Tadeusz Sendzimir Steelworks is the second-largest steel plant in Poland. It opened on July 22, 1954 as Vladimir Lenin Steelworks, in a newly-built communist district of Nowa Huta. In its heyday in the 1970s the plant employed around 40,000 people and produced almost 7 million tonnes of steel annually. In the 1980s it was one of the most important centres of anticommunist resistance in Poland.
The former name of the plant, “Vladimir Lenin” was changed in 1990, following the collapse of communism, and the factory was renamed to commemorate the scientist and engineer Tadeusz Sendzimir. In January 2005, the plant was purchased by the Mittal Steel Company and now it is owned by Arcelor-Mittal, the largest steelmaker in the world. Its current name is “ArcelorMittal Poland S.A. Oddział Kraków”, but the name “Tadeusz Sendzimir Steelworks” is still commonly used. Except for open days the plant is closed for visitors.
The administrative centre of the former Lenin Steelworks is among the best examples of socialist realist architecture in Poland. Although the solutions applied there originated in the 20th century, they bring to mind the Renaissance style. It is, however, not a coincidence as socialist realism was meant to be “national in its form”.
According to Polish social realism protagonists, the Renaissance style was the most revered in old Polish architecture, so it was to become Poland’s socialist national format. Therefore, it was applied in the buildings of the administrative centre of the Steelworks, which gained crenellated parapet walls with turrets. Additionally, the interiors of the buildings had coffered ceilings. The original furniture (including chandeliers and candelabra from the 1950s) is only made available to visitors on rare occasions. Because of the similarities with Renaissance palace architecture, the administrative centre is commonly, and mockingly, known as “the Doge’s Palace” or “the Vatican”.
Today, the plant employs 3500 people and produces 1,3 million tonnes of steel annually. It is also the only supplier of steel-sheets thinner than 6 millimetres in the world. After the transition from centrally-planed to free market economy, the plant was divided in the process of privatisation into several smaller companies.