The biggest Polish website with contemporary and historical photos

Wroclaw inhabitant Piotr Herbat is the creator of the Polish nationwide website fotopolska.eu. It is the biggest Polish website with contemporary and historical photos.

Fotopolska breaks popularity records. In January 2019, 1,293,982 photos were available there, including 445,093 photos taken more than 30 years ago and over 120,000 from Wroclaw itself. The website is visited over 4 million times per month.

In terms of the number of architecture photos, they compete only with the National Digital Archives. Taking into account only contemporary photos concerning the architecture of Poland, they are unbeatable.

The old city

Wroclaw on a pre-war black-and-white photograph: a woman and a man on a bike, in the background we can see a line 6 tram and the now no longer existing St. Paul’s Church at ul. Legnicka – where are they going, what are they doing, what was their fate? Or another story. Tram tracks on the paved Sanocka street leading to a block of flats. What tram ran there, why does a building stand there? Thousands of such stories are visible on photos posted on fotopolska.eu.

Neo on a bike

Piotr Herba, the originator and creator of Fotopolska, works as a software developer in one of Wroclaw’s IT companies. He spends 8 hours per day at work and on his way to work or on his way home from work he takes photos – even 2,000 per month. His photos allow us to see how the city changes. He managed to combine his occupation (programming) with his passion (photography). The outcome of this combination is a nationwide history website with old and contemporary photos – fotopolska.eu.

Around Wroclaw by tram

He remembers communist Poland from his childhood. When he was born, General Jaruzelski was introducing martial law. In 1992, he got his first camera; it was a Soviet Smiena bought by his father in the marketplace at Plac Wolności. His filmmaking adventure began with a VHS tape Sony camera.

10 years ago he shot many videos while going by tram around Wroclaw. You can watch them on YouTube; they have several thousand hits. In a video of a tram line 17 ride from Klecina to Sępolno recorded 9 years ago, there are not even a few seconds of an unchanged view.

German Wroclaw in colour

Piotr is fascinated with the architecture of the pre-war Wroclaw. Some time ago, one of the users of Fotopolska found a website selling scans of photos taken by Walter Genewein in Breslau in the 1940s. They show the city in colour. A few months later, these streets and buildings were gone. Piotr bought a few copies and posted them on the website.

‘You can hardly see any cars on these photos. During the war, they were requisitioned for the needs of the army. Other characteristic elements are trams with windows painted blue and lights covered in order to make them less conspicuous during air raids. Another interesting photo shows the market hall at ul. Piaskowa. It looks as if it were taken out of a different reality. We know the building well, but its surroundings are completely different,’ says Piotr.

Piotr organised Fotopolska together with Sławomir Juszczak. They finance everything by themselves. One day they posted a notice in a newsgroup that they were looking for a server. One of the Wroclaw companies agreed to make their server available to them at the price of electricity.

Piotr knows that he would make some money on his website, but he has consistently refused to insert any ads there for years. He also refused to sell his project to those who wanted to buy it.

Miłosz Furman-Turowski