What do you do when you find out the city you’re visiting has over 300 little gnome statues scattered throughout town? You set out to find as many as you can, right? Or, you take it one step further and decide to have an all-out competition with your travel partner(s) to spot the most gnomes first.
The later is clearly what transpired between me and my hubby in Wroclaw. The rules were super basic. All you had to do was spot a gnome and claim the point as yours by shouting out, “Gnome!!” first. There were really no other limitations though - these little guys could be found anywhere, like in the post office or outside a church. You might be casually walking and all of a sudden your hubby breaks out into a run. Or be talking about what to do next and mid-senten---.”Gnome!”
What’s the difference between gnomes and dwarves? Because perhaps I’m using the wrong terminology - after all, these three could have been friends with Snow White…
Look down, there's a gnome!
And don't forget to look up...Gnome!
There are gnomes that jam...
And gnomes who can drink their height in wine -
Gnom -- Just kidding, not a gnome! False alarm.
By the way, if you’re wondering how all this clowning around started in Wroclaw, it actually was something initiated by the Orange Alternative movement in the 1980’s. Back in communist Poland, one local, Waldemar Fydrych, came up with the idea to make a statement against the oppressive government using silliness instead of force. The gnome was born. He would graffiti walls with images of gnomes, making the government seem a bit ridiculous chasing after these paintings of gnomes in order to maintain the white-washed walls in public spaces. The movement grew as a subversive poke at communism through the absurd. Fydrych organized things like a march for “gnome rights” in which participants were arrested...for wearing orange. The government got lots of attention for looking like complete fools for arrests like this, and the Orange Movement continued to succeed in making the communist party look completely ridiculous and incompetent.
In 2001, the city of Wroclaw decided to honor this movement that was born in the city, and commissioned a little gnome statue in the place where the Orange Movement held demonstrations. As history has shown, these gnomes have a way of multiplying quickly in Wroclaw. After this initial gnome statue was placed in the city, many businesses took the idea and commissioned their own gnomes. Now the population of Wroclaw’s tiniest residents numbers over 300! You can read more about the history of the gnomes on the In Your Pocket website. Or take a look at the official website dedicated to the gnomes with information on their names and locations (where all the names labeled in this post came from).
I have to say, this city-wide gnome hunt was such a fun way to see Wroclaw, and certainly the most unique activity I’ve done while sightseeing. It’s hard to stop searching for these little guys though once you leave - it took me a few days to realize they don’t live in Paris!
Do you have a favorite gnome? Have you ever explored a city in an "unconventional" way?