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History of Lodz
Lodz first appears in written records in 1332 under the name of Lodzia. In 1423, King Wladyslaw Jagiello granted city rights to the village of Lodz. A town centred on agriculture and crafts developed through the next two centuries, but then there was little change for a few centuries. The 17th century was a hard period for Lodz. A Swedish invasion, fires, and epidemics all reduced the town's population. In 1793, Lodz fell under Prussian rule following the partition of Poland. The situation changed dramatically in 1815, when following the Congress of Vienna treaty Lodz was incorporated into the Polish Kingdom and came under Russian rule. Developing a strong and modern Polish economy became the national priority.
Lodz first became an industrial city in 1820, when Rajmund Rembielinski, President of the Committee for the Mazowieckie Voivodship, was inspecting some nearby clothier workshops under construction. He realised that Lodz, with its geographical location and forests full of timber as a construction material, was an ideal site for a new clothiers' settlement. A state directive of 1820 made Lodz an industrial city. The first settlers, skilled in weaving, dyeing, and spinning, were given a plot of land and the timber they needed to build houses. Loans and temporary duty exemptions were granted to attract people from Silesia, Bohemia, Prussia, and Jewish communities, making Lodz a multiethnic town. The textile industry flourished. In the 1840s, Ludwik Geyer's factory, equipped with a steam engine, became the largest cotton factory, and Lodz was counted as the second largest city in the Polish Kingdom.
The abolition of customs duties between the Polish Kingdom and Russia in 1851 was crucial for the further development of Lodz and its industry. With free trade, the manufacturers made vast fortunes producing and selling cloth. At the time, the most famous manufacturers in Lodz were Israel Kalmanowicz Poznanski and Karol Wilhelm Scheibler. In the second half of the 19th century, Lodz produced two thirds of the entire cotton cloth yield in the Polish Kingdom and became the "Promised Land"- that provided both the title and the theme of the world-famous novel by Wladyslaw Reymont, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature. The factories grew larger, as did the clothiers' houses and industrialists' palaces. The largest factories were Karol Scheibler's in Ksiezy Mlyn and Israel Poznanski's in Ogrodowa Street.
The 20th century was a tough period for Lodz and its industry. The factory workers' strikes of 1905 were sad events for the city, but the worst was yet to come. In 1939, Nazi German forces occupied the city, changed its name to Litzmannstadt, and plundered the factories. The occupiers aimed their most repressive measures at the Jews, who were relocated into a ghetto established in the Baluty district. Out of 200,000 Jewish people in Lodz, hardly a handful survived. Numerous monuments and commemorative plaques recall these tragic years.
After 1945, Lodz was still a well recognised textile centre, but other branches of industry were also introduced to the city. Lodz also became an educational centre when the University of Lodz and the Lodz Polytechnic were established in 1945.
From 1989 and the fall of communism, Lodz ceased to be a prosperous textile centre. The factories, the majority of which went bankrupt, were turned into sites for new shops, banks, and other institutions. Today, Lodz is a thriving cultural and academic centre of 20 higher schools.
University of Lodz
The highly respected University of Lodz is one of the leading institutions of higher education in Poland. For decades it has been one of the biggest and most popular Polish universities. Established in 1945 as a successor to earlier educational institutions in Lodz, the university comprises 12 faculties that provide programs in 60 fields of study and 170 specialisations. In addition, the university offers doctoral programs, more than 100 postgraduate curricula including an MBA program, and programs financed by the ESF. About 10,000 students complete their studies at the University of Lodz every year. These and the Erasmus exchange students in Lodz come from about 70 countries worldwide. In this international atmosphere, everyone can enjoy the cultural diversity of both the city and the institution.
The 45,000 students that attend classes at the various faculties of the university are taught by 2,370 academic teachers, 623 of whom are of top academic rank. Their interest in studying at the University of Lodz is due not only to high quality of instruction but also to the modern programs of study, offered in Polish, English, and French, and adapted to the changing demands of the labour market. The university treats international cooperation as a way to foster its development and continue the city's tradition. It regularly hosts guest speakers, renowned politicians, businessmen, and cultural representatives from Poland and abroad. The university is repeatedly ranked among the top higher educational institutions in Poland, and it especially excels in such fields of study as management, law, and economics.
The University of Lodz boasts the oldest and most recognised School of Polish for Foreigners in the world. The school has educated over 20,000 students since 1952, and runs courses with durations of 1, 5, and 9 months, to prepare foreign students for study in Poland. It offers both basic language instruction and thematic Polish-language courses in history, geography, biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and philosophy to prepare prospective students for their future academic studies in Poland. After completing the courses, the students are entitled to admission without further examinations to many Polish institutions of higher education.
The international relations of the university are evident in various areas. Currently, within direct cooperation agreements, the school cooperates with 143 partner institutions from all over the world. Within the Erasmus program, the university has so far signed 480 agreements with 300 partner institutions. These institutions give Lodz students, whether local or foreign, the possibility of spending a semester, or a year, abroad, and also enable the university to welcome guests from abroad who wish to pursue a period of study in Lodz. The University of Lodz participates in other exchange and research programs too, such as Campus Europae, Norwegian Financial Mechanism, Compostela Group of Universities, and Erasmus Mundus.
What to see?
Piotrkowska Street is the most iconic street in Lodz. One of the longest shopping arcades in Europe, the strip is about 4.2 km long and runs in a straight line between Plac Wolnosci and Plac Niepodleglosci. From the beginning, this street was the central axis around which the city expanded, and its development naturally gave the city centre its current shape. Initially, the street was mainly a communication route, but over time it became the city's visiting card, a centre of entertainment and commerce, a focal point of the entire life of the growing industrial agglomeration. Currently, a hundred or so pubs and restaurants are situated along the longest pedestrian street in Poland, in addition to shops. In the summer season, colourful restaurant gardens encourage visitors to relax. They can ride a rickshaw or take the streetcar to see such monuments as the Three Manufacturers, Tuwim's Bench, or the Monument of Citizens of Lodz at the Turn of the Millennium – 12,859 blocks with engraved names. Visitors to Piotrkowska Street can also admire the beautiful facades of the houses.
Manufaktura is a centre of entertainment, culture, and commerce. A revitalisation project, unique in both Poland and Europe, combined modern forms and architecture with the restored 19th century buildings of the former factory of Israel Poznanski. An area of twenty hectares hosts, among other features, a marketplace with colourful fountains for hosting festivals, concerts, and other events; the Museum of the Factory; the ms2 Museum of Art; restaurants; over 300 shops; and discos, a bowling alley, a climbing wall, and a multiplex cinema.
Ksiezy Mlyn ("priest's mill") is a vast district, which has survived almost unaffected since the period of the flowering of industrial Lodz. In the 19th century, Karol W. Scheibler, who was one of the biggest manufacturers in Lodz, built an industrial and residential complex, like a city inside the city. Its urban arrangement and architecture were modelled on English industrial settlements, and composed of carefully arranged and architecturally harmonious factory buildings, a housing estate, owners' mansions and directors' villas with gardens, as well as streets and railway sidings, a school, two hospitals, a fire brigade depot, a gas works, and a factory club. The quarter is located between Tymienieckiego Street, Przedzalniana, Fabryczna, Kilinskiego.
The palace of Israel Poznanski now houses the museum of the city of Lodz and is the largest manufacturer's residence in Poland. There are various styles to be found in its architecture. An Art Nouveau staircase leads to a neo-baroque dinning room and a ballroom. The museum enables visitors to become familiar with the history and culture of the 19th century industrial metropolis. The Pantheon of the Famous Citizens of the City of Lodz is a permanent exhibition profiling the prominent artists associated with the city, including W. Reymont, J. Tuwim, J. Kosinski, K. Dedecius, and A. Tansman. The memorabilia left by the famous pianist A. Rubinstein are on show in the world's only gallery dedicated to him.
The ms2 branch of the Museum of Modern Art is a new space of the Museum of Art and occupies the historic building of the 19th century spinning mill of Israel Poznanski. An impressive collection of 20th and 21st century art, one of the richest anywhere, is assembled in an area of over 3,000 sqm, on three floors of the building. The international collection of modern art from the group "a.r." is the heart of the collection. It is a world-class artistic phenomenon, initiated by the artists themselves and created through their donations.
The White Factory was built in the years 1835-1839. In this complex of classical buildings, which housed the first mechanical spinning mill in Lodz, visitors can view tools, textile machinery, historical and contemporary textiles, and clothing. The museum organises the International Triennial of Tapestry. Within the museum, there is an open-air museum of the wooden architecture of Lodz, presenting an example of the city's buildings in the early 19th century.
The Jewish cemetery is the biggest Jewish necropolis in Europe. It was established in 1892, and on its territory there are approximately 180,000 tombstones. This was the burial place of Lodz's industrialists, doctors, lawyers, and artists, as well as poor Jewish people. A separate southern part called the Ghetto Field is the grave of some 45,000 victims from the Litzmannstadt ghetto.
Lodz of Four Cultures
At the end of 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, Lodz was a city practically free from xenophobia. At that time, various religions and nationalities in Lodz were almost condemned to coexist. So it is no wonder that the Lodz of Four Cultures festival was inscribed without problems in the contemporary cultural calendar. Jewish, German, Russian, and Polish cultures were always present here, even when the nationalities that formed them were absent. In 1820, Lodz counted 767 inhabitants, 259 of whom belonged to the Jewish community. The number of settlers from German lands also began to grow in a rapidly, and at one time they even formed a majority of the city's population. The multicultural and multinational city of Lodz, built by Poles, Germans, Jews, and Russians, flourished until the Second World War broke out, and its traces are visible in the city even to this day.
Red carpet, spotlights, a crowd of paparazzi, this is Lodz – a city regarded by many as the capital of the Polish cinematography. This fame is due, among other things, to the renowned Polish National Film, Television and Theatre School, which has educated such world-famous directors as Andrzej Wajda, Roman Polanski, Krzysztof Zanussi, and Krzysztof Kieslowski. Piotrkowska Street includes a memorial patterned on the Hollywood Walk of Fame recalling the stars and prominent personalities of Polish cinema.
Over the years, many film festivals have been held in the city. The post-industrial landscape of the city and its numerous manufacturers' palaces have inspired filmmakers to use them as open-air stages for nearly 200 films and TV series. Lodz is also the home of the Museum of Cinematography, unique in Poland, and the Museum of Fairy Tale Se-ma-for. Enthusiasts of animation will be eager to visit the Se-ma-for studio, which received the most prestigious award in the world of film – the Oscar – twice in its history. This is the only place where a visitor can actually hold the gold statuette and feel like a star!
The city of Lodz has been associated with the fashion industry for more than 200 years, and its unique character, straight from the 19th century, is still an inspiration for many artists, especially clothing designers.
The city is the seat of the most important higher education establishments for designers and garment technologists: the Academy of Arts with its Faculty of Textile and Fashion, unique in Poland, and a higher technical education establishment, the Faculty of Material Technologies and Textile Design, at the Technical University of Lodz.
This city is also a home to institutions operating in the field of fashion and organisations for fashion designers, including the Future in Fashion Foundation, the Fashion Promotion Centre, and the Central Museum of Textiles.
Each year, Lodz hosts the most important fashion events in the country, such as the Fashion Philosophy Fashion Week Poland, Golden Thread, Graduation Gala of the Department of Fashion Design, Fashion Lab, and the RE-ACT Fashion Show, which present young creators and new design concepts, and provide space for discussions on fashion topics. Such events offer opportunities for direct meetings between individual fashion artists and customers and participants at the events.
Such an integrated focus on international fashion events, so diverse in image but so cohesive in theme, in one city, makes Lodz a special place on the map of both Poland and the world. The city supports and patronises all the enumerated events promoting Polish fashion.
Although Lodz is not the world capital of fashion, it has its own unique street style. Fashion is a space that for many years has been its showcase. The city of Lodz grew out of the textile industry. Shopping malls include the retail outlets of the best clothing and footwear brands, including Manufaktura, Galeria Lodzka, and Port Lodz.
An international airport is located conveniently just 6 km southwest of Lodz city centre:
Lodz is situated in central Poland – approximately 120 km southwest from capital of Poland, Warsaw. As an alternative communication to the Lodz airport you can also choose an international airport in Warsaw, which is directly communicated with central train station, where you can find railway connection to Lodz. There are railway connections between both cities almost every hour and travel lasts about 2 hours. More information about Warsaw airport you can find on the website: http://www.lotnisko-chopina.pl/en