Until recently, these were being treated as a blight element on the landscape. Today, the ones that have been restored attract large crowds. Old factories, breweries and mines are becoming popular tourist attractions. More than 2000 post-industrial sites have already been added to a list of available attractions!
The fact that there are sensational monuments in Poland on a world scale is only known by a few insiders. The first commercial use of crude oil was in Bobrka, there is a unique surviving gasworks in Gorowo Ilawieckie, the Filtration Station in Warsaw is waiting to be listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site and the aggregates that are still in use in the water tower "Na Grobla" in Wroclaw are identical to the ones that were in the engine room of the Titanic.
The historic graduation towers in Ciechocinek are enjoyed by the body and soul of many a patient. The power of harnessed water in industry can be appreciated in the unique water forges in Gdansk-Oliwa and Stara Kuznica, which has a hammer weighing 250kg, as well as in Sielpa Wielka where Poland's largest water wheel, with a diameter of 8 metres, has survived.
Tourists are attracted not only by the archaic design solutions but also by the opportunity to participate in the production process. During tours of breweries in the Lesser Poland region visitors have been brewing beer themselves or starting the bottling process while at a paper mill in Duszniki they can produce handmade paper by their own hand.
Former excavations and mines are also rich in their uniqueness. The gold mine in Zloty Stok boasts the highest underground waterfall in Poland at 8 metres high or the Mining Museum and the Queen Luiza Open Air Museum in Zabrze has an underground train whilst the "Best of the Best" salt mine in Wieliczka will satisfy the most demanding.
The old factories are not just converted into museums. Some have become shopping centres like the "Manufaktura" in Lodz, the "Stary Browar" in Poznan or the "Stara Papiernia" in Konstancin while others have had their interiors created into stylish cultural centres like the "Kolonia Artystow" in Gdansk, the "Fabryka Trzciny" in Warsaw or the "Szyb Wilson" in Katowice and the walls of successive ones are adapted into fashionable flats and lofts like the "Panstwowe Zaklady Optyczne" in Warsaw, the "Fabryka Scheiblera" in Lodz or the "Szyb Bolko" in Bytom. A new lease of life?