Kraków’s Pearl of Modernist Architecture

Today, the Kijów Cinema in Kraków is a cult place for film lovers and culture enthusiasts. But not only for them, because the building is one of the finest examples of Modernism in Poland. This is why it’s visited not only by cinema-goers, but also tourists admiring the architecture and interior of the building.

On the Modernist Route

For the experienced visitors who are already familiar with the biggest attractions of Kraków and want to discover new places, which, however, have already become part of the city’s history, the Modernist Route near the Aleja Trzech Wieszczów is worth recommending. It consists of the buildings of the National Museum, the Jagiellonian Library, the AGH University of Science and Technology, the “Żaczek” student dormitory, and the Silesian Seminary. And of course a real pearl of Polish Modernist architecture – the Kijów cinema, which nowadays is called the Kijów Centrum.

Construction works began in 1962 according to the design by its architect, Witold Cęckiewicz. The grand opening took place five years later and was graced with the resounding premiere of the Soviet film “War and Peace,” which is an adaptation of the novel by Leo Tolstoy, directed by Sergei Bondarchuk.

The Amazing “Kosmos” and the Red Sun

The new cinema building was stunning. Especially the decorations designed by Krystyna Zgud-Strachocka. Her huge mosaic entitled “Kosmos” has proved particularly astonishing, and it’s still available to tourists. The artist made it from fired ceramic plates, which were then glazed and fired again. The work on the picture, which covers 325 square meters, lasted eight months. And the final effect is still impressive today.

There is a similarly magnificent composition on the back wall of the building. It is also a mosaic, designed by Witold Cęckiewicz. Its central element is a red sun.

Premieres, Festivals and Broadcasts

At the time of its opening, the Kijów cinema with its hall for 960 viewers and a concave screen, considered huge at the time, was the first and most modern wide-format cinema in Poland that could display panoramic films with stereo sound quality. No wonder then that long queues formed at the ticket booths. This cinema was the place of Polish premieres of such films as “Schindler’s List,” “Harry Potter” and “Star Wars.”

Today, the Kijów Centrum is one of the most important cultural centres in Kraków. In addition to the main hall, it has cinema halls, a film café and a music club. It’s the venue of the Kraków Film Festival, performances by stage artists and digital broadcasts from the Comédie-Française in Paris and the New York Metropolitan Opera.