Gmach Urzędu Pocztowego
Poczta Główna z nowym obiektem w 2017 r. Autor zdjęcia: Corvus monedula, Licencja: CC-BY-SA 3.0

The Post Office Building in Wrocław – the oldest high-rise building in the capital of Lower Silesia

The building of the Post Office No. 1 in Krasińskiego Street was erected in the 1920s and has been associated with the post office since its inception. The building has as many as 11 storeys and is considered to be the first skyscraper built in the capital of Lower Silesia. Today its size no longer impresses anyone, but at the time the construction of this building was a great event. It represents the style of North German Brick Expressionism.

Construction of the building, designed by German architect Lothar Neumann, began in 1926 and was completed three years later. It was built on the site of a former military cemetery.

The post office building on a postcard from the 1930s. Source: City Museum of Wrocław

Gmach Urzędu Pocztowego

The sodden ground was not very suitable for the construction of such a grand property, so work began by fixing 1,700 concrete piles in the ground to support the massive building. The edifice is 43 m high in the tower section and the 20 m high and 16 m wide body is 142 m long. The surface area is more than 3,000,000 square metres. The tall section was initially resented by the city’s residents, but once completed, the finished edifice made an electrifying impression. Its size dominated the appearance of the Oławski Suburb and the building quickly became a new symbol of Wrocław. At the time, it housed the Postscheckamt or Post Office.

The Post Office building in 1936 and 2019. Source: Digital Library of the University of Wrocław and Google Maps

There are two passageways leading to the two inner courtyards, with a vestibule, main hall, dining room and smoking room between them. The latter were decorated with paintings depicting sports scenes by Bruno Walter. The six storeys of the body housed mainly offices, whose employees could relax in the garden arranged on the roof. The tower section housed the main ticket office hall, as well as a staircase with wrought-iron grilles made by Jaroslav Vonka. The façade was clad in dark red bricks and stonework, and decorated with bas-reliefs depicting scenes from the life of the bourgeoisie, students and workers, and cartouches showing the development of the post office from 1590 to 1928.

The Post Office building and adjacent buildings in 1936 and 2019. Source: Leo Baeck Institute and Google Maps

Thanks to its sturdy construction, the building survived the Second World War in relatively good shape, although it was not spared by shells and artillery fire. The buildings in its immediate vicinity disappeared, so that the building stood for decades with blank walls and exposed courtyards. After 1945, in addition to the postal units, its walls housed, among others, the Higher School of Agriculture and the District National Council of Wrocław-Śródmieście. In the following years, it housed the regional branches of the Polish Post Office centres, the staff flats of postal employees, as well as the Museum of Post and Telecommunications in Wrocław. More recently, in the immediate vicinity of the building, the Ovo Apartments complex was built to house, among others, the Hilton Hotel, adjacent to the post office building. The quartier of buildings again mimics the pre-war outline.

This unique monument of German architecture has been deteriorating for years and is in need of renovation. Despite its neglect, it is still one of the most distinctive buildings in Wrocław.


Read also: Architecture in Poland | Monument | History | Wrocław

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