Journal of
Hospitality Management and Tourism

  • Abbreviation: J. Hosp. Manage. Tourism
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-6575
  • DOI: 10.5897/JHMT
  • Start Year: 2010
  • Published Articles: 65

Full Length Research Paper

Exploring the history and heritage of communism in NowaHuta District in Krakow, Poland: Potential or a problem in managing tourism in a city?

Lukasz Matoga
  • Lukasz Matoga
  • Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Institute of Geography and Spatial Management, Department of Tourism and Health Resort Management, Gronostajowa 7, 30-387 Krakow, Poland.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 30 June 2015
  •  Accepted: 11 August 2015
  •  Published: 30 September 2015


Travelling to cities has long traditions, but in recent years tourists more frequently decide to visit places which are not typical tourist attractions. One of the new, alternative methods of spending free time in cities is urban exploration. It is a kind of quasi-tourism consisting in rediscovering forgotten and abandoned places. In the countries of Central and Eastern Europe which were the part of the former Eastern Bloc, this phenomenon can be observed particularly in post-communist cities and districts, such as NowaHuta in Krakow, Poland. The aim of the article was to identify places visited by urban explorers in NowaHuta and to indicate the main problems of managing city tourism in the context of this type of adventure travel development. Urban exploration is considered controversial but is constantly gaining more and more popularity. The main tourism products are not the specific monuments and museums but emotions and experiences of tourists. This requires proper management of tourism according to the rules of sustainable development and the concept of experience economy. The explorers in NowaHuta act on the edge of law, which causes their activity to be seen in a negative way. In the wider perspective, however, they contribute to reviving the local activity for protecting, restoring and rendering the buildings of the communist heritage available.


Key words: Urban exploration, communist heritage, tourism management, city tourism, experience economy, Krakow, NowaHuta.


NowaHuta is one of the most recognisable districts of Krakow. Since the moment it came to being, it was the place of exceptional care of the communist rule. It started being created in 1949 because of the execution of the Six-Year Plan of the Economic Development and Building the Foundation of Socialism. According to the concept of the builders, it was to be the place of residence for the workers of the metallurgy complex nearby – Vladimir Lenin Steelworks (currently ArcelorMittal Poland, Krakow Branch), where steel  was  produced,  also  for  the  arms industry. The changes in the political system in Poland after 1989 together with the deepening crisis of the heavy industry caused considerable deterioration of the economic situation of the complex. On the one hand, it had a negative effect on the socio-economic situation of the inhabitants of this district, who were generally employed in the complex. On the other hand, it caused weakening of the industrial function, which cased a slow fall and degradation of this part of the city. In the last few years, so far negatively perceived, NowaHuta has become a district which is somehow a relic of communism in Poland and is starting nowadays to arouse more and more interest, especially among foreigners. The atmosphere of this district turns out to be for them much more important than specific monuments, palaces and museums in the centre of Krakow.

Contemporary tourists more and more frequently look for alternative methods of spending their free time based on searching for historical and cultural authenticity. They are interested in these parts of the city which are situated far away from the traditional routes followed by mass tourism. Leaving the place of residence is treated as an opportunity for having unforgettable experiences and emotions, which will allow people to overcome their weaknesses and limitations and will give the feeling of fulfilment and satisfaction. The expression of the change of motivation is new form of visiting the city. One of the most dynamically developing social and cultural movements of this type is urban exploration. It consists in penetrating usually invisible and hard to get to areas of the city, which are normally avoided and even negated as the part of history and cultural heritage. It applies to places particularly degraded, where one can find the remains of factories and industrial plants, mines, bunkers, fortifications and other buildings, which seem too little attractive to be paid any attention at all.


Post-tourism: understanding visitors’ motivation

For a long time visitors to cities limited themselves to visiting exclusively attractions in the centre. It resulted from the city tourism being commercialised and mass tourism. Thinking that the fame of the bulding gives some meaning to it (Urry, 1990), tourists wanted to see only those elements of the cultural heritage that were described in popular guidebooks or travelling magazines. A mass tourist, moving in an organised group, under the supervision of a guide, was somehow isolated from the local community and the surrounding world. However, at the turn of the 20th and 21st century, together with the advent of postmodernism, this type of travelling stopped being accepted by tourists (Uriely, 1997). The process started particularly in  the  countries  of  Western  Europe, where many people had already visited so many places that they started to look for a change from traditional sightseeing.

A tourist consumer in postmodernism shows a high level of spatial mobility because he is interested in getting to know other cultures and acknowledges that cultural diversity is a significant value. Because of that, he is open to the world but at the same time aware of the tendencies to homogenise the ideas of consumption and culture (Horner and Swarbrooke, 1999; Fairweather and Rogerson, ‎2003). He is conscious of the fact that there is no authentic experience or authentic tourism product in the world surrounding him. Because of that he is looking for new experiences. This approach of postmodernism in tourism was completed by the popularised in the early 1990s term “post-tourist” by Urry (1990). 

One of the most important factors affecting the post-tourist and influencing his choices concerning the methods of spending their free time are emotions. Emotions are not only a trait of his personality but also a subjective determiner of his tourist behaviours (Cohen et al., 2014). Post-tourists desire exceptional experiences and those creating very strong emotions (Aramberri, 2001). They search for personal experiences which will allow them to break the routine and monotony of everyday life (Poon, 1993). The cognitive-emotional model bases on this need for a change (Rodriguez del Bosque and San Martin, 2008), in which satisfaction is gained through sensations generating strong emotions. Thus emotions constitute the foundation on which contemporary, new types of tourism and recreations are developed. Post-tourists are expecting an original look on the visited town, so they opt for alternative forms of city tourism such as creative sightseeing, poverty walks, cultural and theme tours, set jetting, questings, city games or geocaching. In case of tourists looking for extreme methods of spending free time in cities, we can talk about urban exploration.

Defining urban exploration

The name of “urban exploration” for the first time appeared in 1996 in “Infiltration” magazine published by a lover of infiltration of abandoned places, hiding under the pseudonym of Ninjalicious. However, the pioneer of the urban was PhilibertAspairt, who in 1793 examined catacombs of Paris. Nevertheless, if one wanted to find the real time frames of the creation of urban exploration it would be impossible to define them as since the beginning of time a human being has been an adventure seeker and explorer of what is inaccessible. People who actively do this kind of activity think of themselves as historians and architecture lovers, sometimes even artists looking for inspiration (Gates, 2013). Infiltrators very often prepare for their trips for a long time, reading publications or studying topographical and historical maps and consulting other participants of the trip about the chosen places.

Urban exploration, also known as urbex, UE, was created as a separate and atypical method of getting to know the city, connected with infiltrating its space (Paiva, 2008). The exploration space is identified with discovering by the tourist little known or even totally unknown areas of little developed tourism function (Liszewski, 2009). The further these places from the tourist centre, the more authentic and interesting for urban explorers. Many urbexers are less interested in penetrating streets, squares and other public places (Pinder, 2005). They trespass to hidden and marginalised spaces in the city, which are more or less inaccessible to ordinary pedestrians (Paiva, 2008; Edensor, 2005). There are many detailed kinds of urban exploring, which are done by a small number of specialists in a given field (Figure 1). These are, among others, roof and tunnel hacking, building hacking, reality hacking, as well as caving, wreck diving and draining (Dodge and Kitchin, 2006; Garrett, 2010). Where a standard tourist sees only an abandoned, ugly building, an urban explorer sees a distinguishing in an urban landscape cultural value of unique worth.



Travel destinations of urban explorers depend on the geographical area and history of a given region. Exploration destinations are most frequently abandoned architectural structures,  elements  of  urban  or  industrial infrastructure. The objects of the exploration can be abandoned churches, monasteries and cemeteries; canals, catacombs and tunnels, shafts and mines, hospitals and sanatoriums, old schools and dormitories, factories and industrial plants, airports and abandoned ships, amusement parks and resorts, bunkers, fortifi-cations, military installations and abandoned palaces, private houses and villas (Edensor, 2007; Pokojska, 2013). In special cases explorations concern also abandoned technological installations.

Urban exploration as a type of tourist and performative activity

According to Garrett (2012) "exploration is not something you do, it's who you are", and that is why urbex should be understood as something deeper than a type of tourism or a way of spending free time. Urbex expresses life approach and philosophy of a human being, reflects their personality, is an indicator of their identity and a sense of belonging to certain social groups. It builds their own image, both in their own eyes and those of other people. Nevertheless, some authors draw their attention to the connections between urbex and widely understood adventure tourism (Fraser, 2012), off-limits tourism (Brown, 2001) and dark tourism (Stone and Sharpley, 2008). Dark tourism has been defined as tourism involving travel to haunted sites of “death, disaster, and atrocity”, including those associated with war (Lennon and Foley, 2000). These places are interesting for some explorers, unless they are an organised tourist attraction or are widely recognised as memorials. Explorers always go alone or in small groups (Garrett, 2011; Mott and Roberts 2013). They look for places where they can interact with social and cultural surroundings.

Urban exploration can be described as a contemporary performative discipline (Petri, 2014). Urban exploration, similarly to youth subcultures such as skateboarding, graffiti or rave, has become widespread and is considered as one of the forms of recreational activities (High and Lewis, 2007), and it consists in penetrating inaccessible areas of civilisation and, not unusually, photographing them. Bennett (2011), during his research on urbexers interested in abandoned military installations, noticed that these people emphasise documenting and cataloguing the objects visited with the simultaneous preservation of “reverential and memorialist tone” (Bennett, 2011).

The main source of motivation for many ”recreational trespassers” is documenting their travels and experien-cing them through photographs (Dodge and Kitchin, 2006). The cultural meaning of these photographs is very often underlined, because they, in a specific way, present “aesthetics of decay” of the forgotten elements of the cultural heritage (DeSilvey, 2006, Pinder, 2005; Trigg, 2006). Some researchers consider it as a new style and trend in photography known as “ruin porn” (Greco, 2012). Photographies, films, historical descriptions and maps resulting from urbex may to some degree contribute to commemorating and saving some places from being forgotten (Petri, 2014; Prescott, 2009). Frequently the materials urbexers gather are of unusual value because these are the last documents, traces of history before such buildings, fragments of urban space, cease to exist.

Urban explorers: Virtual contacts – a real community

Today there are thousands of urban explorers all over the world and they create an unofficial movement which is gaining more and more popularity every day (Mott and Roberts, 2013). Urbex developed especially in recent years thanks to the development of information and communications technology, including the Internet (Molz, 2013). Castells (2003) states that the character of the new media in a way predestines them to be the tools of new social movements of the information era. Thanks to digital communications systems people can quickly and effectively reach those who share their interests and systems of values. The Internet enables members of informal groups to express themselves and develop, thanks to which they can be varied and able to undertake coordinated actions (Gillmor, 2004; Papacharissi, 2002). So new technologies are the key infrastructure, enabling social movements, such as urban exploration, to maintain their organisational form and effective operation.

Urbex is not only a new type of adventure tourism but also a social phenomenon because the enthusiasts of this field form strong, effectively functioning communities of discoverers and art creators. Urbexers eagerly exchange their experiences and remarks about urban exploration. To do this they use forums, blogs, chats and private profiles in the social media, creating in this way a characteristic community (Pokojska, 2015). As partici-pants of virtual communities they share their ideas and use the advice and recommendations of others, especially experts. The Internet is an important source of information because every exploring action starts with detailed preparations (Garrett, 2014). This stage includes browsing Internet websites and forums where interested people share detailed descriptions, photos and topographic maps of the places indicated as attractive to penetrate. Such a way of communication makes it easier for them to locate the place and to get to know new people, meet in person and undertake trips together.

Regardless of the part of the world, practically in every country there are abandoned spaces and material remains of the past, which are the objects of interest for urban explorers (Edensor, 2007). Gates (2013) shows that the most common destinations for the trips of extreme tourist are metropolises and urban agglo-merations. The most popular throughout the world are: tunnels of the underground in New York, catacombs in Paris, aqueducts in Rome and abandoned asylums and residences of the neo-Gothic and Victorian style in London. Germany and Russia have, on the other hand, remains of military installations from the period of so called Cold War –military bases, barracks, field hospitals, bunkers and systems of underground corridors. In recent years more and more popular are post-industrial areas and blocks of flats, which were built because of the government's recommendation. Until now these places have been seen through the prism of social pathologies, and very often they are the works of art of architecture and construction. One of the cult places presenting the heritage of the communism in Poland is also NowaHuta – one of the 18 districts of Krakow.

Unwanted and forgotten heritage of NowaHuta

According to specialists, NowaHuta is the best execution of the plan in comparison to other social-realistic cities of the former Eastern Bloc (Faracik, 2011; Miezian 2004). Next to the Czech Poruba (a district of Ostrava), Hungarian Dunaújváros, Bulgarian Dymitrovgrad or German Eisenhüttenstadt, it is one of the most well known realisation of the idea of a social city in Central Europe (Lorek 2007).

NowaHuta was created a few years after World War II and was one of  the  most  important  investments of the communist  rule  in  Poland.  The  decision   of   where  to situate NowaHuta was a political one and was undertaken by regional authorities despite protests of local institutions responsible for Krakow urban planning (Juchnowicz, 2000; Miezian, 2004). Building the metallurgy complex and the inflow of the working class was supposed to make from Krakow an industrialised city and change its social structure. As Gawe? (2013) states, “proletarian NowaHuta was to become the counterbalance to Krakow, conservative and unfriendly towards the new authorities”. It was not possible to fulfil these plans because the inhabitants of this district formed an opposition movement soon, which contributed to the fall of communist dictatorship.

After the change of the political system in 1989, throughout the 1990s, NowaHuta was unwanted history heritage (Balockaite, 2013; Murzyn, 2007). The district brought negative reactions in Polish society because it reminded of soviet domination, lack of independence, restricting inhabitants and tragic events (Juchnowicz, 2000; Pozniak, 2011). People wanted total obliteration of the heritage of communism, also by eliminating all symbols and material traces. The accompanying crisis of the metallurgical industry caused the breakdown of the local community, and as a result social bonds and the feeling of identification with the place disappeared (G?decki, 2013; Stenning 2000). Its consequence was the degradation of NowaHuta as well as the emergence of many social, economic and spatial problems in its area.

NowaHuta was forgotten for many years by local authorities, which had no idea how to use its undoubted values and their promotion among tourists. Despite cultural potential of this part of the city, until today underdevelopment of the tourist infrastructure is visible (Dej and Ga?ka, 2008). Although in the 1990s old monuments were removed and the majority of street names was changed, the partly degraded area of NowaHuta together with the metallurgy complex are still marked with the presence of the heritage of communism, which attracted the attention of  urban explorers.


The aim of this paper was to identify places visited by urban explorers in NowaHuta and to show the main problems of managing city tourism in the context of this type of adventure travel development. The study emphasised how methods of travelling are changing in the modern world and what actions should be undertaken by the local authorities in the future so that the tourism development could meet the current urbexers' needs. The focus is on identifying examples of activities implemented by the local government (public sector) and private entrepreneurs (private sector) from the area of the NowaHuta concerning the adaptation of the tourism offer to the expectations of urban explorers. Only the solutions addressed to urban explorers were submitted for analysis. The information was obtained thanks to the search query of scientific literature and articles published in local newspapers and travel magazines. It should be noted that in spite of  the  differences in tourism values and socio-economic conditions of individual urban exploration destinations in the Central and Eastern Europe, the investments undertaken and realised projects will be similar in nature to those in NowaHuta.

The city of Krakow is divided into 18 administrative districts, each with a degree of autonomy within the municipal government. The district of NowaHuta was analysed in the shape and division before 1991, that is the time when Krakow was divided into six administrative parts. According to this division, the spatial extent of the survey covers 5 contemporary districts of the Krakow, i.e.: Czy?yny, Mistrzejowice, Bie?czyce, Wzgórza Krzes?awickie and NowaHuta. The listed districts were created after 1991 as a result of the division of NowaHuta into smaller administration units. The total territory of the study area covers 110.77 square kilometres, which constitutes 33.9% of the total territory of the city of Krakow. The spatial area of the research was chosen because of its cultural and historical specificity, which clearly distinguishes it from the other districts of Krakow. NowaHuta, because of its distance from the centre of Krakow and for political reasons for which it had been created, for many years was a separate urban organism. The complex of the buildings in NowaHuta has its origins in the times of social realism, the beginnings and the subsequent phase of the development of the communist regime in Poland.

The temporal scope of the study includes the years from 2004 to 2014. The choice of the temporal scope of the studies was dictated by the changing conditions for the development of urban exploration in NowaHuta, connected with the steelworks’ privatisation. In 2004 a new owner of the company started a restructuring programme, which included systematic decrease in employment as well as elimination of economically unprofitable production units. The fall of the metallurgical industry resulted in social and economic crisis of NowaHuta, which succumbed to spatial and infrastructural degradation. The significant part of the area of the complex is currently unused and is visited by urbexers. The other reason for choosing the temporal scope of the research was the process of urban exploration development in Poland. The beginning of the movement of urban exploration is connected with the year 2004, when the first website was created  – – where descriptions and photographs of the places abandoned in Poland were presented. Shortly afterwards new websites and Internet forums appeared, such as or, where lovers of this field documented the places they visited.

The places visited by urban explorers were analysed on the basis of entries in electronic media concerning tourist attractions in Krakow, especially in NowaHuta district. For this purpose, the content analysis of electronic media was conducted on the basis of a coding scheme. The coding scheme took into account the categories of cultural heritage, which are the objects of interest for urban explorers, and where the highest number of visitors’ arrivals was recorded. The study included the texts and multimedia available on the 12 biggest Polish portals about urban exploration (,,,,,,,,,,,, as well as chosen forums and blogs where atypical places to visit in NowaHuta district are presented (e.g.,,,,, In addition, the search query of electronic promotional materials issued by the DMOs and made available on the official website of municipalities was conducted. The list of the places and objects formulated as the subject of interest of urban explorers has a “demonstrative” character and cannot be treated as closed.

Not much is known  about  the  development of urban exploration in Poland and the empirical research done so far is fragmented and not free of conceptual and methodological limitations. In literature we can above all observe the deficit of scientific research describing this phenomenon in Polish cities, which somehow explains the need to fill the research gap. The research which aims at getting to know places and buildings visited by urban explorers is of great significance to the assessment of the attractiveness of tourism destinations and the effective management of tourism in their area. The results obtained make it possible to make proper strategic decisions for the entities of the public sector (e.g. local authorities, cultural institutions, destination marketing organisations) and private sector (e.g. local entrepreneurs, travel agencies, tourist guides, regional associations) which function in the tourism economy and are associated with it. Thanks to that it is possible to make a complex tourism offer suited to the expectations of this peculiar group of tourists, as well as prevent and counteract the conflicting situations between urbexers and the local community. Its consequence is flexible specialisation, which is a skill of implementing changes in a territorial offer in order to adapt it to recent trends and individual needs of people visiting abandoned places in cities.


NowaHuta as an urban exploration destination

Krakow is the second after Warsaw main tourist centre in Poland. According to the research by Malopolska Tourist Organisation (MOT), in 2014 almost 10 million tourists visited Krakow, 25% of whom were foreigners (Borkowski, 2014). Krakow is known for its monuments and places which come from different historical periods. Together with the new trends appearing in city tourism, more and more often visitors show their interest also in the outside of the historical centre of Krakow. Urban explorers with a sublime motivation for travelling are interested in places still undiscovered by a mass tourist. Usually these places are not widely acknowledged in the marketing actions and rarely shown in promotional materials published by the local authorities. While analysing the materials made public on the Internet by urbexers, it can be seen that buildings which are most frequently shown and recommended for exploration in Krakow are situated in the district of NowaHuta (Figure 2). In the context of the socio-political system in which NowaHuta was created, it is a kind of magic gates to the communist era.



NowaHuta as the destination for exploration trips is mentioned on many internet portals, forums, blogs and social media concerning the urbex. The entries which appear concern both individual buildings as well as obstacles to their exploration. Their authors are mainly inhabitants, lovers of the history of the city and members of local associations of urban exploration, who know the area of Krakow well. The content of the entries repeats and concerns a few most atypical places which have not been described as tourist attractions of NowaHuta yet. After analysing individual profiles and blogs of the explorers it can be said that some of them, besides the criterion of searching for an undiscovered place, follow the aesthetics. The aim is to find unique architectural motives and the most interesting elements of external elevation, internal decoration or the surrounding cultural landscape.

The search query carried out in the electronic media and the author's own observations make it possible to differentiate between three main elements of the communist heritage visited by urban explorers in NowaHuta. These are: unused post-industrial buildings in the premises of the metallurgy factory (17 entries), the complex of underground shelters and anti-aircraft corridors (14 entries) and blocks of flats and housing estates form communist era (8 entries) (Table 1). The other cultural values coming from the communist times are described as medium or little attractive, therefore they play a minor role in the development of urban exploration in this part of the city. It should be underlined that apart from the buildings of the communist heritage, urbexers also point out many other places whose history reaches the times before NowaHuta was created in 1949. The examples of places with “pre-communist” values but high exploratory attractiveness are falling into ruin former palaces and manors, cemeteries, fortifications and military installations (Krakow Fortress), buildings of railway infrastructure, monuments of technology or traditional country.



Metallurgy industrial complex and abandoned post-industrial buildings 

The information about the possibility of exploring abandoned post-industrial buildings situated in the area of the former Vladimir Lenin Steelworks appeared on all the analysed internet portals about urban exploration. For many years the complex was an important element of communist propaganda so it was willingly made available to the visitors. The tour took place along a specified route and usually included big metallurgical furnaces, the rolling mill, the cooking plant, the steelworks, the galvanization mill and the cement mill (Dej and Ga?ka, 2008). However, in the early 1990s, because of the political transformation in Poland, tourism on the premises of the complex got considerably reduced.

The fall of communism in Poland in 1989 resulted in degradation of the symbols of the former regime. The political changes resulting from the transformation and the introduction of the elements of the free market economy were especially severe for the metallurgy. These processes led not only to limiting profitability of steel production but also to the fall of the whole line of industry (Juchnowicz, 2000; Miezian, 2004). Some companies servicing the sector went bankrupt, others got privatised. The turning point was the year 2003 when the complex became a part of the ArcelorMittal Poland consortium. Together with the change of the owner, the considerable part of the industrial infrastructure was excluded from the production and is now falling into ruin. Officially, the area of the complex is not made available for tourists, therefore the tourist function practically ceased to exist. The unused premises of the complex constitute the historical complex of deteriorating buildings, which are nowadays illegally visited by urban explorers.

The underground city of NowaHuta

NowaHuta was built during the Cold War so it was supposed to be well prepared in case of an armed conflict. Poland, as a Soviet Union ally, was afraid that in case of a nuclear attack, NowaHuta, being the strategic centre, could be bombarded in the first place (Miezian, 2004). That is why under NowaHuta's housing estates a system of underground corridors and shelters was built and they create an independent underground city.

The exact number and location of the underground shelters in NowaHuta is not known. According to the first plans and documentations, for the needs of the inhabitants 60 underground complexes were planned, half of which it was possible to build. The places were supposed to accommodate 1/10 of the district's population (Karkosza, 2015). In blocks of flats these were most often ordinary cellars or basements with streng-thened structural ceilings made of reinforced steel, but in the housing estates there were also bigger bunkers allowing for the stay of a few hundred people. One of these bunkers is under the former Kino ?wiatowid (Svetovid Cinema), which currently is one of the best preserved constructions of this type. It was not only an anti-aircraft but also a fallout shelter. Solid, leaden door, around which a special cap was installed which did not permit radioactive rays can prove that.

Because of high costs of building and maintaining, the underground shelters stopped being built in the early 1980s (Karkosza, 2015). Today these objects belong to managers of specific buildings, which results in them not being properly developed and used for tourist purposes. In most cases the entrances to tunnels and bunkers were bricked up. The rooms were turned into basements, laundries, warehouses, cloakrooms, garages and car garages. Despite the change of the function, the underground town is still visited by speleologists and people doing unconventional forms of active tourism and recreation, including urban explorers.

Blocks of flats and housing estates from the communist era

Nowadays the social-realistic part of NowaHuta is starting to attract interest and it is possible that it will become one of   many tourist attractions of Krakow, but still an exceptional one. Its main attribute is unique urban planning and architecture (Komorowski, 2005). Originally, NowaHuta was supposed to be architecturally associated with the Anglo-Saxon idea of “city-garden” and the social conception of “neighbourhood unit concept” from the beginning of the 20th century (Gawe?, 2013; Juchnowicz 2000; Miezian, 2004). Foreign tourists are enraptured by the composition, which shows the drive of the designers to create a perfect social-realistic city (Pozniak, 2011, 2013). Komorowski (2005) emphasises that the classical style of the architecture of NowaHuta appeared as a result of combining Soviet designs with the fruits of Polish Renaissance and the implementation of individual baroque solutions. The centre of the whole system was Plac Centralny and Aleja Ró? (Central Square with the Rose Alley), surrounded by monumental residential buildings, with shops on the ground floors, being at the same time the junction of five main arteries of the district (Figure 3).



The characteristic development of the residential districts in NowaHuta makes it possible for urban explorers to see somehow “from the inside” the space of everyday life of the residents. The objects of the exploration in blocks of flats in NowaHuta are housing units, especially staircases, courtyards, roofs, smoking rooms and basements. Even though the buildings are still being used and inhabited by the local community, their history is favourable to undertaking atypical activities connected with the search for extreme sensations and emotions. What makes them attractive for explorers is, first of all, the architecture, including the preserved details and interior furnishings, traditions and living conditions of the residents, and the specific atmosphere of secrecy and peril. What is also significant is that the visitors usually perceive this part of the city as especially dangerous, which can be explained by its long isolation and proletarian character.

Selected problems of tourism management in NowaHuta within the context of urban exploration development

Urban exploration movement and similar to it alternative forms of visiting the city cause a lot of controversies. Almost all places which are penetrated by explorers are not adjusted to being visited. The lack of proper tourist infrastructure and a bad technical state of the buildings make them dangerous for the visitors' health and life (Michalik, 2012). During expeditions there are many potential dangers, such as faulty electrical installations, chemicals in post-industrial areas, the risk of getting lost or even the collapse of the building (Czupryn, 2014; Mularz, 2012; Po?ajewska, 2014). Moreover, describing on the Internet the localisation of the visited places by urban explorers endangers the buildings  themselves, because homeless people, vandals, graffiti artistsand scrap collectors start meeting there. For that reason to be able to enter the buildings one needs permits or it is just illegal to go there.

The problems which are directly connected with urban exploration are those associated with widespread negative tourist behaviours, which are not in accordance with the established legal norms. Urban exploring is based on an unofficial code of conduct whose main rule is “take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints” (Hare, 2014). The explorer has no right to disturb the building, interfere with its look or take any souvenirs. However, most controversies are brought up by illegal entries of explorers into buildings. The penetrated places are often closed for the public and situated in private property (Czupryn, 2014). In many cases these are illegal actions on one's own responsibility. In NowaHuta it applies especially to post-industrial buildings and used basements in blocks of flats which are connected with the complex of underground shelters. Furthermore, sometimes owners of the abandoned buildings decide that their rights have been infringed by unauthorised publication of the photographs with their buildings in them (Michalik, 2012). And they are entitled to do that because it is included in the property act. One of the social consequences resulting from urban exploration development in the city is the change in the attitude of the inhabitants towards people from outside their local community. In many cases the presence of urbexers violates the social order. Explorers, by their undesirable behaviour, contribute to shaping negative opinions and hostile attitudes of the city inhabinants towards them (Stelmach, 2013). Anxieties, apprehension, the lack of inhabitants' satisfaction appear and later also aversion and being able to see only the negative aspects of the tourism development. Due to that, the community associates urban exploration with acts of vandalism (Michalik, 2012; Pokojska, 2015). Members of this movement are accused of devastating buildings and crimes of criminogenic and pathological type. The situation gives rise to many problems concerning effective management of tourism in the city. Because of the uncontrolled urban exploring, local authorities must undertake special actions in order to provide both groups of users of urban spaces, tourists and inhabitants, with security and benefits.

The increasing popularity of alternative forms of city tourism, including tourism “off the beaten track”, creative sightseeing and urban exploration, made local authorities engage in creating a local tourism offer directed to this segment of the market. As the development of contemporary travel trends starts from the bottom, it created the need to develop a new method of managing tourism, based on sustainable development. Doing tourist projects required enlisting a wide cooperation of people responsible for managing tourism in the city with local cultural institutions, social organisations, private entre-preneurs and inhabitants. Engaging many parties gave a synergic effect, which made it possible to reconcile interests of many groups of users of the urban area. As a result of this cooperation a few development programmes were accepted, including the strategy for the tourism development in Krakow (2006) and a local programme for revitalising the “old” NowaHuta (2008). The undertaken actions aimed at developing plans of tourism development not only from the point of view of needs and motivation of contemporary tourists but also from the point of view of benefits for the local community.

Because of sophisticated expectations of “new” tourists it has become indispensable to have a thought-out and complex approach to construing a local tourism offer - one that will put the tourist in the centre of interest with all their needs, will provide them with the desired level of experiences and at the same time will preserve the historical and cultural authenticity of this part of the city. The change in the direction of managing tourism in NowaHuta resulted from the specificity of the adventure types of tourism, which inseparably are connected with the  modern experience economy.

In the experience economy the basic goods are not concrete products but emotions and experiences of the clients (Stasiak 2008). Excitation and mental satisfaction from the stay are more important than the standard of the services offered. Local tourism is trying to manage these expectations.

In recent years in NowaHuta a lot of investments have been undertaken concerning revitalisation of after-industry areas, improving the transport availability and tourism development. The local tourism offer was enriched with new areas of the city, which  aimed at ensuring tourists with unforgettable experiences, and sometimes even extreme ones. The most valuable resources of communism, which so far have been denied or whose existence was forgotten, were used as a unique attraction and trademark tourism product of NowaHuta. The examples of the tourism projects undertaken in NowaHuta because of the growing interest in the topic of the heritage of communism, projects attempting at presentation this period of history have been undertaken in NowaHuta. These projects assume modernisation and making available as many building previously inaccessible for the visitors as  possible  and  above  all,  ensuring  the tourists' quiet and safe stay. An example is the tourist route made available in 2015 “The underground NowaHuta”, which functions within the recently opened Muzeum PRL-u in NowaHuta (The Museum of Poland under the Communist Regime in NowaHuta). According to the creators of the route, it is supposed to make it possible for the tourists to get to know the history of the complex of anti-artillery shelters in a safe way, not endangering their life and health. The underground corridors in the part available to visit are about 600 metres long and fully lit. In one of the two shelters which are there and the tunnels leading to it, special museum expositions are prepared concerning the history and the military. In the next years the offer will be widened by adventure elements and next underground rooms will be adapted to tourist aims.

The changes in customs, mentality and culture of the Polish society in the period of communism are presented in two museums. The first one, mentioned previously, MuzeumPRL-u (The Museum of Poland under the Communist Regime), is a multimedia exposition of a narrative character in the former Kino ?wiatowid (Svetovid Cinema). The other one – Muzeum Dzieje NowejHuty (The Museum of History of NowaHuta Quater) is a branch of Muzeum Historycznego Miasta Krakowa (The Historical Museum of the City of Krakow), which together with the chosen elements of urban architecture and peculiar cultural landscape of the district function as a ecomuseum. Moreover, in the central part of the district the local authorities marked and indicated the walking route called TrasaNowohucka (NowaHuta Route) and 8 thematic cycling routes, which lead to the most valuable buildings of cultural heritage of this district.

Nowadays it is also possible to visit NowaHuta using a commercial offer given by local travel agencies, which keenly introduce unusual and unique places into their tours. One of the first ones to believe in the tourist potential of NowaHuta are the founders of the Crazy Guides group. Since 2004 they have been offering trips connected with visits to typically post-communist buildings, such as the metallurgy complex, milk bars, traditional flats in a socialistic style, a disco from the 1980s. The group's offer has been very popular since the very beginning, especially among foreign tourists. Similar thematic trips are organised also by other local tourist companies, such as Communist Cars (NowaHuta Tours), SeeKrakow (Communism Tour), Cracow City Tours (Trabant Tour), Cracow Free Tours (Communist Era Tour, Communist Architecture NowaHuta Tour). The offer is aimed especially at mass tourists, who are looking for a mainstream kind of experience and have no other defined desires concerning the programme. Their aim is just to go to a new a different place to escape the monotony of traditional sightseeing the city.

More and more initiatives allowing to perceive new values of the places commonly associated with NowaHuta are being undertaken in post-industrial objects. In 2003 the first Sacrum-Profanum Festival took place in the hall of the old rolling mill situated in the complex. The place had been chosen because of the want for confrontation of classical music and industrial area. The festival undoubtedly contributed to the change of the image of NowaHuta and allowed to perceive its so far unnoticed cultural values. Moreover, in the chosen days of the year, especially during the cultural events such as Ma?opolskie DniDziedzictwaKulturowego (Malopolska Days of Cultural Heritage) or NocMuzeów in Krakow (Museum Night in Krakow), thematic trips are organised with a guide through the complex. Similar events and exploration trips are occasionally organised by various formal and informal organisations and associations of the lovers of the history of the city.

An important investment made on the post-industrial areas which belong to ArcerlorMittal Poland is “Kraków– NowaHutaPrzysz?o?ci” (“Krakow–NowaHuta of the Future”) project, whose aim is socio-economic revitali-sation and activation of this part of the city. The project started in 2013 and aims at using the hidden potential of NowaHuta. The areas not used by the complex are to be places for leisure and cultural events. The plans basically foresee the creation of a new city with an area of 5,500 ha, gathering all functions necessary for life, including new areas for the development of various types of tourism. B?onia 2.0 – Centre of Large-scale Open-air Cultural Events is planned to be created, as well as management of several water reservoirs, created after flooding the pits of gravel pit, for recreational and leisure reasons.

Apart from running investment projects, NowaHuta is becoming a place to organise cultural festivals and artistic initiatives. The examples of these can be Navigator Festival, Alternative Festival, NH FEST Art Festival of NowaHuta, International Theatre Festival Divine Comedy “BoskaKomedia” or Art Boom Festival sacrificed to street art, contemporary visual art and other cultural activity in the urbanised areas.

Many events take place in the open air, near housing estates, squares, parks and green areas, which additionally increases their attractiveness. It is also possible to actively visit the city thanks to cyclic thematic walks, during which it is possible to get to know places and objects which are inaccessible to visitors on a daily basis. The guides of thematic walks are people connected with the visited places – historians, architects, art specialists, museum workers, local artists or ordinary inhabitants. Thanks to that, the information they give has an added value. The tourism offer is complimented with exhibitions, workshops, trainings or art shows organised by local cultural institutions, including Nowohuckie Centrum Kultury (The Krakow-NowaHuta Culture Centre).

The examples of the projects mentioned above contribute  to   the   transformation  of  NowaHuta  from  a dangerous, forgotten and unwanted relic of the past into a dynamic, interactive and alternative cultural centre of Krakow (Kozik, 2014; Kursa and Romanowski 2014; Ornat, 2013). This is the consequence of the actions undertaken in recent years by the local authorities and cultural institutions for modernisation and revitalisation of this district. The undertaken projects strengthen the consciousness of local communities and their responsibility for their surroundings, creating social capital, fulfilling the educational function and creating the care for spatial order, aesthetics and cultural resources. Also the  planned actions are significant, including creation of the cultural park, entering buildings into the registry of monuments and later the UNESCO World Heritage List (Rad?owska, 2014), with the help of which local authorities want to protect the architecture of NowaHuta from degradation.

As the example of NowaHuta shows, the period of getting rid of souvenirs from communism is followed by the period of nostalgia and revaluation of the attitude of the inhabitants towards this period of history at the beginning of the 1990s. The heritage of communism, previously ignored, today is gradually becoming commercialised, because this might make it possible to attract audience wanting a change and entertainment (Murzyn, 2007). Instances of this are new museums, tourist trails, open air trips, festivals and cultural events. In the area of revitalised post-industrial buildings art galleries and entertainment-commercial centres are opened, whereas private entrepreneurs create tourist packets adjusted to the expectations of different groups of visitors. The tourism offer in NowaHuta, which is now being created, is addressed both to the inhabitants and all tourists visiting the city.

Together with the increasing popularity of the heritage of communism in NowaHuta among mass tourists, its attractiveness for niche and alternative types of tourism, such as urban exploration  is decreasing. As Wilu? and Duda emphasize (2014), the objects of interest for urban explorers are places which “do not fulfil their primary function, are not used for commercial reasons, have undefined or difficult to establish property status, are widely available and are characterised by the process of degradation or are in ruin”. Therefore the initiatives undertaken in NowaHuta gradually limit further develop-ment of urban exploration in this area. The fact that the buildings of communist heritage are widely accessible and commercially used, including for tourist aims makes it impossible for urban explorers to explore them without limits and search for extreme emotions. What is important to them is the specificity of these buildings connected with their bad technical condition, which increases their interest in these places. It is difficult to prefer the expectations of  urban explorers to the interests of the local community. The abandoned buildings are the example of peculiar tourist   attractions    which   are controversial. Their protection and preservation in bad technical condition would argue with the affective management of tourism in the city, compliant with the conditions of sustainable development.






The heritage of communism is a resource which, especially in the countries of Eastern and Central Europe, is often perceived as troublesome, and sometimes even marring the urban area. However, throughout the years the heritage has been the subject of interest of many groups of tourists. For that reason it seems desirable and possible to adapt places and buildings connected with this period of history to fulfil new functions connected with tourism, culture and recreation. The deep conviction of the local authorities, cultural institutions and inhabitants is the key – they should believe that the sum of economic and social benefits resulting from tourism development based on the heritage of communim can be high.

For many years people's negative attitude to the times of communism was the reason for many social and economic problems in NowaHuta. The area of this part of the city was treated as an unwanted souvenir of socialism era, which resulted in it being neglected and forgotten. NowaHuta was inseparably associated with the communist rule so it was negated just because, without a deeper reflection on its possible cultural values. NowaHuta was considered the worst part of Krakow, and its potential connected with the communist heritage was altogether omitted. The situation changed because of the development of new alternative forms of city tourism. The changes of the motives for travelling and tourists' attitudes caused the evolution of the local consciousness of Krakow, which started to look at this part of Krakow more favourably.

New types of adventure tourism and city tourism, such as urban exploration, have already entered the mass culture. The proper tourism management in the context of their development should provide visitors with the opportunity to get to know the given area deeper, gain some knowledge about it, its attractions and inhabitants. At the same time the created tourism offer should provide tourists with unforgettable emotions, experiences, in accordance with the concept of the experience economy. Implementing these kinds of solutions encourages the balance and harmony between the tourists and local community. Neither side can impose their way of life on the other. Such harmony applies as well to respecting legal and moral standards by all the tourist entities. It gives tourists a chance to have positive experiences and return to the place, therefore it gives a chance of gaining benefits from the tourism development.

Some types of tourism and recreation are not suitable for a given place or region because they generate conflicting situations and do not guarantee the stability  of the growth in economy. In case of cities, it is also urban exploration. For tourism it is a challenge, which can be faced by a close cooperation with the representatives of the local authorities, planners and inhabitants. Thanks to that, it is possible to devise a strategy of tourism development taking into consideration the socio-cultural autonomy of the communities, protection of their cultural heritage and helping intercultural understanding and tolerance. It would seem that it is an idealistic concept, which does not have much to do with creating entrepreneurship and marketing approach. However, the contrary is true, because the preservation and improvement of the quality of the local cultural heritage is the factor which in the long run will decide on the tourism competitiveness of the city.


The author have not declared any conflict of interests.


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