120 minutes in Tarnów-Mościce

“I grew up in Mościce but realized its uniqueness not before my first distant journeys. I was a student in Kraków when I understood what distinguishes Mościce from other locations in Poland. And my international travels allowed me to acknowledge the allure of Mościce on a much larger scale.”

Wilhelm Sasnal, ‘Polska Europa Świat’ daily newspaper, July 15th, 2008


Mościce is a modernistic ‘garden district’ of the city, incorporated into Tarnow in 1951. It is attractive to the residents of other districts, as well as to an increasing number of tourists who, enchanted by the ‘pearls of Renaissance’ in the old town, decide to get to know Tarnów better. Our tour begins and ends at a bus depot near Zakłady Azotowe (Nitrogen Works). Mościce is easily accessible from the city centre via bus lines, including the most popular bus line no. 9. A spacious parking lot is located near the depot. Cyclists may use convenient bicycle paths.

From the depot we go westwards down the Kwiatkowskiego Street. After some 250 metres, we see an impressive building of Factory Management on the right side of the street. It was constructed between 1934 and 1938. The Polish Government made a decision to build the State Works of Nitrogen Compounds in Tarnów, in 1927. It was to be constructed at the fork of the rivers Dunajec and Biała. Those were lands of the villages Świerczków and Dąbrówka Infułacka, owned by Duke Roman Sanguszko. The Duke was paid 210 000 American dollars for 670 hectares of land.

Two years later the construction of the factory was finished and the technological start-up of the instalment has began. It was the most technologically advanced factory in the country at the time. Over the 80 years of operating, the factory has been expanded and modernized few times. In the 1980’s it was a workplace for over a dozen thousand inhabitants of the city and the region. Currently, several thousand people work in what is now called ‘The Capital Group of Azoty Tarnów’. Further down Kwiatkowskiego Street we pass by the several stories-high building of Mościckie Centrum Medyczne (Mościce Medical Centre) and Zespół Szkół (School Complex) from the year 1947. On the other side of the street a modernistic complex of public buildings, called Kasyno (Casino) is located. The complex is axially symmetric. It consists of the main building and two side wings with a courtyard and a park in the south. Currently, a restaurant and pizzeria are located there. In one of the wings a division of the medical emergency service is located.

From Kwiatkowskiego Street we turn into Głogowa Street. It runs through the former residential area, intended for the managing staff. The urban complex of the estate has been listed in a registry of historic monuments, since 1979. The street ends with neoclassic palace, the so-called ‘Dom Chemika’ (Chemist’s House) – former ‘Dyrektorówka’. It was modelled on the Łazienkowski Palace in Warsaw. The building was designed by Konrad Kłos, architect, in his office in Warsaw, between 1927 and 1928. The palace was the first residential building in Mościce. Before the World War II it was a residence of managing directors, including Eugeniusz Kwiatkowski. Also Ignacy Mościcki, President of the Republic of Poland, stayed there during his visits to Mościce.

It is one of a few buildings in Mościce with original interiors, including the office and the desk of E. Kwiatkowski, preserved. The building is still owned by the factory and is not available to visitors. Behind the palace, E. Kwiatkowski’s Park is located, founded in the 1920’s. Within the park, a place called ‘małpi gaj’ (‘monkey grove’) – a small zoo had been operating for several years. And so, we go on westwards down Jarzębinowa Street until we reach Topolowa Street. We turn left, towards a church. On the way, we pass by two stone benches from 1929.

The Church of Holy Mary, Queen of Poland was designed in 1941. It was erected between the years 1948 and 1956. It is among the biggest churches in Tarnów. The history of its construction dates back to 1929, when in one of the storehouses on the factory site, a mass was organized. Two years later a temporary chapel was established. In 1938, Franciszek Lisowski, the bishop of Tarnów, constituted the parish of St Therese of the Child Jesus and St Andrzej Bobola in Mościce. It had a population of 4 000. The head supervisor of the church construction was father Stanisław Indyk, a long-term rector of Mościce. The inhabitants of the district, as well as factory workers, participated actively in the construction of the church.

From the church we head towards train station, located down the Chemiczna Street. We pass a large parking lot, garden with a kindergarten from 1954, and a speedway track on the left. On the right, we pass by Wilhelm Sasnal’s sculpture – a pyramid made of cement rings covered with adhesive. There is a date placed inside one of the circles: 28th of March 1983. According to the author, it refers to no particular event (the date is completely random), and symbolises a possible event which might have, but fortunately have never occurred. This way it refers to the times of socialism in Poland, and overwhelming fear shared by all people of Mościce, threatened by the close proximity of the Nitrogen Works – expected aim of the missiles from beyond the Iron Curtain.

Right behind the sculpture stands a glass-covered building of Tarnów-Mościce train station. The station existed before the World War II as Tarnów-Dąbrówka, and in the times of the People’s Republic of Poland it was known as ‘Tarnów-Zachodni’. Until the 1960s, it was a small wooden building, erected in 1927. Construction of a new edifice of the station, with a granite paved underpass, was financed equally by the factory and the railway company.

We use the underpass to get across. There, on 2nd of June 1934, with participation of I. Mościcki – the President of Poland, the foundation stone of ‘Za Torem’ residential area was placed. The event is commemorated with a monument placed in 1998 at the intersection of Obrońców Lwowa and Czerwona streets. Then we walk along the Obronców Lwowa, Sienkiewicza and Norwida streets. The surrounding houses were have been built in three sizes, according to the needs and richness of the members of a housing association. Those used to be the houses of engineers, foremen and labourers. Famous engineers: Peterko, Hulle and Kubiński (house at the adjacent Willowa Street) had their residences there. The main axis of ‘Za Torem’ residential area is Norwida Street, which ends with a park-forest Sośnina. In 1950, another large educational building was opened (at present it hosts a school complex, including High School No.4). In 1941, at the edge of Sośnina Park a municipal cemetery has been created, still in service, although it is now in the centre of a newly-built residential area. Today, the population of Mościce exceeds 10 000. West of ‘Za Torem’, a new ‘Nasz Dom’ (Our Home) residential area was built, intended for middle-class technicians and blue-collar workers.

We go back down Czerwonych Klonów Street towards the factory. We can turn right just before the viaduct, into Stanisława Anioła Street, if time allows. After around 700 metres we reach the dikes of Biała River. Now turn left, towards a railway bridge, and approach Fortalicjum nad Białą’ (watchtower). It is a remnant of the Austrian fortification system from the World War I. It is a one-story building with turrets at each corner, and preserved loopholes. The building is unavailable to visitors. The watchtower can be seen well from the windows of Tarnów-Kraków trains.

We move on the Czerwonych Klonów Street and pass the above-mentioned football and speedway stadium. It can accommodate up to 16 000 spectators. It’s been well known to Polish sports fans for over 50 years, especially to speedway fans. On the right hand side, we see other facilities of the sports complex – track and field stadium and a sports hall. At the intersection of the streets Czerwonych Klonów and Traugutta, renovated building of former Dom Kultury Zakładów Azotowych (House of Culture of the Nitrogen Works). In 1972, on ‘The Day of the Chemist’, a ceremonial opening of the facility was held. The building was designed in a so-called ‘Zakopane Style’ architecture originating in Polish highlands and therefore constructed on a lowland of Mościce it was incompatible with other buildings.
In a result of recently completed renovation Centrum Sztuki Mościce (Mościce Art Centre), has become the biggest cultural complex in the region, comprising a cinema, conference halls and the show rooms.

We walk down Traugutta Street, passing the police station, and reach Ks. Indyka Street. Then walk further eastwards, and pass the highest building in Mościce – the former workers’ hotel (recently renovated 3 star-rated ‘Cristal Park’ Hotel), to reach ‘Dom Sportu’ (the House of Sports) – a sports complex (sports hall and a swimming pool), which encloses the recreational areas of Mościce in the east.

From there we go back to the intersection with Ks. Indyka Street, and head it northwards, towards the factory. On the left side we see the first and oldest blocks of flats in Tarnów (20), built in the 1950s. With time, the blocks have been surrounded by other buildings, creating an amicable neighborhood full of green areas. An attentive observer may notice speakers atop the high poles, spread all around the district – remnants of the factory radio station. From Ks. Indyka Street, we turn left into the busy Kwiatkowskiego Street to end the walk at the bus depot, located some 100 meters away.