Nowa Huta was planned as an ideal socialist city built for the workers of gigantic steelworks, but after two years, it have been included in the precinct of Krakow as one of its districts. Today, both residents of Nowa Huta and Krakow citizens seems not to recognize this fact and still like to emphasize their separateness and individuality. Nowa Huta is a unique place combining architecture of social realism with the achievements of Western modernism. Sightseeing enriched by some stories about absurdities of daily life in the socialist dream is a fantastic adventure.
The architecture of Nowa Huta is surprising and pompous, however you can fall in love with its enormous forms (sometimes raw and sometimes dazzled by variety of historical details). Extensive and precisely delineated urban spaces are also impressive. As I have written above, it is not difficult to see in buildings of Nowa Huta some modernist inspirations in forms of Nowa Huta buildings (but on the other hand there are plenty of references to earlier eras – Renaissance or even Baroque). Do not be surprised seeing elements such as pilasters, classicist portals and attics, which refers to the 16th-century Krakow’s Cloth Hall details. All this looks very interesting, thanks to the urban concept of Teodor Ptaszycki (main architect of the project) and his entire team. Building a city from basics they had a free hand in choosing architectonic solutions (according to the guidelines of socialist realism of course). They reached for plans of ideal cities dated back to the Renaissance and Baroque. Finally, they made their best to reveal the spirit of socialist urban planning by building a huge scale, monumentality, wide avenues and enormous central square.
We can start our tour from the gate and the administration buildings of Tadeusz Sendzimir Steelworks (in the communist era named after Vladimir Lenin, nowadays the owner of the steelworks is Arcelor Mittal Poland). The true industrial behemoth lies behind the monumental gate – just look at the city map and see how much space is occupied by the plant itself. A a trip by tram to Pleszow is an interesting experience. You can admire monstrous, partly decaying industrial installations emerging from grasses and trees (in summer thickets may be too lush).
The Solidarity Avenue (very wide, formerly the Avenue of Vladimir Lenin) leads to the Central Square. Its space surrounded by amazing monumental houses is really impressive, as well as the Avenue of the Roses, where once growndozens of rose bushes. Both residential and public buildings are full of interesting solutions. Excellent examples of using some interesting architectural solustions are buildings of the Ludowy Theatre (project of Janusz and Marta Ingardenowie and Jan Dąbrowski) or ‘Świt’ Cinema (by Andrzej Uniejewski), both with reconstructions of original neon signs. Communist times are still perfectly perceptible – look at such venues as Stylowa Restaurant (the oldest in Nowa Huta) located at the Central Square and see how people imagine an elegant restaurant in communist era! In many places in Nowa Huta the time just stopped.
It is worth mentioning that residents of the district came mostly from rural areas, so in 50’ there were cases of keeping pigs or fowls in Nowa Huta houses (especially in the oldest housing estates – Wanda and Willowe).
Nowa Huta tour with a guide
Nowa Huta tour with our guide You will learn very interesting things about daily life in a rather unusual place. Would you like to hear more facts about Nowa Huta? Feel invited! Take a look at: https://krakowzwiedzanie.pl/en/nowa-huta/.