Silesian province of Poland is popular because of its industrial past and its rich coal seams. The fast growth of mining the 19th century fuelled modern-day cultural identity. The political and social history is incredibly complex and entails uprisings, a referendum and an autonomous state within Poland. Katowice is the capital of the region, but also it is the lens of all changes that happened in Silesia over the last century. Except for museums, galleries and monuments to fill the gaps, Katowice is full of architectural wonders and hot art scene. So let’s don’t wait anymore and explore: 10 must-see things in Katowice!
Wyspiański Silesian Theatre (Teatr Śląski im. Stanisława Wyspiańskiego)
Theatre activity is an excellent exponent of how artistic a place is. A vibrant theatrical stage testifies to a high level of creative awareness in the region. Especially such turbulent as Silesia. The Stanisław Wyspiański Silesian Theatre is the most significant dramatic stage in the area. Located in the market square of Katowice, the theatre tries to play the role of the national scene in Silesia. It was named after a Polish writer, painter and artist, who included in his work many themes of the folk tradition. Dramas were written in the Silesian dialect, and adaptations of texts important for Silesia and regional identity were premiered here. On four stages it presents the achievements of Polish and world classical literature, as well with contemporary. If you really wanna dive deep into Silesian culture, you know where to go.
Congress Center (Międzynarodowe Centrum Kongresowe)
This is currently the biggest congress centre in Poland and probably one of the most multifunctional service facility in the city. Except for the parts, which has been designed for conference, exhibitions, events like fairs or performances, the whole complex is fully available for the public. It belongs to the Cultural Zone – a new part of Katowice devoted to culture, located in the former industrial areas. The building was built in post-industrial regions and in its architecture refers to mining traditions. You can climb up the stairs on the roof, to the viewing platform and rest there while enjoying the panorama of Katowice. The Congress Centre is divided into 4 parts, which total area of is 1675 m². The whole complex was awarded numerous industry awards of the best project and architect of the year 2015.
The biggest arena in Katowice only from outside resembles a flying saucer or UFO spaceship. Spodek is something much, much more. First of all, it’s a world class venue, which hosts the biggest concerts, sports events, and cultural activities. Among artists who played in the Katowice Spodek is Metallica, Modern Talking, Depeche Mode, Rammstein, Green Day, Leonard Cohen, and many, many more. Aside from the concert hall, it is home to a variety of recreational attractions such as a few gyms, restaurants and an ice rink. Built in 1972, mostly by the works of the engineer Wacław Zalewski, Spodek is a cultural must.
There are bad museums – boring and stiff – and there are good ones, which are engaging and entertaining. Silesians are definitely the other one. Built in 1929, survived a Nazi attack and was reinstated to its glory in 1984. The first thing that you will see approaching the Silesian Museum is the symbolic headframe that had stood idle after the Katowice colliery around it closed, after almost 180 years. Nowadays, that tower has been converted into observation platform for tourists. But the headframe isn’t the only redone part of the mine. Four levels of subterranean tunnels below have been turned into galleries for art, photography, archaeology and ethnography. The decision of literally going underground with all of the exhibitions is to avoid interfering with Silesia’s post-industrial landscape, which is rapidly changing these days.
In recent years we experienced a real Shawn of the craft brewery. The most popular place in Katowice where you can drink some fancy double IPA or Russian stout is Broward. With pride or their faces, they’re presenting a wide selection of international beer from a variety of European breweries, such as Meantime (UK), Schonramer (Germany) and Jopen (Holland). Chilled atmosphere and easy-going staff is the only cherry on top. See you there and cheers!
Only a few minutes on foot or a short bus drive, from the centre of Katowice, is a leading cultural heritage piece. Nikiszowiec quarter is a district for 8,000 people built for miners at the Giesche colliery. Its buildings and sites were created during the intense industrialization of the city between the 19th and 20th century. Until absorbed by Katowice in 1951, Nikiszowiec was a separate city, from its completion in 1918. It is then that 250 neighbourhoods for the miners were built. The settlement had interconnected houses, each containing 12 apartments and often linked by arcades on the ground level. It all looks almost as it did a century ago, but into the arcades were put a few speciality shops and cafes. Without the slightest exaggeration, you will feel like he has stopped over there, focusing at its best period. Hot piece for Instagrammers!
Valley of Three Ponds (Dolina Trzech Stawów)
Katowice has a reputation of a mostly grey industrial city, with gloom atmosphere and no green. The first part is long gone with all of the changes inserted into the city’s landscape. The second one was never actually true, and the best proof of that is Valley of Three Ponds. This wooded park area on the south of Katowice is spreading over 86 hectares, nine of which are taken up by water. The most extensive ponds are mostly for recreation, like fishing and watersports. So if you find yourself on a hot day in Katowice, take a walk or rent a city bike and enjoy a beautiful site. Fun fact: despite the official name, there are 11 bodies of water in the park.
St Mary’s Street (Ulica Mariacka)
The central social spot in Katowice is St Mary’s Street in the central district called Śródmieście. The street was pedestrianized in 2008, and since then, this is an area mainly for nightlife. On the distance less than one kilometre, there are almost 20 taverns, and many more restaurants, bistros and nightclubs packed next to each other. Consequently, there’s always something happening, whether it’s a concert or a wine and cheese fair.
The Kościuszko Park
In the centre of the very Katowice, there is a charming park city, whose history says a lot about the city itself. Named after one of Poland’s national heroes, the Kościuszko Park started in 1888, as a little park and has evolved into over a 72 hectares city’s behemoth. With a bit of English touch, it charms with a variety of trees, like rhododendrons or cherry, with a line of roses and florid pergolas. The park also has some compelling wartime stories to share. In the park’s southern reaches is 40 metres high the parachute training tower, which dates back to before the SWW. On the top of that metal structure, a group of boy scouts, heroically\on 4 September 1939, tried to stop Wehrmacht against Katowice.