drawing money from ATMs, swimming, making pierogi, sleeping, reading books, drinking or… doing some sightseeing.
And of course they are a big attraction for those who are doing sightseeing themselves. They’re Wrocław’s dwarfs. Little sculptures of dwarfs that adorn the city’s streets and that have become the symbol of the city. Tourists enjoy special tours, during which they can trace them (there are almost 400 of them!). If you would like to combine your sightseeing with “hunting for dwarfs”, you can get brochures and maps that will help you find them. There are even apps for your smartphone designed specifically for this purpose.
But apart from making sightseeing of Wrocław (which is an incredible city in itself) a fun, enjoyable and one-of-a-kind experience, what’s with all these sculptures of dwarfs all over the city? Well, there’s actually quite an interesting story behind it.
Let’s go back to the 80’s for a moment. The authorities of the People’s Republic of Poland used to paint over anti-socialist texts written on walls. In turn, anti-communist activists used to paint dwarfs on the resulting spots of paint.In the second half of the 80’s, an anti-communist movement called the Orange Alternative started painting large quantities of dwarfs using the stencil graffiti technique. In 1988, thousands of people marched along the streets of Wrocław wearing dwarf hats during the so-called Dwarf Revolution.
After the fall of communism, the dwarfs were forgotten. Until 2001, when a sculpture of a dwarf on a thumb was placed on Świdnicka street to commemorate the Orange Alternative. And then until 2003, when an advertising agency advised the city of Wrocław to turn the dwarfs into its symbol.
The first five dwarfs, sculpted by Tomasz Moczek, appeared in 2005. And the idea caught on and by 2008 there were already a hundred of them! Who’s responsible for the particular dwarfs? Public institutions, political parties, companies and even citizens. Nowadays they promote the city, serve as advertisement for companies, serve social purposes, commemorate famous people or even adorn private homes.
If you’re going on the Ultimate Poland or the Polish Delight small group tour with us, keep your eyes open when you visit Wrocław and tell us how many dwarfs you’ve spotted! And if you’re thinking of taking a private, customized tour of Poland, don’t forget to tell your consultant to include Wrocław in your itinerary.