To get to Katowice we used a regional train operated by Polregio, this time operated by a slightly newer unit compared to our trip to Oświęcim.
Unlike Kraków Katowice is a place of which not a lot of people have heard before, so why would we go there? Well Ivan’s Polish friend gave it as another suggestion to visit and while it is mostly a boring post-industrial town it does have a very special building in the form of the Spodek arena but the most important attraction in the city is the Silesian Museum.
The museum is housed on the site of a former coal mine and is a prime example of modern Polish architecture. Above ground most old mine buildings have been refurbished and repurposed for other stuff. One of the former mine shaft lift towers has been rebuilt into a viewing deck overviewing the entire site, our hotel next door and Katowice.
The most important part of the museum however is located underground. While the upper levels contain the central facilities and an art collection, the lower level is used to house an exhibition about the history of the area.
Silesia has always been a disputed region and has switched “owners” several times in the past. The entire history is clearly and informatively explained in the museum using life like exhibits, making you feel like you actually are reliving the time periods you wander through. They also manage to show the perspective of everyone involved in the history without too much judging about who is right or wrong.
The real reason you should visit is the Silesian museum as this provides you with more background and history about the region and explains why the region is what it is. Allow for half a day to visit the museum and immerse yourself in it. For the rest the city itself is not really special nor a must-visit place, it is nice when combined in a tour through the region to visit multiple places but not as a city trip on its own.
Have you ever been in Katowice or another “less common” city abroad? And what was your view on it? Let us know in the comments below!