There is a second city in the city, inhabited by little people, and a second society that happily lives among the Wrocławians. More and more of them are moving in every year. They work in various crafts and professions, they have their own infrastructure including post office and bank, and they enjoy their leasure time just as much as humans do. The representants appear at many street corners or doorways.
Yes I am talking about the gnomes. In Wrocław they are known als Krasnale or Krasnoludki. They are bronze figurines, approx. 30 cms high, which can be found in many spots in the old town and also in other quarters.
The origins of the gnome figures are said to be related to the Orange Alternative, a protest movement of students in 1980/81 that used the gnome as their symbol. Other locals told me, though, that this is a rumour and they are just a tourist attraction. Decide for yourselves what you want to believe!
In 2013 the total number of gnomes was given as about 250. New ones appear all the time. Most are sponsored by businesses, shops etc. who chose the motif and have the little statue created by an artist. Other gnomes refer to the historical significance and tradition of the place whre they are located, like the miller on Wyspa Piasek or the butcher in ul. Jatki.
If you want to go ‘hunting’ for them you can buy a map of the city with their locations marked at the tourist information and at souvenir and book shops. The map also has pictures of them and explanations about each gnome’s name and occupation in three languages including English. There are new ones all the time and not all of them are registered, hence the map is not complete.
I got myself the map but I think that spotting them by coincidence is more fun. Watch out for people who take photos of and/or pose for photos at weird street corners where there seems to be nothing to take a photo of... there surely is a gnome involved.
„Papa Krasnal“, the daddy of all gnomes, was the first gnome statue erected in the city in 2001. With him, the gnomes started invading the city. However, this wasn't planned. In fact this statue has a much more serious background than his ever-growing offspring, it is the memorial to the Pomarączowa Alternatywa, the Orange Alternative.
In 1981, while Poland was under martial law, an anti-communist protest movement of formed in Wrocław and other Polish cities, called the Orange Alternative. Their symbol was the dwarf, which appeared in graffiti all over the city. 20 years later the statue was erected as a memorial to their activities, in a location where many of said activities had started.
The dwarf is standing on top of an oversized fingertip. Compared to that, in natural scale he would not be taller than a few mm. Unlike his colleagues he is naked (ladies, note the view from the back, LOL - what a bum!) except for the pointed hat.
In summer 2014 I could not find him in in the place where he was supposed to be. The statue had been taken away due to construction works on the underground passage and the tram stop But at my second visit in October 2015 construction works were (almost) finished and he was back where he belongs. The exact location is at the crossing of ul. Świdnica and ul. Kazimierza Wielkiego, northeastern corner.