Nowa Huta - where communist utopia borders on historic
Huta was conceived in the late 1940s, under the ruthless communist
rule of Poland, as an ideal 'proletarian city' tied to a brand-new
giant steelworks next to Krakow.
Now it constitutes Krakow's easternmost 18th district – XVIII
Dzielnica – the city’s largest, with area of 7,226 hectares and
some 62,000 inhabitants. Besides relics of the Soviet-era
architecture Nowa Huta can boasts a number of worthwhile sites, from
the prehistoric Mound of
Wanda (Kopiec Wandy) to the 13th-century Cistercian
Monastery of Mogila to futuristic churches
of the late 20th century.
Huta translates as New Steelworks or New Foundry.
of communist utopia in Nowa Huta
Centralny /Central Square/ was meant as the hub of the visionary
socialist city of Nowa Huta where wide radial avenues meet, with
concentric layers of public spaces and housing
estates called osiedle. The project has remained half-finished,
construction of the eastern half of the town canceled in the mid
1950s, so to the south Plac Centralny square still opens to vast
green fields. Otherwise it’s semi-circled by massive buildings in
the style of Socialist Realism. Their architects declared
inspiration from Poland’s monumental architecture of the
Renaissance (a deviation from the Soviet neoclassical orthodoxy) but
it doesn’t show much. The former prominent feature of Plac
Centralny, a giant bronze statue of Lenin (he had lived in Krakow
from 1912 to 1914) that used to dominate the square’s northern
side in the years 1973 through 1989, has been removed and sold to
Aleja Solidarnosci – Solidarity Avenue, formerly Lenin Avenue –
links Plac Centralny with the vast industrial wasteland of mammoth
steelworks complex, now Mittal Steel Poland, named after Lenin in
1954 and in 1990 renamed after Tadeusz Sendzimir, a Polish-American
successful inventor and industrialist. The street, intended as
‘the axis of labor’ in Nowa Huta’s original town planning,
ends at a grandiose office
building of the management called Centrum Administracyjne
(Administration Center). An unintentional parody of the Renaissance
palatial architecture, the massive structure nicknamed ‘Vatican’
and ‘Palace of Doges’ was completed in 1955.
Huta’s other Soviet-era landmarks
Wandy and Osiedle Willowe.
Nowa Huta’s oldest districts were built between 1949 and 1951 on
both sides of today’s Mierzwy Street, two blocks east of Plac
Centralny square, as residential areas in a vein of a garden city,
Soviet style. The new town’s very first building, a block of flats
at 14 Os. Wandy, was completed on June 23, 1949.
Ludowy theater at 34 Osiedle Teatralne
Theater building of 1955 is one of less disagreeable examples of the
pseudo-classicism typical for the Soviet architecture of the mid
Zeromski Hospital at Sieroszewskiego street
Nowa Huta’s Municipal Hospital was built between 1951 and 1954 as
a complex of 17 buildings. Its main edifice represents Socialist
Realism mimicking Baroque palatial architecture.
Cinema at 10 Osiedle Teatralne and Swiatowid Cinema
The twins of former movie houses, opened in 1956 and 1958
respectively, exemplify the standard Stalinist architectural
preference for classicism.
monuments in Nowa Huta
Mound (Kopiec Wandy)
ancient earthwork, 14 meters high and about 50 meters in diameter,
is one of Krakow’s two prehistoric
barrows. Its origins remain a mystery but most historians
date it to the 8th century. Legend has it that the mound was erected
over the grave of a mythical Krakow princess, Wanda, who threw
herself to Wisla river to avoid marriage with a German prince. The
Mound of Wanda is situated on the edge of the Nowa Huta steelworks,
some three kilometers east of Plac Centralny square.
Monastery in Mogila.
monastery is one Poland’s most valued. It dates back to 1222 when
the then Krakow bishop gave the village of Mogila (now part of Nowa
Huta) to the Cistercian monks. The originally Gothic complex, with
the Renaissance additions, was given a baroque facelift in the 18th
century (fortunately its Gothic cloister has survived). The
monastery’s church of St. Venceslas and the Assumption of Our Lady
(Kosciol Sw. Waclawa i Wniebowziecia NMP) was built between 1266 and
1350 as a hybrid of the Romanesque and Gothic architecture. In 1780
it acquired a baroque facade and then baroque interior in 1790. The
church can boast outstanding works of art. – the Renaissance
frescos of circa 1530, plus the Gothic polyptych of 1514 and
the15th-century Gothic crucifix. The Renaissance Palace of Abbots
dates from 1569. The Cistercian Monastery of Mogila is situated at
Klasztorna street, some two kilometers southeast of Nowa Huta’s
Plac Centralny square.
of St Bartholomew (Kosciol Sw. Bartlomieja)
Mogila village parish church was built of timber in 1466. It stands
at Klasztorna street, close to the Cistercian Monastery. The church
boasts three aisles, a rare feature for the Polish wooden
architecture. Its side chapels date from the late 18th
century together with the Baroque interior decoration of the
municipality promotes a thematic route that links most of Nowa
Huta's places of interest.
and day trips
Krakow and its vicinity.
itineraries in Krakow
Krakow's Royal Road
round Krakow's Rynek Glowny central square
through Krakow's Kazimierz District
In the footsteps of
Pope John Paul II
How to move
about the city making good use of its transport system.
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