Odra - the life and soul of Wroclaw!

1 min read    8 comments

To try and imagine Wroclaw without the Odra (or Oder to give the river its common German name) is tantamount to thinking of Giza without its pyramids. The city is defined by this great sprawling river with its numerous tributaries and canals, as well as by the 12 islands and over 120 bridges that cross it - all of which bring so much life, character and charm to the Lower Silesian capital. With so many waterways and spans it is little wonder that Wroclaw has been dubbed as the 'Venice of Poland' - although new visitors to the city can take this with a pinch of salt and leave their canoes at home.

The Odra was known to the Romans as Viadrus or Viadua, and was first referred to as the Odera around 990, when it was documented as the western boundary of early Poland under duke Mieszko I. Over the centuries the river gained more and more importance to Wroclaw, both as part of the trading routes that linked Russia, Germany and Bavaria together (and as such made Polish merchants very wealthy!), and also as a source of life and energy. As early as the 13th century dams were constructed to protect the agricultural industry and water wheels and mills took advantage of the river's current to generate power.

Today Wroclaw has two ports on the Odra and the river continues to play a part in its burgeoning trade economy, forming one of the city's many great transport links.

The Odra is the second longest river in Poland, after the Vistula, covering 742km in Poland and 112km in the Czech Republic, from where it originates in the Oder Mountains. As it nears the Baltic Sea 187km of its length defines the modern day Polish-German border.


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Ora is so good

Reply Feb 8th, 2019

Yes It was known as the Oder and the western border of Poland , then why does Poland claim the Western part of the Oder? Wasn't The Oder the limit of the Piast ?

Reply Apr 26th, 2010
United States

Just getting back from spending the day in Wroclaw - what a city! Amazing! The River is beautiful! I liked Wroclaw better than Krakow.

Reply Oct 5th, 2008
Richard Edward Hayes

My wife and I had a very pleasant cruise on the Odra a week ago today, that is March 30. It was sunny and about 12 C. Wroclaw is worth a visit. Lovely Rynek and two great concerts.

Reply Apr 6th, 2008

does someone know what it costs? i'd really like to take the tour.

Reply Mar 9th, 2008
United States

I love Wroclaw, and the Odra is indeed a key part of the city's charm. It's always a pleasure to walk by the Odra come rain, snow or sunshine. When the leaves are golden it is even better!

Reply Sep 13th, 2007
John H. Eales
United Kingdom

Contained all of the information that I sought, and more !

Reply Feb 12th, 2007
S da Rosa
United States

Is a river boat ride on the Odra River a must see and do in Wroclaw?

Reply Apr 18th, 2006