Today's large multi-storeyed shopping malls have allowed the market squares of many cities to go back to the days of glory and become true living rooms with cafés, bookstores, clubs and antique shops. A walk through a city is a pleasure again. We again can do our daily shopping in our favourite small shops where the friendly Jurek or Agata stand behind the till. Markets and fairs are again proving popular. Connoisseurs walk around brik-a-brak shops, second-hand clothes stores and gift shops. Flea markets are real mines of treasure as nowhere else will you find an ethnic bracelet or a gun for your collection. Regularly organized exchanges and trade fairs are an opportunity to learn news from around the world and buy things, which we have been looking to acquire, at a promotional price. Poles love an opportunity and a poster with "reduction" or "sale" in the content, is the motivation to take a holiday.
A shopping gallery is not just a place where we go for shopping. The gallery offer many attractive opportunities for spending time during dark, rainy days. It should also be noted that galleries utilise old and beautiful, though no longer required, buildings in a novel way. Commercial galleries are often the most effective way to restore the splendour of post-industrial monuments which is what happened with the old tannery in Zyrardow or with the Polish Wool Complex in Zielona Gora.
The Focus Mall in Bydgoszcz was built on the site of the former meat processing plant of "Byd Meat". The Focus Mall includes four buildings, which are more than 100 years old and have been beautifully restored, that were once part of the meat processing plant but today form the compositional units of the shopping centre. Also, the old and antique features have been preserved. On building number 41, the time is shown by a 100 year-old restored clock. Building number 43 is covered with a living monument to Bydgoszcz, a 70 year-old Chinese wisteria. From the World War II, there is a remembrance plaque on building number 45 commemorating the butchers and meat factory worker that were murdered here. As previously, buildings 45 and 47 are joined by an artistic wrought gate from the early 20th century.
The Alfa Shopping Centre in Bialystok also combines inherited history with modernity. Parts of the walls of the former Becker factory from 1895 have been incorporated into the modern shopping centre. Of particular note are the chateau, the stables next to the Museum of Alfonso Karny, the Mercury building and the old weaving mill which is the true ornament of the shopping gallery with outlets selling the best Polish and foreign brands, cafes and restaurants as well as a climbing wall and a cinema.
Silesia City Centre in Katowice has harmoniously combined historical post-industrial monuments with a modern shopping mall. The old, beautifully restored, former mine buildings house, among others, the Hana Sushi Japanese restaurant, the Almi Décor Salon and, the unprecedented, St Barbara Chapel. A showcase of the popular Silesia City Centre in Silesia is the renovated mine shaft tower "Jerzy" which is 50 metres high. The Silesia City Centre is the undisputed leader among shopping malls in Poland with its fashion shows, concerts and overnights sales that have already become a Silesian tradition. The world's media have twice been interested in the events that took place in the shopping centre. The first took place in February 2009 and was a wedding in the shopping centre, which was unprecedented in Poland and the second event was a visit by the world famous Paris Hilton to the shopping mall in Katowice. In 2011 the opening of a new annex building was honoured by the presence of the celebrity.
The Galleria at Manufaktura in Lodz has breathed life into the old factory formerly owned by Izrael Poznanski. The largest manufacturer in Lodz purchased the plot on Ogrodowa Street in 1871 and built there a complex with weaving, spinning, bleaching and priming, dyeing, fabric printing and finishing. The Manufaktura complex also included workshops to repair and construct machinery, an ironworks, a foundry and shed, gasworks, a fire station, warehouses, railway sidings and factory administration offices, the owner's palace and residential buildings for the workers. The entire 30 hectare site of Poznanski's factory was classified as one of the most valuable monuments in Lodz in 1971. The opening of the gallery in Manufaktura was held in 2006. The architecture of the structure, combining history and modernity, was designed by the company Virgile & Stone from London, working in conjunction with the architectural company from Lyon, Sud Architectes. The exterior is dominated by the old post-industrial buildings of un-plastered red brick but the interiors strike visitors with their modernity. Adaptation has been successful which is evidenced by Manufaktura being presented the Gold Certificate by the Polish Tourist Organisation for the best tourist product of the year in 2010.
The Stary Browar in Poznan is not just a shopping mall, but is also a centre for commerce, the arts and business. The building, which is a combination of a commercial centre and art gallery, is adjacent to a complex of Class A skyscrapers. The gallery has been arranged on the foundations of a post-industrial landmark, the former Hugger Brewery. The new wing of the Old Brewery has six floors, of which three are underground. Each floor has an area of
8000m² and the courtyard is roofed with glass which permits its use even in winter.
The former brewery from the 19th century is also the gallery of the Focus Mall in Rybnik. Its futuristic architecture is in harmony with the historic, restored malting industrial unit. The old malt house is the only building that remained of the brewery. The former purpose of the building of the Focus Mall gallery is commemorated with a plaque and a picture by Rafal Olbinski, titled Okna (windows).
The Stara Papiernia Shopping Centre in Konstancin-Jeziorna has operated in the unique environment of historic buildings of a paper mill since November 2002. In the gallery, with an exhibition of old paper manufacturing machinery we can do our shopping, then have a good time in a cafe, bar or restaurant with a view over a canal.
Shopping centres in Poland are places where, in the 21st century, history meets with the future