Wrocław is situated in the south-west part of Poland and is the capital city of the Lower Silesian Voivodeship — a province (voivodeship) created in 1999. Wrocław is also the historical capital of Silesia and Lower Silesia and was founded in the 10th century. With its more than 600,000 inhabitants it is the fourth largest town in Poland.
After the 2nd World War on 24 August 1945 and after almost 800 years of being under foreign domination of Bohemia, Hungary, the Austrian Empire, Prussia and Germany Wrocław (German Breslau) came back to Poland as a result of the post-war border changes. Within that long period of not being governed by the Kingdom of Poland it developed intensively. For instance, in the 14th and 15th centuries it was one of the biggest and richest cities in the middle Europe. Several local wars in the 15th and 16th centuries led to a change in the directions of former trade routes and loss of Eastern markets. The 30-year War in Europe and Black Death in 17th century ended in a crash of the city which resulted in the deterioration of its condition. From the 18th century it was under the Prussian domination, yet economically it was still connected with Poland through trade and handicraft. The last Prussian period in the town’s history resulted in the 19th–century rich industrialization process that brought about the Wrocław’s further development. Some examples are as follows: railway lines and stations including the Wrocław Main Railway Station (German Breslau Hauptbahnhof, Polish Wrocław Główny – 1857) that is the largest, recently renovated and refurbished railway station in the Lower Silesia Voivodeship and one of the largest stations in Poland, new districts, bridges, churches, public utility facilities, and objects like: the 112.5-meter long suspension Grunwaldzki Bridge (1910) over the Oder River — one of the longest bridges of its kind in Poland, the Community (now Centennial) Hall (Polish Hala Ludowa or Hala Stulecia – 1913 being put on the UNESCO World Heritage List), the Olympic Stadium (1928) that was built to be a site for the planned 1936 Olympic Games (the Summer Olympics) that were never held because of the Nazi times, and many others.
Wrocław is the old Polish town — the town of beautiful, medieval architecture with an old 10th–century Cathedral, a gothic Town Hall, many churches and houses built within different centuries, many monuments of art and relics of the past — among them there is the Racławice Panorama. It is a monumental (15 × 114 meter) cycloramic painting depicting the Battle of Racławice during the Kościuszko Uprising against Imperial Russia and the Kingdom of Prussia led by Tadeusz Kościuszko in 1794. The painting was done by 9 Polish famous painters at the end of the 19th century. Because of its large size it is located in the specially built rotunda’s iron structure.
The town was built on the Oder River which has many branches around the oldest parts of the city which resulted in building 100 bridges and 33 footbridges and overpasses over the river. For this reason Wrocław is named “Venice of the North” and belongs to various cities in northern Europe that contain canals, comparing them to Venice, Italy. It is also called “the town of green” (5,500 ha) since there are some forests, many (44) parks, lawns, urban greenery, allotments, and gardens. The Szczytnicki Park is one of the largest town parks (100 ha) in Poland with many dendrological rarities and an original Japanese Garden — a unique, lively fragment of Japanese culture in Europe.
Lower Silesia is the historical and geographical south-western region of the Republic of Poland and, as Wrocław, was under control of different kingdoms, monarchies and states throughout its history. It shares its borders with Germany in the west and with the Czech Republic in the south. It is a relatively short distance from Wrocław to Prague (about 300 km), the Czech Republic and to Dresden (about 270 km) or Berlin (about 350 km), Germany.
This region of Poland is rich with the precious natural resources of hard coal (anthracite) and lignite (brown coal), the ores of copper, nickel, chromium, arsenic, as well as the deposits of uranium, barites and fluorites. There are a lot of other earth’s riches that are intensively exploited, for instance rocks (granite, basalt), sand and wood.
There are many historical palaces, castles, abbeys, churches, manors, and courts built in the different architectural styles from 10th to 20th centuries, and many fortifications including fortresses and forts, as well. The famous churches, two of which are in the UNESCO World Heritage List, are the Churches of Peace in Świdnica and Jawor.
The Western and Central Sudety Mountains (the Sudetes or the Sudeten) stretch out along the southern “natural” border with the Czech Republic. Within the Western Sudeten are the Karkonosze Mountains with the highest peak of the whole mountain range Śnieżka (1,603 masl). This region of Lower Silesia is well-known because of many tourist and ski resorts with many attractive hiking and ski trails and pistes, as well as with many different ski lifts.