Żyrardów was founded in 1833 as a textile factory and is the only city in Europe that was set up for this purpose. The first technical director of the factory was a talented French engineer Filip de Girard who gave the name to the city. But the biggest development and the golden era of Żyrardów was in the second half of the 19th century when two German industrialists were in charge of the factory. That’s when the town was the European center of flax production, with the biggest and most modern factory in the whole continent. Żyrardów is a perfect city that was first wisely design and then consistently built – the whole process took over 50 years but still today the result is really impressive. The town was even rewarded with the Grand Prix at the Paris 1900 World’s Fair. Until now The surroundings of the factories are full of identical red-brick houses standing in the perfect rows.
Żyrardów was a living factory, the whole history and everyday reality of the town was about it, the majority of the inhabitants were somehow connected to it and every aspect of life was planned and taken care of there. The last factory was closed in 1999 (few enthusiast tried to save the production and now a small jaquard line is being produced). After years of struggling the industrial sights are being revitalized and the town, with its unique architecture and urban planning, is becoming a small gem. Former factories now serve as restaurants, galleries, shops or lofts, giving the place a new life.
The walk around the town takes 2-3 hours, a perfect time to discover all the sights without getting too tired. The first encounter with the industrial past are the quarters of solid, brick houses, surrounded by green spaces. It feels like the life goes slowly there and all the neighbors are like a big community. When I peaked inside the yards people were enjoying a lazy Sunday afternoon outside, kids were playing around and it just looked like a perfect summer scene.
A little bit further there’s the main square of Żyrardów – at one side there’s a beautiful Gothic church (some sources say it was supposed to resemble the cathedral in Cologne), on the other – the most impressive factory in the whole town. The Spinning Plant now is the heart of the town and it’s as beautiful as ever. These days it serves as a shopping center and loft houses – I myself wouldn’t mind living in such an incredible place! But it takes few steps to the back to see more edgy face of Żyrardów, where former industrial sights are still decaying, waiting for investors to turn them into gems. But for me there’s some magic in rusty, abandoned factories and I just couldn’t get enough of the place, it was incredible! To make the place even more perfect there was a beautiful neon sign „Stella” on one of the buildings and a fading mural showing fathers of Żyrardów’s success – Karol Dittrich and Karol Hielle.
But the highlight of Żyrardów was yet another abandoned factory, located a little bit aside, close to residential villas. The brick walls are overgrown with plants, the windows glass is broken and the place feels kind of spooky. So good that my friend and fellow blogger Evi has decided to join me for this trip as I’d be freaking out if I visited the place on my own, especially that we haven’t seen a single person there. But that kind of made the whole place even more awesome and exciting!
It’s funny how we are travel the world in seek of adventure and amazing places yet they sometimes are right at our foot. And that was the story with Żyrardów. When I excitedly told my friends about the trip there they all looked confused, questioning my choice of destination. But as it turned out no one knew how many gems are hidden in Żyrardów. Even my workmate who lives there was surprised how much I enjoyed his hometown because, according to him, there’s nothing special there. Well, it’s great to travel the world and explore far away places but it’s even better to discover amazing spots around us! And now I definitely want to see more and more of Poland!
There’re frequent train connections between Warsaw and Żyrardów, the journey takes around 1 hour and the ticket costs 11pln (less than 3€). To make the best out of this day trip from Warsaw visit the official website of Żyrardów and download the map with a walking route – it’s the best way to discover the town! Be sure to wear comfortable shoes as you’ll walk, a lot, often on cobblestones or paths without an asphalt.
Do you often go for the day trips to nearby places? Do you like industrial sights? Would you like to visit Żyrardów?
If you think of visiting Poland or just want to read more about the country take a look what else I wrote about it!
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