Standing proud on a small grassy square since 2010, this unbelievable artwork began its existence in 1944 as a fully functional Ty2 steam locomotive. Looking like a surreal steampunk spaceship, it points unnaturally skyward at a near-vertical angle. Standing nearly 70 feet high, the remarkable railroad relic is Poland’s largest public artwork.
The TY2 series of steam locomotives have a dark history as part of Nazi Germany’s war machine, having been built to enable the Third Reich to consolidate its grip on newly conquered territories. Nicknamed Kriegslokomotiven (meaning “war locomotives” in German), many of these historic engines were repurposed by the Polish State Railways for a civilian existence after the end of World War II.
This particular example, Ty2-1035, is one of just 54 remaining. Having been largely forgotten at a local railway museum, the 90-ton goliath of Poland’s past was erected, phoenix-like, and in contempt of gravity by artist Andrzej Jarodski. The Train to Heaven, (“Pociąg do Nieba” in Polish) now towers over Strzegomski Square, a small public space by a busy road intersection on the main route into the Silesian Capital from Wrocław Copernicus Airport.