If you’re visiting Wrocław in the summer, you may find it quite difficult to leave the charming PURO garden. With its view of a green promenade stretching over a moat, it is truly an oasis in the center of the bustling city, calm and pleasantly cold. I will do my best, however, to show you why you should see what is hidden outside the hotel premises, but in the neighborhood—the so-called Four Denominations District.
Since PURO Wrocław is located in the Four Denominations District, you can easily take a walk with your slippers on. The district, enclosed by four streets—Kazimierza Wielkiego, Świętego Mikołaja, Pawła Włodkowica, and Świętego Antoniego—takes its common name from four temples located no further than 300 meters from one another. There is the Polish Orthodox Church of the Birth of the Holy Mother (1), (dating back to the turn of the 16th century), the Roman Catholic Church of St. Anthony of Padua (2), (the oldest Baroque church in Wrocław, dating back to the late 17th century), the Evangelical Church of God’s Providence (3), (built in 1750), and the White Stork Synagogue (4), (opened in 1829). Remember that the name is just a common, unofficial way of referring to this specific part of the city recognized in the register of historic places. The name gained popularity as late as the mid-1990s and symbolizes the multicultural character of post-WWII Wrocław.
Walking down św. Antoniego, Włodkowica, and Ruska streets, it is worth looking up to see Neoclassical, Art Nouveau, and Modernist architecture romantically blend with one another. Surely worth visiting are all the hidden and out-of-this-world courtyards. Passionate Instagrammers will definitely appreciate what’s known as the neon passage (5) (Ruska 46 and św. Antoniego 23), with walls covered all the way up with neon lights from the 1960s and ‘70s - we have already written about this phenomenon here. This is where you can visit Recepcja (6), the Wrocław Culture Zone info point with an exhibition and co-working space occasionally turned into a party venue.
Enjoy the incredibly green Old Town Promenade (Promenada Staromiejska) just a few steps away from the back entrance at PURO Wrocław
The Crystal Planet by Wrocław-based artist Ewa Rossano symbolizes the unity of the world despite religious and cultural differences; św. Antoniego Street in the background
Inside of one of the two Orthodox churches in Wrocław - the Polish Orthodox Church of the Birth of the Holy Mother
Another must-see spot is Pokoyhof Passage/Pasaż Pokoyhof (7). Built in 1910, it regained its glory after a thorough renovation completed in 2013 and has been an architectural marvel ever since. Appealing as it sounds, the place is also known for its intensive nightlife all week long. From the early hours, Charlotte bistro (8) offers breakfasts and lures passers-by with the smell of freshly-baked goods. Later in the afternoon, it is joined by, among others, Rumbar (9)—the Wrocław’s Embassy of Rum—where you can try about 150 types of this drink and relish plenty of fish and seafood full of aromatic spices straight from the Mediterranean. Św. Antoniego 2/4—this address is definitely worth remembering since it is one of the best locations in the city, offering delicious, fairy priced food late into the evening! And if you want to burn some calories right away, go to iconic Szajba (10) located next door and dance all night long!
When you take a stroll back to św. Antoniego and re-enter the narrow passage next to Pokoyhof, you’ll reach a yard with the monumental White Stork Synagogue in the center. Make yourself comfortable outside Mleczarnia (11) —iconic among students—or the newly-opened Zbawcy Win (12). Time passes differently when you sit in the shade of an old chestnut tree and sun-steeped facades.
The Four Denominations District abounds in culinary denominations as well. Lovers of pizza and pasta will find their Mecca in Vaffanapoli (13) (Włodkowica 13), Margherita (14) (Krupnicza 10), Domek nad Fosą (15) (the crossing of Krupnicza and Podwale), and AleBrowar (16) (Włodkowica 27), with the last offering pizza and craft beer from their own brewery. Lovers of Asian cuisine should go in the direction of Osiem Misek (17) (Włodkowica 27)—Asian fusion restaurant with bao, pad thai, curry, and ramen prepared with a European flair. If you love sushi, a phenomenal spot is right around the corner. Noriko Sushi (18), located at Plac Wolności 7, has only eight guest seats and a chef specializing in orthodox versions of the Japanese specialty. Lunch or dinner in Noriko are all about fresh, top quality fish served as single nigiris prepared one after another. Believe it or not, nowhere in Poland will you have a chance to try something like that! Should you feel like eating Tex-Mex, go to Panczo (19) (św. Antoniego 35/1A); and if you’d rather have some traditional American burgers, choose Pasibus (20) (ul. Włodkowica 37). Those of you willing to enjoy Polish cuisine will not regret visiting Restauracja Jasna (21) (Włodkowica 18), a place that favors regional products and recipes. For dessert, you must go to Krasnolód (22) and find out what Wroclaw-based ice-cream artisans have to offer.
Respect, tolerance, and the diversity of denominations are continuously promoted and fostered via numerous cultural events organized in the neighborhood. Those include św. Antoniego Street Holiday, Summer in the White Stork Synagogue, and Simcha—a festival of Jewish culture. Located at the intersection of Kazimierza Wielkiego and św. Antoniego is the iconic Kino Nowe Horyzonty (23), a movie theater as big as a multiplex yet resembling an arthouse with its choice of films. The theater hosts Festiwal Nowe Horyzonty/New Horizons Festival in the summer, American Films Festival in the fall, Bike Days in the spring, and cyclical Films For Food I have the pleasure to co-organize. Summing up, one thing is certain; no matter when you book your stay at PURO, its closest neighborhood will keep you excited!
Places & addresses
1. Polish Orthodox Church of the Birth of the Holy Mother, Świętego Mikołaja 40
2. Roman Catholic Church of St. Anthony of Padua, Świętego Antoniego 30
3. Evangelical Church of God’s Providence, Kazimierza Wielkiego 29
4. White Stork Synagogue, Pawła Włodkowica 7
5. Neon passage, Ruska 46 and św. Antoniego 23
6. Recepcja, Ruska 46C
7. Pokoyhof, Świętego Antoniego 2/4
8. Charlotte, Świętego Antoniego 2/4
9. Rumbar, Świętego Antoniego 2/4
10. Szajba, Świętego Antoniego 2/4
11. Mleczarnia, Włodkowica 5
12. Zbawcy Win, Włodkowica 9
13. Vaffanapoli, Włodkowica 13
14. Margherita, Krupnicza 10
15. Domek nad Fosą, crossing of Krupnicza and Podwale
16. AleBrowar, Włodkowica 27
17. Osiem Misek, Włodkowica 27
18. Noriko Sushi, Plac Wolności 7
19. Panczo, Św. Antoniego 35/1A
20. Pasibus, Włodkowica 37
21. Jasna, Włodkowica 18
22. Krasnolód, Włodkowica 25
23. Kino Nowe Horyzonty / Nowe Horyzonty Movie Theater, Kazimierza Wielkiego 19a-21
Agnieszka Szydziak - gourmet with a responsible palate, promoter of Wroclaw’s food culture, editor-in-chief at Have a Bite, food marketing specialist.
Agnieszka Szydziak, courtesy of restaurants and institutions