Gnomenclature: Wrocław's Gnomes

30 Aug 2016

One of Wrocław’s most popular, memorable and iconic attractions is not a cathedral, not a castle or monument, but a legion of little people: Gnomes, or ‘krasnale’ (in local parlance), to be precise. In Wrocław’s city centre these merry munchkins are simply ubiquitous - dotting doorways, alleyways and street corners; constantly underfoot but only seen by the observant. You may well overlook the first few that cross your path, but inevitably – and often literally - you will stumble upon these popular local residents. Keep your eyes peeled and you’re bound to notice the little fellas engaged in a variety of activities about town – from guarding public space to passed-out drunk. Beloved by locals and tourists alike, and the object of more photos than the towering Cathedral, these prolific pranksters have become the unlikely symbol of one of PL’s most picturesque cities.

Although it sounds like little more than a twee tourist gimmick, gnomes have long held a place in Polish folklore, and their current iconic incarnation as symbols of Wrocław actually has a direct correlation to the political climate of the 1980s. Under communism gnomes became the absurdist calling card of the 'Orange Alternative' movement – an underground protest movement that used absurdity and nonsense to stage peaceful, yet subversive protests. Armed with paint cans and led by Waldemar ‘Major’ Fydrych, an artist and art history student at Wrocław University, the group specifically ridiculed the establishment’s attempts to censor public space. During communism, any anti-establishment graffiti or public art was quickly painted over by the militia; upon seeing fresh daubs of paint, the pranksters of the Orange Alternative quickly painted over them yet again...with gnomes. As the movement gained popularity, gnomes became inexorably linked with the Orange Alternative and Wrocław, though they soon began appearing in other major Polish cities as well.

Associated Venues


 ul. Kiełbaśnicza 24
Find this little snorer outside the entrance of Hotel Patio.


 ul. Świdnicka


 ul. Borowska 138


 ul. Cybulskiego 30-34


 Wrocław Zoo, ul. Wróblewskiego 1-5
See if you can spot this funny pair near the hippopotamus habitat.


 ul. Bujwida 44

Młynarz Tumski

 Wyspa Słodowa (near Tumski Hotel)

Panna Pychotka

 ul. Sądowa 14 (in Społem shop)
An ornery lady gnome wielding a frying pan inside the Społem convenience store.


 ul. Ruska 3/4


 Rynek (near the entrance to the Town Hall)


 Corner of ul. Św. Mikołaja and ul. Odrzańska


 ul. Świdnicka (next to the Post Office)


 ul. Włodkowica 8


 ul. Więzienna (on the windowsill of the old prison building)


 Rynek (near the entrance to the Town Hall)


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