Schindler's Villa

  ul. Romanowicza 9 ,   Podgórze         18 Apr 2023
This villa in Zabłocie - the only of its kind today in the area - served as the administrative building of Józef Górecki's Iron Works and Ornamental Castings Factory, which opened in 1890. In 1937, three Jewish entrepreneurs bought the space, adapting and expanding the industrial complex along ul. Lipowa into the 'Rekord' enamel and tin works factory. The factory was beset with financial problems and bankrupt by June 1939, at which point Oskar Schindler - recently arrived in Kraków after the outbreak of World War II - was conveniently able to step in and take over. You're likely familiar with the story from there (they made a movie): Nazi war profiteer protects his slaves from the death camps until the end of the war, saving the lives of 1200 Jews and becoming a hero of Israel. It's a complicated legacy, but certainly a compelling one.
Schindler Villa as it looked in 2011; photo by Zygmunt Put.

After initially taking quarters in a tenement building at ul. Straszewskiego 7 near Wawel Castle, Schindler later moved into this villa and lived here until he left Kraków in October 1944 with the Red Army approaching. Although the entrance faces ul. Romanowicza, the villa backs directly onto the industrial buildings along ul. Lipowa and was basically part of the industrial complex.
Architect's visualisation of how the building will look after renovation.

After falling into ruin over several decades, the building and the area directly behind it are now being redeveloped into a controversial new residential, commercial and gastronomy complex (further complicating legacies). While the villa will be renovated to look as it did in the late 1800s from the outside, it will be broken into modern apartment units. A four-storey office building will be built behind it, with gastronomy occupying the lower two levels, including the patio between the two buildings. It all comes full circle we suppose: one profiteer supplants another and the wheel of fortune keeps on spinning.
Another visualisation of the project with the office building in the back.

UPDATE: Despite the building permit being granted, work - which was supposed to be finished in summer of 2022 - has yet to start here and it looks like the project may not go forward after all. Visualisations that were hanging on ther building have been removed. 


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