It might be Warsaw or Krakow that first come to mind when you think of Poland, but Lodz (pronounced “Woodge”) is a delightful addition to any itinerary that takes your clients to this Central European country. Film connoisseurs, history buffs and travelers who like discovering hidden nooks will leave this place fascinated. Lodz is whimsical (as our feature image can attest to), creative, energetic, stunning, and completely raw, without any predisposition as to what a “serious” tourist-centric city should look and feel like, and that’s what makes it so ideal for travelers who want to jump right off the beaten track. It will leave clients exhilarated!
Piotrkowska Street is a chronicle of Lodz; the city’s spine along which one of the biggest European textile centers was created in the 19th century. This 2.6-mile-long stunning street, lined with magnificent architecture, runs from Wolnosci Square to Niepodleglosci Square, linking, in its heyday, the Old Town with the newly formed industrial cloth village called the New Town and the village of Lodka, originally home to linen and cotton manufacturers. Today, it’s still a bustling avenue with more than 100 hipster venues, shops, and an array of cool spots. But it’s what lies behind this famed street that will take one’s breath away. Step behind the buildings that line the street and you’ll find wonderful courtyards, each with its own vibe. Some have Mexican restaurants selling the best mojito in town, while others have cool pubs, eclectic shops or simply a hip vibe. One of the most magnificent of these “hidden” nooks is home to the Passage of the Rose, located right off Wolnosci Square and where visitors will find an 1835 building covered in its entirety with small, irregularly shaped pieces of mirror. It’s a dazzling work of art!
The homes, mansions in their heyday, that run along Piotrkowska Street are a testament to the importance of Lodz as a manufacturing center in the 19th century. In fact, during the late part of the 19th century, the city’s symbol were its smoking brick chimneys and industrial towers. There were a few industry titans who built whole communities around their factories and today these expansive complexes are being converted into magnificent playgrounds encompassing entertainment, dining, hotels, etc. Recommend clients walk through one of the most serene spots in the city—the neighborhood that’s home to Scheiblers Workers’ Homes in Ksiezy Mlyn, built between 1873 and 1875, whose oldest part consists of three rows of residential buildings. The complex is also home to a school for Scheiblers’ factory workers, becoming the first institution of its kind in Lodz.
Another magnificent ode to the industrial age can be seen at the Poznanski industrial complex, which during its working years was home to the family residence, a factory office workers’ homes, a school, a hospital and a fire station. Today it’s the Manufacktura commercial, entertainment, and cultural center, housing a bevy of shops, dining venues and the like, as well as the Museum of the Factory, where visitors can learn the complex’s history. One of the most beautiful structures is the low weaving plant, with a distinctive roof and today home to restaurants and shops. Of course, the most beautiful is Poznanki’s Palace, the biggest of all of the industrial age-era palaces in Lodz. There’s a famous anecdote that refers to the style of the palace: When asked about what style he preferred for the building’s architecture, Poznanki answered that he could afford them all, so visitors will see a combination of Neo-Renaissance, Neo-Baroque, and Art Nouveau, among others.
Manufaktura is also home to the very playful, 277-room Vienna House Andel’s Lodz hotel, located in a former weaving factory. The grand lobby dazzles with colorful furnishings and, of course, industrial age-era architecture. There’s a restaurant, two bars—one set on the rooftop—and rooms that turn up the volume with their colorful playfulness and state-of-the-art amenities.
Known as a film center, Lodz is home to one of the world’s best film schools, and there’s even a Walk of Fame with Hollywood-like stars on Piotrkowska Street. True film buffs, though, won’t want to leave Lodz without popping over to the city’s Film Museum, housing an array of interesting devices typical of film sets, as well as various exhibits that mark milestones in motion picture history. The museum is housed in a former residence of a factory owner as well as an adjacent former coach house building (currently with a state-of-the- art projection instruments and a small auditorium with some 70 seats) and a former stable that today houses workshops and offices.