Nadodrze is the island between the two major forks in the Odra River, which runs through Wrocław. It’s long been a working-class neighborhood, with many pre-war buildings which look like they haven’t been touched since the war; however, more modern (yet aesthetically jarring) buildings are quickly going up amongst the ruins. It’s is supposedly a bad neighborhood; many of my Polish friends don’t want to walk around there at night. But with the new apartment buildings bringing in young, working professionals (ok, yuppies, let’s call ’em like we see ’em), there’s a crop of fancy coffee shops, restaurant, and hipster boutiques popping up between the mom-and-pop grocery stores and sketchy 24-hour ‘casinos’. My guess is it won’t belong before this neighborhood is the new Žižkov (y’all know I hate comparing things to Brooklyn).
Last weekend, when we had great spring weather, I was walking to my friend’s apartment when we saw a driveway with an interesting mural, and we walked through (well, Ala knew it was there, she brought me on purpose, knowing I couldn’t resist) and we spent a good half hour exploring local artwork and taking pictures. Ducking into courtyards along Ulica Roosevelta leads to alleyways covered in themed murals, such as one courtyard full of famous art pieces like Chagall, Mondrian, and Frida Kahlo:
Another alleyway across the street leads to walls covered in pictures of the people who live there, their pets, and some tropical scenes with porcelain figures attached directly to the wall. Also, there is a poem “Pół Stołu”, which means “half the table” is it’s really sad. (It’s about someone sitting by themselves at breakfast, with half the table empty and you can probably extrapolate from that.)
If you’d like to learn more about this courtyard and its artwork, you can check out this article, which is in Polish but you can translate it with Google Translate.
I’m always a bit wary of these kinds of neighborhoods–what happens to the people who’ve lived there for so long once it becomes cool, and they’re forced out? I especially like the murals of the people living in the tenements and their pets–it really feels like the artists are part of the community and are making these pieces for the people who live there, not yuppie foreigners like myself. Still, I see what’s happening in Los Angeles, where I grew up, and the San Francisco Bay Area (where I went to uni), and even Kansas City (where I lived for 2 years for my first job). I’m not sure how cool Wrocław will ever be–right now it’s becoming a more popular destination for foreigners as the cost of living is relatively cheap for us, but it is increasingly expensive for Polish people on a typical Polish salary. Yet Wrocław is definitely not Berlin or even Warsaw; maybe the “cool” bubble will burst, or taper off. Maybe it’s foolish to hope for that, but I do it nonetheless.
If you decide to go mural-hunting in Nadodrze, don’t be an asshole. Say dzień dobry to people you see, don’t take pictures of people without their permission, and if someone asks you to go away, then leave. Be respectful–these are people’s homes, not a museum.