Polish Language Blog

Summer Travels – Łódź Posted by on Jul 22, 2009 in Uncategorized

Since last time I mentioned summer travels, I thought I’d tell you about what I think is the weirdest city in Poland. Łódź.

The place is only some 130 kilometers from Warsaw, but it takes about four to five hours to drive that distance. You can figure out the average speed yourself. Łódź is the third largest city in Poland, but it might as well be in a totally different universe. The place is strange, really strange, even by Polish standards. Even its name is odd. Łódź means “boat” in Polish, and that’s exactly what you can find on the city’s coat of arms – a boat. A goofy name for a place that does not have any large body of water nearby, wouldn’t you say?

Even though the town itself is really old, it was first mentioned in historical records back in the 14th century, most of what you can see in Łódź today dates back only to the 1800s. And guess what? Even in 1810, the town had less than 200 inhabitants! And then boom. In a few short years, it became one of the largest textile centers in the Russian Empire (yes, it was the partition time and that particular part belonged to Russia), if not in all of continental Europe. People were flocking to Łódź left, right and sideways, some even from really distant lands – like Portugal and France.

And speaking of people, at one point roughly 30% of Łódź’s inhabitants were of Jewish descent. What became of them is the story of the Łódź ghetto during War War 2.

But let’s return to the Łódź of today. I still can’t decide whether the city is mind boggingly ugly, or just grungy, or simply left alone to rot in peace. But then again, only parts of it are rotting. Other parts are newly renovated and positively gleaming with hope, great expectations and greed. Greed, because I’m talking about “Manufaktura” here. It’s a former textile mill turned into a shopping mall.

Łódź is also famous for its National Film, TV and Theatre School. No wonder so many distinguished talents came out of that school! Being stuck in such a depressing city as Łódź surely must have done wonders for their imagination, and hence – their art. Back in the 1950s Roman Polański was one of the students there. Other notable alumni include Andrzej Wajda, Andrzej Munk, Krzysztof Kieślowski and tons of others. Basically, anybody who’s somebody when it comes to Polish film, theatre or TV at one point, or another, stepped through the doors of this distinguished institution of higher learning. Even I wanted to study there, but sadly, they wouldn’t accept such a hopeless, talentless mess like me.

But you know what really surprised me about Łódź? The people. Probably the most friendly, open-minded, forward thinking and flexible people in all of Poland. Open to new ideas, eager to try new things, firmly focused on the future. And friendly. With no pretenses. What you see is what you get kind of folk. Now I understand why so many foreigners chose to make Łódź their home. While there are many other, more beautiful, classier and hip cities in Poland, Łódź has something that makes it unique, even by Polish standards – buckets of personality, truckloads of positive attitude and really nice people. One Łodzianin (inhabitant of Łódź) explained to me like that: they must be positive and nice, they simply have no choice – their cheerful personality has to compensate for the ugliness of the place they call home.

Depressing, isn’t it?

A bit less depressing…

Tags: , ,
Keep learning Polish with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it


  1. expateek:

    I don’t know, I think Łódź looks kind of cool. Maybe that’s just the Poland-ish nostalgia talking, though.

    As to friendlyness, they say the very same thing about Johannesburgers (South Africa): “they must be positive and nice, they simply have no choice – their cheerful personality has to compensate for the ugliness of the place they call home”. No beach, an ugly ugly city, not a whole lot to do. The only thing left is to be friendly and make your own fun.

  2. G. Neuner:

    I like the city. Yes it is damn ugly in some parts, but I like it there. I actually plan to move there at one point.
    But yeah, it IS hard to reach. Normally it takes me about three to four train changes to get there coming from Germany. And not that many people are actually driving to or from there either. Sometimes the place seems like an isolated village in the middle of the country.

  3. Al Wierzba:

    Great post! I enjoyed the preview of the history and current situation of Łodź. Thanks from Al in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.A.

  4. the Confused American:

    Lodz is a very interesting place, and can fill pages and pages of dialogue about what it is, why it is that way and where it is going. Depressing? maybe. Dirty? Yeah, but so are many other cities in world, and I know a couple much richer cities, much more modern and much more dirty… I like Lodz on one day and not so much the next, but I choose to keep living here so that says something…

  5. Mchl:

    Next time you go to Łódź from Warsaw do not take Route 2. Instead take Route 8 until Rawa Mazowiecka ant then turn onto Route 72 to Łódź. It’s not the shortest way on the map, but it takes less time (I can usually hit A2 in something like 2,5 hours from Warsaw). Just make sure to obey speed limits on 8, as there are speed traps almost on each one.

    Or alternatively take the Acatus (that’s what these new trains are called 😉 )

  6. Thomas F. Westcott:

    Those pictures remind me of places here in the United States.

    Some of those are still around. That is old manufacturing buildings converted to new uses such as shopping or condos.

    Other places have been totally demolished. I remember one plant in which I had worked that when it was torn down years ago that individual bricks were being sold as a keepsake. Now That place is a grassy spot alongside the river where the bypass highway crosses.
    Another manufacturing plant where I had also worked is empty and abandoned. It is an eyesore as it sits in the middle of a nice upper middleclass neighborhood.
    I will not get nor send pictures as that would be way to depressing.

    It is good to see and hear that the people of Łódź are not letting diminished economic circumstanses dictate their emotional state. And that they have enough spirit to be friendly, open minded, etcetera.

  7. Agnieszka:

    I love Lodz, but well… I am from Lodz. Although recently I think that the city was much more beautiful then I actually lived in then now. As I have some experiences from living in other places I have to say that Lodz is… sad. And that is a thing which makes me sad, because I really love that city, its’ history and so on. And I think it has a huge potential to become a great touristic and investing place. I wish I had an idea or possibilities to help this my little dream comes true…

  8. Khrystene:

    The most likely reason (IMHO) for the name of the city (and something that you strangely neglected to mention) is the plethora of rivers and creeks (about 18) that flow through Łódź – which is also, incidentally, why they built this textile manufacturing centre there. Apparently, compared to the present day, many more flowed through the city, but most were channelled so as to provide water for the textile industry.

    See: Rzeki w Lodzi: http://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rzeki_w_%C5%81odzi (in Polish only, sorry!)

    PS: Łodzianie are great! 😉
    Don’t be put off by some of the building exteriors, and be sure to go beyond the plasticity of Manufaktura… just across the road are amazing old factory worker flats, semi-ruined of course, but still fascinating.

  9. hæstkuk-norway:

    At first glimpse one could say that Lodz is an ugly city.Many house facades are falling apart and the streets are in a bad shape.But I loved the back yards that have a certain prewar atmosphere, and the people are really nice as opposed to people of Warsaw.So I really would like to go back there to look more into the Lodz getto and other things

  10. car rental Alicante:

    As i know about Lodz’s alternative treasure number one is the kooky Inner Tube Museum, located under Plac Wolnica (Liberty Square) in the renovated sewage system.

  11. Used Trailers:

    This is the one of those cities, i like . Lodz is well-turfed with greenery and the largest park, gardens – a nice place to escape from the bustle of town. Foodies might want to check out Green Market/Hala Targowa, where the locals get the best smoked sausage, pierogi, gherkins and bread – a different slice of true Lodz life. I am known as park lover in my area .

  12. Sarasota Real Estate:

    Well i like this city very much . i traveled here before two years. I had a lots of funny experiences

  13. Christian:

    Well I tell you something, yes, Lodz is a very ugly city in some parts, but you don’t know how much they are renovating right now. In 2016, it will be prettier than Warsaw I think. They are investing so much in this city.

  14. Hank Freid:

    Nice blog having nice information. Here you can also get information about best places to travel in your summer vocations