Rynek, the main square, is the heart of Wrocław. In fact it is not an open square but a wide, almost square ring around the historical city hall and a block of houses with three lanes in the middle. In German it was even named „Ring“. Rynek is connected with Plac Solny, the „salt market“, a smaller square that opens on the southwestern corner. Plac Solny is the seat of the flower market.
After the damage in World War II the historical houses were rebuilt rather soon. Rynek is surrounded mostly by renaissance and baroque facades, some original, some 19th century „neo“, painted in all shades of pastel colours, with the occasional art nouveau building in between.
There is a lot to look at. The most iconic view is certainly the eastern facade of the city hall. The square has several monuments, including the one for the poet Aleksander Fredro, the pillory in front of the town hall, some gnome figures, and a couple of fountains. The most recent addition is the modern glass fountains on the western side. When the fountain was installed, discussions were controversial, many were against „that modern stuff“. Now that it is there, the fountain has quickly become a part of the Rynek ensemble and a popular spot for photos. Many tourists pose with it and have their pictures taken. The water is particularly welcome on hot summer's days.
The combination of water and glass also invites to try some experimental photography. Light and effects are already quite good in the daytime, but they are even more fascinating after dark. If you have a tripod, you have even more possibilities. But there is enough light to try without.
I was hanging out in Rynek almost daily, doing my homework on the terrace of Pod Gryfami or another of the many street cafes round the square, walking or sitting on a bench to people-watch, and enjoying the performances of the many street artists. Rynek is always lively. There is always something going on. Sometimes a bit too much… Acoustics in the square are very good, and hearing two or three bands playing simultaneously may overstrain the spectator’s ears.
You probably know the Indian saying: No matter how fast you travel, the soul walks. When I return to Wrocław, I am never really and completely „there“ until I had my first coffee in Rynek…
Rynek attracts people all the time – that means a good chance for street artists to make some money. Artists of all kinds are there any time. Musicians, dancers, living statues, painters, magicians, clowns, gymnasts… options seem endless. Some are there regularly, others are travelling and come to perform only once or a few days in a row, then disappear. It takes a good show to attract the crowd’s attention.
The painter was there more or less daily, painting portraits and caricatures of customers on the spot. The guitar player with the curly hair was also a regular. One day he became the painter’s model…
My favourite among the regulars was The Invisible Beggar. This guy was present in Rynek almost every day, or rather, he was not... who knows. There was a pair of shoes, an old baseball cap for coins, and a sign that translates to „I am invisible“. In those weeks I spent in Wrocław I never saw who is behind it. After two weeks he had extended his business (see second photo). Yes I paid him... as a reward for the funny idea!
The pavement of Rynek must be the cleanest place in the whole city centre, regarding the amount of soap that goes down on it every day... Soap bubble making is a popular entertainment. There is always a guy or two or three with a bucket of soapsuds and self-made constructions of two sticks and a thin rope tied into either one big or a couple of smaller slings. The rope is dipped into the soapsuds and the wind does the rest of the work. The result can be gigantic. Usually they also let children use their equipment and make bubbles. Of course the guys appreciate a little donation.
The soap-bubble men are always surrounded by spectators. Proud parents and grandparents love taking photos of their offspring. Children love making bubbles, and they also love chasing bubbles to pop them. Others, like me, love taking photos of the bubbles, so there can be a conflict of interests sometimes, LOL. Anyway, the delicate, rainbow-coloured artefacts call to be banned into pixels before they end their short existence. Even wedding photographers have discovered this photo option.
Wedding Photo sessions seem to be a big affair in Poland. You encounter bridal couples and photographers more or less every day of the week so I assume that they don't do their photo sessions on the wedding day itself but on a different day, also because they take so long. Photographers have plenty of ideas for romantic, strange, and sometimes downright silly poses so this is really hard work for the „happy couple“. Besides I'd rather not ask what the beautiful white dress will look like at the end of the session, after having been in touch with, for example, a bicycle chain, soapsuds, and the generally dirty pavement...