To try and imagine Wroclaw without the Odra is tantamount to thinking of Giza without its pyramids. The city is defined by this great sprawling river with its numerous tributaries and canals, as well as by the 12 islands and over 120 bridges that cross it – all of which bring so much life, character and charm to the Lower Silesian capital. With so many waterways and spans it is little wonder that Wroclaw has been dubbed as the ‘Venice of Poland’ – although new visitors to the city can take this with a pinch of salt and leave their canoes at home. River Odra – part of Wroclaw culture.
The Odra was known to the Romans as Viadrus or Viadua, and was first referred to as the Odera around 990, when it was documented as the western boundary of early Poland under duke Mieszko I. Over the centuries the river gained more and more importance to Wroclaw, both as part of the trading routes that linked Russia, Germany and Bavaria together (and as such made Polish merchants very wealthy!), and also as a source of life and energy.
Today Wroclaw has two ports on the Odra and the river continues to play a part in its burgeoning trade economy, forming one of the city’s many great transport links.
The Odra is the second longest river in Poland, after the Vistula, covering 742km in Poland and 112km in the Czech Republic, from where it originates in the Oder Mountains. As it nears the Baltic Sea 187km of its length defines the modern day Polish-German border.
Jazz on the Odra
Jazz on the Odra, one of the oldest jazz festivals in Poland.
The Jazz Personality Contest is an inseparable part of the festival, and one of its hallmarks. The oldest and the most prestigious jazz competition in Poland is open for instrumentalists and singers, who at the time of the festival are 35 or younger. The 2018 Grand Prix – Jazz Personality laureate will receive a prize of 25 000 PLN sponsored by the Mayor of Wrocław; the Jury will also distinguish the best soloist, band and composer. From the very first years of the contest’s existence, it featured great musicians and stars of Polish jazz, including Włodzimierz Nahorny, Zbigniew Seifert, Ewa Bem, Krzesimir Dębski, Janusz Strobel, Henryk Miśkiewicz, Tomasz Szukalski and Andrzej Zaucha. Last year, the Grand Prix was won by Adam Jarzmik Quintet.