Krakow

Sightseeing

Kraków street art

Sendzimir Steelworks

 ul. Ujastek 1    

While the monumental Plac Centralny is the face Nowa Huta turns to the public, its true social realist glory piece is the Administrative Centre of the Steelworks - the palatial monstrosities flanking the gate to the complex. Built between 1952 and '55 to the design of the two Janusz's - Ballenstadt and Ingarten - these twin architectural monuments crowned with a Renaissance comb attic represent the most exquisite example of social realism in Poland. If you could get yourself inside them you'd see incredibly well-preserved examples of 50s decor including black marble staircases, magnificent candelabras and decorative radiator shields. Getting inside the Steelworks is indeed a problem. Despite plenty of interest, the Steelworks are no longer open to tourists (except during occasional concerts held in the former tinning mill). Even when it was possible to arrange a tour it required hiring an automobile to explore the immense complex which covers over 1000 hectares with an internal road and rail network dozens of kilometres long. Some of the Steelworks' larger halls could fit Kraków's main market square (the largest in Europe, mind you) several times over, and the lava-brimming melting ladles are several storeys tall. After communism fell, the patron saint of the Steelworks was revised from Vladimir Lenin to Polish-American inventor Tadeusz Sendzimir. In 2005 the complex was bought by the Indian tycoon Lakshmi Mithal and is now officially called 'ArcelorMittal Poland,' but you can call it 'Your Majesty' if you like, you ain't getting in.

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