European Heritage Days

Journées européennes du patrimoine
A Peek into the Heritage of Wroclaw Through a Shop Window in the Lokietka Street

After the exhibition at the Ethnographic Museum of Wrocław within the 2013 European Heritage Days, wooden sculptures by Zygmunt Trąbczyński have become known outside the Łokietka Street where they reside most of the time. Modestly aligned in the display window of Trąbczyński’s small shoe repair shop, these sculptures have been attracting the attention of neighbours and passers-by for years. As Wrocław celebrates its year as the European Capital of Culture for 2016, a new set of sculptures appeared on display to mark this acknowledgement and honour the city’s traditions.

Professionally a shoemaker, Trąbczyński spends most of his time behind the counter in his small shop, using every opportunity to carve sculptures with religious motives or traditional symbols of Poland. Most recently, his shop’s window has been displaying the figures of King Boleslaus I the Brave, the first king of Poland whose rule started in 1025, Saint Hedvig of Poland, the first female monarch of the Kingdom of Poland who took the crown in the 14th century, and other city symbols. This was Trąbczyński’s way to honour Poland’s history and enrich Wrocław’s celebrations of culture, arts and traditional crafts that constitute the city’s most valuable heritage.

Although Trąbczyński has been running his family’s shoe business since his youth, wood carving has always been his passion. At the age of 79, he continues to cherish it, much like some of his family members had cherished art through weaving or painting. In an interview for wroclaw.pl, he modestly speaks about his hobby comparing it with shoemaking as both require “extreme precision and a lot of focus.” Combined with an inspiration drawn from Polish traditions, these skills help him create pieces that tell history in a refreshing and memorable way.  

While his works may have a limited audience, they are a wonderful example of the hidden heritage of Poland. They also demonstrate the beauty of old traditions and the value of passing them on to new generations in order to preserve the common past. His little gallery is thus a unique heritage site where Wrocław’s history and culture are celebrated every day and where everyone can get a glimpse of authentic Polish tradition.

Photo credit: wroclaw.pl