Many people walking around the picturesque cliffs overlooking the Baltic Sea in Gdynia Orłowo, in Northern Poland, pay attention to the building dominating the area on the slope, scaring with its empty eye sockets of broken windows.
The “Zdrowie” Preventive and Holiday House, now simply called “abandoned sanatorium”, is a beautifully haunting deserted hotel which, since its abandonment several years ago, has transformed into the dystopian photographers and street artists dream.
The name “Orłowo” comes from the name of a fisherman, some argue a sailor, Johann Adler (in german: eagle), who in 1840 built a tavern and a small hotel at the mouth of the Kacza River.
In 1870, a railway line was built from nearby Gdansk to Koszalin, and in Maly Kack was built a small railway station, which enabled the holidaymakers easier access to the site.
After Poland regained independence and access to the sea , Orłowo has become one of the most fashionable holiday resorts with crowds of contemporary celebrities visiting the place.
After the 1990s it has become an exclusive residential area with elegant and architecturally delightful villas.
The proximity of the center of Gdynia (4 km), Sopot (5 km) and Gdansk itself, together with excellent transport connections , makes Orłowo even more attractive.
In the past, the “Zdrowie” Preventive and Holiday House, a thriving seaside spa hotel, was the pride of the area of Gdynia.
The building at ul. Zaciszna in Gdynia Orłowo was established in 1962 as the Holiday and Treatment House of the Trade Union of Municipal Economy and Local Industry Employees, and later functioned as the “Zdrowie” Preventive and Holiday House.
The facility, commissioned as the “Monument of the 1000th Anniversary of the Polish State”, turned out to be a hit, thanks to its attractive location and – probably above all – subsidies from the so-called The Employee Holiday Fund, which was the main driving force behind mass recreation in the People’s Republic of Poland.
Due to its popularity among tourists, five years after its inauguration, it was decided to extend the building with a third floor with a superstructure (and eventually it grew to five floors) and a restaurant in the form of a rotunda overlooking the sea.
The facility had 160 places in 1, 2, 3 and 4-person rooms, a conference room for 30-40 people, and a restaurant for 100 people.
In the capitalist times, it offered organization of occasional parties, conferences, recreational, slimming and rehabilitation holidays.
Today, unprotected, it is deteriorating, and its future is a great unknown.
Years pass, and the building looks more and more scary.
Moreover, locals report problems with squatters and drug addicts to the police or city guards in the building.
It was forced to close in 2005 due to the cliff it had been built on becoming unstable and unsafe.
Now, anything of value has been removed, and all that’s left is walls, broken glass, unsafe windows, doors, staircases, grafitti and an eerie emptiness.
The authorities of Gdynia initially planned its demolition to built a more modern hotel complex in its place, but the plans stalled due to doubts about the ownership of the land.
Some time later, the area was bought by a private investor who tried to push through the idea of a housing estate, contrary to the zoning plans.
Eventually, however, under the influence of protests from local residents, in 2019, the mayor of Gdynia did not agree to transform the purpose of the area from a service and tourist function to a residential one.
Today, crowds of visitors visiting the area of the picturesque Orłowski cliff can read the inscription “W Gdyni nie pad”, or “It’s not raining in Gdynia”.
Well…and no one knows what will the weather be like for this place in the near future.