On this communism tram and walking tour, you'll see the side to Kraków as it was before it broke out of the grip of the Soviet Union, a side rarely seen by the hordes of tourists. You'll get insider insights into the city as it used to be, the classic grey, concrete tower blocks of Nowa Huta providing the perfect backdrop to a Kraków fortunately in the past, but opened up to you for one day.
The tour starts at your centrally located hotel, from which we head to the nearest tram stop, riding it until we stop at Centralny Square.
This square is the hub of Nowa Huta, a city designed as a gift for Josef Stalin and the epitome of communist architecture, as it was designed to be the archetypal communist city.
Centralny Square, designed in the shape of the communist star and surrounded by heavy, imposing buildings, is the centre of this communist universe and feels strangely dystopian. Your guide will explain the tumultuous history of the district, before you visit the Stylowa restaurant for a tea or coffee.
An immediate transportation back to the days of Soviet rule, this restaurant feels almost stuck in the past and seems perfectly preserved from these times, with even the staff supposedly being a pretty accurate representation of how they were during the communist era!
You will then delve further into the mesh of concrete blocks that make up this imposing and slightly intimidating district, as you visit old air raid shelters and Soviet tanks built in preparation for a NATO invasion, typical of the paranoia during the Cold War.
You’ll see the “Sphinx” Youth House, an institution set up to ensure fair, working-class family entertainment, and inside you’ll discover an exhibition illustrating the lives of the early inhabitants of Nowa Huta, and how they lived under the regime of the Soviet Union.
Nearby is the Teatr Ludowy (the People’s Theatre) and a church that was a site of violence when non-believers and ‘ideal communists’ attempted to remove and destroy the cross. The real symbol of resistance however, is another church called the Lord’s Ark.
This is an incredible building built with field stones by workers over 10 years, and whilst looking brutalist, holds a certain poise that the other buildings in the area lack.
After drinking in the fascinating stories and unique atmosphere of this fairly bizarre area, we make the journey back to the colourful, cultured city centre on the tram, with a sense you’ve spent a day somewhere genuinely unique and experienced a taste of the real communist Poland.