The tradition of the little metal men scattered around the city of Wroclaw began with a single dwarf figurine commemorating the mascot of the Orange Alternative protesters, opposers of the 1980s communist regime.
Mostly a solidarity movement, Orange Alternative voiced their opposition of the regime by protesting in whimsical and ridiculous ways, forcing authorities to look the other way lest they become laughingstocks by using force against silliness. When police would cover up anti-regime slogans, Orange Alternative took action by painting graffiti dwarves on the spot they had covered up. At one point there were over 1,000 of these graffiti dwarves all over Poland.
Since the fall of communism in the 1990s, Orange Alternative has remained mostly inactive, but the first dwarf figurine was erected in 2001 to commemorate the movement. Placed on Świdnicka Street, the initial dwarf honored the spot where the majority of the group’s shenanigans took place.
Today there are over 250 dwarves hiding in plain sight around Wroclaw, serving as a fun tourist sight and sometimes even a surprise for locals. Some of the dwarves are harder to find than others with some in plain sight and others shimmying up a pole or peeking out next to a doorway. Tourist maps and GPS coordinates are available at tourist shops for those who want to go dwarf hunting.