Sunday, September 23, 2012

Last Sunday in Kraków

Today is my last weekend day in Kraków.  It's hard to believe that time has gone this fast!

I decided that I should go and see a Kraków landmark I had yet to see here: Nowa Huta ("Noh-vah Hoo-tah").  The name translates to "New Steelworks."  It was a planned community by the Soviets when they were in control of Poland.  I'm getting most of the following information from the Wikipedia article on it, but it's an interesting story all the way around.

The Soviets were having trouble with Kraków, which had a healthy middle class, so they decided to bring up a large working class in a huge, planned, industrial suburb.  That was Nowa Huta's goal, anyway.  The choice of putting a steelworks (the largest in Poland, I believe) here is also interesting, considering there isn't really any iron ore nearby.

The first stop, therefore, was this steelworks.  Well, at least its sign.  Here we are with some pictures of it.  My friend John came with me through this trip, and you can see him in the first of the photos.

The town of Nowa Huta is planned in a grid-spoke pattern around a central square.  (At one time, later, that square was named "Ronald Regan Square.")  One item the Soviets did not plan for, not surprisingly, was a church.  Eventually there were protests, I think someone died, and a guy by the name of Bishop Karol Wojtyla got enough support to build one.  Never heard of the guy?  I think you might have.  He later took on the name (in English) John Paul II.

The church he built is called Arka Pana ("Ark of the Lord") and is loosely modeled after Noah's Ark.  I got some photos of it, but because they were having service inside I didn't venture inside the actual church.  I think a few tourists were sneaking in, but I hate doing that.

Also, randomly, on the way between the steelworks and the Arka Pana, we found a house with chickens in the yard.  It was worth a picture.

The ironic thing about Nowa Huta is that it backfired on the Soviets.  Everything about that community was designed to bring classes into balance and emphasize communist life.  Instead, it became a stronghold of the Solidarity movement in later years, which basically freed Poland from Soviet control.

The rest of the day wasn't too exciting.  John and I each got to chat with the ladies in our lives, then we went in search of some kielbasa.  Although we didn't find the glorious kielbasa van, we did eventually find a good meaty dinner appropriate for my last weekend night in Poland.

In the coming few days I may not post a lot.  I leave Kraków for a UK vacation on Wednesday, so I'll post summaries of how that is going when I have time to do so.  The summer has already officially ended, but A Summer in Krakow isn't quite done yet.  Almost, but not yet.


Laurel Blough said...

This is how far back I had to go to catch up on reading. It makes me sad, but I have to focus on my own stuff now. I'm glad we both have our own individual adventures, though: things we each got to see that the other didn't. It's kind of cool.

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