CITY OF KATOWICE
Katowice is the heart of Poland’s largest metropolitan area with a population of over two million. The city, located in south-central Poland, enjoys some of the best transport connections in the country. The A1 and A4 motorways intersect nearby, enabling fast and convenient travel north to the Baltic Sea and south toward the Mediterranean, as well as east and west through the middle of Europe. The Central Metropolitan Expressway (Drogowa Trasa Średnicowa) passes through Katowice city centre, linking the most important cities in the urban conurbation. Thanks to a dense network of railways, travellers departing from Katowice can reach the European capitals Prague, Vienna, Budapest or Berlin in several hours, and Warsaw in barely over two hours on trains traveling over 200 km/h on Poland’s most modern trunk line. Katowice International Airport is one of the largest and most rapidly growing airports in the country. Two other international airports lie within 100 km of the city – in Kraków and Ostrava.
Katowice today is a modern city, thriving business centre, home to several institutions of higher learning and a great place to live. Numerous high-paying jobs are generated in the city by such companies as IBM, Mentor Graphics, Unilever, Rockwell Automation and Yamazaki Mazak, which confirm the city’s attractiveness.
Green space and environmental responsibility have become the hallmarks of contemporary Katowice. It’s one of the greenest large cities in Poland, with forests covering over 40% of its area as well as numerous parks, offering residents excellent places for rest and recreation. A short distance from Katowice city centre lies Silesian Park, one of the largest urban parks in the world – twice as big as Central Park in New York. Another place where the city’s residents like to spend their free time is the Valley of Three Ponds, where they can ride bicycles or rollerblade on the surrounding pathways, paddle rented kayaks on the ponds, or play with their kids on a splash pad.
Katowice is renowned for its festivals. The world-famous Rawa Blues Festival draws throngs of music fans to the city every year, together with the alternative sounds of the OFF Festival and Tauron Nowa Muzyka, a festival that presents the most interesting debutants as well as the greatest classics of contemporary electronic and digital music. In recent years these events have won the title of best festival in Europe within their categories.
In addition to the festivals, the city boasts a rich musical culture. The outstanding contemporary Polish composers Wojciech Kilar and Henryk Mikołaj Górecki have lived and composed here, and the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra is based in the city. Katowice’s musical status was affirmed by UNESCO, which declared it a Creative City in the field of music several years ago.
But the city hasn’t always looked like this; just under 20 years ago, heavy industry dominated the economy and adversely impacted the environment of Katowice. Mines and smelters were the basis of the city’s and the region’s existence. Fortunately, a series of investments fostering sustainability as well as ambitious ecological and educational programs have led to Katowice’s transformation.
A symbol of the city’s profound change is the Culture Zone. The premises of a former coal mine in Katowice city centre is now the site of: the most modern conference facility in this part of Europe, the International Congress Centre, featuring a green valley cutting across its roof; the futuristic edifice of the Silesian Museum; the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra concert hall, designed in conjunction with world-famous specialists from the Japanese company Nagata Acoustics; and Katowice’s greatest architectural icon, the Spodek Sports and Entertainment Arena. The latter is a unique structure on a world scale, with the distinctive appearance of an enormous flying saucer. It enjoys unflagging popularity among music as well as sports fans for hosting the music festivals mentioned above and championship tournaments in volleyball, basketball and ice hockey.
Katowice is also an important centre of business tourism. Every year the city hosts the annual European Economic Congress, one of the largest events of its kind in Europe; Intel Extreme Masters, the world championships in computer gaming; and a broad array of other congresses and conferences. The UN Climate Summit (COP 24) was held here in December 2018. The conference industry in Katowice received a major boost from the construction of the International Congress Centre (ICC), which opened in 2015. Thanks to the ICC as well as the city’s excellent hotel base and its convenient transportation links, nearly 827,000 guests attended the many congresses, conferences and fairs held in Katowice in 2017. And this figure has been growing rapidly over the past several years.
Katowice, though a young city that dates back barely 150 years, can nevertheless boast of numerous interesting historical buildings. The city centre holds numerous 19th-century middle-class town houses as well as original modernist buildings from the 1920s and 1930s. It was here that one of the first skyscrapers in this part of Europe was built in 1934. A particularly interesting aspect of Katowice’s architectural heritage are Giszowiec and Nikiszowiec, early 20th-century workers’ housing estates. Their unique architecture has been attracting increasing numbers of tourists in recent years and has served as inspiration for artists and filmmakers. Efforts are under way to have these settlements entered on the List of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Katowice – a vibrant city ideal for holding events, studying, working and living!
We invite you to our city!