Poland: Wroclaw – Gnomes of Wroclaw

As you walk around Wrocław admiring all the architecture, it’s easy to miss the small things on the ground – hundreds of gnomes or dwarfs that are emblematic and iconic of the city. The gnomes are literally everywhere, especially in the old town. The official count of all the gnomes is 153, however unofficially there are over 350. The gnome tradition dates to the medieval times when gnomes were seen as fairy tale protectors of the city and its residents, but the actual mini statues are quite recent. At the end of the communist oppression in the 1980s, people started drawing gnomes graffiti over the communist totalitarian propaganda, that eventually grew into an opposition movement known as Orange Alternative. The communism collapsed in 1989, and amidst the celebrations, Wrocław erected its first statue of Papa Kransal (“Papa Gnome”). And since then, gnomes started appearing everywhere – some akin to fairytale characters, some imitating real life celebrities, some doing modern things like taking money from ATM or photographing city tourist sites. We counted around 50 gnomes during our time in Wrocław.