Cracovia hotel and Kiev cinema in one standing place

drone footage, history


Cracovia Hotel and Kijów Cinema
hotel Orbis Cracovia zdjęcie archiwalne

Today we will talk about two very different, but inextricably linked to Krakow, buildings that share several common features.

Built in 1960-65, the Orbis “Cracovia” hotel, designed by Witold Ceckiewicz, was, for those years, one of the most modern such buildings in Poland. Equipped with 309 rooms, 9 suites, an exquisite restaurant, conference rooms and a casino. Right next to it is another interesting building, namely the Kijów cinema, which was built in the same period as the hotel, i.e. in 1962 also according to a design by Witold Ceckiewicz. It was the largest cinema in Cracow at the time and, like the Cracovia hotel, also earned the honor of being the most modern in Poland. Equipped with a large single auditorium for 960 viewers, a concave 18.7 x 8.6 m2 screen and a stereo sound system, which was quite a rarity at the time. The Kiev Cinema got its start in 1967 with the premiere of, how else, the Soviet film “War and Peace,” directed by Sergei Bondarchuk. 

Both neighboring buildings stood out from their surroundings with a very modern architectural design and finish. The hotel, with its huge 150-meter monumental block, was the longest hotel in Poland at the turn of the 1970s. The finishing of the facade with aluminum imported with unusual difficulty and illegally by Witold Ceckiewicz and glass was quite impressive. The interiors, on the other hand, were designed with great splendor and the walls were decorated with elaborate mosaics. It is interesting to note that similar styling was also used in a huge resort complex, a communist-era resort in Kozubnik just outside Porąbka, realized with equally great splendor in exactly the same period. Apparently, it was a characteristic sign of the times. It is worth mentioning that the decor of the Kijów cinema and the facade of the rear façade was decorated in a very similar way with impressive mosaics, so to speak, tying together aesthetically and image-wise the designs of both buildings. And we must admit they are beautiful. The expressive body of the cinema at the time of its construction was one of the rarities in the development of Krakow and is still one of the most interesting such buildings in the country. 

For a long time the Cracovia Hotel was surrounded by a lot of glamour, with famous film stars, politicians, rich foreign guests often visiting its thresholds. It should also be mentioned that in the backstage of the hotel’s reception, casino and restaurant, Cracovians very often settled various “important” matters, exchanges, quiet deals and everything that was difficult to settle on the official way. The hotel recorded the end of its activities in 2011, and at the same time this is the beginning of an interesting story, which can only find its finale many years later already in our time. Shortly after the hotel ceased operations, the property was bought by Echo Investment with the intention of demolishing the building and constructing a shopping mall and residential buildings in its place. Concepts kept changing. Later, an office complex, a cinema and stores were to be built here.  In the years 2011- 2016, the architectural community as well as many Cracovians protested strongly against the demolition of the hotel, with the result that in 2016 the building was entered in the register of monuments along with the neighboring Kijów cinema by a decision of the provincial conservator of monuments. At the same time, this was the end of the possibility of any investment for a private company and a source of considerable conflict of interest. In the same year, the building was bought back by the Ministry of Culture, which handed over the facility to the neighboring National Museum. Since 2017, the hotel has been home to the Design Forum, which hosts fairs, workshops, meetings with artists and architects. In a word, the hotel, which with its appearance grew so strongly into the face of our city is reviving and, what is very pleasing, has been saved from demolition. In the future, the Cracovia Hotel is to be adapted at great expense for museum purposes, with exhibition, office and storage spaces to be created. So we keep our fingers crossed for wise decisions and modernization of the building while preserving its original appearance. 

Hotel Cracovia i kino Kijów, zdjęcia z dronaThe Kijów cinema squatted at the back of the hotel happily functions to this day. At the time of its establishment, the cinema was intended by its creators to be the center of Krakow’s cultural events, and the hotel next door to it, the back of this conference and festival center.  From 1968 to 1990, the well-known Documentary and Short Film Festival was held there, a tradition now continued as the Krakow Film Festival. In 2005 – 2008, under the influence of considerable competition from multiplexes, the Kijów cinema underwent modernization and was equipped with a second very intimate studio stage with 32 seats, a film café and a music club. The main cinema auditorium, meanwhile, was equipped with a very modern and first-of-its-kind digital projector. The name was also changed to Kijów Centrum, a fact that few in Krakow are probably aware of. The Kijów Cinema is considered a modernist masterpiece of Krakow. Unfortunately, due to numerous renovations, it has partially lost its old and unique character. Its beautiful and distinctive neon sign, if my memory serves me right, glowing in a shade of green, has also disappeared. We strongly encourage all Cracovians to visit the Kijów cinema, the place still has a magical character, older residents probably still hold our good old cinema with great sentiment to this day. Younger people, on the other hand, are encouraged to try, for a change, to change the soulless interiors of multiplexes for once and discover a film premiere inside a cinema with a Krakow soul. 


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