The university of Wrocław was founded in 1702 by Emperor Leopold - hence the name Leopoldina, which still sticks with the main aula. It was a Jesuit university, in other words, catholic and counter-reformatory. The city was predominantly protestant at that time, so the university could not move into any seat within the city. Magistrate and citizens would have objected. Only a small stretch of land along the river bank, the grounds of the old castle, were in the hands of the Emperor. So this estate was used to build the university, the church and the Jesuit convent.
This explains the limited space between the university building and the streets of the old town. The architecture could have done with a wide square in front for better effect, but there was no room for that. The best photo options are thus across the river, from Most Universitecki and the Marina or from Wyspa Slodowa.
The building complex on the river bank has a representative character. Originally, as the plan shows, it was meant to be much larger. The present building covers about 60% of the intended length. The present main tower was meant to be one of two symmetrical side towers, while above the gate, which was to be the middle of the building, a much higher central tower had been planned. The Prussian conquest of Silesia in 1741 set an end to these plans.
The baroque halls in the main university building are the most magnificent interiors in the wholce city and should not be missed. A lot has already been written about them so I don't have to describe them in detail again.
The Aula Leopoldina, the large main hall, survived the war relatively unharmed. It needed some restorations of course, but what you see is largely original. The frescoes and statues show the history of the university, celebrities from various sciences, allegoric figures and so on. Let the photos speak for themselves.
The Oratorium Marianum, however, suffered severe damage. The interior and the frescoes have been reconstructed. To paint the frescoes as close to the original style as possible, the university hired the best specialist available, the painter Christoph Wetzl from Dresden. In May 2014 the frescoes of the ceiling have been completed and the Oratorium Marianum can now be admired in full splendour. Only underneath the gallery a few pictures are yet to be completed - Wetzl is currently working on them. Both halls are used as venues for university events and celebrations. We had the opening ceremony of the summer language classes in Oratorium Marianum.
The full museum visit includes the Aula Leopoldina, the Oratorium Marianum, the museum exhibitions, and the viewpoint on the tower. There are tickets for two, three, or all four of these attractions - I recommend doing the full tour.
Sorry I cannot tell you about ticket prices, audioguide and such, as I had the special pleasure to be guided by the director of the museum in person and was considered a guest. Our tour took at least twice as long as the usual visit and included at least three times as much information... A chance that one does not refuse!
Please consult the website of the museum: http://muzeum.uni.wroc.pl for opening hours, actualities, temporary exhibitions and practical details.
View from the Mathematical Tower
The tower on the old university building is known as the „Mathematical“ tower - mathematics included astronomy and that's what the tower was used for by the early scientists.
Nowadays the terrace is a viewpoint. If you visit the old university, don't limit yourselves to the halls but buy the full ticket and climb up. Unfortunately there is no ticket for visiting just the tower, we could have done with that as we both had visited the building before.
The terrace is not very high above the roofs of the surrounding houses, so it is no „bird's eye“ view but rather like being on a rooftop. The higher buildings, towers and spires form a skyline along the horizon. The other side overlooks the river and the islands. Located between Oder bank and old town, you are 'in the middle of things' and able to enjoy a fine view together with the statues of the four cardinal virtues.
The University Church of the Holiest Name of Jesus (a typical Jesuit dedication) has Wrocław's most opulent baroque interior. As it was founded by Emperor Leopold for the Jesuit order as stronghold of the catholic confession in the predominantly protestant city, the best was just good enough and money was no issue. The result is overwhelming. Any guidebook will give a description so I don't have to repeat everything here. The interior is a total art work of architecture, sculpture, stucco and fresco painting.
You can pay a virtual visit of the church and explore all details of the frescoes on the website of the „virtual museum of baroque frescoes in Lower Silesia“: http://www.wirtualnefreski.pl/miejscowosci,kosciol-uniwersytecki-pw-najswietszego-imienia-jezus All explanations are in Polish only, but the quality of the panoramas and photos is top class.
A side chapel opposite the entrance contains a familiar statue: a copy of Michelangelo's Pietà from St Peter in Rome.