lauantai 28. elokuuta 2010

15.8. Again city exploring – seeing a pile of useless bolted metal

New day and new ventures! Maybe today I would have better luck with the trams; I had used the oh-so-handy online route map to tell me exactly how to get to fountain. In the same location there’s also a great building “Centennial hall” and a zoo, as well as a Japanese Garden. So, lot’s to do!

In the tram I realized that on Saturday I had actually been in correct tram… For some reason the line took a long extra lap around a big park (so that was the thing with the woods…), and that’s why I was misleaded. Well, life is full of learning.

When I exited the tram I faced loooong queues to the Zoo; families with children had came to spend Sun-day to the Zoo. I didn’t feel like standing in a queue, so I took the different direction to find the fountain and maybe something else, too. Firstly I ran into (figuratively speaking) this huge building “Centennial Hall”, or nowadays known as People’s Hall. This building represents modern and innovative design (by Max Berg). One characteristic feature is the concrete dome with span 65 meters; at the time (1913) it was the largest in the world (The Pantheon 44 m, Hagia Sophia 31 m) and therefore there were doubts concerning it’s stability. There it still stays anyhow! The Hall was built to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Napoleon’s defeat at Leipzig. Nowadays it is a place for trade fairs and concerts, and also a sightsee for tourists. For this part, thanks to “A Guidebook to Wroclaw” but also to Jarek and Michal.

Centennial Hall - People's Hall - Hala Stulecia - Hala Ludowa. Sorry for camera which does not handle taaaall items very well.

In front of the Centennial Hall there is a monument called Iglica. It is a memory from Soviet times, and the story of this monument is told by “Wroclaw in Your Pocket” guide in more amusing way that historical facts usually are, so I refer their text here.

“This 96 metre tall steel spire was erected on 1948 as part of propagandic “Recovered Territories Exhibi-tion”. It was meant to symbolize the soaring achievements of of the country’s newly acquired western ter-ritories since they were ‘returned’ to Communist Poland. Like many of the Party’s ideas, this one quickly went wrong”. Originally 106 m, Iglica’s peak was adorned with a spinning contraption of mirrors which would create a dazzling umbrella of light at night. The apparatus was ominously struck by lightning only hours after completion with much of it crashing to the ground in dazzling catastrophe. The remaining dangling bits posed quite hazard to the expected thousands who would attend the exhibition. To the rescue came two college students who were part of a climbing club and volunteered to dismantle the top of the structure after the military proved unable to sort the situation due to the inclimate weather. Scaling the Iglica took 24 hours 15 minutes, dismantling it another six, but the boys succeeded in becoming heroes of the enormous media spectacle. In 1964 the spire was reduced by 10 meters for safety reasons. During martial law, another daredevil climbed the tower and attached a Solidarity flag to its zenith. Today the ugly ribbed structure continues to stand outside Hala Stulecia and is probably one of the tallest pieces of useless bolted metal in the world.”

As I was at the fountain 15 minutes past 13 and the show to take place in every hour, I had 45 minutes to spend. I headed towards the Japanese Garden, when it started to wind and rain. Both garden visit and wait for the show in pouring rain sounded a bad idea. As it was a day off and on your free time you shouldn’t “execute” any activities, I jumped to tram and went back home to enjoy tea (with lemon as locals like to have it) and a good book. Let it rain!

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