Friday 3 November 2017

Łódź, Poland: From Industrial Revolution to Movies

I visited Poland courtesy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland.

Last year I revisited one of Poland's most overlooked cities, Łódź (pronounced 'woodge').

In the centre of the country, Poland's third-largest city was the epicentre of the Industrial Revolution in what was then a province of the Russian Empire. As a result, it has a lot of interesting industrial architecture, from repurposed factory complexes to tycoons' luxurious former homes.

It's more noted nowadays as the hub of the Polish film industry. Because Warsaw was in ruins at the end of the Second World War, movie-makers regrouped here after the conflict.

Cinematic highlights for visitors include the Cinematography Museum housed within a former mansion; the National Film School where Roman Polański once studied; and the animation museum of Se-ma-for Studios.

Here's a quick tour...

1. Start your visit with the Cinematography Museum. There are two attractions here: the extensive collection of movie memorabilia, from early stereoscopic film viewers to sets and props from recent productions; and the beautiful mansion it's housed in, once the home of a Łódź textile king.

2. From the museum it's a short walk to the National Film School, spread across a number of buildings. It doesn't hold regular tours, but it's possible to pre-book one in English. This is the place where greats such as Polański, Kieślowski and Wajda got their start, and there are plaques to these ex-students on a set of stairs where they sat between classes.

3. Next stop is Se-ma-for Studios, one of Poland's top animation creators. Its Animation Museum has a great range of puppets which have been used over the decades in Polish animated movies, including recent international co-productions. It's fun to look through the changing designs, even if you're not familiar with the productions.

4. A great place to end is Lodz's main street, ul Piotrowska. Here in the footpath is the Walk of Fame, embedded Hollywood-style stars with the names of famous Polish film-makers in them. Because Piotrowska is full of good restaurants and bars, it's a good spot to finish your visit over an excellent Polish beer.

It's worth staying over, but it's also possible to visit Łódź as a day trip by train from Warsaw (though it'd be a long and busy day). You can find out more about the city and its attractions at the official Łódź tourism website.

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