Western Poland includes Wroclaw, the capital of Lower Silesia, known as Dolny Slask in Polish. Although it was extensively damaged during World War II and stagnated under Communism, it's bounced back in a big way. Part of the reason has been its western location, near the German border. This has made it easily accessible to prosperous German day-trippers, who pour over the border for a coffee and a strudel. It's also drawn outside investment, particularly from the Japanese, who are eager to reach the rich markets of western Europe while producing in low-wage Poland. The heart of the city is a beautifully restored central square, the Rynek, and the playfully colorful baroque and Renaissance houses that line the square on all sides. On a warm summer's evening, the square comes to life, as it seems like the entire city descends for a glass of beer or a cup of coffee. Most of this area lay in ruins in 1945, when the Germans held out for months against an intense Russian barrage. But all that seems forgotten now. Only the presence of the battle-scarred redbrick Gothic churches evokes a sense of the scale of the destruction.