Breslau or Wroclaw, and how to pronounce Wroclaw?

by mbogda

Wroclaw pronunciation

When you were preparing your trip to Wroclaw, you probably came across two names related to this city: Wroclaw and Breslau. In this article, we will explain why the two names are used, and present what the proper Wroclaw pronunciation is. And believe me, even though you may find the way how Wroclaw is pronounced difficult, it is not the hardest city name in Poland to pronounce. If you try to pronounce Gdansk or Szczebrzeszyn, you’ll find Wroclaw pronunciation a piece of cake.

Why Wroclaw is sometimes called Breslau?

Wroclaw has a long history within Polish borders, but it was also inhabited by Germans from the very beginning. Without a doubt, for centuries the name that was used for the city was “Wroclaw” or some variations: Wrezlaue, Wreczelaw or others. Reportedly, Germans had problems pronouncing “W” in the beginning, so they used “B” instead. So other variations were born, and Breslau was one of them. But still, even though it was used, it was used to refer to the city, it was not the official name.

But in XVIIIth century, after Silesian Wars, the city became part of Prussia, and since 1741 official name of Wroclaw was Königliche Haupt- und Residenzstadt Breslau. Wroclaw’s population gradually was dominated by Germans, and the name Breslau became more and more popular. In 1933, after Nazis took over in Germany, they intended to get rid of all signs of Slavs in Prussia.

Wroclaw pronunciation
Wroclaw (Breslau) coat of arms

Until the end of the Second World War Wroclaw was part of Germany. After the war ended, it was part of the so-called Recovered Territories – area that became part of Poland as a result of Potsdam Conference. Most Germans fled the city or were made to leave, and Polish residents took over the city. And of course, Wroclaw became the official name again.

Public transport in Wroclaw
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Breslau

So, as Wroclaw was once a German city, the name Breslau became part of the German language. Hence, it spread across Europe and is also used by other nationalities. But in Poland, during the communist period, the government wanted to de-Germanize the city. The name Breslau was never used, and anything connecting Wroclaw to Germany was taboo.

Now, we are acknowledging the fact, that Germany made part of Wroclaw history, and – despite all the War trauma – contributed to the development of the city. So, although the city council wants to promote Wroclaw as the proper name, we are aware that Wroclaw is known as Breslau in Germany, just like Potsdam is known as Poczdam in Polish.

Breslau pronunciation

Breslau pronunciation will not be of any use for you in Poland, as this name is not used anymore. Probably some people won’t even associate this name with Wroclaw. However, if for whatever reason you need to learn Breslau pronunciation, as the name has roots in German you should try looking at German (or general pronunciation sites like this one)

How do you pronounce Wroclaw
Wroclaw – Berlin cooperation is a rare occasion on using Breslau city name in Poland

How to pronounce Wroclaw?

First of all, we write it Wrocław, with “ł” letter that doesn’t exist in other languages – that’s why in other languages we write Wroclaw. But don’t worry, you will learn how to pronounce both Polish and International names.

Wroclaw pronunciation – international way

Let’s start with learning how to pronounce Wroclaw in the International way.

Wroclaw Airport to city centre by bus and taxi
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W – we pronounce it softly, like v in the English word “vowel”,  not like w in the word “wind”

ro – we pronounce it just like we write it.

c – we pronounce it softly, like “ts” in the word “tsunami”, not like “c” in the word “control”

law – that’s tricky, because you should pronounce it like “love”, not “law”

Now, try it and check if you managed to master Wroclaw pronunciation:

Wroclaw pronunciation – Polish way

How to pronounce Wrocław – the official way?

Well, until “c” it’s all the same. The difference starts at “ł”. In Poland, we pronounce “ł” like “w” in “wave”

What’s left is “aw”. Try to pronounce it like “av” in the word “avocado”

Now connect it all, try to pronounce Wroclaw and check if you did it properly:

How do you pronounce Wroclaw Glowny?

Wroclaw Glowny train station is an important place in Wroclaw. This is the first area you see in Wroclaw if you come here by train, but also the main bus station is nearby. Glowny means “main” in Polish, but how to pronounce Wroclaw Glowny? Here’s the solution:


And if you wish to learn some basic Polish, try registering with italki. You may find professional or community Polish teachers there. It is also a good platform to practice other languages. If you register with this link you will get a $10 credit.

Things to see in Wroclaw
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