The Nowa Huta District (Steelworks) - based on

Steelworks District
Visiting the Nowa Huta district is now becoming a must on the list of what to do for visitors to Krakow.
This place is also becoming popular with Polish sightseers for whom Socialist Realist architecture is not really something that should really interest them. But for some reason it does, for a few at least. This is an area of Poland forgotten for many years and even laughed at by citizens of Old Krakow, yet it grows in popularity.
The planning and building of Nowa Huta (The New Steel Works District) was ordered as far back as 1949. It was to be an independent city, a socialist utopia and completely self sufficient. It was built in times when the cost was not the most important factor.
The effect was important, the message it sent to the rest of the nation, to the world, was the major concern. Many parks, cinemas, theatres, shops, service points, kindergartens, hospitals were planned with splendid avenues and squares. Apart from the general popularity of Socialist Realist architecture in this part of Europe, Nowa Huta was a spectacular architectural event on a world scale!
The scale and splendour of the project here is surprising. First projected as a town then included as a district of Krakow it was planned in the pure form of Socialist Realist with Baroque and Renaissance elements.
The ideas were bright and brave for those times in the 40's and 50's and are still recognized nowadays by architects coming to see this monument to Socialist Realist architecture. But architecture is not all. You will find an atmosphere of the PRL - the Peoples Republic of Poland in Nowa Huta which is the special attraction especially for young tourists coming here from Western Europe.
The enthusiasm that accompanied workers and builders of the district and one of the largest steel works in the world (of that time) was accompanied by communist propaganda. For many it was a brilliant occasion to start a new life after the shortages and destruction of the war.
 This concept, forced on the population by communist propaganda, kept people together and motivated them to exceed planned quotas by as much as 300% above the daily norms (often those who exceeded their quotas and were exalted by the communist authorities were aided in their task by groups of people who supported the hero in his work).
 They created a particular environment of challenge, love of socialism, cooperation and the not to be forgotten comradeship among the workers. Remember that it looked different just 4 years after the terrible war
had ended and the plans for Nowa Huta were revealed to the country - many who had suffered in the war saw this as their brightest future, the only one possible.
Today the generations who built Nowa Huta are fading away, but when you are in Nowa Huta and you use a little imagination you can still feel the spirit and hear the songs, the cheering of the crowds, that special atmosphere of Nowa Huta. We suggest you take a stroll with The Visitor through some parts of Nowa Huta to enjoy the architecture and visit some important places in its history.
The map of the districts allows you to wander as you want off the short route to extend it as you wish depending on the feelings you have for this place (as not everyone likes it).
 On your way you will find information points with photos that will give you even more information about the history and the alternative attractions on your route.
Enjoy your walk!

1. The Central Square
We start from the Central Square arriving by tram from the main railway station; trams 4 or 15 with 11 stops. Get off at the ‘Plac Centralny' stop. The square is considered one of the most important urban architectural plans of its kind in Europe.
Four equal length streets start from here and divide the area into districts named, Centrum A, B, C, D and the newest E.
The construction of Nowa Huta started in 1949 but was not finished according to the principal plan of the architects who wanted to place an enormous obelisk in the middle, at the southern side - the theatre and behind it (in the meadows) a large lake.
Today most of the area is still empty. In the seventies the Cultural Centre was built on part of the south side violating the style and not fitting into the general plan at all.
The despised monument to Lenin stood on Roses Avenue between 1973-89. Who during those times could have imagined that no vestige of the father of communism would be left and that the Central Square would be given the name of one of the Presidents of the USA?
In 2004 the official name became Ronald Reagan Central Square!

2. Roses Avenue
The main avenue, the central street leaving the square was the most important trading avenue in the town.
The biggest shops and department stores were here. They were usually better supplied than the Krakow shops, especially during communist holidays, to create the illusionary impression of prosperity that according to official propaganda was prevalent in socialist Poland.
Today as we walk here, where the roses are not as splendid as they used to be, we have to admire the ideas behind the architecture and the scale of the project. Going up the avenue have a look inside the courtyards of the houses.
 Who knows maybe someone you meet will be willing to tell you the true story of the attempts of blowing up Lenin's monument or tell of the fighting and demonstrations and the long struggle to build at least one church for the thousands of citizens of Nowa Huta who did not agree with the idea of a city without God.

3. The Theatre District
Turning left on Zeromskiego Street and continuing the walk to Obroncow Krzyza (The Defenders of the Cross Street) you will arrive at the Peoples Theatre which was a central element in the so called cultural quarter.
On your way you passed the Cross placed here as a reminder of the demonstration of 27 IV 1960 when people gathered to show the communist leaders that a church was worth fighting for.
 This part of the city was built in the first stages of construction between 1950-53.
The Peoples Theatre is the most recent theatre in Krakow. The first performance was in 3 December 1955.
The Theatre soon became one of the best for the philosophical-ideological arts. Today's repertoire consists of modern Polish and European dramas.

4. The Arch Church
Not far from the Theatre is the most important (for this part of the city) church-sanctuary of our Lady of Fatima, called popularly the Arch of the Lord, or simply the Arch.
On the square stood the cross placed here in memory of Bogdan Włosik, shot by the Security Services (13 X 1982) while taking part in an anti government demonstration.
 The struggle to build a church here was long and arduous. One of the most important and well known supporters of the creation of a church in the place of the little chapel here was Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul II.
 He supported local priests by hearing confessions and preaching during the masses often held here in the open air for the large crowds. He also joined the official ceremony that finally took place on the 14 October 1967 and dug a symbolic spade of earth for the foundations of the present church. The church was built between 1967-77.
Inside this two level edifice there are many symbolic pictures and sculptures including the Way of the Cross that correspond to the history of the church and the stormy history of Poland during the dark communist era.
After visiting the church go to the bus stop (Arka at Obroncow Krzyza Street) in the direction Kombinat (get off at the last, fifth stop).

5. Nowa Huta New Steelworks
The construction of any of the large enterprises in Poland after the war was mostly done after a decision by Big Brother from across the eastern border. And this was the case with Nowa Huta when in 1947 Stalin gave instructions to the Polish government to create in Poland a steelworks. From the many locations proposed the one closest to Krakow was chosen ignoring the neighboring environmental threat it represented.
It was to be a prestigious project therefore it could not be put up in some remote part of Poland. From the beginning the foundry and the whole supportive district around it - Nowa Huta - were to be used by communist propaganda to root socialism into post war Poland.
On the 17 May 1947 the commission responsible for building the steelworks was established. Immediately the relocation of the peasants on the land started. They were given very little money for their land (and the land was of the premium quality) for the decision was political not one to argue with. In a year the first district needed a work force as builders (point 3 on our route).
 Thousand of workers were encouraged to come, settle and take part in this enormous project. For many of them it was a new world, a new idea, the new future that would provide them with a better life, one they had dreamt about during the war.
 The working norms were extended and increased, careers flourished and were broken, songs were written and fervour for the project grew. All, of course, under the supervision of the communist ruling elite (with guidance from Moscow) using their greatest tool to manipulate the workers - propaganda. On 22 July 1954 (a communist holiday, of course) the first pig iron rolled out of the factory from ‘Big Forge No. 1' in the Nowa Huta Lenin metallurgic foundry. Till end of the 70's Nowa Huta was one of the largest steel producing factories in the world.
 The work done here was considered an achievement and not only on the eastern side of the Iron Curtain. At the height of production some 40,000 workers were employed and the annual steel output was in the region of 7 million tons.
 The foundry covered 1700 hectares. The length of the internal train tracks inside this territory is 350 kilometers! The changes that came with 1989 and then the growing awareness of the damage being done to the environment closed down parts of the foundry.
Today approximately 15,000 employees work here and the annual production reaches about 3 million tons of steel. The square where the bus stopped leads to the main gate entrance of the foundry. Unfortunately you cannot enter the foundry as they have been closed down by today's owner. If this situation changes (there are plans for a visitor's route inside the factory) you will find the appropriate information in the next editions of The Visitor. Have a look at the administrative houses standing along Solidarności Avenue. They are the most characteristic of the whole district. Socialist Realism was mixed with Renaissance here in a way somewhat typical of an Italian palace.
They were all given nicknames very quickly. The most popular is the Dodges Palace. We also found one - Pentagon - but the meaning in Poland has nothing to do with the building in Washington.
The meaning here is, ‘half of the people are just messing about and the rest have run off ahead'. It was a perfect example of the socialist way of planning work. In 1989 the name of the foundry was changed to the Steel Foundry of Tadeusz Sendzimir (the name is still on display today). From 2005 it has been the property of Mittal Steel Poland S.A., and then it was reorganized by ArcelorMittal Poland S.A. To get back to the city centre hop on tram number 4. The main train station is about 25 minutes away but you can, of course, get off on the way at the Centralny Square and explore more of the places you liked best.
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