Katowice is a city in Upper Silesia in southern Poland, on the Kłodnica and Rawa rivers (tributaries of the Oder and the Vistula respectively). It is in the Silesian Highlands, about 50 km (31 mi) north of the Silesian Beskids (part of the Carpathian Mountains) and about 100 km (62 mi) southeast of the Sudetes Mountains. It is the central district of the Silesian Metropolis, a territorial entity operating on the principle of metropolitan municipality, with a population of 2 million.Katowice is the center of science, culture, industry, business, trade fair/exhibitions and transportation in the Upper Silesia region and southern Poland. It is the main city in the Upper Silesian Industrial Region. Katowice lies within an urban zone, with a population of 2,746,460 according to Eurostat, and also part of the wider Silesian metropolitan area, with a population of 5,294,000 according to the European Spatial Planning Observation Network. Today, Katowice is a rapidly growing city and emerging metropolis. It is the 16th economically powerful city by GDP in the European Union with an output amounting to $114.5 billion.Katowice has been the capital of the Silesian Voivodeship since its formation in 1999. Previously it was the capital of the Katowice Voivodeship, the Silesian Voivodeship, and the Province of Upper Silesia in Germany.
At first glance Katowice seems to be rather less than attractive, unless you want to learn more about post-communist transformations. However, deeper exploration of its industrial areas and unusual monuments reveals that Katowice is actually very interesting. It is the heart of the biggest agglomeration in central Eastern Europe, resembling the Ruhr in terms of the development of industry and urbanisation. Presently it is undergoing transformation into an energetic business and trade centre, with a great economic potential.
Katowice is situated on the Silesian Upland, in the south-western part of the country. The area that the city covers is diverse – with a difference of 100 m between the highest and lowest points. Several rivers flow through Katowice – the biggest of which are the Rawa and the Klodnica.
For centuries the whole of Silesia was known as being rich in minerals and metals, including coal, iron, lead, silver and so on. Due to industrial character of this place, the environment is seriously damaged in places, and yet there are also numerous forests and parks. The largest and perhaps the most attractive of these is the Voivodship Park of Culture and Recreation.
Katowice is the capital of a historical region known as Upper Silesia and the main city of the current Silesian Province. Katowice itself has around 308,000 inhabitants, one part of a 3-million agglomeration of several towns and cities. The region is the most densely populated and urbanised area in Poland.
The city had its heyday in the 1950s when its numerous coalmines and steelworks flourished. Nowadays, the heavy industry has significantly decreased and Katowice is moving towards small businesses and trade. There are still several dozen collieries, ironworks, steel plants, and the city remains the centre of GOP (Upper Silesian Industrial Region). Each year Katowice plays host to trade fairs, including the second biggest event of such type in Poland. Travel to Katowice is convenient with the nearby Katowice-Pyrzowice international airport and an important railway hub.
Apart from being the principle science and educational centre of the region, this lively city with its tall buildings comparable to Warsaw in number, offers a wide range of entertainment that can compensate for the rarity of sights. Most buildings reflect the architecture of the communist period, though there are several remnants of its 19th century impressiveness and numerous examples of modern architecture from 1920s and 1930s. Many buildings’ design was influenced by Bauhaus and De Stijl, as well as Le Corbusier’s ideas. There are also two unique districts of Katowice, which are really worth a visit: a historical worker’s area Nikiszowiec and Giszowiec, designed as garden-town. One characteristic landmark of the city is Spodek (literally “saucer”, since it resembles a UFO flying saucer), a great hall used for many purposes, including the biggest rock concerts in Poland.