The first impression
Back to Wrocław now after the recent excursions… During my October 2015 stay, I extended my range to some parts of the city that I had not explored before. In particular the area north of the river. This quarter is simply named Nadodrze, “over the river Odra”.
I got off the tram at Ogród Botaniczny stop and started walking. This quarter has a very mixed appearance. A notable amount of pre-war townhouses have been preserved. War damage was not as bad as in the south and west of the city, although there must have been significant gaps, which have later been filled with apartment blocks in that cheapo style (or lack thereof) of the communist 1950s or 1960s. Many buildings are terribly run down, while others have been neatly renovated. This is the real Poland, entirely unspoilt by tourists.
Soon I reached the church of St Michael, which is surrounded by a small park. The neogothic church was built in 1862–1871 as the catholic parish church of the northern city quarter. Already during the construction works the northern spire collapsed. This lead to a change of plans, which lead to the picturesque silhouette with unequal steeples.
The church interior is closed with wrought-iron gates and glass doors, so that only a glance inside is possible from the doors.
The church is surrounded by a park. In former times this may have been a churchward, nowadays it is a welcome bit of green among the densely built streets. It gives the large church building enough space around it to be seen as a whole and to be impressed by its size. When it was built, it was the largest church in the city.
From there I walked along side streets with late 19th century houses in the typical eclectic style of the Gründerzeit (“founders*’ era”), the last decades of the 19th century. After a thorough renovation this could be a beautiful residential quarter.
The busy ul. Poniatowskiego led me towards another interesting church. This neoclassical building was originally built as a protestant church in 1821–1823. The neoclassical architecture is a design by Karl Ferdinand Langhans. Nowadays it is a catholic church, dedicated to St Joseph. It was open but I could not walk around because mass was about to begin and people were already assembling.
More side streets with late 19th century townhouses took me to plac św. Macieja, Matthiasplatz in German times. The U-shaped square was planned in the 1870s according to models in Paris. Upscale residential townhouses surround it. Architectural elements like diagonally cut-off corners, oriels and towers emphasize the street corners.
The space within contains a small park. Through wrought-iron gates the passer-by enters the gravelled paths and perhaps imagines well-dressed bourgeois people enjoying a walk among the green, children in white dresses being taken out by their nanny, gentlemen smoking their pipes on the benches...
Plac Macieja is close to the river bank and close to tram tracks. For the sake of my tired feet I hopped onto the next tram.