Oxford is set to unveil a gift of friendship – a gnome named Życzliwek, or ‘well-wisher’ – from Oxford’s twinned city of Wrocław in Poland.
A permanent home has been found for Życzliwek in Oxford’s Covered Market, where he will welcome and offer well-wishes to Oxfordshire residents and visitors from around the world.
Życzliwek will be officially unveiled by Jakub Mazur, the Deputy Mayor of Wrocław, at 12.30pm on Saturday 9 November. The Deputy Mayor will be joined by other special guests from Wrocław at the event.
Dignitaries from Oxford attending the event will include the Lord Mayor of Oxford, Councillor Craig Simmons; Councillor Mary Clarkson, Cabinet Member for Culture and City Centre; Ewa Gluza, Chairperson of Oxford Polish Association; and members of the Polish community in Oxford.
Oxford and Wrocław became twinned cities in 2018. The aim of the link is to help encourage cultural exchanges, sports opportunities and tourism between the two cities.
Wrocław is the fourth largest city in Poland and is situated in the west of the country. It is a university city with a student population of more than 130,000.
But Wrocław is also famous for its gnomes. More than 300 of the figures – which are about 20cm to 30cm tall – now live throughout the city, and they have become a tourist attraction.
Oxford is twinned with eight cities across the world. Wrocław joins Bonn in Germany, Leiden in the Netherlands, Grenoble in France, Leon in Nicaragua, Perm in Russia, Ramallah in Palestine and Padova in Italy.
“It is so important for people to experience cultures from around the world, and twinning is a fantastic way to help encourage that.
“Although there are clear differences between Oxford and Wrocław – filling a city centre with gnomes being an example – it is fascinating to see all the things we share.
“I look forward to welcoming our friends from Wrocław next week, and to Życzliwek welcoming and offering well-wishes to people from around the world for years to come.”
Councillor Mary Clarkson, Cabinet Member for Culture and City Centre