Visit the fourth biggest city in most countries and you might not be expecting much... a couple of factories, a few ring roads and a smattering of provincial discos. In Wroclaw Poland however what you're in for is a very pleasant surprise. Often overshadowed by touristy Krakow, or the capital Warsaw, little Wroclaw punches far above its weight with attractions that are finally being discovered by the rest of Europe. Leafy belts of green along the river Oder, cycling paths alongside canals and over a hundred bridges draw comparisons with a miniature Amsterdam, whilst one of the most splendid squares on the continent deserves unique recognition. These and other treasures, such as the twin-towered cathedral, dozens of Gothic churches, several delightful parks, including the Japanese and Botanical Gardens, mark Wroclaw as an obvious tourist destination, but it's the atmosphere of the place that has people coming back again and again. The atmosphere of sheer 'laidbackness'. Whether its coffees in charismatic cafes, beers on the benches of the Rynek's restaurants, or vodka shots in the pulsating hotspots of Pasaz Niepolda, Wroclaw is the perfect place to relax, talk, dance... and drink!

Take a short stroll up from the Market Square (Rynek) to Wroclaw University and you will see one of the city's most famous statues: 'The Naked Fencer', or 'Szermierz' in Polish. According to local legend whenever a pretty virgin girl happens to glance at the, ahem, 'sword' of the celebrated monument then the metal warrior's weapon... how can we put this... 'readies itself for battle'.

If you're wondering whether that self-proclaimed 'strict Catholic girl' you met the night before is telling porkie pies or not, then it's time for a little walk to the University Quarter.


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