One of the most famous Polish films made by the Oscar winner Andrzej Wajda in 1974 is based on a novel written by the Polish Nobel Prize winner for Literature Władysław Reymont (1897/99) about the promised land that Łódź was supposed to be. The city was considered to be a biblical Canaan. People came here in the late nineteenth century to make a fortune. In fact some did, but most did not. No form of protection of workers, neither social nor safety ones, rapid social changes, wild capitalism. All this meant that instead of paradise on Earth, Łódź was hell for many inhabitants.
We would like to invite you to a journey along the route of this unique story of the city known as the Polish Manchester. Especially as many of the film scenes were shot exactly in the described places and not in film studios.
Around 7 hours
In Łódź, you can find over 100 different 19th century palaces and villas. A great way to visit them is to find an interesting theme that connects the best-known buildings. A walk in the footsteps of “Promised Land” is, in addition to an intriguing trip, a unique journey in the footsteps of the 19th century textile development of Łódź during the times of the “kings of cotton”.
The route covers about 9 km and the walk itself lasts around 2 hours. You ought to include museum tours. We recommend you to have a coffee break and a meal while visiting.
On Piotrkowska 262 (which hosts nowadays the European Institute) we can see the film scenes where Moryc is conducting his businesses. In the film this place is a special mix of a stock-exchange, a cantor and a restaurant and can be spotted in one of the first indoor scenes of the movie. 150 years ago the real building belonged to Robert Schweikert and was his palace. It was built in neo-baroque style in the beginning of the 20th century with an interesting courtyard and an Italian garden.
Some parts of Piotrkowska Street appear in the scenes of Bucholec’s funeral. It was filmed on Moniuszki street – in the background, we can see the doors of the former Russian Azov-Don Bank (nowadays the place hosts the Bank Spółdzielczy Rzemiosła).
The first scene of the film shows the workers heading to the factory to work in the morning. This has been filmed in today’s Manufaktura, ie the former areas of Izrael Poznański’s factory. In the background, we can see the employees’ houses on Ogrodowa Street.
A few scenes later, we observe the unemployed waiting for work under a red brick wall. Another scene shot at today’s Manufaktura.
It is worth remembering that in 1974 when the Promised Land was filmed, the buildings were still used as a factory (Zakłady Przemysłu Bawełnianego im. Julian Marchlewskiego, “Poltex”).
In the film the main character Karol Borowiecki goes past the workers’ buildings on Ogrodowa Street and passes through the Manufaktura / Poznanski complex gate, going to work at the Bucholc’s factory.
The characteristic red brick building appears also in the conversation scene of the Count Trawiński and Halpern (see below) – today this building hosts the Vienna House Andel’s Lodz hotel, which is worth a visit inside as well. Once a multi-story spinning house, it is currently an interesting combination of industrial interiors filled in with modern design.
Poznański’s complex includes of course the Poznański palace, which plays the Bucholc’s palace in the film. Nowadays, it hosts the Museum of the History of the City of Łódź, which is definitely worth seeing. You can find in it a whole room devoted to both the film and the book. The well-preserved interior will help you feel the atmosphere of those times.
In the film Karol tries to sober the drunk Moryc to inform him about the planned increase of the price of cotton. This scene was filmed in front of the palace of Karol (son of Israel) Poznański at Gdańska 32. Today, the Academy of Music is located here. Bucholc’s morning prayer was also filmed in palace on Gdańska Street.
The Neo-Renaissance mansion was built at the beginning of the 20th century. It served only for residential purposes, and to this day, the beautiful stained glass windows and an internal staircase have been preserved. The palace itself was decorated with splendour, and its modernity could be proved by the fact that it was the first building in Łódź with central heating built in already in the design phase.
The interiors of the palace are shown in two scenes of the “Promised Land”. The first one shows the conversation between Horn and Bucholc in his cantor. This one was shot in the concert hall. From a different perspective, the same hall served as the set design during a conversation between Bucholc and Borowiecki. Behind the manufacturer’s desk, we can see a fireplace that has been preserved to this day.
The palace of the younger Poznański (build in 1896) in the film plays the Muller’s palace, to which Borowiecki comes. For the purposes of the film, a wooden hut was erected in the square next to it, to pretend to be a Muller’s flat. You have to know however that only the exteriors of this palace were used in the film, because the interiors were shot in Scheibler’s villa.
MS1 is the Museum of Art 1, whose headquarters are located in the former Palace of Maurycy Poznański (son of Israel). There is also MS2 – this is located in the former complex of Izrael Poznański, next to Manufaktura and the Andel’s hotel at Ogrodowa Street.
Even though the content of the museum does not quite harmonize with the theme of our trip, it is definitely worth a look at the exhibitions to see very interesting collections of paintings and art.
The interior of the Muller Palace is represented by the palace of Karol Scheibler (not to be confused with the Scheibler palace on Piotrkowska Street). In the film, we see a study room, a dining room, a staircase and a ballroom. The palace also appears at the end of the film, when we see a much older Borowiecki.
The palace is located at the Źródliska park, where in a grotto of volcanic dust the scene of Karol’s meeting with his lover was filmed.
In fact, we can go through all these halls, as the palace houses a museum of cinematography.
The palace was built in the mid-19th century, next to the complexes of Karol Scheibler’s factories between the Water Market (today’s Victory Square) and Księży Młyn. The neo-renaissance appearance at the end of the century was given by the widow the factory owner. The interiors are eclectic and in addition to interesting film exhibitions, it is also worth noticing the wood panelling, paintings and furniture. In the study, it is worth seeing a Venetian stucco by Antonio Salviati from 1886 (the only one in Łódź).
In the 1930s, the palace was bought up by the bank of the “United Industrial Plant of Karol Scheibler and Ludwik Grohman in Łódź”.
Since 1986, it houses the museum of cinematography, the collection of which includes a unique photoplastic from August Fuhrmann (one of four existing in the world). There is also a studio cinema. The collections mainly cover the history of cinematography.
Due to the unique interiors and façade, the palace often appears in Polish films.
Some of the “worker’s” scenes were shot there. For example, a scene with a dressed-up young woman. Again, the Ksiezy Mlyn appears at the end of the film – at the time of the workers’ rebellion.
Already in the fifteenth century, there were mill settlements in this area, but only at the beginning of the nineteenth century, the intensive construction of factory complexes began. After the fire in 1870, the area was purchased by Karol Wilhelm Scheibler – one of the three famous “kings of cotton” (alongside Izreal Poznański and Henryk Grohman – their monument can be found at 30/32 Piotrkowska Street).
Karol Scheibler was a model of the figure for the film character Herman Bucholc. Other historical figures that can be found in the “Promised Land” are: Szaja Mendelsohn – Izrael Poznański, Knoll – Edward Herbst, Oscar baron Meyer – Juliusz Heinzel.
Księży Młyn is called a city in the city because it is a separate urban complex located within the framework of Lodz. There were not only factories, but also a workers’ housing estate, a fire brigade, a hospital, a school, and even a palace with a park and a pond (Edward Herbst’s palace – Scheibler’s son-in-law). A similar enclave Scheibler had at Wodny Rynek (today Victory Square). Thanks to this, its enterprises occupied 14% of the area of Lodz at that time. His success was determined not only by size but also by the organization – as early as in the mid-nineteenth century, all Scheibler factories were connected to the iron railway.
In the 1920s, Scheibler’s plants merged with the textile factories of Ludwik Grohman.
Let’s talk now about the third famous Lodz manufacturer – Ludwik Grohman.
Observing in the film the journey of Father Borowiecki and the fiancée of Karol – Anka, we see several buildings associated with Grohman.
It’s worth going to the nearby Kilinskiego park to look at the neo-Renaissance building built in 1881 and expanded in 1913.
The next building on the film was the former Grohman factory, and more precisely the entrance from Targowa Street (46), or the famous Grohman Barrels. The name comes from the neo-gothic thread spools, which form the basis of the arch of the gate. The upper part consists of arcades resembling a medieval castle.
Ludwik Grohman took over business after his father Traugott, managing factories at Księży Młyn and expanding the empire as well as modernizing it by organizing a volunteer fire service in the factory. The complex was later inherited by his son Henryk who expanded complex on Targowa Street.
Grohman’s “Kingdom”, apart from complexes of factories, included palaces and villas which you cann along your way through Lodz.
In the film during the journey of Borowiecki (the older) and Anka, we also see the Klepacz park with the beautiful villa Richter. Erected at the end of the 19th century (1888/89), sold in 1939 by the last of the Reinholds, today it belongs to the Technical University of Lodz (just like the neighbouring building). Both brothers Richter were also Lodz manufacturers.
This is where we find in the film the Borowiecki, Baum and Welts factories. It was built for the purpose of the film so that it could be destroyed. The original is an Art Nouveau hall with tiles and a steam machine.