Poland, Katowice: My city of modernity
January 1, 1970
by Magdalena Płotała
Have you ever heard of Katowice, big city located in the south of Poland? Probably not. Or – maybe – once in your history you throwned a glance on flight schedule at the airport. In that case, you had noted: ‘Katowice Pyrzowice Airport (KTW)’. Now, we have to know that this beautiful city has something more than just a place where planes touch down. Katowice are known for three factors: touching history, incredible architecture and cultural events. Are you ready for the journey? Let’s get it started!
Katowice is a big town placed in southern region called ‘Silesia’. What is so specific about it is that Silesia during all wars and combats had been on the borderland of three countries: Poland, Czech Republic and Germany. There are lots of distinguished traits that are rooted in that fact: we can see architectural solutions created at the crossroads of different cultures. Besides, not only buildings are the proofs – you can also find plenty of various churches; roman catholic, protestant and synagogues. Living in such an exceptional location made Katowice’s habitants’ lives more attractive. Apart from meeting representatives of so many cultures they were witnesses of exceptional and cruel history. With or without their permission.
FIRST WORDS ABOUT KATOWICE
The first reference about Katowice was written down in 1598 by priest, who was visiting the local parish. We can read about people living there: they were really strong, hard-working and talented – even in times of early Middle Ages they were handling with lack of goods. As they were inventors, they learned how to use nearby rivers and started to develop their city. But for historical briefs we knew they had one of the first metallurgic factories in Europe. That wasn’t an invention for only one day: the factory were performing a duty way longer than the european ones. Of course Katowice didn’t become a metropolis in few years. For a long time that was just a little village. Time has brought the change in 1848, when private company placed a train station there on relation Wienna-Berlin-Warsaw. Hundreds of families were roaming to Katowice with lust for work and wellfare. That occurence we might boldly call the name of ‘revolution’
When fights of the Ist World War lasted, Katowice were having a time to rebuild their power. Silesia had become an autonomical region with their own parliament and finances. Unluckily, times of flowering couldn’t be endless – after long years of building the city habitants were taken-aback by war and ‘III Plebiscites’ – corrupt voting determining the territorial claims of Silesia to Germany. Then, after the IInd World War, The Soviet Army liberated Poland and that was the beginning of communism in country.
Katowice had their name changed on ‘Stalinogrod’ in honour of Josef Stalin, a leader of the Soviet Union. Local activists changed it after months of fights. City was in communist enslavement for another 46 years, untill Poland didn’t reach the democracy. Now we are looking at the city that had never gave up; that always have been combating against the enemy with solidarity and willing to work. Walking down the streets we can see buildings and alleys who were hiding freedom fighters. All in all we should say that his is the city fulfilled by its history. And that’s were its beauty is.
MODERNITY AND TRADITION
Katowice is probably one of the best cities in Poland when it comes to joining modernity and tradition together in architecture. What’s so incredible is that transitions between old houses and the latest sky scrapers do not offend tourist’s taste of aestethics. All of buildings are forming a harmonious integrant. You may see districts composed with the same buildings of the former, the German construction (like ‘Nikiszowiec’). The experience of exploring this area is something unforgettable – we can almost palpably feel how proceeded the life of formerly lived here workers. Unbelivable how this city used its historical base to promote new solutions and encourage tourists to sightseeing. Modernity’s enthusiasts can also see modern places in Katowice, like The Milennial Settlement (modern housing).
There are a lot of buildings worth your attention, like the estate of National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Silesian Museum or Cathedral of Christ the King. Katowice are also known for composing nature with architecture – we can see beautiful ‘Giszowiec Settlement’ and the Valley of Three Ponds.
If you are interested in Katowice’s architecture (because it’s an exciting topic!), I invite you to watch the official on-line site of Katowice. Here you can find some information about organized trips. Thanks to them, you will not miss any chance to see all of unfanthomable architectural solutions.
LIFE IN CITY: CULTURAL EVENTS IN PLACES WITH HISTORY
Katowice is one of the most developing city in the country – plenty of people come to this town to study (reputable University of Silesia), work (headquarters of international corporations) or just – live. Therefore, city authorities, non-governmental institutions and private entrepreneurs are organizing them a lot of chances to have fun in city. Here, at evenings, you’ll never walk alone! You can always join some festival, concert or karaoke competition in some clubs. If you enjoy spending time by talking with others, almost every night you are able to meet someone who’s going at some reconnaissance evening. Even during workday you can watch like smiling students are playing on their guitars and street art artists are preparing their workshops for kids. If you’d like to learn some new language, you can do it with Multilanguage-Speaking Meetings. There, students from abroad are teaching you the grammar of other language and – of course! – you’ve got a chance to talk with native speaker in any language you want.
There’s always something for shopping-lovers. In the old building of former coal mine ‘Gottwald’ we can visit one of the largest shopping mall in Poland – Silesia City Center. Here you can see the most popular trades of clothes and equipment.
Also, an worth-watching object is ‘Spodek’. It’s a circular building, where is placed the centre of polish and international cultural events. ‘Spodek’ is organizing science conferences, meetings, discussion’s panels and concerts. There has been also made events like IEM (Intel Extreme Masters), Metallica’s concerts, World Championships in Bodybuilding, Wrestling and Ice Hockey, the International Exhibition of Purebred Dogs and Metalmania’s and Tauron New Music’s Festivals. This is definitely a ‘must-watch’ when you visit Poland.
ALL IN ALL
When you’ll be in Europe, absorbed in watching Berlin, Prague, Paris of Cracow, don’t forget about Katowice. This is an unique city that has used its story to create a new, modern atmosphere, where everyone feels like he can find something for him. There are attracions for scientist and for shoppaholics, for traditional visitors and for those, who love adventure. So, when you’ll find a moment to rest and know something new – welcome in Katowice!