The gnomes of Wroclaw, Poland

Last Updated on 8th January 2019 by Sarah and Justin

Wroclaw, Poland is known for its gnomes. It’s one of the reasons we visited the city. These diminutive statues are all over the city, and hunting for them is a main attraction in Wroclaw. We had so much fun gnome-spotting in Wroclaw! We hope our many, many pictures of the gnomes of Wroclaw inspire you to visit and hunt for gnomes yourself!

FYI, in Polish these little fellas are called “krasnale.” It’s unclear if this translates to “gnomes” or “dwarves.” We are going with “gnomes” in this post.

A word about the gnomes of Wroclaw

The gnomes started out as a reaction and peaceful protest to the Soviet regime. From 1981-1983, Wroclaw was under martial law. Many political statements and protests were made by graffiti. One of the leaders of the resistance movement painted the first gnomes on a wall in Wroclaw in 1982. More followed suit and soon gnomes were seen everywhere throughout Wroclaw and other Polish cities. The movement gained great momentum and on June 1, 1988 10,000 protesters dressed like gnomes descended on Wroclaw’s city center.

To read more about the truly fascinating history of gnomes in Wroclaw, visit the Orange Alternative Virtual Musuem

Papa Krasnal

In 2001, the city of Wroclaw decided to commemorate the local activity by placing the first Wroclaw gnome sculpture: Papa Krasnal (remember, “krasnale” are what the sculptures are called in Polish).

Papa Krasnal, Wroclaw Gnomes
Papa Krasnal is located at the corner of Świdnicka and Kazimierza Wielkiego.

A few years later a local artist had the idea to pepper Wroclaw’s streets with even more gnomes that would celebrate the local culture of the city. He started with five, but they were such a success, he ended up making over 100. Today, there are thought to be over 400 gnomes in Wroclaw. (The city has lost count!) We thought we found quite a few of them, but when we counted them up realized it was a very small percentage. Just another reason to return to Wroclaw!

All the Wroclaw gnomes we found

Okay okay. Without further ado, here they are: (some of) the gnomes of Wroclaw.

Are these gnomes making you thirsty? Read our Wroclaw craft beer guide!

How cute are they all!? Putting this post together – and reliving our time hunting for gnomes in Wroclaw – has made us so happy. We would gladly return to find more gnomes and enjoy more of what this great city has to offer.

Read next: the perfect city break in Wroclaw, Poland

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9 thoughts on “The gnomes of Wroclaw, Poland

  1. aggiemush says:

    I had no idea they were used as a form of protest, that’s actually kind of funny! It makes me more interested in it for sure! Hunting them down sounds like fun 🙂

  2. Kree says:

    I wonder if the gnome phenomenon was inspired by a protest movement in the Netherlands in the late 60s, early 70’s called the Kabouters. You can look up Roel Van Duyn’s book “Kabouter” for more info! I think that is the first time gnomes became a symbol of protest.

  3. Alan says:

    They are cute… until you trip over one and break your arm! …as I did last month. I don’t think it was one from any of the photos above, but then there are about 600 of them in the city. It was quite amusing when the doctor asked me what hapenned and I could say “I tripped over a gnome” – I’m sure she must have thought I was under the influence of some psychedelic substance!

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