22 October 2015

Dusk in Wroclaw's old town

The lamps outside the cathedral are lit. I look around the cobblestone streets in the oldest part of Wroclaw hoping to catch a glimpse. Behind me, the lamps remain dark. Where could he be? I assume it's a 'he' but it might be a 'she' too. Regardless, I'll know I've found him/her by the cape and torch.

Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

Should I try one of the unlit side streets and see if I can catch him coming my way? Or maybe the lit ones, and try to catch up? I take an unlit one not knowing where it goes, just hoping it will allow me to cross paths with the lamplighter.

Tumski bridge and the Church of Our Lady on the Sand

The streets are quiet, only a few people are about as the dusk settles on the town. Maybe they are on their way home, or heading for a bit of peace and introspection at the local church service or, maybe, like me, they are hoping to catch a glimpse of a time gone by and spot the lamplighter too.

Collegiate Church of the Holy Cross and St Bartholomew with the Monument of St. John of Nepomuk

My sneakered feet are silent on the cobblestones as I turn a corner and catch sight of him. He has just lit another lamp and, in a brisk pace, heads off to light the next. I walk/run to get closer so I don't have to use the zoom on my camera. Its just us on the street and for a moment, just a fleeting moment, I feel as though I've slipped through time. Then I notice he is on his mobile and the illusion is shattered.

Oh the irony. As a friend of mine said though, it just goes to show the contrasts between the world as we live in today and how things used to be. But I'll add to that and say that there is no reason we cant have the beauty of a timeless tradition like lamp-lighting and the modern world.

I'm sure Wroclaw could convert all the gas lamps so they will turn on automatically at dusk and off at dawn if they wanted to. But they CHOSE to keep the tradition in the old town, billowing black cape and all. Maybe its a tourist stunt. But i cant find it mentioned on the Wroclaw tourism website. And even if it is, I don't care, why not have a lamplighter? I wish they existed in London (I know about the British Gas ones but that's not quite the same thing).

The next day at dusk I found my feet had taken me back to the same streets, and I come across another lamplighter while wandering, this one sans modern contraption. It was perfect.

What do you think of keeping the lamp-lighting tradition? Do you know of any other places that do it?


  1. That's amazing! What a cool thing to spot. Ha I LOVE that the first one was on his mobile - ah the contrasts :)

    1. Thanks Jessie. Yeah, it's a funny world isn't it?

  2. That was so beautifully written - I felt as though I was there!

  3. Looks like a lovely place. I love these kinds of places; I wish I would get a chance to visit this soon. Great post, really well written.