Racławice Panorama – Wrocław, Poland - Atlas Obscura

Racławice Panorama

Relive a Polish uprising via an enormous, century-old cyclorama. 


Over its history, Poland has been subject to Russian dominance multiple times. The first was an extended period of intervention and war during the 16th through 18th centuries. The second was a good chunk of the 20th century, when the Soviet Union engulfed a war-ravaged Poland. In the sprawling 360-degree Racławice Panorama visitors can see the interplay of the two periods, as well as a memorial to one of the most legendary uprisings in Polish history.

In 1894, 100 years after the Battle of Racławice, a Polish uprising against a Russian invasion, a gigantic cyclical panorama was painted and installed in Lwów to commemorate the battle. Spanning 375 feet around and 50 feet high, the cyclorama depicts a peasant army wielding scythes and fighting a sizable Russian front. The battle was won and the painting commemorates this brave attempt by the Polish to fight off invaders, which is an important part of national legend.

Thanks to special lighting inside the cyclorama, and very realistic shading techniques, visitors can nearly relive the famous battle as it swirls around them. Circling around the massive building, the painting works to capture the chaos and heroism that marked the peasant uprising and will not let any visitor escape without being dragged into the history.

After World War II, it was brought to Wrocław where it stands today. Unfortunately, the onset of communism in Poland closed down the panorama, as the Soviet government would not stand the promotion of an uprising against Russia. Closed for for 40 years, the panorama was finally reopened in 1985 and is now a major attraction in the city.

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