The Dwarfs of Wroclaw: Gotta Catch Them All!

In the city of Wroclaw you can find more than three hundred dwarf statues. Yes, you heard that right, dwarfs. As in “Snow White and the Seven dwarfs” although I heard they prefer to call themselves “vertically impaired individuals” (I mean come on, when will the political correctness stop?).

Normal visitors come to Wroclaw and find a few dozens of these guys hidden in plain sight in the downtown area. Me? I set the goal of finding every single one of the dwarfs of Wroclaw.

Are you ready to catch them all with me?

One of the many many many dwarves of Wroclaw

One of the many many many dwarves of Wroclaw

Why are there so many dwarf statues in Wroclaw?

Back in the 80’s, communism was still present in Poland and police were very strict about any sort of secret meeting and manifestation against the ruling regime. Luckily, a group of eccentric individuals began a movement called the Orange Alternative. Their strategy? Using the absurd and the nonsensical in order to avoid being arrested by the police.

Can you treat a police officer seriously when he is asking you: “Why did you participate in an illegal meeting of dwarfs?” said one of the leaders. Their tactics involved drawing dwarf graffiti on top of the anti-communist signs that were constantly painted white by the authorities.

Crazy, uh?

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The people of Wroclaw, Poland

Eventually, the movement succeeded in planting the seeds of peaceful opposition and now there is a relatively big statue of a dwarf (called Papa Dwarf by the locals) standing in Wroclaw and funded by the modern-day government of Poland.

Yes, this is the first time in human history where a government erects a statue honoring an anarchist group. Say hello to Papa Dwarf!

Then, in 2005, the mayor of the city of Wroclaw decided to continue the tradition of having dwarf statues and hired Tomasz Moczek, a renowned Polish sculptor, to make five small dwarf statues to adorn the main touristy sights of Wroclaw’s old town.

They were an instant hit and soon the city demanded more and more dwarfs, each one representing a different profession or an aspect of everyday life.

Suddenly, medium to big size businesses wanted to have their own dwarf statues and that’s where the dwarf craze began!

Having a dwarf outside of your shop became a status symbol and each year there is an average of 30 new dwarf statues being erected!

The pole dancing dwarf at Wroclaw

The pole dancing dwarf at Wroclaw

The Wroclaw Dwarf Location Guide

In the Wroclaw tourist information center located in downtown, you can buy a dwarf map for 8 zloty (2 euros), however you should be warned that the map is from 2012 and many new dwarfs have popped up in the meantime. And the opposite is also true, sadly.

You see, some Wroclaw dwarfs are owned by medium size businesses and vanish when the businesses either go bankrupt or they move to a different location.

The worst part? Some dwarfs of the collection are located in places where average visitors cannot enter such as military offices.

In the end, I would definitely recommend you to ditch the map and just wander the city while looking down to see what might pop-up, not only it’s a more fun way of exploring Wroclaw but you’ll also feel more free since let’s be honest, finding and photographing 300+ dwarfs is a very challenging task.

My record for my six days in Wroclaw was 87 dwarfs spotted, including a trio that were about to rob an ATM! Can you believe the boldness of these little fellows?

Chasing the dwarves at Wrocalw

Chasing the dwarves at Wroclaw

What to do and see in Wroclaw besides the dwarfs?

Wroclaw was the first city I visited in Poland and so far remains as my favorite one so far, the city is so cosmopolitan and vibrant that it’s hard to get bored. I had originally planned to stay for two days but ended up spending almost one entire week since it was simply so beautiful.

Stay tuned for a future article about all the top cultural attractions of Wroclaw (as well as the day I met one of my favorite travel writers!) and for now, enjoy the breath-taking view from atop St. Elizabeth’s Church.

Amazing, isn’t it?Have you ever been to Wroclaw? Would you like to? How many dwarfs did you find? Share your thoughts and let me know what you think!!!

PS. How awesome would it be for a Mexican restaurant to commission a sombrero-wearing dwarf? :D

The colorful town of Wroclaw, Poland

The colorful town of Wroclaw, Poland

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23 Responses

  1. Tripper

    Great story and looking forward for future posts on this amazing city :)

  2. Mytanfeet

    Lol dwarves! Such a funny and random little thing. Guess every place has their little quirk!

  3. Agness

    You found them!! Well done! I played the same game 2 years ago and it was so much fun!!

  4. Dave

    I’ll definitely give some dwarf-counting a chance whenever I make it to Wroclaw. In addition to the little guys, it looks like a pretty charming city.

  5. Claudia Luxembourg

    I can’t believe you embarked in such a task, but that is pretty hilarious!!

  6. Mindi @ 2foodtrippers

    Wroclaw may be the only city in the world with its own dwarf map. How unique!

  7. Hannah Logan

    ahhhh I love them! So cute. Now I want to to Wroclaw to find dwarves! Although I am looking forward to reading what else the city has to offer too :)

  8. Michael Huxley

    Congrats on finding 87! I can imagine finding all of them to be an epic task! And I totally agree about ditching maps and just getting lost and exploring though, often the best way to see a city!

  9. Antonette Spaan

    Martijn and I had a game when there, whoever spotted a new one first would get one point. We ended in a draw and went back to the hostel. There, we went to a mall for some dinner and while stepping right out of the door, Martijn saw one right in front of it. Bummer, I’d lost…

  10. Jenna

    Fun! Nice job on finding 87 of them! I always love searching for things like this–it’s always fun having them lead to parts of the city you might not have seen otherwise, too!

  11. megan_claire

    This is the best! I would totally fly here just to go on a dwarf treasure hunt!! 87?? Challenge accepted :D

  12. Annika -Live Laugh Explore

    Amazing!! This was an awesome post Raphael :D And what a great story the dwarfs have..So nice that the city continued with the ‘tradition’ and now it’s practically a tourist draw!

  13. Els Mahieu

    Haha, lovely insight on Wroclaw! I love the history of the dwarfs!!!

  14. Baskets Life Travel

    haha I love this – it has to be one of the coolest posts I have read in awhile. I have to go to Wroclaw now just to try and catch all the dwarfs! So cool and love knowing the history behind it! Thank you so much for sharing!

  15. Jessica Janoski

    Haha what an interesting story behind these little dwarves. Although, they look like little gnomes to me :) Also, I like your Pokemon reference to catching them all, both bizarre concepts but interesting nonetheless. Thanks for sharing!

  16. Chris Boothman

    I just can’t imagine heading out experiencing a city in search for dwarfs LOL! Sorry but that just seems wrong to me! But this is a really interesting post and something so different to the norm what you would expect. Thanks for sharing this with us Raphael, I will leave the dwarf seeking to you though :)

  17. Alli Blair

    Haha! I like the ATM dwarf! Thanks for enlightening me on this cute and fun part of Wroclaw!

  18. Lynn

    Guys… those are not dwarves. They are gnomes. The explanation the polish give is they are in their gardens too… so these are your garden variety gnomes . I intend finding a lot more in seven days. Lol