Gnomenclature: Wrocław's Gnomes

04 Oct 2017

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.

For all the trouble it gave the authorities however, the Orange Alternative was never as interested in political ideology as buffoonery. Detained in a Łódź police station for graffiti, Major Fydrych was happy to explain the gnomes to state authorities in academic terms: “The thesis is the anti-regime slogan. The anti-thesis is the spot and the synthesis is the gnome.” Spoken like a true art history student. As the Orange Alternative graduated to bigger happenings, gnomes began to appear in demonstrations as well. International Children’s Day on June 1, 1988, was celebrated in Wrocław by dozens of locals dressed as gnomes and smurfs, complete with orange hats and handkerchiefs, while an anti-Chernobyl protest saw Major Fydrych handing out iconic peaked orange gnome hats to passing pedestrians. After the fall of communism in Poland, the gnomes remained a symbol of Wrocław, repurposed by the new regime to be a tribute to the Orange Movement and playful city ambassadors.

The first gnome in its modern statuette form was Papa Krasnal who was placed in 2001 on the corner of ul. Świdnicka and ul. Kazimierza Wielkiego, near the subway where Orange Alternative demonstrations often took place.

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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