Beautifully preserved, the Warsaw Gasworks (also known as the “Wola Gas Company”) is one of the most pristine examples of historical industrial architecture from the late 19th and early 20th century. It’s almost a shame, because it would make a fabulous decaying urban adventure to explore.
As luck would have it, this place has a little in column A and a little in column B. The majority of the grounds have been beautifully restored, and in what used to be the compressor and pump building resides a huge, diverse museum that includes an in-depth history of Poland’s evolution with gas production. It houses documents and archives of photos, but most impressively, a healthy collection of the machinery used both industrially and in private homes throughout the decades. Gas lamps from every era, some of which still adorn Warsaw’s streets, and assorted home appliances are dwarfed by the massive machinery that once made up the guts of the city’s gas supply.
The neoclassical style buildings were built in 1888, but were destroyed during in 1939 during WWII, then immobilized. After the war they were rebuilt, and reopened their doors June 25, 1945. They once again closed in the early 70s, as natural gas became the city’s singular method. It’s been a museum since 1977.
While the beautiful buildings and fine museum halls are clean and shiny, there are still parts of the old–delightfully decrepit buildings that have yet to be beautified. Old, enormous gas tanks, and behind the museum–the colosseum. The colosseum is a massive, spherical building that understandably attracts urban explorers and photographers like moths to a flame. Broken windows, crumbling brick, and untamed vegetation abound. Poking around is forbidden, (yes, they do have video cameras) but brave explorers do manage to get over the fence now and then. It’s magnificence can still be enjoyed from a distance, and the museum–which is refreshingly free of charge–has plenty of wonderful old machinery to discover within the safety of its walls.