Stefan, Mietek, Dolores and Ziuta are names that are close to the hearts of the local museum guides. For behind these names are four extant historic weaving looms that are regularly used to demonstrate the weaving techniques used in Lodz at the end of the 19th century. Demonstrations are part of the interactive tour for visitors to the factory museum in the Manufaktura shopping complex which traces the path of cotton from the cotton bolls to the finished product. What does raw, spun or woven cotton feel like? What techniques were used? What was the everyday life of the workers like? Machines, dioramas, documentary films and models are used to present a virtual factory in a small space – a factory that was once one of the largest textile works in Europe. Its founder, a Jewish entrepreneur by the name of Israel Poznanski, set up an industrial empire that was brought to a cruelly abrupt end by Hitler’s barbaric Nazi regime. Astonishingly enough, the remains of the buildings survived both the war and the ensuing economic crises. After comprehensive renovation they now make up a lively centre for shopping, entertainment and culture: and a further tourist attraction for the city.
Had there been a Forbes List of the richest men in the world at the time, it would surely have included the name of Israel Kalmanowicz Poznanski. At the end of the 18th century Lodz was a village with a population of 170; and the industrial magnate had a huge influence in turning it into one of the leading textile manufacturing centres in Europe in the 19th century.
Poznanski erected his first factory in 1872, the so-called Low Weaving Works, a flat-roofed building containing 200 mechanical weaving looms imported from England. Within just one year this number had doubled, and by the end of the 1880s it had increased tenfold. By this time the industrial location had long become a city within a city. Renowned architects like Hilary Majewski were commissioned by Poznanski to design production halls and richly decorated multi-storey redbrick factories. Within a few years the city contained weaving mills, spinning mills, bleaching and dyeing works, warehouses, storage facilities, and a spacious palatial building for its owner; not forgetting shops, a workers' housing estate with almost 1.100 housing units for more than 4000 people, a church and even a factory fire brigade. A power station was later added to drive 30 steam-driven boilers.
The Nazi invasion of Poland led to the annihilation of the Jewish inhabitants of Lodz and other cities. Under the Communist government the factory complex was nationalised. Unused buildings fell into ruins and the textile works ceased operations altogether in the 1990s. The restoration of the historic industrial area – the equivalent of 25 football pitches - is the largest project of its type in Poland since the reconstruction of the old city centre in Warsaw. Here between thirteen historic buildings were restored between 2000 and 2006, and redeveloped as museums, hotels, restaurants, cinemas and other leisure facilities. A modern shopping mall containing 240 sales outlets completes the attractions in the trendy Manufaktura quarter.
|Recommended duration of visit:||3 Hours|
|Duration of a guided Tour:||45 Minutes|
|Access for persons with disabilities:||Available|
|Infrastructure for Children:|
|Visitor centre on site:||yes|
|Gift and book shop on Site:||yes|
Tuesday - Friday 9am-7pm
Saturday, Sunday 11am-7pm
Monday - Saturday 10am-10pm