Nowa Huta’s villages« back Nowa Huta’s Cultural Heritage
Over one half of Nowa Huta’s area today is arable land. There are even such places near Reagan Square or between the housing estates, where they join the city’s green areas. Thus Nowa Huta, although it is an industrial district, forms one of the most important “ecological corridors” in Krakow’s area.
For many years there was a so-called “protective zone” within a 2km-line from the steelworks. People were to be displaced from there and their buildings knocked down; there was no point in building any new huts or even repairing the old ones. When communism fell, it turned out that around the plant there was the biggest heritage park of wooden urban architecture from the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Unfortunately, after the zone was eliminated, many of these were rebuilt or just disappeared for good.
Today’s area of Nowa Huta encompasses five districts that were build on the terrain of over 20 villages. These were: Batowice, Bieńczyce, Branice, Czyżyny, Grębałów, Kantorowice, Kościelniki, Krzesławice, Lubocza, Łęg, Łuczanowice, Mistrzejowice, Mogiła, Pleszów, Przylasek Rusiecki and Przylasek Wyciążski, Ruszcza, Wadów, Węgrzynowice, Wolica, Wróżenice, Wyciąże and Zesławice.
Some of these, e.g. Mistrzejowce or Bieńczyce, were covered with bleak apartment houses. Others, especially those located around the plant, kept their full rural character. In many places there are still some residences of former noble owners. The best known include the palaces in Mogiła, Pleszów and Kościelniki, and the mansions in Krzesławice, Ruszcza, Wadów and Łuczanowice. The following can boast historical churches: Mogiła (13th-15th c.), Ruszcza (14th c.), Pleszów (the beginning of 19th c.), Górka Kościelnicka (17th c.) and Krzesławice (16th c. – moved from Jawornik near Myślenice). A curiosity is the restaurant called “Janosik” in Cło, as the only restaurant in Krakow that has been continuously operating since the 14th century! Unfortunately, the present building does not have any historical elements.
Villages in the area of Nowa Huta were very rich. They were the first places in the vicinity of Kraków where the villagers were obliged to pay rent; with peasants growing richer there appeared the characteristic “eastern Cracovian” folk outfit. Many lands here belonged to monasteries. The Cistercians had their Mogiła and Łęg. The Order of the Holy Sepulchre owned Krzesławice, Grębałów and Kantorowice. The Norbertines of Zwierzyniec owned Lubocza. Also knights settled here. Ruszcza and Branice were the family seats of the Braniccy. Pleszów belonged to the famous Wierzynek. Kościelniki – to the Wodziccy family. Łuczanowice – to the Żeleńscy and Mycielscy.
Artists were also associated with these areas: Wojciech Bogusławski, the father of Polish theatre, and the painters Stanisław Samostrzelnik, Tomasz Dolabella, Piotr Michałowski, Artur Grottger, Jan Matejko and Stanisław Wyspiański.
These were no “fallows” then, nor a cultural desert, contrary to the specialist propaganda imposed upon public opinion by the PPR. Village inhabitants created multiple self-teaching clubs, they were active Polish People’s Party (PSL) members, and they organised theatre shows. The post-war importance of these areas was proved by the fact that both the prime minister Wincenty Witos and president Ignacy Mościcki visited them during the Polish Harvest Festival.