The Centennial Hall in Wroclaw is a multi-purpose recreational building that is a landmark in the history of reinforced concrete architecture. It was built in 20 months during the years 1911-1913, when the city (then named Breslau) was part of Germany. The Hall had the largest dome of the world of its time, with a diameter of 65 meter (50% larger than the size of the Pantheon). The use of steel and concrete for such a large construction was considered both revolutionary and daring, and officials and workers were concerned for safety issues.
The Hall was built to the plans of Max Berg. An important city like Wroclaw felt the need to have a prestigious location to hold exhibitions and fairs. So the Centennial Hall was built to commemorate the 100th anniversary of victory over Napoleon in the Liberation Wars of 1813-15. The core area also includes the exhibition grounds of Wroclaw, and therefore (like the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne
) is an outstanding example of modern recreational architecture.
Visit May 2009
Like a modern day stadium, the Centennial Hall was used by all who aimed to attract large audiences: from Adolf Hitler to Marlene Dietrich to Pope John Paul II. It still functions as a concert hall and sports arena. I felt a bit awkward at first to visit a site like this, but its historic and architectural value is recognized by more than WH spotters alone. For an entrance fee of 7 zloty you’re allowed to have a look around and watch a video. I was joined by several groups of elderly German tourists, probably on a tour of remembrance in this former German town.
The core zone of the WHS also includes the exhibition grounds around the Hall. There’s a square leading up to the hall that is modelled after a classical forum. A nice place to sit and relax for awhile. There’s the Four Dome Pavillion too, like mini-versions of the dome of the Hall itself. The large concrete pergola that surrounds a pond at the moment is in the process of being restored.
More photos can be found in the Picture Gallery
|Christer Sundberg (Sweden):|
Sometimes you ask yourself what can really become a World Heritage Site? I certainly asked myself this question when I first laid my eyes on the Centennial Hall in Wroclaw - a huge grey concrete building that does not exactly place itself on the top-ten list of most beautiful buildings of the world.
But as always, when it comes to World Heritage Sites, there is an interesting story to be told; named Jahrhunderthalle in German it was designed by the famous architect Max Berg in 1913. At the time of construction it was the largest reinforced concrete structure in the world and certainly a pioneering work of modern engineering and architecture. My local guide told me that at the time of construction, some of the workers was even afraid to enter the site because they thought that the whole structure would collapse. But almost 100 years later it still stands strong and has survived to major wars and seen everything from large scale nazi- rallies to large sports events as well as concerts with many famous artists, from Marlene Dietrich and Paul Anka.
The hall is located a few kilometres east of the Wroclaw city centre so it takes a walk or a tram ride to get there. The hall is well worth visiting if you happen to be in the neighbourhood or checking out the beautiful Old Town of Wroclaw
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