Nowa Huta Krakow
Krakow is a city that is mostly associated with monuments – the Cloth Hall or the Wawel Castle. Hardly anyone remembers that there is a place that is definitely worth visiting – Nowa Huta, a few kilometres from the city centre. Over the years it has been seen as dangerous and overwhelming with grey buildings. Nothing could be more wrong !.
How and for whom it was built?
After the end of World War II, Poland did not have time to rest even for a moment. The new government was taken over by the communist regime. Krakow definitely did not fit the new regime. It was a city that needed to be changed in a short time. In 1947, it was decided to build a steelworks together with a socialist city, which was to be a perfect place for the communist regime.
Over the next few years, building a model socialist city for 100,000 people was carried out with dizzying speeds. Nowa Huta was distinguished by wide, tree-lined avenues, parks, lakes and the officially sanctioned architectural style at that time – socialist realism. Careful planning was important and the city was designed with „effective peer control” in mind. The wide streets would prevent the fire from spreading, the abundance of trees would help absorb the nuclear blast, the underground bunkers and tunnels in Nowa Huta could protect the entire area’s population, and the urban layout would allow the city to be easily transformed into a fortress if attacked.
The architects took care of the smallest detail. Volunteers came from all over Poland to take part in a huge project. One man, Piotr Ożański, became a folk hero when his team of 12 was laying 66,232 bricks in one 8-hour shift (Ożański was the inspiration for the main character of Andrzej Wajda’s famous film „Man of Marble„). However, the life of the builders of Nowa Huta was hard. Many of them were still sleeping in their tents when the first winter came and crime had not decreased.
Vladimir Lenin steelworks
The reasons for building the steelworks were mainly ideological, as the local demand for steel was small.
The construction began in April 1950 and was completed in 1954. In its heyday, about 40,000 people were employed. Steelworks was able to produce seven million tons of steel per year and boasted the largest blast furnace in Europe. Steelworks, officially known today as „ArcelorMittal Poland”, has changed its name several times over the years. It currently employs around 3,500 people, but it does not play a key role in the life of the district as it used to be.
Nowa Huta - interesting places worth visiting
Of course, you can start your tour from the Central Square – now named after Ronald Regan. Until 1989, it housed the largest statue of Lenin in Poland disliked by the locals. Nowa Huta offers a lot of greenery. It is a place in Krakow where you can relax, for example, at the Zalew Nowohucki or Łąki Nowohuckie. Being there, you can quickly forget that you are still in the city.
Those who want to learn more about the history of Nowa Huta, can visit several museums. These are, among others: the Museum of the People’s Republic of Poland (PRL), located in the former „Światowid” cinema, and the Museum of Armed Action (Akcji Zbrojnej), next to which there is a tank with which tourists take photos. For art lovers, an exhibition of works by the tragically deceased Zdzisław Beksiński has been prepared at Nowa Huta Cultural Center (Nowohuckie Centrum Kultury). Of course, Nowa Huta also has plenty of places to eat.
These are new restaurants or popular food trucks. However, if someone wants to go back to the communism era, there are still open milk bars or the oldest restaurant in Nowa Huta, Stylowa, famous for its delicious tartare. As you know, Krakow is famous for its mounds, and one of them is located in Nowa Huta. It is the mound of Prince Krak’s daughter,Wanda which dates back to the 7th and 8th centuries. Also if you want to see what a typical apartment and life looked like during the communist era, you can find a tour. The trip includes a drive around Nowa Huta and a visit to one of the apartments with original furnishings.
As you can see, Nowa Huta has a lot to offer. Museums, places where you can relax and eat well. You can easily get there from the centre of Krakow by public transport.