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Regional route Silesia | Poland

Silesian Voivodeship can boast the highest number of historic industrial buildings in Poland. Their uniqueness and authenticity enrich the region, reflecting its specificity and cultural identity. They also constitute an integral part of the European cultural legacy. Industrial development in Europe in ... more

Industrial history of the Silesian voivodeship

Silesian Voivodeship can boast the highest number of historic industrial buildings in Poland. Their uniqueness and authenticity enrich the region, reflecting its specificity and cultural identity. They also constitute an integral part of the European cultural legacy.

Industrial development in Europe in the 18th Century brought significant socio-economic and ecological changes in Silesia. The region, previously peripheral from the European perspective, became one of the leaders in the industrial era. Appointing the Higher Mining Authority in Wrocław, with Graf von Reden designated as its head, was an important step in the development of industry. The activities run by the authority allowed Silesia to bring in new technologies, machines and qualified staff. The areas rich in raw materials became strewn with mine shafts, slag heaps and metallurgical furnaces. Also new towns were appearing.

Among Silesia’s industrial barons were aristocratic families such as the Henckel von Donnersmarcks, the Ballestrems, the Schaffgotschs, the Hochbergs and the Hohenlohes. Major middle-class industrialists were engaged in the zinc industry, such as the “the King of Zinc” Karl Godulla and Franz von Winckler, the founder of the city of Katowice.

Mining played a key role from the very beginning, with ores being extracted since the middle ages. Hard coal mining was the fuel base of the other branches of industry. The second strongest branch was metallurgy, whose development was triggered by the construction in 1796 of a large coke oven in the Royal Cast-Iron Foundry (KOZG) in Gliwice. Another steelworks founded by the Prussian King was the “Royal Steelworks” in today’s Chorzów. Following the pattern of 19th century governmental plants, private steelworks were appearing, with adjacent coal mines. Throughout the 20th century, Silesian metallurgy, integrally connected with mining, in terms of technological progress was one of Europe’s leaders. 

Industrial development led to the expansion of the infrastructure, to meet the needs of developing transport of both raw materials and ready products. The most important investment was the Kłodnicki Canal, the construction of which started in 1792. The canal joined the mines of Zabrze with the Royal Cast-iron Foundry (KOZG) in Gliwice, and, via the Oder, with other areas of Prussia. The 19th century also featured a rapid development of the rail network. In 1846 Mysłowice–Wrocław railroad was launched, in 1855 the Bohumin–Oświęcim railroad, and in 1859 a branch of the Warsaw–Vienna railroad.

Bielsko was the symbol of industrialisation in the Austrian part of Silesia, where textile factories were predominant. Also in the 19th century Częstochowa and Sosnowiec, which were a part of the Russian Empire, launched multiple spinning mills, weaving mills and dye houses.

In the Silesian Voivodeship many historic food industry monuments can be found. The most numerous group consists of breweries, which are still in use. In rural areas a separate group form "small" technological monuments such as mills, smithies and granaries. Particularly worth attention is a trout farm in Z³oty Potok, established on the Wiercica river by Edward Raczyñski in 1881. It was the first lowland trout farm in Europe.

Because of the 19th century concentration of industry, as well as the trends in the Polish economy post 1945, at the end of the 20th century many historic plants with old machines, devices and entire technological systems were still in operation. The process of adjusting the region’s economy to the conditions of the free market, started in the 1990s, caused numerous industrial plants to lose the economic base to ensure their further functioning.

The authorities of the Silesian Voivodeship did bear in mind the significance of monuments for the history and identity of the region. A project consisting of creating a network of the most interesting monuments connected with the industrial culture, in terms of history and architecture, was put into implementation. Thus was established the Silesian Industrial Monuments Route – a "branded" tourist product and Poland’s most interesting route as far as industrial tourism is concerned.

The Silesian Industrial Monuments Route

The Industrial Monuments Route was created in October 2006, as a theme motoring tourist route. It comprises more than thirty monuments connected with the traditions of mining, metallurgy, the power industry, railroads, communications, water production and the food industry. Each monument is either a real place or complex of machines or exhibits which in past centuries witnessed the Industrial Revolution. Museums and heritage parks are both presented there, as well as operating production plants, public utilities and workers’ settlements.

All monuments on the route are marked with a signboard written in three languages, including a description of the monuments and information for tourists. Particular objects belong to Local-Government authorities, private persons and companies.

Thanks to their diversity, the monuments of the Industrial Monuments Route form a multidimensional picture of the bygone eras and perfectly complement one another. Just like a time machine, the Route offers the visitors travel throughout the centuries, guaranteeing at the same time an incredible adventure and unforgettable experience.

The Zawada waterworks at Karchowice in Upper Silesia has one of the most comprehensive collections in Europe of equipment used for the purification and distribution of drinking water. The works was established by the mining department of the Prussian government when Silesia was part of Germany. ...
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Historic Water Supply Station "Zawada"
Zabytkowa Stacja Wodociągowa Zawada
Bytomska 6
42-674 Karchowice, Poland

Katowice | Poland
A miners’ colony of the Giesche mine, exceptional in Europe, with the unique atmosphere of a “garden-town”. It was designed by Emil and George Zillmann in the years 1906–1910. A few building quarters of dwelling houses, a former inn, the buildings of the forest inspectorate and school as well as ...
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Giszowiec Settlement
Osiedle Giszowiec Miejski Dom Kultury Szopienice-Giszowiec
Plac pod Lipami
40-321 Katowice, Poland

Katowice | Poland
Katowice is a city of more than 300,000 inhabitants, at the centre of one of Europe’s principal coal-mining and iron-making regions. In the nineteenth century it was part of the Prussian province of Silesia, but from 1922 was incorporated into Poland. The suburb of Nikiszowiec is one of the most ...
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Nikiszowiec Settlement
Rymarska 4
40-423 Katowice, Poland

Katowice | Poland
The buildings of today's Porcelain Factory date back to the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. At that time, they served as a factory of animal feed, which was rebuilt in 1923-25 at the "Porcelain Giesche" factory. Since then, the factory has continued to grow and increase its production, even ...
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Porcelain Factory
Porcelanowa 23
40-246 Katowice, Poland

Katowice | Poland
The Silesian Museum complex, located in the former “Katowice Coal Mine”, together with other institutions established here, forms the Cultural Zone - a new cultural centre for the city. The "Katowice" coal mines operated from the third decade of the nineteenth century until the end of the last ...
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Silesian Museum
T. Dobrowolskiego 1
40-514 Katowice, Poland

Katowice | Poland
The pithead building and baths of the former Richthofen (Wilson) shaft of the Giesche (today Wieczorek) mine from 1918 was designed by Emil and George Zillmann. After the closedown of the mine, it was adapted for a modern art gallery. Happenings, concerts, exhibitions are organized here.
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Wilson Shaft Gallery
Galeria Szyb Wilson
Oswobodzenia 1
40-403 Katowice, Poland

Katowice - Szopienice | Poland
It is one of the landmarks in the history of the mighty steel industry, which provided employment and livelihoods for many generations of residents of Katowice up until not so long ago. The Zinc Rolling Mill was built in 1904 near Huta Bernhard (Bernhard Steelworks) and the railway line from ...
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Zinc Rolling Mill
Walcownia
11 listopada 50
40-387 Katowice, Poland

Laziska Górne | Poland
It presents a few thousand exhibits related to power engineer­ing: from an iron and one-hundred-year-old booth of a street transform­er from Bytom, machines and power generators, measuring and lighting devices, to documents and photographs.
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Museum of Power Industry
Muzeum Energetyki
Wyzwolenia 30
43-170 Laziska Górne, Poland

Mysłowice | Poland
In the museum, operating since 1975, you can see over four thousand fire-fighting exhibits and souvenirs. The collection includes fire engines, horse-drawn fire-pumps, helmets, uniforms and other mementos related to the over 150-year-old history of the organized fire-fighting on the lands of Poland.
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Central Museum of Firefighting
Centralne Muzeum Pożarnictwa
Stadionowa 7a
41-400 Mysłowice, Poland

Pszczyna | Poland
The museum was established in 1985 by the Association of Pszczyna Land Enthusiasts. In the former typographical office each visitor may imprint a commemorative print on a historical press in person. Thus, the visitor has a chance to feel as a 19th-century printer who manually activated the press ...
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Museum of the Silesian Press
Muzeum Prasy Śląskiej im. Wojciecha Korfantego
Piastowska 26
43-200 Pszczyna, Poland

Ruda Śląska | Poland
This settlement was estab­lished in the years 1860-1867 for the workers of Gottessegen mine. The owners of the mine were industrialists from the line of the Donnersmarcks, who also founded the settlement. The colony consists of sixteen houses and is one of the oldest preserved patronage building ...
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Workers’ Settlement Ficinus
Kolonia Robotnicza Ficinus
Kubiny
41-710 Ruda Śląska, Poland

The railway station complex consists also of a water tower, single-storeyed utility buildings and a wooden umbrella roof. The exhibits of the heritage park include, inter alia, locomotives and several railway cars. The heritage park offers rides with a tourist railway.
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Historic Narrow-Gauge Railway Station
Zabytkowa Stacja Kolejki Wąskotorowej
Szkolna 1
47-430 Rudy, Poland

Rybnik | Poland
In the district of Niewiadom buildings of the former Hoym mine have been preserved, which was opened in 1792 with shafts Oppburg (Głowacki) and Grundmann (Kościuszko). In 1936 the name was changed into Ignacy, in honour of the President Ignacy Mościcki. In the administrative building there is an ...
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Ignacy Historic Mine
Zabytkowa Kopalnia Ignacy
Mościckiego 3
44-273 Rybnik, Poland

Siemianowice Śląskie | Poland
It was established in the building of the former engine room of the liquidated Michał Mine, whose history dates back to middle of the 19th century. At present, there are four floors in the facility which house, among others: a modern entertainment and conference room for 160 persons, a steam ...
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Tradition Park
Park Tradycji
E. Orzeszkowej 12
41-100 Siemianowice Śląskie, Poland

Świętochłowice | Poland
The owner of the mine was Guido Henckel von Donnersmarck. Operation of a mine began in 1872. Until 1922 the mine was called "Deutschland" (in honour of German unification). From 1922 to 1937 it was called "Niemcy" (Germany). On May 3rd, 1937 it was named "Polska" (Poland). Between 1884 and 1887 two ...
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“Polska” Mine Hoist Towers
Wieże KWK Polska
Wojska Polskiego 16
41-600 Świętochłowice, Poland

Tarnowskie Góry | Poland
Within the territory of the Repecki Park there is a 600-meter section of the adit draining the underground of Tarnowskie Góry. It stretches between the shafts Ewa and Sylwester. A visit to the Black Trout adit is made on... boats. The guide takes tourists across from one shaft to the other while ...
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Black Trout Adit
Sztolnia Czarnego Pstrąga
Śniadeckiego Park Repecki
42-600 Tarnowskie Góry, Poland

Tychy | Poland
It is a complex of 13 historic buildings situated on the area of 3.7 ha, each of which serves a specific function. Currently, the site is open for visitors and it presents its history in the form of an educational trail leading among the 19th-century walls of the monument. Numerous international ...
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Citizens Brewery
Browar Obywatelski
Browarowa 7
43-100 Tychy, Poland

Ustroń | Poland
The museum established in 1986 is located in a historic administration building of the former Klemens steelworks, dated back to the turn of the 19th c. Monumental forging machines in the direct vicinity invite to visit the place. The museum presents to tourists a few very interesting exhibitions on ...
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Museum of Ustroń
Muzeum Ustrońskie
Hutnicza 3
43-450 Ustroń, Poland

Zabrze | Poland
The museum established in 1981 is the only such institution in Poland with an extensive collection related to the history of mining, mining technology and culture. Rich educational offer, a typical Silesian flat, a gallery of unprofessional paintings and images of St. Barbara - these are merely ...
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Coal Mining Museum
Muzeum Górnictwa Węglowego
3 Maja 19
41-800 Zabrze, Poland

Zabrze | Poland
It was built in 1920s and it is a complex of buildings and equipment of the Concordia mine. Due to the revitalization and preservation of historic buildings – today, it looks as in the times of its heyday. Now, we can see here the well-preserved building of the shaft top along with the hoisting ...
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Maciej Shaft
Szyb Maciej
Srebrna 6
41-819 Zabrze, Poland