Splitting Łódź into two, ulica Piotrkowska stands out as the commercial and social heart of the city. Measuring just under five kilometres, it ranks as Europe’s longest pedestrian street and is lined with restaurants, beer gardens, street food stands, and a mix of neo-renaissance and art nouveau buildings; the majority now restored to their former glory. There's no doubt the northern half is the busiest section of the street, and most visitors will start their Łódź escapades here. Starting at the Tadeusz Kościuszko statue at the northern end of the street at Plac Wolności, the streetstretches southwards with crews of all-year-round rickshaws (5zł per person from end to end) spiriting travellers to the destination of choice. Pretty much all of Łódź’s major industrialists kept residences on this street, as if their palaces were not enough, and many of the buildings boast intricate details on their facades; ranging from reliefs of dolphins to dragons to demons. The most popular part of the street is no doubt OFF Piotrkowska, with its many bars, cafes, restaurants and all round good feel places. In more recent years Łódź entered the Guinness Book of Records for a time as possessing the largest mural in the world, now deemed one of the largest in Europe. Painted by the Design Futura group in November 2001, the mural took two months to complete and is apparently very symbolic. The 'city of Łódź' mural Features Plac Wolnościand the Kościuszko monument, Old Town Hall, an old tram and the city’s emblem on the side of a boat, the work combines the traditional with the modern and is well worth having a look at. Find it in the car park at ul. Piotrkowska 152, and just around the corner you will find another mural by Spanish artist Aryz and Brazilian brothers Os Gemeos.
Łódź’s most recognizable hotel can be found halfway down Piotrkowska. Constructed in 1887-1888 the neo-renaissance Grand Hotel was originally the work of Ludwik Meyer, though the building saw sweeping renovations (including an extra floor) in 1913, courtesy of the architect Dawid Lande – a man whose designs deeply influenced the appearance of Piotrkowska. Directly outside the hotel is the ‘Walk of Fame’ – star-shaped plaques celebrating Poland’s most famous cinema artists and directors. Other highlights to keep an eye out for include pianist Artur Rubinstein’s statue, and the ‘Turn of the Millennium’ walk: running from Piotrkowska 98 through till 146 you’ll find 12,859 names of Łódź residents engraved into the paving. Elsewhere monuments of famous characters related to Łódź (the aforementioned Rubinstein, Polish writer and Nobel Laureate Władysław Reymont and writer and poet Julian Tuwim etc.) can be found dispersed around the street. You'll also find a statue to one of Poland's most famous bears, Miś Uszatek, one of 9 Fairytale Łódź statues found around the city. At the intersection of Piotrkowska, at al. Piłsudskiego, the officially named central tram stop (Dworzec Tramwajowy Centrum) is affectionately known by locals as 'Stajnia Jednorożców' (Unicorn Stables) due to its colourful mosaic roof.