Lodz (meaning boat) is in the centre of Poland, south-west of the capital Warsaw and is the country’s third-largest city. Historically, Lodz was on the important trade route between Masovia and Silesia. Lodz was granted city rights by king Wladyslaw Jagiello in 1423 and its colourful coat of arms actually depicts a boat.
Lodz’s industrial growth was phenomenal, especially around 1820, when Stanisław Staszic contributed to changing it into a manufacturing centre by importing immigrant labour from all over Europe. As a result, Lodz became the Russian Empire’s main textile production centre.
Railroads established links with Warsaw and other cities. Some of Lodz’s most interesting sights include industrialist’s chapels, mausoleums and family crypts, particularly in the Lutheran part of the cemetery (The Old Cemetery).
With all its workers, Lodz also became a socialist movement centre. Some historic strikes include the city-paralyzing one in 1892 and the one in 1905, when 300 workers were killed by Tsarist police. However, the1930s Great Depression, the Customs War with Germany, the Bolshevik Revolution and the Russian Civil War ended Lodz’s profitable industrial trade.
Huge Nazi-installed Jew ghettos, concentration and death camps were present in Lodz during WW2, with Radogoszcz prison a gruesome example. Due to the killings, the population of Lodz largely consisted of German residents after the end of the war. The Soviet Red Army took over in 1945 and in practice Lodz served as the capital of Poland until Warsaw’s major rebuild in 1948.
Today’s visitors appreciate Lodz‘s beautiful botanical gardens, its 5km Piotrkowska Street (a major commercial centre surrounded by renovated 19th century buildings), the charming Lagiewniki park and the modern Polish art museum Sztuki, spread between the exhibitions on Więckowskiego Street and the mall “Manufaktura” – a huge 19th Century textile factory complex.
Families should try Lunapark’s amazingly tall roller coaster and many other rides and/or the city zoo. Also make sure you spot the Arthur Rubinstein sculpture on Piotrkowska Street.
Posted : Thursday, June 21st, 2012 at 10:00
As well as writing about travel, Karen Bryan offers tips on saving money, frugal living and how to live well on less, on her site Help Me To Save