Wola Gasworks – Warsaw, Poland

Next up on my list was the old Wola gasworks, a very unique location which I came across on a couple of different urban exploration websites. The main portion of the gasworks were built between 1886 and 1888 in order to provide gas to the citizens of Warsaw. These have since been turned into a museum but two large gas tanks remain abandoned and forgotten in the south east corner of the complex. These have been closed off now and left to decay.

Despite my hangover (caused by a random night out with a group of French students and the insanely cheap cost of shots of vodka over here!) I made a very early start to the day which saw me arriving at the perimeter of the gasworks at 7 in the morning. I had heard that security lives on site along with 2 guard dogs who roam the compound. I hoped the early start would work in my favour here as they would hopefully all be sound asleep.

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I quickly made my way into the compound surrounding the two gas tanks as quietly as possible. I carefully made my way up to the first gas tank and slipped inside a nearby doorway. The view ahead of me was pretty amazing. The interior of the tanks are completely empty which means all you see ahead of you is a vast empty space stretching from one floor below you, to 4 stories above you.

Surrounding the interior of the tanks on each level is a circular wooden walkway which stretches around the perimeter of the building. This is made up of old rotten wooden planks with plenty of holes between them for good measure! The planks looked like they were just about able to support my weight on my right hand side but they didn’t look too healthy on my left hand side. If I went right it would mean that I would have to walk three quarters of the circumference of the building on these planks. I made a start on the journey but there was just a little bit too much flex on the planks for comfort so I made a hasty retreat. There was another doorway at the directly opposite side of the building so I decided following the exterior of the building to this would be the best bet. I would of course have a greater chance of running into security and the guard dogs but with it being this early I thought I should be fine.

I continued around the outside of the building treading quietly through the undergrowth. When I got to the doorway I noticed it was in view of the camp security were staying in. Everything looked quiet so I made a quick dash for the doorway and onto the wooden planks. This time I only had one quarter of the circumference to walk on the planks to get to the stairs. The stairs were in a pretty good condition (at least compared to the planks earlier) and I was soon sitting at the top of the 5th set of stairs nested in the rafters looking down at the vast space below me.

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As I was sitting up here I looked down to see the site security guard doing a patrol outside the building. He didn’t enter the building itself but even if he did I was pretty well hidden and would have been out of his sight. I took a couple more shots up here trying to make the most of the golden light filtering through the windows. I chickened out of following the planks the whole way round the top as they didn’t look the most sturdy.

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After a couple of shots I began to make my way down again. I waited at the doorway to make sure that the security guard wasn’t nearby and made another dash out into the open. The entrance to the second tank was just across from me. This has the exact same layout as the first tank except for one slight difference, the ground floor is flooded. I’ve seen some fantastic photos from the 1st floor of this building which show all the windows of the building reflected in the water below. For some reason I decided to just make a dash for the exit due to being in view of the security camp. I regret that now as I’m sure sneaking into the second tank would have made for some fantastic photos. But all going well, I’ll be back again some day.

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Foton Photochemical Plant – Warsaw, Poland

First up on my list of Eastern European countries was Poland. I knew I would have a bit of time to spare on my first evening in Warsaw so I set about researching locations near the city centre. The top of the list was the old Foton Photochemical Plant. It had been partially demolished in the last few months but still remaining was the main 8 storey part of the complex which apparently provided great views of the city. So, without further ado I set off in search of the plant.

Taking a tram to the suburb of Wola, I soon found the college complex which the plant is based in. Access was surprisingly simple and in no time I was strolling freely around the different floors.

I somehow forgot to take any exterior photos of the plant tower but you can just about make it out in the back left of the below photo.

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The handrails had long been removed from these stairs making for a nice dizzying view back down to the bottom floor.

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The view from the top floor down one of the old lift shafts

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This gap needed to be crossed using an old door in order to reach the roof access on the top floor.

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Looking up at the above location from the 7th storey

On my way through the building I ran into a random Polish group of explorers so I tagged along with them out onto the roof. An old ladder with over half the rungs missing needed to be climbed to get onto the main rooftop so we all worked our way up this one by one onto the main rooftop. This afforded some fantastic views of downtown Warsaw.

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We were able to relax up here for a good while admiring the views until someone spotted us from below (either college security or police, it got lost in translation!) So we had to climb back down and make an exit. There was no one there waiting outside the building when we got down so they obviously didn’t care too much!