Sources vary regarding when dwarfs started first appearing in Wroclaw. One thing is for certain: they were originally associated with a political movement, but their appearance in the city was soon embraced by officials. The first dwarfs were sculpted by an artist. But so taken were people with their presence and the air of whimsy they lent to the city, that more dwarfs began to appear. The city even has its own dwarf museum, but you can’t visit it because only someone the size of a dwarf will fit through its tiny door!
Actually, it’s surprising that dwarfs haven’t made an appearance in more cities throughout Poland and Eastern Europe. In Slavic countries, house spirits—tiny, invisible creatures—were in times past appeased with rituals and treats to protect the home. And magic certainly survives in Slavic legends and fairytales. Surely not all dwarfs have moved to the forest and many now inhabit the lovely cities and towns of Poland. Wroclaw has embraced the existence of dwarfs, and an entire culture has developed around them.
Dwarf Hunting in WroclawOne favorite activity of visitors to Wroclaw is dwarf hunting or dwarf spotting (you don’t actually hunt the dwarfs; you go around the city and find as many as you can). You can limit your search of dwarfs to the old part of Wroclaw or expand it to the city. Maps for either type of dwarf hunt are available for visitors to use.
Types of DwarfsEach dwarf in Wroclaw has a name and a particular purpose or role. Dwarfs can be found near major landmarks, practicing their occupation, or even exercising their right of protest. For example, the prisoner dwarf may have some connection to the political movement that started the dwarf tradition in the first place. Some dwarfs represent social causes, such as the dwarfs with disabilities, one of whom is in a wheelchair. Other dwarfs in Wroclaw include the Washer, found by the riverside; the Withdrawer, who stands outside the main bank on Old Market Square; the cheery Well-Wisher, who runs his own Facebook account and blog; the Traveler, walking with his luggage and a coat draped over one arm; and the Miller who minds his milling wheel. Female dwarfs are rare, but they can be found on occasion.
The number of dwarfs (some say 40 or more) is growing. Some are easily spotted and others are more difficult to find. Some photographers have captured dwarfs in action and have created photo galleries of the dwarfs, but it can be difficult to keep up with their increasing population. In addition, sometimes dwarfs are stolen or vandalized, which makes their numbers fluctuate.