Manufactured Landscapes in Poland (Belchatow)

I finally had an opportunity to visit the place I grew up in so many years ago. As a matter of fact, it took me almost 24 years to come back to see some of my ‘old’ school friends. My family and I left Belchatow, Poland in June of 1987, right after I graduated from grade six (Poland reached its independence from the communist regime a couple of years later). I had an amazing memory from the times I’ve spent in Belchatow even-though I grew up during tough communist times. My parents sheltered me from the difficult reality of the day and enabled me to form great childhood memories.

The visit with friends from 24 years ago was surreal and I appreciated every second of it. What I would like to share with you however is the absolutely phenomenal nature of the town itself.

When my parents came from Kuyavia (Wloclawek) to chase a new dream of becoming inhabitants of their own apartment in Belchatow (which was quite an achievement for a young family in Poland at the time), the town was home to less than 25 thousands inhabitants. In the early 70s the discovery of brown coal triggered a boom in its population growth. The town exploded from a ‘small ‘ to a ‘predominant town’ over night. Today, the city is inhabited by over 60 thousand people and home to some of the countries’ best volleyball (SKRA Belchatow) and soccer teams (GKS Belchatow) thanks to a highly developed sports¬†infrastructure¬†sponsored by the largest employers of the town, Power Plant and Coal Mine Belchatow. Over 10,000 people are employed by both employers.

Since the big discovery of coal Belchatow became home to world’s largest coal excavators as well as one of the biggest energy producers in Europe. Over 20% of all of Poland’s electricity is produced by the plant in Belchatow.

As a child I’ve never fully comprehended the magnitude of the project until today. Here are a few images of the manufactured landscapes that provided for my and many families in Poland.

Enjoy

Martin

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