Silesia explorer

Blog about tourist places, travelling in Upper Silesia, Poland

Barborka 2012 – miner’s holiday in Nikiszowiec


I am sleeping so sweet, so calm. And what a … is going here? I am woken up at 08:00 am by music of orchestra. Some orchestra is playing close to my window. Barbórka!!

Barbórka or St.Barbara Day – it is the holiday of miners on 4 of December. Because St.Barbara is the patron of miners.

I get dressed, take camera and run outside. Make several circles around Nikiszowiec and I finally find object which woke me up near the administrative office of mine (pol. kopalnia “Wieczorek”).

Barburka 2012. Nikiszowiec

Barbórka. St.Barbara Day 2012 in Nikiszowiec, Katowice

Playing for 4 minutes, orchestra moves to another places in Nikiszowiec. Such a round-Nikiszowiec-orchestra- wake up-tour.

I follow them, but orchestra walks quicker than me. Musicians escaped.

Barburka. St.Barbara Day. Nikiszowiec. Katowice

But after 10 min musicians appeared at main square. And journalists appeared.

Nikiszowiec. Winter. 4 December. Barburka

Holiday winter December Nikiszowiec miners holiday St.Barbara

Orchestra in Nikiszowiec. Barbórka holiday 2012

And look at this Polish winter!

Let it snow, let it snow… Winter fairy tale.

Nikiszowiec winter snow Katowice December

Winter in Nikiszowiec. Heavy snow. Barburka

Nikiszowiec. St.Anna church in snow

Nikiszowiec. Barburka 2012. Beautiful winter

Woke up half an hour before alarm clock I have some time before ready for work. I go to local bakery to buy something sweet for breakfast.

Nikiszowiec cafe backery

Nikiszowiec backery. Cukiernia, Piekarnia

Nikiszowiec cafe window

Such a one morning story.

Nikiszowiec

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BYTOM – SMALL CITY BUT WITH A BIG CHARM


Mistery City.

If you ask to Polish people some suggestions about Bytom, their faces change for a moment. It was perfect that I didn´t care about their comments; “It´s ugly city, don´t go”, ” It´s old, you will not like it”, “There is nothing to see there”……

But it´s not true. Each person has his/her likes, and me and my friend from Spain love BYTOM.

It´s not the most beautiful city that I have visited in Poland, but for sure one of the ” Seven Wonders of Architecture in the Silesian Province”.

I live in Katowice for 9 months and I haven´t been in  Bytom, maybe because it´s close to Katowice or maybe because I didn´t hear to much about this city, but after some opinions and searching some pictures I went there.

One of my best friends from Spain came to Poland for visit me for a few days and I chose Bytom for enjoy with her.

To go there from Katowice it´s really easy, you can take number 820 and 830 and in 20 minutes you are there. Timetables here.

The first objective for us was to find the Tourist Information Center. We  asked to the inhabitants of Bytom if they knew about this building but they didn´t have idea where it is situated. We were walking till the Main Market square and after long time taking  pictures with the Lion statue, checking some maps with all informations about the city, finally, we found the building.  It´s complicated to realized because on the wall you can´t see any signs. The best way it is to ask in the local business.

Probably they will know it.

Inside of the building, they have several duties, and one of these duties it´s inform to foreigners people the most interesting places for visit in Bytom.

Pawel, the person who was talking with us it was really friendly and able to deal with foreigners. He gave us brochures, maps, he wrote in the maps the places where we should go and even he gave us postcard of Bytom for free . He proposed us some restaurants, museums, etc. We felt to much satisfied with him and excited to be in Bytom.

In this moment, our visit in Bytom it started.
One day it´s enough for see all city but if you stop in each places like us you will spend 2 days.

Our route began in the south part of the city.

  • Galeria Kronika ( Rynek 26)

The Kronika Gallery was established in 1991.  Is a centre for contemporary art located in the heart of the industrial city of Bytom, Upper Silesia.

Consists in two floors;

The first one is conected with Jews life in Upper Silesia and the second floor you can see some pictures which representing unemployed peoples working in the town.

Kronika does also  rental bikes and only one artistic bookstore in Upper Silesia.

It´s open:  Tuesday – Thursday  11.00 – 18.00 , Friday: 14.00 – 20.00 , Saturday:  11.00 – 15.00

Entrance for free.

More information about Kronika. 

  • Art Nouveau building of Upper Secondary School ( Sikorskiego Street 1)

Here we had unbelievable experience. We didn´t know that it was a Secondary School and just we wanted to visit the interior of this building. We meet with a English teacher and he invited us to participated in his lesson and talk with the students about something interesting for us. We were discussing about the History of Poland and about the relationship between Polish peoples and German /Ukraine and Russian.

In this school exists the clock more old of Bytom, and we had a pleasure to go up and visit it. From this panorama you can observe all city. It was amazing view. It was snowing, so perhaps could influence in our feeling.

  • Opera House ( Moniuszki Street)

The eclectic Silesian Opera House formetly City Theatre and Concer Hall from 1903.

We tried to watch some performance  but there weren´t any available.

In front of the building, from the Moniuszko street side we can see a statue of S.Moniuszko. Created by T.Sadowski.

  • School of Music ( Moniuszkin Street).

If your passion is a music or you want to listen a nice melody come to the neo-Gothic building near to Busy Sikorski Square.

Go inside and you will see:

Impressive staircase, old furnitures, young composers strolling the corridors with their instruments and pictures which you can see that this conservatory was working since 1984.

After that we spent all morning in this side of the city, it was time to walk and visit the North part of the city.

  • Holy Trinity Church ( Kwietniewskiego Street 1)

Try to find Kosciusko Square and Jainty Street and finally you will reach the parish. It was built in the years 1883-1886 to replace a former cementary chapel under the same name. We went inside but we couldn´t visit the basilican and the Main Altar. What mostly impress to me was the multi colored wall paintings, stone carvings, a windows decoration or spire´s capstone catching the eye too.

  • Holy Virgin Mary Church (Koziolka Street 3)

If you walk around Rynek, your eyes will catch the oldest building in the city. Actually is older than the town itself, because its origins date back to the first half of the 13th century. After the fire in 1515 temple was renovated and if you see carefully you can distinguish two parts. One of this part it´s old, damage because of fire and the other part it´s new and renovated. Good contrast. We couldn´t been inside because it was closed.

  • Chapel with the statue of the Holy Virgin Mary and Church of the Holy Spirit. ( Grunwald Square)

In this district of Bytom you can see the statue of the Holy Virgin Mary. The building behind of this statue belonged to once famous vodka producer-Vizent Pissarek and at bottom the Church of the Holy Spirit.

The history of the church of the Holy Spirit, which was then located outside the city walls is related to the centuries-long presence of the Order of the Guardians of the Holy Sepulchre in Bytom. Brought to Bytom from the neighboring Chorzów they opened a hospital for the ill, poor, and erected a chapel of the Holy Spirit next to it. The church is the only one in Bytom with completely Baroque decor

  • St. Jack´s Church ( Matejki Street 1)

For the end of our trip we visited as unique as impressive in size, Neo-Romanesque building. Was built in the years 1908-1911. The Church, built of stone slabs is impressive with two 57 meter hight towers. Walls and windows carvings catched our attention especially. Around this building there were some constructions. It was the most beautiful church for me and it was a pitty that we couldn´t go inside..

Do you remember the first picture with a Lion?

Do you know the meaning of this Lion in Bytom? I will explain you.

The sculputure of the Lion that you can find in the Main Square of Bytom representing the victims whose died in Prussian-French war in 1870-1871. Bytom belonged to the territory of Germany during the war. This Lion was created in 1873. After II world war, monument was destroyed and it appeared in Warsaw.

In 2006 the statue was found  in Warsaw zoo and  in 2008 Lion has returned to Bytom. Now it stands in the center of Main Market Square.

Look and find several of them !!

If you are interested in History, if you love to visit ruins, damaged buildings or old cities…go to Bytom.

Don´t hear what the peoples think about the city and just explore by yourself.

You will fall in love.
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In love with Nikiszowiec…


We love Nikiszowiec. We adore Nikiszowiec.

If you ask me the only place to visit in Katowice – My answer: Nikiszowiec.

If you ask me the only place to visit in Silesia – My answer: Nikiszowiec.

It is our 22 article on blog, but all the time we wanted to write about Nikiszowiec. Now I did it.

Nikiszowiec, Plac Wyzwolenia, Katowice

Nikiszowiec is district in Katowice. We, Tetiana and Maria, actually live here. Our flat is on the ground floor. Director of our organization bought flat here quite cheap as reasonable investment for future. Still Nikiszowiec has image of criminal and dangerous for life place. Miners were never intellectual people, sorry.

Now situation changes. Each weekend tourists are walking here and making photos in front of our window. Art people are buying accomodation here. More and more cultural events are organizing here. For example, Holiday of Sausage (pol. Krupniok) (pol. Święto Krupnioka):

Nikiszowiec, as historical settlement, erected in the beginning of 20 century. It was housing for miners and their families. Mine is located 5 min on foot.

Heighborhood has 2-floor houses built from characteristic red bricks. Each of 9 estates has square or triangle form, surrounding large inside courtyards.

Streets are narrow, strict, dark, without trees. Buildings connect by gateways, so here is a feeling that you are in encircled cozy fortress. To enter internal yard is possible through archs in houses. In courtyard you can see another picture: trees, grass, children playgrounds, benches.

I heart that the idea of design is like this. Yards are enclosed from all sides by building, because women were sitting in balconies and keeping an eye on their children playing in yard. Wives of miners didn’t work, because husbands earned enough money.

Design of all buildings has one style, but each building is little different.

Some people say that Nikiszowiec looks like getto or like Auschwitz, because of street lights and low red houses.

This area had worked as everyday self-autonomy. It has school, shops, post office, pharmacy, restaurant, laundry, church and even sport complex. Around here is forest, complex of small private gardens, mine, railway. Quite isolated.

Nowadays Nikiszowiec has good transport communication. To come to Nikiszowiec from Katowice center you should take bus N 30, 12. Check map.

Please, look at one effect of Nikiszowiec – sitting and staring at window dogs. Not only mothers)) In Ukraine I saw only cats in this positions:

All flats have white windows with red frame painting. I saw only one wooden brown window.

In 2011 Nikiszowiec was awarded the prestigious status of Monument of History of Poland – one of 48 objects in Poland. Now Nikiszowiec is third object in Silesia in in this list together with Silver mine in Tarnowskie Gory and the Bright Mountain monastery in Czestochowa. Monuments of History are city centers of Krakow, Wroclaw, Warsaw, Gdansk.

Not everything is perfect in Nikiszowiec. Absence of car parking forces people to park on pedestrian road. As I mentioned, streets are narrow here. Or cars are in courtyards under windows.

In our yard there is no asphalted road. And like in the beginning of 20 century we have mud when it’s raining.

I want to insert also several pictures of citizens of Nikiszowiec. These people create beauty of their home day by day. Local heroes

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“Katowice – city of gardens” – official slogan of the city. Garden could be also artificial


Flowers are blooming in Katowice.

Come to Rondo near Spodek and see around sometimes colorful foutain the gigantic air flowers. Or are they Palms? Or Echinacea?

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4 must-see in Katowice


Katowice is the capital of Silesia region. And we live here.

There is your plan what you must see here in order to come back home and be sure that you were in Katowice. So let’s start:

1. Working mine

Not from underground, but at least from outside (though miners earn a lot of money, are you searching for job?).

If you see huge triangular tower with wheel on the top – it is a mine. This is what construction you should look for (not working mine).

If the wheel is going round – it is a working mine.

Find a miner (attribute: dirty hands and face, overalls, helmet, long boots), made a picture with him and then show to your friends.

Though if you are not attracted of high salary of miners, but still you are interested, go to Tarnowskie Gory and visit real mine, which stopped work more than 50 years ago. Read our article.

2. UFO

In 20 century UFO was flying above Earth. And in 1971 it arrived to Poland, in Katowice. Petrol finished and UFO is still here. Locals start to call it Spodek, what means Saucer.

It is a not-football stadium – an example of communist period flight of imagination.

If you make photo here – this mean you were in Katowice.

Football championship EURO 2012 madness.

Spodek is easy to find.

3. Colorful fountain

Near UFO you will see not less freak monument. I saw in different time this fountain with yellow, with red (actually it is a blood, and Dracula is from here) and with normal transparent water.

Fountain is situated at square near Spodek.

4. Nikiszowiec

For sure we will write big and full article about Nikiszowiec. It is a place with combined magic fairlytale and getto athmosphere. It is heighborhood built for miners in beginning of 20 century.

Maria and I – we live in Nikiszowiec. Here is a view from our flat.

To come to Nikiszowiec you should take bus N 30 or N 12 from city center and go 20 min.

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Częstochowa. Trip to north of Silesia


Czestochowa (Pol. Częstochowa) is sittuated here.

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If you are Polish you know what is Czestochowa. If you are Polish you are likely Catholic. If you are Catholic you know where is the sanctuary in your country situated – in Czestochowa.

RELIGION IN CZESTOCHOWA

Jasna Góra

Czestochowa is the center for pilgrims from Poland and outside of Poland (Germany, Spain).  Jasna Góra (The Bright Mountain) – is a hill in the very center of the city, where the churches, Pauline monastery buildings and all religion infrastructure are situated. Main temple has old (13 century) icon of Our Lady, also known as Black Madonna, where kings of Republic of Poland were praying, and only after this ceremony started war or any other state’s important events.  A lot of people come to this icon to worship. People believe that the icon has healing power.  As a proof the walls of church from floor to ceiling are full of hanging gifts of people to whom icon helped: golden chains, crosses, jewelry, medallions, and even crutches.   
In church the cultural shock happened to me when I noticed visitors going round the altar during mass. I also did it – on knees – people before me bended on knees, and not knowing traditions I repeated. Around 25 m on knees – it’s really hard. After I found people going freely on foot around alter. So it depends on your wish. In Ukraine in orthodox churches it is not allowed to be behind alter unless you are a priest.

         

Jasna Góra has tall bell-tower. You can visit it going upstairs. From balcony you will find good view to the city and neighborhood.

     

In the territory you can find 3 museums: small, mostly with exhibitions of treasury, arms.

Pleasant surprise: museums, entrance to bell-tower, toilets are free of charge. On me question in Tourist Information Center “Is it for free?” was the answer “No, we expect for donation.”

In general because of constant excursions (guides with microphone), crowds of people, Jasna Góra didn’t create for me impression as spiritual place. I’m sorry.

Churches 

Apart from Jasna Góra Czestochowa has a lot of churches. I was inside at least at 3, saw at least 5. If you are first time in Poland or first time you see Catholic church – it is worth to visit. But if not – no. Outside it is a beauty, as usual: large size, gothic architecture. But inside they look surprisingly poor: white walls, no special stained-glass windows, nothing remarkable.

NON-RELIGION IN CZESTOCHOWA

I determine my function as to show what is interesting in Częstochowa apart from religion.

Tourist infrastructure

           

Whole city center is marked with signs with names of street and sights. All signs made in one style; this grants a style to the city. Big stands with map of city center are easily to find on streets. Also system of navigation of public transport. Till now I didn’t met in Poland such high level of tourist infrastructure.  

Boxes with free Internet and Skype.

Can you imagine?! Boxes with free Internet and Skype on the street. Also with map of the city, history, weather forecast, photos. Look like boxes with telephone. Before I found free internet in Tourist information centers in different places, for sure I traveled little in my life, but nowhere I had found free internet on street – not only for tourists, but for locals also. It’s first stage of future’s fundamental human right – access to internet.

Lady in City Information center told that city has around 50 boxes.

People

Going to some place, meeting with local people is usually a part of trip which tourist skip. Not guides, waitresses, shop-assistants, but simple people on streets.

I cognized that Częstochowa city is territorially and mentally divided into 2 parts by railway. People in first (touristic) part don’t care about you – you are tourist, as thousands of others, with cameras, guides and so on. It’s modern, ordered part.

In second part architecture is the same, but people are different. Three times men (30-55 years) were talking to me without any visible interest from my side and even tried to touch. I was walking and people looked straightly at me. I didn’t understand why: I have European face, I wear average clothes. In shop in mirror I found the answer – I have photo camera on my belly.

I called this “Syndrome of touristic city”. Statement of locals:

“We, local people, know that our city has attraction for tourists. We aware that city earns money on this. You, tourists, have your touristic part of city where you can behave yourself whatever you want. But this is our part of city, and we are the masters here. We want to feel themselves like at home here, but not like in this touristic farce. So don’t go to my courtyard with your camera”.

I feel this very well. I come from touristic city.

Museum of Częstochowa. Gallery of Art and Sculpture of the 19th and 20th century

I met very well English speaking, intelligent seller of tickets in elegant suit. Look of this worker doesn’t correlate with emptiness of museum. In fact it was my first museum in Silesia and I was surprised that in Poland men are working in museums. In Ukraine – only women (work of museum worker is paid badly).

Seller asked if I am a student, I shown him my European Youth Card, and he sold me ticket at student price – 4 PLN. He added that with this ticket today I can visit 2 more departments of Museum of Częstochowa.

I was the only visitor in museum. I heard creaking of parquet of each my step. The lady followed me everywhere, opened and closed doors, turn on and off light. I had mixed emotion of shame and feeling that I’m queen.

Lady gave me brochure in English about history of museum which I had to give back in the end of tour. On my question: “What this building was before?” lady frightened and answered “I don’t know”, after several seconds of puzzlement she shown me page in brochure, where I could read it. English scares people.

     

   

Summarizing, this museum is one of more, more the same museums in all cities. I’m not judge of art, I found nothing interesting in exhibition.

Polish language web-site of museum can offer you a lot of information, in particular about other departments, situatted in different places of city.

The way to museum.

Museum of matches

  

Museum of matches is a disaster!

    

If you need my advice about the only place in Częstochowa is worth to visit– please, visit this Museum of matches. You need to visit it to feel these unforgettable emotions:

  • To call to the door and wait 1 min to open it.
  • To meet old strange man with smell of cigarettes who looks at you with not hidden wonderment “Ah, museum!” as if here last visitor was person who hammered sign with Information about fellowship of museum in Industrial Route in Silesia.
  • To go through passage with smell of old production building and interior of Soviet room: posters, curtains, walls with fallen pieces of paint, clothes on hooks. Interior is not a museum exhibit – it’s real life. Welcome to USSR.
  • To see machines of production of matches. The plant stopped work only 2 years ago but here is impression that this place doesn’t operates at least 20 years. Also here is impression that one day some director told: “Now factory stops working”, and workers left the same minute, and nobody even cleaned all mess.
  • To follow a man being in rush, conducting miserable excursion in Polish. To think that he was so surprised of your appearance that forgot to take money from you for entrance ticket.
  • To be invited to the office room (with tables, computers, printers, cupboards, papers) with sign something like “Financial department” to sit on chair and watch on computer 2 short movies: white-and-black about fire at factory and one about production process.
  • To find great collection of matches boxes from all over the world.
  • Finally to pay 10 PLN for ticket.

Remember: It’s not a museum – it’s an industrial museum.
  

Museum of matches is the part of Industrial Monuments Route – network of industrial tourist sights- as for me, the biggest attraction of Silesia region – something really unique in Poland.

Not useful web-site of museum of matches. Useful page on web-site of Industrial Monuments Route.

How to get to museum.

The Avenue of Our Lady

The main street, which leads you from busy city center to Jasna Góra. For me this avenue is a notable urban solution: here road for pedestrians is wider than roads for cars. You can take pleasant walk under linden or sit at one of plenty benches.

   

Park Staszica

My favorite  place in Chestochowa. It’s situated in city center close to main street The Avenue of Our Lady and Jasna Góra. It’s a peaceful place for relaxation near ponds with fountains at the grass under sculptures, which are hanging in air. Sculptures hang in air. Once I saw one sculpture in Sopot, Poland hung in air. It was wow. Here I saw more than 10 sculptures.

Look of city

Gardener of city definitely knows how to work with scissors. I saw slim slender tall oaks. I saw waved curly acacia. To create an unexpected shape of expected trees is a talent.

 

I like graffiti in Poland. Katowice has huge graffiti in the height of houses or in the length of the passage under bridge. Częstochowa has smaller and more sophisticated graffiti. In unexpected places. I found complex of graffiti in passage over railway.

 

 

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Silesia region


Silesia region on the map.

The Silesia Region belongs to the group of the most industrialised regions in Poland, bordering from the south with the Slovak Republic and Czech Republic, from the west with the Opolskie Voivodeship, from the north with the Łódzkie Voivodeship and from the east with the Małopolskie and Świętokrzyski. Within the area of 12,300 sq. km

This land  is unique. During long time it was German territory. Important event happened in 19-20 centuries – Industrialization. Having recources of coal and perspectives of production development, Silesia started to be rich land. Talking about industrial production, Katowice is one of the most rapidly developing Polish metropolises. The former capital of the Polish heavy industry has been transformed into a modern municipal organism throughout the last decade. No wonder Katowice is reputed to be one of the most attractive investment areas in Eastern Europe. The Population of Katowice is ~328. 404

St. Mary church; Mariacka Street, Katowice

 

 


                             Spodek; Katowice

   

  

  


  


      

Nikiszowiec; Katowice

 

 

 

In nowadays post industrial world Silesia starts to switch to development of small business and tourism – a lot of mines and factory were closed and people lost their jobs. Still Silesia is rich and powerful, but I think not so much as in the past. The minds of people change not so quickly, and still people want to have autonomy, don’t share money with Warsaw and poorer Polish regions.

Maybe, Silesia is not the most homogeneous part of Poland. The biggest ethnical group in Poland apart from Polish are Silesians – 2,1 % of population, and they live here. People from Silesia Region are proud of themselves: Silesians have their own language, their own cuisine, culture and so on; and they think about themselves as Silesians, not Polish. My opinion is that it is some kind of German-Polish mix.

In modern borders Silesia can be divided into three parts:

  • Central – Katowice and cities, towns, villages around – chain of historically connected places called Upper Silesia Industrial region
  • North – part of nothing. Ok, here also you can find Czenstochowa (pol. Częstochowa) – city with holy monastery and Jura – Krakow-Częstochowa upland – hills with beautiful cliffs and rocks.
  • South – Beskids mountain part of nice small towns and villages, ski and summer hiking resorts.

In Silesia Region there is also a Silesia Metropolis with 5.294.000 inhabitants : Association of 14 cities of Silesia Region. There are no borders between these cities and the areas of all these cities are difficult to recognize – all of them are so close to each other. I suppose that Silesia is similar with industrial regions in another countries – Ruhr region in Germany or Donbass in Ukraine. These places were lucky in specific time period had such advantage as natural recources.

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