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The Edifice of the Former 'Cracovia' Hotel Bought for the NMK

The Edifice of the Former 'Cracovia' Hotel Bought for the NMK

The Edifice of the Former 'Cracovia' Hotel Bought for the NMK

29.12.2016
Thursday
The modernist edifice of the former 'Cracovia' Hotel will become the property of the National Museum in Krakow. The official signing of the purchase agreement regarding the building located in ul. Focha, along with the plot of land on which it is situated, was held on 29 December at 12.30 at the seat of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage in Warsaw.
The agreement was signed by the Director of the National Museum in Krakow – Dr Andrzej Betlej, and the representative of Echo Investment company – its managing director Mikołaj Martynuska, in the presence of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Culture and National Heritage – Prof. Piotr Gliński.

In the future, the National Museum in Krakow would like to use 'Cracovia' – which has been partially entered into the register of historic monuments – for a gallery of design and architecture. The area between the former hotel and the NMK Main Building will serve as a new public space.

The Finest Example of Post-War Modernism

The modernist building of the former 'Cracovia' hotel was erected in the years 1959-65. It was designed by a prominent 20th-century Polish architect – Witold Cęckiewicz, author of such buildings as the Polish Embassy in New Delhi, the Monument of the Battle of Grunwald, and the Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy in Krakow-Łagiewniki. The importance of the edifice is evidenced by the fact that part of the building was entered into the register of historic monuments by the Chief Małopolska Region Conservation Officer in 2016. Other parts of the building are also of high value for history of architecture as a first-class example of post-war modernism, which today is considered by historians of architecture, conservators and architects alike to be an important element of the 20th-century cultural heritage, including first and foremost the history of Polish architecture of that time. The last few years have seen a lively public debate about the need to preserve the historic substance of 'Cracovia' hotel, in which many authorities in the field of history of architecture and preservation emphasized the historical value of the hotel, and the need for its preservation as an outstanding example of modernist architecture not only in Krakow, but also on a national scale.

The former 'Cracovia' hotel constitutes part of a complex of modernist architecture together with the adjoining 'Kiev' cinema – also designed by Witold Cęckiewicz and built in the years 1960-65 – which is connected to the hotel by an overground passage. Together they form an architectural entity of undisputed historical value, serving as a unique example of a modernist complex of public buildings in Krakow. What should also be noted is that their location endows them with a particularly important character in the architectural landscape of the city: they are located next to the expansive Aleja Trzech Wieszczów [Three Bards Avenue], in its central part, thus complementing the complex of monumental buildings functioning as cultural and educational institutions (e.g. University of Science and Technology, University of Agriculture, the Jagiellonian Library, the National Museum in Krakow).

Plans for 'Culture Forum'

Urban context is of fundamental value for the particular importance of the former 'Cracovia' hotel. The building is located on the axis of the Old Town – Kosciuszko Mound, which remains under conservation protection. This perspective is of key importance for the city's symbolism as a monument to national culture. In addition, the plot of land with the former 'Cracovia' hotel constitutes part of a square between the hotel and the National Museum in Krakow. The square is the result of the expansion of Krakow's borders in 1910, and according to plans made at that time, it was meant to become a monumental and representative forum of the city, combined with the neighbouring Błonia and a view of the Kosciuszko Mound. The acquisition of the former 'Cracovia' hotel and the land it is erected on could make it possible to resume those plans and create a new 'Culture Forum' in Krakow, flanked by the buildings of the National Museum in Krakow, thus making the forum a new centre of cultural life in Krakow.
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