Factory settlement. Sounds like oxymoron because “settlement” is associated more with a village and of a modest size. At least my thoughts go this way hearing this word. And here you are: factory settlement is absolutely urban, in addition to – historical, preserved in 95% and patiently waiting for being entered into the UNESCO World Heritage List.
I paid a visit to Żyrardów in the company of my husband and children, not having a concrete plan of visit, but having huge appetite for red brick and factory spirit. Parking the car at Jan Paweł II Square I started to feast my eyes on buildings of Stara Przędzalnia. Here, in a former linen factory, everything began. Żyrardów owes its name the first technical director of this factory – French engineer Philipp de Girarde.
I let my children run around the fountain located on a square but my heart was eager to see the revitalized former linen factory. Nowadays, after the diligent revitalization, it combines living, trade, service and cultural functions. Attention please – there are the real lofts here! And I’ve always wanted to live in the real post-industrial space. I let the cogs of my imagination be overheated in my head and I moved to the courtyard. We raise the heads, wander around the buildings, look into the shops. On Saturday morning the atmosphere is rather sleepy which dampens my enthusiasm to give up everything and start living in a post industrial monument. In spite thereof I’m keen on the view, red as a brick.
What exactly makes factory settlement something unique enough to rush for UNESCO List entry? Well, the fact that its beginning reach to 1830 and it came into being as diligently planned space in which architecture and town planning layout were strictly subordinated to its function. While planning the settlement the areas of work, entertainment, culture and service were created and simultaneously – they were separated from the industrial part. Mere 19th century version of work-life balance conception.
From Stara Przędzalnia we move to Resura – former club founded in 1870 and being a formal seat of Stock Society of Żyrardów Factory Clerks’ Union. It was here, where factory owners, clerks and their families took part in organized theatre performances, concerts and parties.
Currently there are halls where one may see the art exhibitions or lease them for a stylish wedding, in the interior remembering the smell of cigars and business talks. At the backyard there is Piwnica u Tkaczy where we had our dinner and made a traditional demolition at the table
Looking for a place where our children may unleash their energy (demolition in the restaurant is just a prelude) we happen to reach the Karol August Dittrich park – which proves to be quite charming. Moreover – historical. Founded at the end of 19th century as a surrounding of splendid residence of aforementioned Karol Dittrich jr. Who was a president of Stock Society of Żyrardów Factory. Without any problems we find a residence and amphitheatre located at the backyard where one may happen to see concerts organised in summer. It is said that Dittrich himself didn’t live in the residence too long, and since 1961 the Museum of the Western Mazovia found their seat there.
Children slowly ran out of strength and patience therefore, stopping off at few historical buildings, we directed back to Jan Paweł II square where, in the shade of monumental neo – gothic church of Mother of God of Comfort, our car awaits us.
I feel a small dissatisfaction because the cogs of imagination managed to transfer me in time and rattle of weaver’s machines started to overwhelm me. Considering the fact that Żyrardów is located just several dozen minutes of trip from Warsaw I promise myself to get back here and got to know more histories enchanted in a brick. I encourage heartily all the readers thereto.
- Żyrardów is called a living outdoor museum – because almost all the building being included in factory settlement preserved their original purpose. For instance: in a former orphanage there is a kindergarten, and in a former town hall there is a current Town Hall.
- Town planning conception of factory settlement was created for the thought of ideal city – garden where there is a harmony between functionality, comfort and visual appearance.
- In a factory Poles, Germans, Czechs, Jews and English, Scots and Irish worked. This is a reason of variety of architecture styles of 19th century Żyrardów.
- In a Polmos factory located in Żyrardów Belvedere Vodka is manufactured. It is famous for being luxury brand in Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy portfolio. Factory organizes open days when one may get familiar with a process of manufacturing of this legendary drink.
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