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Katowicy  (Silesian)
Katowice Rynek.jpgSpodek.4.jpg
KATOWICE, AB. 122.JPGMOs810 WG 23 2016 (Zaglebiowskie Zakamarki) (Moderus Rynek Katowice).jpg
Muzeum Slaskie w Katowicach.jpgWK15 Katowice (6) Lichen99.jpg
Coat of arms of Katowice
Katowice is located in Silesian Voivodeship
Location of Katowice in the Silesia Province in mid-southern Poland
Katowice is located in Poland
Katowice (Poland)
Coordinates: 50°15′30″N 19°01′39″E / 50.25833°N 19.02750°E / 50.25833; 19.02750
Country Poland
Voivodeship Silesian
Countycity county
Established16th century – 1598 first official information
City rights1865
 • MayorMarcin Krupa
 • City164.67 km2 (63.58 sq mi)
 • Metro
5,400 km2 (2,100 sq mi)
Highest elevation
352 m (1,155 ft)
Lowest elevation
266 m (873 ft)
 (31 December 2019)
 • City292,774 Decrease (11th)[1]
 • Density1,780/km2 (4,600/sq mi)
 • Urban
 • Metro
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
40-001 to 40–999
Area code(s)+48 32
Vehicle registrationSK

Katowice (UK: /ˌkætəˈvtsə/ KAT-ə-VEET-sə,[3] US: /ˌkɑːt-/ KAHT-,[4] Polish: [katɔˈvitsɛ] (About this soundlisten); German: Kattowitz)[a] is an industrial city situated in the Silesian Voivodeship in southern Poland, and the central city of the Upper Silesian metropolitan area. It is the 11th-most populous city in Poland, while its urban area is the most populous in the country and 21st-most populous in the EU.

As of December 31, 2019 estimate, Katowice has a population of 292,774. Katowice is a member of the Metropolitan Association of Upper Silesia and Dąbrowa Basin, with a population of 2.3 million, and a part of a larger Upper Silesian metropolitan area that extends into the Czech Republic and has a population of 5-5.3 million people.[6][2] Katowice is a center of commerce, business, transportation, and culture in southern Poland, with numerous public companies headquartered in the city or in its suburbs, important cultural institutions such as Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, award-winning music festivals such as Off Festival and Tauron New Music, and transportation infrastructure such as Katowice Korfanty Airport. It also hosts the finals of Intel Extreme Masters, an Esports video game tournament. In 2015, Katowice joined the UNESCO Creative Cities Network and was named a UNESCO City of Music.[7] Katowice is also home to a few major universities, with approximately 80,000 students attending.

Throughout the mid-18th century, Katowice developed into a village following the discovery of rich coal reserves in the area. In 1742 the First Silesian War transferred Upper Silesia, including Katowice, to Prussia. In the first half of the 19th century, intensive industrialization transformed local mills and farms into industrial steelworks, mines, foundries and artisan workshops. Following Germany's defeat in World War I and the Silesian uprisings, Katowice and parts of Upper Silesia were reintegrated with the reborn Polish Republic.[8] The city became the capital of the autonomous Silesian Voivodeship. During World War II, in 1939, after the Wehrmacht seized the town, Katowice and the provinces were annexed and occupied by Nazi Germany. The city was eventually liberated by the Soviet army on 27 January 1945,[9] and restored to Poland.

Since 2020, the city has been classified as a Gamma - global city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network[10] and is considered as an emerging metropolis.[11] The whole metropolitan area is the 16th most economically powerful city by GDP in the European Union with an output amounting to $114.5 billion.[12]


Baildon steelworks, 19th century

The area around Katowice, in Upper Silesia, has been inhabited by ethnic Silesian tribes from its earliest documented history.[13] Initially it was ruled by the Polish Silesian Piast dynasty until its extinction.[14] The settlement of the area surrounding Katowice dates back to the end of the 12th century. From 1138, the Bytom castellany encompassed territories where Katowice is now located. In 1177 the lands were legally handed over by Duke Casimir II the Just to his nephew Mieszko I Tanglefoot; this justified their incorporation into the medieval Silesian provinces. At the turn of the 14th century, new villages called Bogucice, Ligota, Szopenice and Podlesie were established, as well as the village of Dąb, mentioned in 1299 in a document issued by Duke Casimir of Bytom.

From 1327, the region was under administration of the Kingdom of Bohemia under the Holy Roman Empire. In historical documents dating from 1468, there was a reference to the settlement of Podlesie, which, at present, is one of the city districts, whereas the village of Katowice (or "Katowicze" in older records) was first mentioned in the year 1598. Historians assume that Katowice was founded on the right bank of the Rawa river by in around 1580.

In 1598 a village called Villa Nova was also documented to stand in the area now occupied by the city of Katowice. By this time the territory had changed from the Bohemian Crown to the domain of the Austrian Habsburg dynasty.[15]

Kattowitz gained city status in 1865 in the Prussian Province of Silesia.[13] The city flourished due to large mineral (especially coal) deposits in the nearby mountains. Extensive city growth and prosperity depended on the coal mining and steel industries, which took off during the Industrial Revolution. The city was inhabited mainly by Germans, Silesians, Jews and Poles. In 1884, 36 Jewish Zionist delegates met here, forming the Hovevei Zion movement. Previously part of the Beuthen district, in 1873 it became the capital of the new Kattowitz district. On 1 April 1899, the city was separated from the district, becoming an independent city.

Katowice in the 1930s

Under the Treaty of Versailles after World War I, the Upper Silesia plebiscite was organised by the League of Nations. Though Kattowitz proper voted 22,774 to remain in Germany and 3,900 for Poland,[16] it was attached to Poland as the larger district voted 66,119 for Poland and 52,992 for Germany.[17] Following the Silesian uprisings of 1918–21 Katowice became part of the Second Polish Republic with some autonomy for the Silesian Parliament as a constituency and the Silesian Voivodeship Council as the executive body).

During the early stages of World War II and the Poland Campaign, Katowice was essentially abandoned by the Polish Army, which had to position itself around Kraków. Nevertheless, the city was defended by local Poles, and the invading Germans immediately carried out massacres of captured Polish defenders.[18] In the following weeks the German Einsatzkommando 1 was stationed in the city, and its units were responsible for many crimes against Poles committed in the region.[19] Under German occupation many of the city's historical and iconic monuments were destroyed, most notably the Great Katowice Synagogue, which was burned to the ground on 4 September 1939. This was followed by the alteration of street names and the introduction of strict rules. Additionally, the use of Polish in public conversations was banned. The German administration was also infamous for organising public executions of civilians[20] and by the middle of 1941, most of the Polish and Jewish population was expelled. The Germans established and operated a Nazi prison in the city,[21] and multiple forced labour camps within present-day city limits, including two camps solely for Poles (Polenlager),[22][23] four camps solely for Jews,[24][25][26][27] two subcamps (E734, E750) of the Stalag VIII-B/344 prisoner-of-war camp,[28] and a subcamp of the Auschwitz concentration camp.[29] Eventually, Katowice was liberated by the Red Army in January 1945. Significant parts of the downtown and inner suburbs were demolished during the occupation. This, however, cannot be compared with Warsaw, where the level of destruction reached 85%.[30] As a result, the authorities were able to preserve the central district in its prewar character.

The Silesian Parliament in Katowice

The postwar period of Katowice was characterised by the time of heavy industry development in the Upper Silesian region, which helped the city in regaining its status as the most industrialised Polish city and a major administrative centre. As the city developed so briskly, the 1950s marked a significant increase in its population and an influx of migrants from the Eastern Borderlands, the so-called Kresy. The city area began to quickly expand by incorporating the neighbouring communes and counties. However, the thriving industrial city also had a dark period in its short but meaningful history. Most notably, between 7 March 1953 and 10 December 1956, Katowice was called Stalinogród in honour of Joseph Stalin, leader of the Soviet Union.[31] The change was brought upon by an issued decree of the State Council.[32] The date of the alteration of the city name was neither a coincidence or accidental as it happened on the day of Stalin's death. In this way, the Polish Communist Party and the socialist authority wanted to pay tribute to the dictator. The new name never got accepted by the citizens and in 1956 the former Polish name was restored.[33]

The following decades were more memorable in the history of Katowice. Regardless of its industrial significance, it started to become an important cultural and educational centre in Central and Eastern Europe. In 1968 the University of Silesia, the largest and most valued college in the area, was founded. Simultaneously the construction of large housing estates began to evolve. Furthermore, many representative structures were erected at that time, including the Silesian Insurgents' Monument (1967) and Spodek (1971), which have become familiar landmarks and tourist sights. The 1960s and 1970s saw the evolution of modernist architecture and functionalism. Katowice eventually developed into one of the most modernist post-war cities of Poland.

3 Maja Street is one of the main promenades in the city

One of the most dramatic events in the history of the city occurred on 16 December 1981. It was then that 9 protesters died (7 were shot dead; 2 died from injury complications) and another 21 were wounded in the pacification of Wujek Coal Mine. The Special Platoon of the Motorized Reserves of the Citizens' Militia (ZOMO) was responsible for the brutal handling of strikers protesting against Wojciech Jaruzelski's declaration of martial law and the arrest of Solidarity trade union officials. On the 10th anniversary of the event, a memorial was unveiled by the President of Poland Lech Wałęsa.

In 1990 the first democratic local elections that took place marked a new period in the city's history. The economy of Katowice has been transforming from the heavy industry of steel and coal mines into "one of the most attractive investment areas for modern economy branches in Central Europe".[34] Recently, the city's efficient infrastructure, rapid progress in the overall development and an increase in office space has made Katowice a popular venue for conducting business. The Katowice Expo Centre (Katowickie Centrum Wystawiennicze) organises trade fairs or exhibitions and attracts investors from all over the world.[35]

Katowice International Conference Centre, built in 2015


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. Katowice is in the Katowice Highlands, part of the Silesian Highlands, in the eastern part of Upper Silesia, in the central portion of the Upper Silesian Coal Basin. Katowice is an urban community in the Silesian Voivodeship in south-west Poland. It is central district of the Silesian Metropolis—a metropolis with a population of two million. It borders the cities of Chorzów, Siemianowice Śląskie, Sosnowiec, Mysłowice, Lędziny, Tychy, Mikołów, Ruda Śląska and Czeladź. It lies between the Vistula and Oder rivers. Several rivers flow through the city, the major two being the Kłodnica and Rawa. Within 600 km (370 mi) of Katowice are the capital cities of six countries: Berlin, Vienna, Prague, Bratislava, Budapest, and Warsaw.


Katowice has a temperate, ocean-moderated humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification: Dfb/Cfb). The average temperature is 8.2 °Celsius (−2.0 °C or 28.4 °F in January and up to 17.9 °C or 64.2 °F in July). Yearly rainfall averages at 652.8 millimetres or 25.70 inches. Characteristic weak winds blow at about 2 metres per second (4.5 mph; 7.2 km/h; 3.9 kn) from the west, the Moravian Gate.[36]

Climate data for Katowice
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 14.6
Average high °C (°F) 0.9
Daily mean °C (°F) −2.0
Average low °C (°F) −5.3
Record low °C (°F) −31.0
Average precipitation mm (inches) 32.8
Average precipitation days 11.9 11.6 11.9 11.9 11.8 13.4 12.3 10.9 11.1 11.3 13.3 13.9 145.3
Source: climatebase.ru[37]


Katowice jednostki pomocnicze.png
I. Central District
II. Northern District
III. Western District
IV. Eastern District
V. Southern District


Katowice lies in the centre of the largest conurbation in Poland, one of the largest in the European Union, numbering about 2.7 million. The Katowice urban area consists of about 40 adjacent cities and towns, the whole Silesian metropolitan area (mostly within the Upper Silesian Coal Basin) over 50 cities or towns. The metropolitan area has a population of 5,294,000. In 2006, Katowice and 14 adjacent cities united as the Upper Silesian Metropolis. Its population is 2 million and its area is 1,104 km2. In 2006–2007 the union planned to unite these cities in one city under the name "Silesia", but this proved unsuccessful.[38]

The Katowice conurbation comprises settlements which have evolved because of the mining of metal ores, coal and raw rock materials.[39] The establishment of mining and heavy industry which have developed for the past centuries has resulted in the unique character of the cityscape; its typical aspects are the red brick housing estates[40] constructed for the poorer working class, factory chimneys, manufacturing plants, power stations and quarries. The inhabitants of a large mining community like Katowice, and local administrations within the conurbation, which have only evolved due to mining, are a subject to overall decline after the liquidation of coal mines and factories. This is one of the reasons which led to the development of the service sector, including office spaces, shopping centers and tourism.

Górnośląski Związek Metropolitalny.svg
District Population[41] (30 June 2017) Area (km2) Density (km2)
Katowice 297,197 164.67 1,896
Sosnowiec 204,958 91.06 2,444
Gliwice 181,715 133.88 1,474
Zabrze 175,016 80.40 2,352
Bytom 168,968 69.44 2,661
Ruda Śląska 138,754 77.73 1,860
Tychy 128,191 81.64 1,590
Dąbrowa Górnicza 121,387 188.73 682
Chorzów 109,151 33.24 3,420
Jaworzno 92,215 152.67 626
Mysłowice 74,600 65.75 1,139
Siemianowice Śląskie 67,710 25.5 2,809
Piekary Śląskie 55,820 39.98 1,477
Świętochłowice 50,529 13.31 4,097


Historical population

The Polish Statistical Office estimates Katowice's population to be 292,774 as of December 31, 2020, with a population density of 1,778 people/km2 (4,605 people/sq mi). There were 139,274 males and 153,500 females. Age breakdown of people in Katowice is: 12.9% 0–14 years old, 13.7% 15–29 years old, 23.8% 30–44 years old, 19.5% 45–59 years old, 20.1% 60–74 years old, and 9.9% 75 years and older.

Katowice is a center of the Upper Silesian metropolitan area, with a population of approx. 5.3 million. This metropolitan area extends into the neighboring Czechia, where the other center is the city of Ostrava. 41 municipalities that constitute the core of the metropolitan area created the Silesian Metropolis association, which has 2.3 million people as of 2019.

Historical population

Katowice's population grew very fast between 1845 and 1960, fueled by the expansion of heavy industry and administrative functions. In the 60s, 70s and 80s the city grew by another 100,000 people to reach a height of 368,621 in 1988. Since then, the collapse of heavy industry, emigration, and suburbanization reversed the population development; Katowice lost approx. 75,000 people (20%) since the fall of communism in Poland.

Prior to the Second World War, Katowice was mainly inhabited by Poles and Germans. The 1905 Silesian demographic census has shown that Germans made up nearly 75% of the total population. Following Germany's defeat in 1945, the large German majority was forced to flee. Most pre-war citizens (excluding Poles) were forcibly expelled by the new authorities. This resulted in a large group of exiled Silesians living in present-day Germany, creating a new association of Landsmannschaft Schlesien. One of its most notable spokesmen and leaders was the Christian Democratic Union politician Herbert Hupka.[42]

During the war, the Nazi occupant committed severe crimes against the local Roma and Jewish communities. Most of them were eventually killed or transported by cattle wagons to concentration camps such as Auschwitz for complete extermination.[43] This led to a population drop between 1939 and 1945.

Ethnic diversity

Currently, Katowice is one of the more diverse cities in Poland. According to the 2011 census, Of 310,764 inhabitants, 81,500 (26.2%) declared a nationality other than Polish, with top other nationalities being the indigenous Silesians (78,838) and Germans (1,058). Additionally, 5,614 (1.8%) people either did not declare a nationality, or stated they have no nationality. Linguistic diversity is smaller in Katowice; 97.1% of people speak Polish at home, 2.9% speak only non-Polish language while 5.3% speak Polish and at least one other language. The most spoken minority languages include: Silesian (22,730, 7.3%), English (1,313, 0.4%) and German (969, 0.3%).[44]

Since the 2011 census, the international population have risen in Katowice with the post-2014 increase in immigration to Poland, with the primary nationality being Ukrainians. According to the Polish Ministry of Development, Labor and Technology, there have been 20,527 foreigners (7% of official population figure) on a special worker permit for citizens of Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine in Katowice in 2020, 19,003 of them from Ukraine.[45]


Roman Catholicism is the main religion in Katowice; as of the 2011 Polish census, 82.43% (256,166) people in Katowice declared to be Catholic. Other denominations with at least 1,000 worshippers include the Lutheran Church in Poland – 0.43% (1,336 people) and Jehovah's Witnesses – 0.42% (1,311 people). 4.47% (13,900) people in Katowice stated they are atheist, while 12% (37,029) people refused to state their religious affiliation. Other religions with presence and places of worship in the city include Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism, as well as other Protestant denominations.


Katowice is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese, with the suffragan bishoprics of Gliwice and Opole, and around 1,477,900 Catholics. The Cathedral of Christ the King, constructed between 1927 and 1955 in a classicist style, is the largest cathedral in Poland. There are 36 Catholic churches in Katowice (including two basilicas), as well as 18 monasteries. Katowice is also a seat of a diocesan Catholic seminary, as well as one of the Order of Friars Minor. Katowice Archdiocese owns several media companies headquartered in Katowice: Księgarnia św. Jacka, a Catholic publishing company, and Instytut Gość Media, a multi-channeled media company that owns Radio eM, a regional Catholic radio, and a few magazines. Gość Niedzielny, owned by Instytut Gość Media and published in Katowice, is currently the most-popular Catholic magazine in the country with approx. 120,000 copies sold weekly.

Katowice is also the seat of a Lutheran Diocese which covers Upper Silesia, Lesser Poland and Subcarpathian region and has 12,934 adherents as of 2019.[46] Lutherans have two churches in Katowice, including a cathedral, which is the oldest church built originally in Katowice, completed on September 29, 1858. Historically, Lutheran population in Katowice was mostly German, and with the expulsion of Germans from Poland after the Second World War, number of Lutherans dropped in Katowice.

Other denominations with churches or praying houses in Katowice include Seventh Day Adventists, Baptists, Christ Church in Poland, Pentecostals and other evangelical groups.


The Great Synagogue in Katowice was destroyed by the German Nazis during the invasion of Poland on 4 September 1939

Judaism has historically been present in Katowice since at least 1702.[47] First synagogue, designed by a local architect Ignatz Grünfeld, was consecrated on September 4, 1862, while the Jewish cemetery was established in 1868. Dr. Jacob Cohn was the first rabbi of Katowice, appointed to this function on January 6, 1872 and holding it until 1920s. Zionism was strong in Katowice, and in 1884 the city was the place of the Katowice Conference, the first public Zionist meeting in history. On September 12, 1900, the Great Synagogue was opened.

Following World War I and subsequent creation of the Polish state, most Katowice Jews, who identified with Germany, left the city and settled primarily in Bytom, a nearby city that was still part of Germany. They were partially replaces by Jews moving from the East, particularly the neighboring Dąbrowa Basin region that had a large Jewish population. In 1931, 60% of 5,716 Jews in Katowice were recent immigrants from other parts of Poland.[47] On September 1, 1939, Poland was attacked by Nazi Germany, and Katowice, a border city, surrendered on September 3. The Great Synagogue was burned by the German army the same day, and in the following months, Katowice Jews were deported to ghettos in Dąbrowa Basin (primarily Sosnowiec and Będzin) or directly to various concentration and death camps where most of them perished in the Holocaust. After the war, around 1,500 Jews were living in Katowice, but most of them left Poland and emigrated to the United States and other Western countries.

Currently, Katowice has one Qahal with approximately 200 members. It owns houses of prayer in Katowice (along with a kosher cafeteria) and nearby Gliwice, and the current rabbi is Yehoshua Ellis.

Other religions

There are two buddhist groups in Katowice: Kwan Um School of Zen, first registered in 1982, and the Diamond Road of Karma Kagyu line association. Jehovah's Witnesses maintain 13 houses of prayer and one Kingdom Hall in Katowice. Aside from Polish-language congregations, there is one for English speakers and one for Ukrainian speakers.

Education, households, and income

The 2011 census found out that, among population aged 25 and older, 26.7% of Katowice residents had a college degree, 35% had a high school degree but no college degree, 22.3% had trade school diploma, and the rest had primary or junior high school education only. In the 25-34 age group, college graduates share is 44.9%, and an additional 31.8% has a high school degree. According to Eurostat data, Katowice and its surrounding Silesian region had one of the highest share of people who have attained at least an upper secondary level of education (more than 90%), and one of the lowest share of school dropouts in Europe (less than 5%).[48]

There were 134,199 households in Katowice, as of the 2011 census, with an average household size of 2.3 people. 32.7% households were single-person households, 29.4% had two people, 20.5% had three people, 12.5% had four people and 4.9% had five people or more.

Katowice has the 3rd-highest wages in Poland, behind Jastrzębie-Zdrój and Warsaw only and slightly ahead of Gdańsk, at PLN 6,176 a month.[49] Poverty rate places Katowice on average with other big cities in Poland, at 4.09% of inhabitants eligible for welfare benefits as of 2019.

Architecture and urban design

Neo-Gothic St. Mary's Church from the 19th century

Unlike most other large Polish cities, Katowice did not originate as a medieval town, therefore it does not have an old town with a street layout and architectural styles characteristic to cities founded on Magdeburg rights. Katowice's urban layout is a result of expansion and annexation of various towns, industrial worker estates, and villages.[50]

City center

Katowice city center has an axis design, along the main railway line, developed by an industrialist Friedrich Grundman in mid-19th century.[51][52] Most of the city center in Katowice developed in late 19th and early 20th century, when it was part of the Kingdom of Prussia and had a German-speaking majority. As a result, architectural styles of that era are similar to those in other Prussian cities such as Berlin or Wrocław (then Breslau); primarily renaissance revival and baroque revival, with some buildings in gothic revival, romanesque revival, and art nouveau styles.[51]

Interwar architecture

Interwar panorama of Katowice with Drapacz Chmur visible in center

In 1922, Katowice and the eastern portion of Upper Silesia were annexed by Poland, and an autonomous Silesian Voivodeship was established, with Katowice as its capital. This event has marked the beginning of a period of unprecedented architectural development in the city. Since most traditional styles, especially gothic and gothic revival, were perceived as connected to imperial Germany by the new Polish authorities, all new development was to be built in, at first in the neoclassical, and later in functionalist/Bauhaus style.[53] The city, which needed to build administrative buildings for the new authorities and housing for people working in regional administration, began expansion southward creating one of the largest complexes of modern architecture in Poland, comparable to Warsaw and Gdynia (newly built port on the Baltic Sea) only.[54]

The modernist district is centered around the monumental Silesian Parliament building (1923-1929), which architecture is mostly functionalist but still will neoclassical references on the facades. During World War II, the building became headquarters of the Reichsgau Oberschlesien and part of the interior was redesigned by Albert Speer, Hitler's favorite architect, to resemble the interior of the Reich Chancellery.[55] The nearby Cathedral of Christ the King (1927-1955, with dome lowered by 34 meters compared to original design) is also neoclassical but with an ascetic interior (including a tabernacle and a golden mosaic funded by future pope, Joseph Ratzinger).[56] Other buildings, designed in mid-to-late 1920s and 1930s, are mostly modernist or functionalist. A symbol of the city in the interwar period, Drapacz Chmur (literally: The Skyscraper), was the first skyscraper built in Poland after World War I, and the first building in the country to be based on a steel frame.[54]

Post-war architecture

Plac Grunwaldzki in Koszutka under construction, 1950s
Modernist Osiedle Gwiazdy built in late 1970s and the light cubes of the New Silesian Museum

After World War II, Katowice again expected a period of rapid growth, particularly under the regional leadership of Marshall Jerzy Ziętek. Pałac Młodzieży (Youth Palace) became the first major new building completed in Katowice after the war, erected in the socrealist style with elements of late modernism in 1949–1951.[57] The largest development of the 1950s in Katowice was the expansion of the Koszutka neighborhood, also in the socialist realist style, in early 1950s.[58]

Following the death of Stalin in 1956, and the end of socrealism, Jerzy Ziętek and city authorities commissioned a group of young architects and urbanists to create a project of the new urban design of Katowice. The collective, called Miastoprojekt Katowice, came up with a design heavily influenced by Le Corbusier's ideas.[59] The project was centered around a grand avenue (current Aleja Korfantego) surrounded by simple, modern blocks and monuments, scattered in distance to each other according to modernist ideals. The most important buildings from that time include:

  • Spodek Arena (1964–1971), widely considered the symbol of Katowice and ranked among the finest achievements of modern architecture in Poland;[60] one of the first buildings in the world with a tensegrity rooftop. Arena's unique design (resembling an UFO) comes from the need to accommodate different functions inside
  • Katowice Railway Station (1959–1972), considered to be the most outstanding example of brutalism in Poland,[61] controversially demolished in 2010 and partially rebuilt as an addition to the Galeria Katowicka shopping center.
  • Superjednostka (1967–1972), a massive (187.5 meters length, 51 meters high) residential block heavily inspired by Le Corbusier's Unite d'habitation in Marseille
  • Osiedle Gwiazdy (1978–1985), a housing estate of eight 27-floor residential buildings on a plan resembling a star
  • Osiedle Tysiąclecia (1961–1982, later expanded), a large housing estate connecting to the Silesian Park, built with modernist principles (separation of foot and automobile traffic, vast green spaces, self-sufficiency in terms of schools, basic shops and healthcare). Later expansion of the estate includes Kukurydze high-rises, a group of 26-floor high residential towers inspired by Marina City in Chicago
  • Stalexport Towers (1979–1982), twin office towers with 22 and 20 floors, showing influences of postmodernism

Contemporary architecture

Scientific Information Center and Academic Library
KTW towers under construction, late 2020

Following the collapse of communism in Poland and other Eastern Bloc countries, and the centrally-planned economy with it, Katowice's economy suffered a downturn, due to reduced significance of heavy industry. As a result, except for residential (primarily suburban) construction, not many buildings were built. One of the most significant buildings of the 1990s was the new branch of the Silesian Library, in postmodernism style.

The situation changed in the early aughts, when several new notable developments were completed:

  • Chorzowska 50 (1999–2001) – first modern, A-grade office building in Katowice; currently owned and occupied by ING Bank Śląski
  • Altus, previously known as Uni Centrum (2001–2003) – for many years the highest skyscraper in Poland outside of Warsaw, at 125 meters (410 ft) high. Qubus Hotel, which was located in Altus, was one of the first four-star hotels in southern Poland.
  • Silesia City Center (2003–2005), the flagship brownfield development of the era, built in place a defunct coal mine Gottwald. It remains one of the largest shopping centers in Poland, at 86,000 sq m (926,000 sq ft), and also includes a housing estate and a chapel.
  • Dom z Ziemi Śląskiej (2001–2002), a modern suburban villa, nominated to Mies van der Rohe Award in 2002

Another wave of architectural revival came after Poland joined the European Union in 2004. European cohesion funds, along with private capital investment, flew into the city resulting in a number of architecturally interesting buildings and complexes, including:

  • Strefa Kultury (Zone of Culture, a brownfield urban redevelopment in downtown Katowice):
    • National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra (NOSPR) building (2012–2014) contains two concert halls (for an audience of 1,800 or 300). Nominated to Mies van der Rohe Award in 2014, first prize in European Commercial Property Awards.[62][63]
    • Katowice International Conference Center (2012–2015), the largest conference center in Poland (capacity up to 12,000 people), connected to the Spodek Arena. The design of the center, with a distinct canyon going through it in order to remove any obstruction from view of Spodek, has been hailed and the building was nominated to Mies van der Rohe award in 2017[64]
    • New Silesian Museum (2011–2013) located in place of a former coal mine, most of the museum is located underground, with only glass cubes that provide daylight, visible above ground. Shortlisted for Mies van der Rohe award in 2015.[65]
  • CINiBA (2009–2011) – academic library of the University of Silesia and Katowice University of Economics, shortlisted to Mies van der Rohe award in 2013.[66]
  • Krzysztof Kieślowski Film School at the University of Silesia (2014–2017) – awarded with Wienerberger Brick Award in 2020,[67] shortlisted to Mies van der Rohe award in 2019.[68] Located in a decayed neighborhood, the building aims at kick-starting urban renewal there.
  • KTW Towers (2018–2022), the higher tower, which is still under construction, is expected to become the highest building in Katowice, at 135 meters (443 ft).

Tourist attractions

Nikiszowiec, a historic workers' housing estate
Spodek, a multipurpose arena from 1971



Despite its relatively small size, Katowice is one of the major industrial, commerce and financial hubs of Poland.

Katowice enjoys a very strong job market. Despite being the 11th largest city in Poland in terms of population, Katowice has the 7th largest number of workers, with 171,839 full-time positions as of 2019. Katowice is also second only to Warsaw in number of commuters coming from other municipalities to work in the city, at 113,830 commuting to work in Katowice.[70] The unemployment rate in Katowice regularly ranks among the lowest in the country, and as of August 2020 it is the lowest in Poland at 1.5% (3,300 unemployed).[71] As of 2018, Katowice had the 10th highest salaries in Poland, at PLN 5,698.98 [per what] on average.[72]

Katowice transformed its economy from a heavy industry-based to professional services, education and healthcare. As of 2020, it is classified as global Gamma- city according to Globalization and World Cities Research Network, on par with Poznan, Cleveland or Bilbao.[73]

Silesia City Center – a large shopping mall in Katowice. Located over former coal mine "Gottwald"


Since its creation, Katowice's development was tightly connected to heavy industry, especially coal mining, steelworks and machine production. In 1931, 49.5% of inhabitants worked in industry, and 12.5% in coal mining alone. In 1989 industry accounted for 36% of all jobs in the city (112,000 employees). As of 2018, 34,294 people worked in industry in Katowice, 20.4% of total, below the national average.

The first reported coal mine in Katowice (Murcki coal mine) was established in 1740, and in 1769 construction on Emanuelssegen mine started. As the demand for coal kept rising in the Kingdom of Prussia, further mines were opened: Beata (1801), Ferdinand (1823), Kleofas (1845). Later in 19th and early 20th century additional mines were opened: Katowice, Wujek, Eminenz (later renamed Gottwald and merged with Kleofas), Wieczorek, Boże Dary, Staszic and renewed Murcki. Currently two remain in operation: Wujek (scheduled to close in 2021) and Murcki-Staszic. Katowice is also the seat of Polska Grupa Górnicza, the largest coal mining corporation in Europe.

High-rise buildings in Śródmieście, the most urbanized part of the city

Metallurgy was another important part of Katowice's economy. In 1863 a dozen zinc metallurgy facilities were reported in Katowice, with Wilhelmina (founded in 1834) being the largest. In early 1900s, Wilhelmina (later renamed Huta Metali Niezależnych Szopienice) was enlarged and became the largest Silesian producer of non-ferrous metals and world's largest producer of cadmium. Two major steelworks existed in the city: Huta Baildon, established in 1823 by the Scottish engineer and industrialist John Baildon (declared bankruptcy in 2001), and Huta Ferrum, established in 1874 and operating to this date in limited capacity.

Business and commerce

Following the collapse of heavy industry in late 20th century, Katowice had to transform its economy towards more modern sectors. As a result, Katowice is a large business, conference and trade fair center.

Katowice is headquarters to 18 public companies traded on the Warsaw Stock Exchange, with total market value of PLN 24.2 billion as of 2016, with the largest being ING Bank Śląski.[74] As of 2019, 38 companies from Katowice make the list of 2000 largest enterprises in Poland according to Rzeczpospolita, with largest one being Tauron Polska Energia S.A. (10th place).[75] As of 2012, 44,050 companies were registered in Katowice, almost 10% of all companies in the Silesian Voivodeship.

Retail is a very strong sector in Katowice. The city is home to several shopping centers and department stores, with Silesia City Center and Galeria Katowicka being the largest ones. Silesia City Center, located on a brownfield in place of a former coal mine, is the largest shopping center in Poland when number of stores is considered (310 different brands)[76] and 7th largest in terms of retail space for rent (86,000 sq. m).[77] It is also a part of a broader revitalization complex, that features an apartment complex and office space (under construction as of October 2020) as well.

Katowice is also the seat of Katowice Special Economic Zone (Katowicka Specjalna Strefa Ekonomiczna).


Katowice is the cultural centre of the entire Silesian agglomeration inhabited by over two million people and one of the leading cultural spots in Poland.[78] Most importantly, it is a host city to some of the biggest theatrical and stage events. This also includes hosting gatherings and exhibitions as well as film and musical events. Annual musical festivals such as the Rawa Blues, the Tauron New Music Festival, the Silesian Jazz Festival, the Mayday Festival and other concerts, which attract yearly hundreds of thousands of tourists from the entire country. Katowice also temporarily hosts the OFF Festival, the most important alternative event in Poland.[78]

Katowice is the seat of an internationally renowned Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music, as well as the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra. The Silesian Philharmonic also has its seat in Katowice. The opening of a new architectural complex of the National Polish Radio Orchestra took place in 2014.

A showcase for Katowice is the "Camerata Silesia" – an ensemble aimed at promoting the city in Poland and overseas. Classical music also plays a significant role in Katowice and the city annually becomes a venue for numerous classical concerts and festivals. The list includes an International Festival of Young Music Competition Laureates, Grzegorz Fitelberg International Competition for Conductors, Chamber Music Festival, Ars Cameralis Festival and Katowice's opera, operettas and most of all ballet. In 2010, as part of the Chopin Year Celebrations, Katowice held the International Chopin Knowledge Challenge, which took place at the Spodek hall.

The BWA Contemporary Art Gallery in Katowice, established in 1949, is a notable institution concerning the Contemporary arts.[79] Every three years, it is responsible for the organisation of the Polish Graphic Art Triennial. Several other galleries feature exhibitions of the works by artists from abroad along with film screenings, workshops for children and public fairs. The Silesian Museum in Katowice, opened in 1929, exhibits works by famous and renowned Polish artists like Józef Chełmoński, Artur Grottger, Tadeusz Makowski, Jacek Malczewski, Jan Matejko, Józef Mehoffer and Stanisław Wyspiański.[78]

List of notable attractions:

New complex of the Silesian Museum with an original mine headframe
Exhibition hall of the museum
A historical townhouse on the corner of Stawowa and Mickiewicz Streets


TV stations:
radio stations:

Festivals and events

Parks and squares

  • Palms on Katowice market square during summer holidays
    Katowice market square (Rynek w Katowicach)
  • Freedom Square (Plac Wolności)
  • Andrzej Square (Plac Andrzeja)
  • Miarka Square (Plac Miarki)
  • Council of Europe Square (Plac Rady Europy)
  • Alfred Square (Plac Alfreda)
  • A. Budniok Square (Plac A. Brudnioka)
  • J. Londzin Square (Plac J. Londzina)
  • A. Hlond Square (Plac A. Hlonda)

Nature reserves and ecological areas

Las Murckowski
  • Nature reserve Las Murckowski
  • Nature reserve Ochojec
  • Szopienice-Borki
  • Źródła Kłodnicy
  • Staw Grunfeld
  • Stawy Na Tysiącleciu
  • Płone Bagno


Silesian Library in Katowice

Katowice is a large scientific center. It has over 20 schools of higher education, at which over 100,000 people study.

University of Silesia in Katowice – Faculty of Theology

There are also:


Public transport

Pesa Twist tram in Katowice
City by bike bicycles in Józefowiec district

The public transportation system of the Katowice and Upper Silesian Metropolis consists of four branches—buses, trams and Trolleybuses united in Zarząd Transportu Metropolitalnego (lit. Metropolitan Transport Authority)[83] as well as the regional rail (primarily Koleje Śląskie and Przewozy Regionalne). Additional services are operated by private companies and state-owned railways.


Silesian Interurbans – one of the largest tram systems in the world, in existence since 1894. It spreads for more than 50 kilometres (31 miles) (east-west) and covers 14 districts of the Upper Silesian Metropolis.



Several important roads in neighbourhoods of Katowice (USMU):


The city and the area are served by the Katowice International Airport, about 30 km (19 mi) from the city center. With 3 terminals and over 4,8 million passengers served in 2018, it is by far the biggest airport in Silesia.[84]

Because of the long distance to the airport, there is a proposal to convert the much closer sport aviation Katowice-Muchowiec Airport into a city airport for smaller, business-oriented traffic.


Upper Silesian Railway reached the area in 1846. Katowice Central Station is one of the main railway nodes and exchange points in Poland. It has replaced the old Katowice historic train station. The city has direct connections among others with Warsaw, Cracow, Szczecin and Gdynia.


Katowice has a long sporting tradition and hosted the final of EuroBasket 2009 and 1975 European Athletics Indoor Championships, 1975 European Amateur Boxing Championships, 1976 World Ice Hockey Championships, 1957, 1985 European Weightlifting Championships, 1974, 1982 World Wrestling Championships, 1991 World Amateur Bodybuilding Championships, 2011 Women's European Union Amateur Boxing Championships, 2014 FIVB Men's World Championship and others.

The Stadion Śląski is between Chorzów and Katowice. It was a national stadium of Poland, with more than 50 international matches of the Poland national football team played here and around 30 matches in UEFA competitions. There were also a Speedway World Championship, Speedway Grand Prix of Europe and many concerts featuring international stars.

Tourists can relax playing tennis or squash, doing water sports also sailing (for example—in Dolina Trzech Stawów), horse-riding (in Wesoła Fala and Silesian culture and refreshment park), cycling or going to one of numerous excellently equipped fitness clubs. Near the city center are sporting facilities like swimming pools (for example "Bugla", "Rolna") and in neighbourhood—Golf courses (in Siemianowice Śląskie).

Sports clubs

Defunct sports clubs:

  • Diana Kattowitz – football club
  • Germania Kattowitz – football club
  • KS Baildon Katowice – various sports, many medals in the Polish Championship in various sports
  • Pogoń Katowice – various sports, many medals in the Polish Championship in various sports

Sports events

Spanish fans at the EuroBasket 2009 in Katowice

Notable people

Twin towns – sister cities

Katowice is twinned with:[88]

See also


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External links

Coordinates: 50°16′N 19°01′E / 50.267°N 19.017°E / 50.267; 19.017