The capital of Lower Silesia (Dolny Slask) has a huge Old Town built on several islands connected by over 100 bridges. Apart from its unique location, Wroclaw amazes with its volume of Gothic, Baroque and Art Nouveau architecture. Several musical and theatre festivals, as well as its busy nightlife, attract innumerable visitors from all over Poland and abroad. Wroclaw's extremely complicated history, combining the cultural influences of Germany, Bohemia, Austria and Poland, has left its mark on the atmosphere of the city.
Wroclaw is the principal city of Lower Silesia, a voivodship situated in the south-western corner of Poland, adjoining the German and Czech territories. Its population of 632,000 makes it the fourth largest city in Poland.
Wroclaw is picturesquely located on several rivers: the Odra and the smaller tributaries Olawa, Sleza, Bystrzyca and Widawa. Consequently, the city lies on 12 islands linked by many bridges. The Cathedral Island, the first Slavic settlement site, is no longer an island as a branch of the Odra was filled in. Wroclaw is the capital of Lower Silesia, one of Poland's voivodships. The region to the north is characterised by flatlands and is predominantly rural, while to the south Lower Silesia is bordered by the Sudeten Mountains – a popular tourist destination in winter and in summer.
The history of Wroclaw is one of tumultuous and dramatic events. It began in the 10th century on Ostrow Tumski (the Cathedral Island) where Czechs founded the first town. Wroclaw then came under Polish rule, brought about by Prince Mieszko I in the 10th century. In 1000 it was already quite a large stronghold and the seat of a bishopric. After the Tatars invaded Poland, the town was moved to the left bank of the Odra River and rebuilt on a pattern that has survived to the present day.