The bastard child of a devastated post WWII Poland, the huge Socialist Realist suburb of Nowa Huta is the direct antithesis of everything cuddly Kraków is. Gargoyles and tourists? Not here. The Orwellian settlement of Nowa Huta is one of only two entirely pre-planned socialist realist cities ever built (the other being Magnitogorsk in Russia’s Ural Mountains), and one of the finest examples of deliberate social engineering in the world.
Funded by the Soviet Union, Nowa Huta swallowed up a huge swathe of ideal agricultural land, and the ancient village of Kościelniki (as well as parts of Mogiła and Krzesławice) in an attempt to create an in-your-face proletarian opponent to intellectual, artsy-fartsy, fairytale Kraków. The decision to build NH was rubber stamped on May 17, 1947 and over the next few years construction of a model city for 100,000 people sprung up at breakneck speed. Built to impress, Nowa Huta featured wide, tree-lined avenues, parks, lakes and the officially sanctioned architectural style of the time - Socialist Realism. Nowa Huta’s architects strove to construct the ideal city, with ironic inspiration coming from the neighbourhood blocks built in 1920s New York (that despicable western metropolis). Careful planning was key, and the suburb was designed with ‘efficient mutual control' in mind: wide streets would prevent the spread of fire and the profusion of trees would easily soak up a nuclear blast, while the layout was such that the city could easily be turned into a fortress if it came under attack.