Saturday, 12 May 2012



Łódź is the third-largest city in Poland. Located in the central part of the country, it had a population of 742,387 in December 2009. It is the capital of Łódź Voivodeship, and is approximately 135 kilometres (84 mi) south-west of Warsaw. 

Łódź first appears in the written record in a 1332 document giving the village of Łodzia to the bishops of Włocławek. In 1423 King Władysław Jagiełło granted city rights to the village of Łódź. From then until the 18th century the town remained a small settlement on a trade route between Masovia and Silesia. In the 16th century the town had fewer than 800 inhabitants, mostly working on the nearby grain farms.

With the second partition of Poland in 1793, Łódź became part of the Kingdom of Prussia's province of South Prussia, and was known in German as Lodsch. In 1798 the Prussians nationalised the town, and it lost its status as a town of the bishops of Kuyavia. In 1806 Łódź joined the Napoleonic Duchy of Warsaw and in 1810 it had 190 inhabitants. In the 1815 Congress of Vienna treaty it became part of Congress Poland, a client state of the Russian Empire.

In the 1815 treaty, it was planned to renew the dilapidated town and with the 1816 decree by the Czar a number of German immigrants received territory deeds for them to clear the land and to build factories and housing. In 1820 Stanisław Staszic aided in changing the small town into a modern industrial centre. The immigrants came to the Promised Land ( Ziemia obiecana, the city's nickname) from all over Europe. Mostly they arrived from Southern Germany, Silesia and Bohemia, but also from countries as far away as Portugal, England, France and Ireland. The first cotton mill opened in 1825, and 14 years later the first steam-powered factory in both Poland and Russia commenced operations. In 1839 the population was 80% Germans and German schools and churches were established. 

In the 1823–1873, the city's population doubled every ten years. The years 1870–1890 marked the period of most intense industrial development in the city's history. Many of the industrialists were Jewish. Łódź soon became a major centre of the socialist movement. In 1892 a huge strike paralysed most of the factories. By 1897, the share of the German population had dropped from 80 to 40%. According to Russian census of 1897, out of the total population of 315,000, Jews constituted 99,000 (around 31% percent).

Alexander Nevsky Orthodox Church
By the end of World War II, Łódź had lost approximately 420,000 of its pre-war inhabitants: 300,000 Polish Jews and approximately 120,000 other Poles. In their place were thousands of new German residents, many of whom were Volksdeutsch who had been repatriated from Russia during the time of Hitler's alliance with the Soviet Union. In January 1945 most of the German population fled the city for fear of the Red Army. The city also suffered tremendous losses due to the German policy of requisition of all factories and machines and transporting them to Germany. Thus despite relatively small losses due to aerial bombardment and the fighting, Łódź had lost most of its infrastructure.

The Soviet Red Army entered the city on 18 January 1945. According to Marshal Katukov, whose forces participated in the operation, the Germans retreated so suddenly that they had no time to evacuate or destroy the Łódź factories, as they did in other cities. In time, Łódź became part of the People's Republic of Poland.

Shopping in modern day Łódź centres on three main areas of the city: the thoroughfare of Piotrkowska, the modern shopping centre Galeria Łódzka, and the shopping heaven that is the Manufaktura complex. Some of the streets running parallel to Piotrkowska, including ul. Sienkiewicza, are good for specialist shops, such as antiques and paintings. Indeed, whisper it in Warsaw, but Łódź may in fact be Poland’s top shopping destination. Whether it’s malls, designer boutiques, dusty family stores or antique markets a day spent shopping can result in both bargains and treasures. 

Piotrkowska street is the place to start your explorations, the 4km street that plays host to most of the city’s action. Every time we take a pass down Piotrkowska we spot new businesses cropping up, and we can’t help but recommend Shotme for some of the most creative cocktails you’ll ever see (sprinkles! Milkshake shots!) and Fermentacja for the deepest selection of beers in the city. Now that you know where to imbibe we can tackle that other essential, dining out. Newcomers abound, and our favourites include Restauracja Kryształowa for authentic Silesian cuisine under glittering chandeliers and The Dorsz Fish and Chips when nothing but a classic British fish fry will do.  Piotrkowska Street is the main artery and attraction stretching north to south (one of) the longest commercial streets in the world. A few of the building fronts have been renovated and date back to the 19th century. 

Although Łódź does not have any hills nor any large body of water, one can still get close to nature in one of the city's many parks, most notably Łagiewniki (the largest city park in Europe). Łódź has one of the best museums of modern art in Poland, Muzeum Sztuki on Więckowskiego Street, which displays art by all important contemporary Polish artists. Despite insufficient exhibition space (many very impressive paintings and sculptures lie in storage in the basement), there are plans to move the museum to a larger space in the near future. There is also a branch of Muzeum Sztuki called MS2 located in the area of Łódź largest mall "Manufaktura".

Another popular source of recreation is the Lunapark, an amusement park featuring about two dozen attractions including an 18 metre tall roller coaster and two dozen other rides and features, located near the city's zoo and its botanical gardens.

Eating out in Łódź can be a game of Russian Roulette, with the city offering everything from gastronomic excellence to food poisoning. Perils and pratfalls await at every turn. If a dining room is popular, and therefore busy, expect the chef to labour into the night. By the same rule expect bolted doors if it’s been a quiet day. 

Arthur Rubinstein
Łódź’s commitment to hedonism is on a par with Poland’s capital. For the unadventurous a straight-forward pub crawl down ulica Piotrkowska is the way to go, though stand advised some of the best drinking dens in town are found squirrelled away in the back streets and side alleys. Follow your nose. 

During the warmer months the streets, particularly Piotrkowska, are thronged with beer gardens. Once the chillier weather starts to move in the party shifts back inside and downstairs. For the most part you’ll be paying no more than 7zł for a large beer, and bear in mind that the opening hours are flexible: most bars will stay open as long as drinkers are drinking. Clubs often charge an entry fee, many of which are based on what’s on offer that night.

                                                        Łódź’s Top 5:
  1. Łódź Cathedral.  The city’s Roman Catholic Cathedral is the biggest church in Łódź. A true Gothic masterpiece it was built between 1901 and 1912 by the famous Łódź builders Wende & Zarske from original drawings supposedly supplied by the Berlin architect, Emil Zillmann. Styled along the lines of a typical medieval cathedral with three aisles, transept, choir, ambulatory and Lady Chapel, the interior is famous for being rather severe. Damaged by a fire in 1971, the cathedral has been painstakingly restored including the addition of a new roof supported by modern steel trusses. On the Chancery's side find a small Cenotaph dedicated to the Unknown Soldier, and on the opposite side a monument to Father Skorupka, a Roman Catholic priest who is believed to have made a great contribution to the country’s victory over the Bolsheviks in 1920.
  2. St. Alexander Nevsky Orthodox Church.  One of two Orthodox churches in the city, the domed neo-Byzantine St. Alexander Nevsky is the most interesting of the pair and serves as an official cathedral of the Łódź-Poznań Bishop. Said to have been designed by the official city architect Hilary Majewski between 1881 and 1884 as a gift from Łódź’s industrialists to the Orthodox community, the church has many ornate elevations and a breathtakingly rich interior featuring iconostasis made in St. Petersburg.
  3. Poznański Palace.   Inside the breathtaking Neo-Baroque former residence of Łódź manufacturer Izrael Kalmanowicz Poznański, is a museum within a museum, dedicated to the relatively short life and times of Poland's second city from the end of the 19th century to the outbreak of WWII, knocks you out from the moment you walk through the front door. Jammed full of exhibits tracing the history, people, culture and ups and downs of the city, find recreations of daily life from kitchen interiors to sections of streets. There are many fine examples of silverware and porcelain too, and rooms dedicated to many of the city's former inhabitants, including Łódź's unofficial Rubinstein museum (the only one in the world, and one of the few parts of the museum with thorough explanations in English), giving over several rooms to the legendary Jewish pianist. The Jewish theme is admirably represented, and includes a tribute to Jan Karski, the envoy of Poland's underground authorities who first alerted the West to the Holocaust. 
  4. The chapel of Karol Scheibler, next to the Old Evangelical - Augsburg Cemetery on Ogrodowa Street 43, is a major architectural work in old Łódź. Karl Wilhelm Scheibler (1820 - 1881) was an industrial magnate who raised the profile of Łódź within the textile industry of Europe. He created a large industrial empire on Priest's Mill. After his death, his wife Anna erected the mausoleum-like chapel in his memory. The chapel was built between 1885-1888 by Varsovian architects Edward Lilpop and Józef Dziekoński. Newspapers in Warsaw wrote, "the chapel is a monument executed with the greatest costs concerning our country", and "this is an uncommon work of architecture, designed with great taste and executed with unusual care." The architecture of the building was based on French and German Gothic Revival architecture. The chapel has a slender contour, finished with openwork masonry towers.
  5. Arthur Rubinstein's Piano.  Arthur Rubinstein (January 28, 1887 – December 20, 1982) was a Polish-American classical pianist who received international acclaim for his performances of the music written by a variety of composers; many regard him as the greatest Chopin interpreter of his time. He is widely considered one of the greatest classical pianists of the twentieth century. This controversial sculpture can be found outside his former residence in Piotrkowska street.

    Poznański Palace

1 comment:

  1. I like this city. There is now a bigger shopping centre called Port in the south on Pabianicka between Łódż and Pabiance. There is also a Nazi Prison Museum in the North of the city on Zgierska. Also the Atlas Arena, a big music venue is near Dzworzec Kaliska. My Ex fiancee lives in this city, I know it quite well.