If there’s one thing that we’ve learned as long term travelers, it’s that you can’t be a tourist all the time. Day after day of cathedrals, temples, museums, and monuments can lead to burnout.
But, tourist overload can be easily avoided with a bit of time off the routine. And our Wroclaw Gnome safari provided just the fun and relaxing break we needed.
After a long day in transit, we stumbled on the first gnomes on an early evening walk. We’d read about the gnomes, but really had no idea how carefully sculpted and cleverly located they’d be. Some are easily spotted, and others hide cat-like, just slightly in view. According to information we saw, there are between 150-250 of the little people scattered around town.
They are true, free-form public art, with no apparent governing body. There’s an official website, but we saw lots of gnomes that weren’t included on their list.
Businesses have gotten in on the act as well. We saw bank gnomes, pub gnomes, stock broker gnomes, accountant gnomes, professor gnomes …
… and even dermatologist gnomes.
And while most are comical, many are designed to communicate a serious message. In fact, their original creators were members of the Orange Alternative movement – an underground protest movement opposed to the communist government in power before independence.
But don’t get the wrong idea. The Wroclaw gnomes are cute, clever, fun, and interesting. They’re so popular that the tourist board sells a map that has locations and names for over 70 gnomes.
You may wonder how these cute little guys stay in place. Well, after a few cases of “gnoming” (when gnome enthusiasts “liberate” a gnome to take it on an “extended vacation”), the sculptors started putting GPS tracking devices in them so they can “find their way home.” And apparently several have, particularly around the University campus.
In case you can’t tell, we absolutely love the gnomes. They stoked our inner child, and were a delightful diversion from the tourist routine.
And hat’s off to Wroclaw for recognizing a good thing and capitalizing on it.
James & Terri
P.S. We prepared a few Gnome FAQs (aka Little-Gnome Facts)
Where do gnomes go for Christmas? Gnome, Alaska
What’s their favorite Shakespearean play? Gnomeo and Juliet
What’s their favorite cowboy song? Gnome on the Range
Do you have any Gnome FAQs?
These are fabulous. I’m assuming they’re either too heavy or too attached to be stolen, or they wouldn’t be where the map says they are. I love this idea, and you’re right: they are very well crafted! Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for the reminder Rusha. Theft is indeed a problem, and recently they’ve started installing GPS trackers … no joke. We planned on putting this in the post and it slipped through the cracks. And thanks to your question, this is the text we added:
“You may wonder how these cute little guys stay in place. Well, after a few cases of “gnoming” (when gnome enthusiasts “liberate” a gnome to take it on an “extended vacation”), the sculptors started putting GPS tracking devices in them so they can “find their way home.” And apparently several have, particularly around the University campus.”
Who says blogging isn’t a cooperative effort. Thanks. ~ James
These are so wonderful! So fun and whimsical. Thanks for sharing something awesome as usual!
Thanks Sheena. We love these little guys as well. We were like kids when we found a new one. ~ James
Absolutely gorgeous !
I love the cleverness and detail on these small sculptures. ~ James
So sweet! Way down in Geelong (australia) the town has ‘bollards’ which are also fun..and while doing the bollard walk some years back I came upon sculptures similar to these, in a little park.
My husband said to tell you that this was all completely un-gnome to him!
We were hoping for some good wordplay on this post, and your husband came up with a funny one. I wish that I’d thought of it. I should have gnome better. ~ James
Well you just never gnome.
Thanks Heike, for the comment and for dropping by the blog. The gnomes in Wroclaw are such a fun project. ~ James
Oh my goodness, what terrible puns! 🙂
(I do love a pun. 🙂 )
The good thing about bad puns on a blog is that we can’t hear our readers groan. ~ James
Are you sure? 😉
I love these gnomes! They always make you smile when you “meet” one of the little guys and what a rush when you find a new one 🙂
I totally agree Agata. We bought the brochure and did the walk to find as many gnomes as we could. And then we’d be on a walk and just stumble into a new one. It was very fun to have an unplanned sighting. ~ James
amo moltissimo questi deliziosi piccoli gnomi, mi spiace però che stiano lontani da funghi e foreste, perduti fra le grandi case e il cemento
I love so much these delicious little Gnomes, sorry but they are far from fungi and forest, lost among the great houses and cement
You’re right, but there were a few in parks. And maybe, even the town gnomes can still protect the small city animals. ~ James
What great fun!
It was the best scavenger hunt I’ve ever experienced! 🙂 ~Terri
I have a gnome protecting my house…he was a gift. Love reading about these little creatures. Great posts!
Thanks Melanie. Glad to hear that you have a gnome standing watch. I think that one of their primary roles is protection. You might want to take your laptop out and show your gnome this post. He might see some relatives from the old country. ~ James
Lol! He is the watchman. He holds a lantern and stands guard by the back door 🙂
Thank you for such a delightful post— I’ll be thinking of these gnomes all day and smiling!
It’s hard to look at these cute little gnomes and not smile. My favorite was the 3 ATM gnomes. One was counting on his (three) fingers, one was using an abacus, and the other was pushing money out the slot. Very funny and clever. ~ James
I second that! Delightful post! The gnomes have such great personalities! Although the finds are hidden, it reminds me of geocaching in a way! My son geocaches and has over 500 finds from all over the world.
Thanks Dixie. And you’re perceptive to recognize that a gnome search is a lot like geocaching. The first few weren’t obvious, but after a bit of searching, we developed a knack for where to look, and it got easier. I can also tell you that we raised some eyebrows with our less than graceful bending, stooping, and kneeling to photograph them. I was glad I was in a foreign country. ~ James
I can see why you love the gnomes. ‘Whimsical’ as Sheena noted, is the perfect description of these fun little fellows. Hunting for them sounds like more fun than Geocaching…would that be Geognoming?
I love the Biker Gnome and if I had a favorite, it would be the gnome-sized ATM. The Professor looks like he is working out ‘polygnomial’ equations. Sorry, I should have gnome better. But hey, you started it! 🙂 – Mike
Thanks Mike. I’m glad to see you’re getting into the spirit of this post. Geonoming … very good. Too bad we’re in Europe, or I would have awarded a T shirt for the best pun, and so far, you’d be on the finalist list. BTW, did you see the comment re: GPS trackers to prevent theft? Pretty funny. ~ James
We’re going on a gnome hunt! 🙂
If it’s like our gnome safari, I can tell you that you’re in for a treat. ~ James
Love these guys! How interesting — and they were subversive, too. How funny that there are GPS devices installed. Great post!
Thanks Steph! Evidently the Little Guys by the University kept disappearing (no surprise there), particilarly the one called The Swordsman. Evidently since the installation of the GPS chips, he’s been “retrieved” several times. 🙂 ~Terri
Delightful! What a treat!
It was so much fun to go out every morning, not knowing what we would find. The “Chopper-Dwarf” on the church steps totally cracked us up! ~Terri
I absolutely loved this whimsical post! Some of those gnomes surely took some hunting- I almost missed the first little guy sitting under James in the first picture. They say there’s nothing like gnome, sweet gnome, but finds like these are the reason we all love to travel! 😉
LOL Miranda – gnome sweet gnome! Every city after this will seem dull without the gnome hunt. I’ll keep looking under benches and up light poles to no avail. 🙂 ~Terri
Wonderful post! You went for these little guys in a big way 🙂 Love the sunglasses! You got quite a few I didn’t manage but then I plan to go back sometime. I got a bit lost and disoriented hopping on and off buses and trams when I was trying to get back to the suburb where my cousin lives, but I loved the city. Glad you enjoyed :0
Many thanks Jo. We fell in love with these little guys and would definitely go back for more – evidently we only scratched the surface. At the end of each day we would realize that we’d walked right past some. Sneaky little guys! 🙂 ~Terri
Wonderful! They should be everywhere!
We had so much fun seaarching them out, we couldn’t agree more. Thanks for the comment and for dropping by the blog. ~ James
I’ve got one! How do you identify all the gnomes of Wroclaw? Gnomenclature! 🙂
Too clever Kelly … and with GPS, they can no longer take off for parts ungnome. ~ James
What a great sense of humour the people of Wroclaw must have.
Perhaps in addition to GPS the gnomes should all be fitted with ‘gnome-ing’ devices to help them find their own way back if they are stolen. 🙂
OK Elaine, you just pegged the pun-o-meter. Very funny. I’ve been working hard to come up with gnome puns, and I missed this one. Well done! ~ James
OMG, this post was soo much fun! I have bookmarked it so when it is time for some international travel for us, we are goin’ to see the gnomes! 🙂
LuAnn, you and Terry will love them. It’s like being a kid again! 🙂 And the town of Wroclaw is a joy. ~Terri
I saw these too! How clever to dedicate a post to them. They were so adorable!!
Thanks Surya. These gnomes and this public art project were so neat that we couldn’t resist. And as a blogger, you know how it is, always looking for new, interesting material. Thanks for the comment and for stopping by the blog. ~ James
Such a great idea for a low key day! Adding it to my list.
By the way, What do gnomes excel at in school? gnomenclature.
I love that one Emily! You will really enjoy Wroclaw … and the gnomes are icing on the cake. So glad you dropped by – we love having people from parts ungnome. 🙂 ~Terri
What fun little fellas! Lovely post 🙂
Thanks Suzanne. We loved these characters as well. What a fun break from the normal tourist stuff. ~James
Thanks so much Christopher, for the for the link to our blog. ~ James
I’m sad to say that I haven’t been by your blog in awhile, but today I am so glad that I did! This was such a wonderful, fun and charming post–and of course now I’m about to begin scouring the other posts I’ve missed out on recently. Sending you blessings and happiness on your travels, and I hope you have just as many gnome-filled adventures!
So glad to have you back Whitney! Where have you been roaming? Thank you for the blessings, and if every destination could have cool little gnomes I’d be happy! 🙂 All the best, Terri
What a “gnome”ble task to photograph these delightful creatures for us! We’d have to be “i”gnome”ble not to enjoy them! I’m really torturing these puns, aren’t I? I love these gnomes. Gnome is where the heart is!
This is our first post with an open invitation for puns. And after all the fun wordplay, we may have to keep it in mind for the future. You just never gnome. ~James
Delightful post..thanks for sharing..
Thanks so much Tyana! The gnomes were just too cool to keep to ourselves! 🙂 So glad you stopped by. ~Terri
What a fun post – loved it!
Thanks Celeste. The gnomes seem to have universal appeal … they certainly stole our hearts! 🙂 ~Terri
So my mind goes to the ‘wandering gnome’ of the Travelocity TV commercials here in the states awhile back (not sure if they’re still on as I cancelled my cable some time ago). Great pictures, fun story, funny comments! ~SueBee
I’ve seen the Travelocity gnome, but only on TV in hotels. Like you, we cut the cable some time ago as well – good for us both. The Wroclaw gnomes were so much fun, because in addition to the “known gnomes”, lots of people had designed unofficial “unknown gnomes”. It was fun to stumble into new ones we didn’t expect. ~James
This makes for a great new “search and find” project. Some years back I was in Nashville, Tennessee and was thrilled to find catfish statues all over downtown, each painted by a different artist. Of course, Kat and I had to find and photograph as many as we could! Other cities do similar things with their respective “known for” objects. ~SueBee
Funny you should mention these painted critter projects. I’ve seen them all over the US, and they’re great fun. I went to university in Lexington, KY and guess what their project is … horses of course. Here on St. Simons Island, GA we have bulldogs (Univ of GA dawgs that is). Cows in Chicago, Turtles on Tybee Island, GA, etc. etc. I haven’t seen the catfish in Nashville, but next time through I’ll check them out. Thanks. ~James
Thank you for the refreshing post about gnomes! I really enjoyed reading and seeing it – I wonder why there was only one female gnome? And how do they populate otherwise? 🙂
Many thanks Tanny – they were so fun. According to my research there are a few other female gnomes (maybe 3 or 4), but I couldn’t find out why they are so scarce. And what a great question you pose – How do they populate? Obviously another little gnome fact! 🙂 ~Terri
There’s a few more female krasnale now, 11 altogether: https://v8mile.wordpress.com/2015/02/14/wszstykie-krasnalowe-all-the-female-dwarfs/
Not sure why there’s so few, but there a couple more that are part of couples.
We really enjoyed our time in Wroclaw, and the dwarves were one of the fun highlights. Once the game was afoot, our search took us into parts of the city that we probably wouldn’t normally have seen. These are fantastic pieces of public art. ~James
The searching in new places is half the fun for me— and getting out and exploring! One of the cooler public art projects I’ve seen, for sure.