Almost all major cities have their own symbol such as a statue, bridge, tower, park or something else that comes at first to your mind when thinking of that particular city. Paris has its Eiffel Tower, New York the Empire State Building and Wroclaw...has its dwarfs. Yes, you heard that right, dwarfs.
The dwarfs of Wroclaw originate from an anti-communist underground movement called the „Orange Alternative”. It was started by students in the late 1980-ties and aimed against the military regime ruling over Poland. The main purpose of the movement was to hold peaceful protests with help of using absurd symbols in order to avoid being arrested. Graffiti of dwarfs were painted on walls and posters announcing upcoming demonstrations in the city.
The founder of the movement, Waldemar Fydrych, once said:
After the fall of the communist regime in Poland, the dwarfs have been forgotten. It wasn't until 2003 when a marketing agency from Wroclaw proposed to create a dwarf as the city's symbol. Soon after, the mayor of the city hired a well known Polish sculptor to create five bronze dwarf figures. Since then more than 300 of them can be found all over the city. They represent professions, morals and activities and are mainly sponsored by public institutions, companies or individuals.
Nowadays the little dwarfs are a major tourist attraction, loved by everyone visiting Wroclaw. There are even special tours organized along the trail of dwarfs, which is an interesting and funny way to discover the city. On the official website of Wroclaw dwarfs you can find an online map and read about the legends and stories. A free map with the main dwarfs marked can also be retrieved from the Tourist Information Center (located on the Market Square next to City Hall).