Poland's most fascinating abandoned power plant (Elektrownia Karola Scheiblera)

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Jul 25, 2017
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Elektrownia Karola Scheiblera by Tobi_urbex #04

Infiltrating forbidden territory right under the nose of the authorities - sometimes, you just have to be bold enough and blend in to get inside the most spectacular abandoned places you can imagine. Disguised as construction crew on a busy working site nobody would ever stop you. But there is also another approach: Reach out to the landlord, be kind and ask for permission to explore the premises. As a result, we were able to visit this stunning decommissioned power plant, unique in the whole country.

Elektrownia Karola Scheiblera by Tobi_urbex #05

We finish our road trip in the heart of Poland - in Łódź. With more than 700,000 inhabitants it is one of the country’s biggest cities. In only a short amount of time during the 19th Century, Łódź was turned from a minor village to Europe’s most important textile metropolis. Today, the city is a testimony to the time of the industrial revolution. Factories from a bygone era lie idle and appear like post-apocalyptic wastelands. During our day trip to the city, we wanted to explore two of these sites. This is one of them.

Elektrownia Karola Scheiblera #07

The main reason why Łódź became a town that big is the former textile industry. Spread all over the city, you can find old cotton mills. For our final exploration, we visit one of them. The remains of the most famous one, the Scheibler factory, are a construction site today. An investment group decided to turn the huge premises into a new and modern city district. During our visit in October 2019, they were in the middle of their latest building phase.

Elektrownia Karola Scheiblera #06

Even in the UK where the industrial revolution started, there were only a few factories that big. Poland’s king of cotton was actually a German by the name of Karl Wilhelm Scheibler. He was one of the most important industrialists in all of Łódź. He owned one-seventh of the urban area and his spinning mill was the biggest one in town. Several thousand employees were working here at the end of the 19th century. Still today, the remains of the historical factory seem tremendous. Nature had taken over what people left behind; art was filling spaces once occupied by machines. The whole site was abandoned after the end of the Cold War.

Elektrownia Karola Scheiblera #02

For us, this was another exploration with permission. We even got this tour for free! This was a great and actually the only opportunity to explore Poland’s most fascinating abandoned power plant. But since the whole site was a construction area, they were really concerned about us. To be honest, it was a bit odd to get all the safety gear and listen to a 15-minutes long presentation about safety in derelict buildings. We probably entered more ruins than these people, haha. However, prepared like a real construction crew they guided us to the centerpiece of the facility: The historical thermal power station. During our visit, it was completely covered and people were working inside the building. So, we were not sure if we could experience the plant in its full beauty. Luckily, we could.

Elektrownia Karola Scheiblera by Tobi_urbex #03

This is a real industrial cathedral! Karol Scheibler, the son of the rich industrialist who built the factory, decided that they needed to be independent of any external supply of energy. So, a modern powerhouse was constructed around 1910. Unfortunately, there is not much left of the control room. However, many of the remarkable details can still be found in the turbine hall, such as the towering windows with their geometrical glass paintings. The walls of the hall are elaborately decorated with yellow art nouveau tiles. The tiles on the floor are checked and also ornamented. The stairs have impressive cast-iron banisters. The ceiling is huge and unique in the whole town. Although this is an industrial plant, it is more splendid than some of the palaces we have seen.

Elektrownia Karola Scheiblera #04

Meanwhile, the derelict plant is part of a big project. On four hectares, several apartment buildings and offices get constructed. The historical buildings of the factory get transformed into restaurants, shops and communal areas. Old and modern architecture will be combined. This process is almost over. Explorers who came after us told that they were too late to see the power plant in its original state.

Elektrownia Karola Scheiblera by Tobi_urbex #11

The collapse of the textile industry was hitting the city hard. Many people moved away. Whole streets are grey and deserted today. In all of Łódź, there are relics of the industrial age. But something is happening with the forgotten plants. Art and culture are thriving. New life is breathed into old structures. Old Łódź is dead. But the new one is rising.

49666481843_0da49d5bcd_b.jpg Elektrownia Karola Scheiblera #03

If you want to see the whole place you need to watch this video: