Katowice and Chorzow
[In Your Pocket Katowice – http://www.inyourpocket.com/poland/Katowice/Sightseeing -Last checked on Nov 30/13 ]
The fact that Katowice hasn’t grown into a popular tourist destination can probably be explained by the brevity and slightly dubious nature of our Katowice sightseeing section – an earnest attempt to cover Katowice’s main (ahem) attractions. Nope, no castle, no palace, no hip bohemian district. No pedestrian shopping avenues, bridges or scenic riverside. Uh, no, no ancient ruins. No Old Town per say. Alas, a trip around Katowice may call to mind the old adage ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ (with the coal dirt and other particulates, in this case).”
The tongue in cheek yet factual article In Your Pocket spared no mercy in highlighting that Katowice would win no beauty pageants. In this same article comparing being a tourist in the city as dressing up for the theatre and ending up in a board of education meeting. Even advising that some things (i.e. Katowice) look better in beer goggles!
The city is not known as an attraction. It wasn’t so severely damaged by World War II, instead mostly by communist planners. Today its most interesting buildings are more likely to resemble flying saucers (as its locally well known concert hall) than the beauty of Wroclaw or Krakow. The city centre, around the station is full of fast food outlets, 24 hour casinos and the occasional ‘nightclub’ of the seedier kind.
So why go? For me it was the second time for me to fly to this city. Although last time I only transited in and out on the way to Krakow. Both this time and the previous were to meet my good friend Natalia. For me it was the only reason to visit Katowice, as she had moved there.
However I can say, if necessary, a short stopover or transit in Katowice can be worthwhile. Probably the best time to be there is summer or autumn when some of the parks may look their best. Also Natalia likes the city as a place to live. There are enough activities to do in such case. After all Katowice is the capital of Upper Silesia.
On my first day Natalia and I went to what it is often regarded as Katowice’s best (perhaps only) tourist attraction – Silesian Culture and Recreation Park http://www.en.parkslaski.pl/
One thing though.. it is not actually in Katowice but neighbouring Chorzow!
We had an enjoyable walk through Katowice before taking a tram.
The Park is nice. Btw can you guess what this is a sculpture of?
Answers on the back of a postcard to…
The park itself is pleasant and in good weather a very nice place for a stroll. Even in winter snow. In winter without the snow it was still nice although the weather was not so welcoming. A river, a gondola and sculptures adorned the park. We went to the highlight – Upper Silesian Ethnographic Park. There is a modest entry fee and a ticket which will entitle you to some bread. Don’t lose the ticket and enjoy the bread at one of the two cafes in the park,
Interesting facts about Katowice
1. As the capital of Upper Silesia, it is a good place to experience Silesian culture.
Silesians identify themselves as a nationality, with their own language and customs. Here you can experience it. The Silesians (not officially recognised as an ethic group) are Slavic but influenced by German customs.
2 Katowice once voted overwhelmingly after World War I to remain part of Germany. However the surrounding region it was part of voted overwhelmingly to join Poland.. And so it did.
3. The City was once briefly named Stalinogród. Despite not being the most popular move (the city reverted its name back a few years later) it may have made the architecturally challenged dictator proud. His (communist) influence (concrete buildings of the 50s) is there to see.
In the park some old houses, and old school and other buildings are maintained. It was actually quite interesting although not much to actually to do as (as usual for these kind of cultural parks). Many of the rooms themselves cannot be entered. Mostly good, with some nice scenery.
The toilet facilities was not great though. The tap left gushing brown water!
That aside it was a nice place to visit. The cafes were in old buildings and it might not be apparent it is open when it is
We enjoyed bread with tea. Natalia had bread and honey and I had bread and ..something. I don’t know what but it was nice anyway.
With failing light we made it to the planetarium. As planetariums go, it was not particularly special. But again it can form an enjoyable part of the day which it did for me. I enjoyed the visit. The next day Natalia introduced me to the cinema where an Icelandic film was showing and afterwards a translator of the author’s book was explaining the film (in Polish).
Food in Katowice can be a disappointment especially around the station area.
Where fast food seems to rule and seriously threatens a place like Santiago (as labelled by some) as THE fast food capital. However ul Staromiejska has a few more upmarket choices.
I went to a Slavic restaurant Tatiana opposite there was a Vietnamese restaurant
On my last day Natalia and I enjoyed a nice and inexpensive vegetarian cafe not far from …
Suitably situated next to a Kebab shop.
I had to go back to the airport for my flight back to London. Having enjoyed my two days in Katowice.