What is a tourist object? This is what people from all corners of the Earth travel to see with their own eyes. For example, the Egyptian pyramids or the Old Servant geyser in Yellowstone National Park. At the same time, in our world, hungry for new impressions, the object of tourist visits can be anything, it would be advertising. Here, for example, is the monument to Yozhyn from Bazhyn in the Czech Vizovice. Just a wooden figurine – and the flow of tourists, thanks to the popular song, does not end. Of course, local pubs are flourishing – there is nothing to do in Vizovitsa, so after taking a picture with Yozhyn, tourists wander around drinking beer.
The Wroclaw gnomes are definitely more fun and interesting than Eugene. Bronze figurines of korotun in caps are placed all over Wrocław. This is a whole mini-industry. IS сайт, which tells about each of the gnomes. Local guides organize quests during which you need to visit gnomes in turn. There are nice glossy guides where every gnome is noted. Souvenirs, magnets, soft toys, candies – in the form of gnomes. In this city, they simply attack the tourist from all sides.
Why a dwarf?
Let’s start with the fact that this is the legendary patron of Wroclaw. Every Polish city has such a symbol: Krakow has a dragon, Warsaw has a mermaid, and Wrocław has a gnome. “Krasnolyud” in Polish. In the hills of Silesia, which surround the city, minerals – copper, iron, precious stones – have been mined for hundreds of years. It is not surprising that the underground inhabitants occupy an honored place in the local culture.
There is a whole collection of legends about how a brave dwarf protected the people of Wroclaw from various disasters. Here are the two legendary defenders of Wroclaw – the knight Grunwald and the red man.
But real history is often more interesting than legends. So, after the Second World War, Poland became the center of the pro-Soviet bloc of European countries. It was in Warsaw that the treaty that divided Europe into spheres of influence was signed. Part of Silesia again passed from Germany to Poland, and the city, which had been called Breslau for several centuries, became Wroclaw again. This is often the case with border territories between powerful states: they regularly change hands.
In pro-Soviet Poland, anti-communist sentiments were severely persecuted. Those who did not support the party and the government were arrested, sent to prisons, and sent to camps. Of course, there was no Gulag system in Poland – but the concentration camps built by the Germans during the war remained. And although they stopped burning people there, the camps functioned as part of the penitentiary system.
The tension in society was growing, but the Poles were afraid of direct protests. It was then that the Orange Alternative emerged – an informal movement whose participants wore orange gnome caps during actions. The members of the movement organized absurd actions without political overtones – although at that time any mass action that did not receive the approval of the authorities had political overtones. For example, once the orange gnomes announced the distribution of free toilet paper. It would be funny if there was not a shortage of toilet paper in Poland. This event was even written about in the Western mass media.
But the loudest action of the Orange Alternative was called “Gnome Demonstration” in 1987. At that moment, the guys in the caps managed to get quite fed up with the authorities, so the order went out: to arrest the gnomes. It was assumed that there would be many detainees, so a force of voluntary folk wives was brought in to help the police. The problem is that many soldiers also turned out to be dwarfs. During the demonstration, when the order was given to arrest the participants, the guards took out and put on the caps – and it turned out that the dwarves were arresting the dwarves!
In a few years, the Soviet Union collapsed, and Poland changed its development vector to a pro-Western one. And in the early 2000s, the residents of Wroclaw decided to perpetuate the memory of the events of those years by erecting a monument to the gnome. I wonder if they thought then that dwarves lived in large families?
The first five bronze gnomes were produced and placed by order of the city authorities. And then every self-respecting company in Wroclaw, every shop, considered it their duty to make and install a gnome of their profession – a confectioner, a musician, a plumber, a banker and even a thief. It is impossible to say exactly how many gnomes there are in Wroclaw. First, new ones are constantly being added; secondly, old people are constantly being robbed. But in 2014, another European dwarf was installed under the number 300. So there is never a dull moment in Wroclaw – in such a company 🙂