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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.


ERIH Anchor Points

Tarnowskie Góry | Poland
The shine of the carbide lamps flit about the underground "Silver Chamber". Look over there! Aren't these two miners working the dolomite rock with hammer and chisel? In the distance you can hear the rattle of pit cars, interrupted by the sound of explosions and hammer strikes. The next gallery is ...

Historic Silver Mine World Heritage Site
Zabytkowa Kopalnia Srebra
ul. Szczęść Boże 81
42-600 Tarnowskie Góry, Poland

Tychy | Poland
The brew house in the Tyskie brewery in the upper Silesian town of Tychy makes a truly palatial impression with its blue glazed tiles adorned with flowers, richly decorated pillar capitals, a precious panelled ceiling, and an interior full of blank copper brewery kettles, valves and instruments, ...

Tyskie Brewing Museum
Tyskie Browarium
Ul. Mikołowska 5
43-100 Tychy, Poland

Zabrze | Poland
You can’t get any lower than this! The shafts in the old Guido colliery in Upper Silesia descend to a depth of 320 metres, making it the deepest visitor mine in Europe. A 250 ton rough coal container, conveyor belts, an Alpina tunnelling machine in full working action, hydraulic supporting pillars, ...

"Guido" Coal Mine
Kopalnia "Guido"
3 Maja 93
41-800 Zabrze, Poland

Zabrze | Poland
A journey through the history of mining belongs where? Exactly, right underground! The Queen Louise Mine in Zabrze, Poland, is a perfect example of this because actually most of the action takes place underground. The guided tour starts in the pithead baths of the Carnall mine shaft, which already ...

“Queen Louise” Adit
Sztolnia “Królowa Luiza”
Wolnosci 410
41-800 Zabrze, Poland

Żywiec | Poland
Feel it! Speak! Take a pic! Where have you ever heard such requests in a museum? In Żywiec, however, everything is a bit different. One of the most favourite traditional beers in Poland is brewed in this small pretty town, and the local Brewery Museum will tell you how this came about. On your visit ...

Żywiec Brewery Museum
Muzeum Browaru "Żywiec"
Ul. Browarna 88
34-300 Żywiec, Poland

Member Sites ERIH Association

In the 19th century todays Chorzów was one of the hot spots of the Industrial Revolution. Königshütte/Kościuszko ironworks was put into operation in 1802. It was one of the first steam-powered steelworks on the European continent. Its blast furnace was the largest in Europe at the time. After an ...

Museum of Metallurgy (under construction)
Muzeum Hutnictwa w Chorzowie
Metalowców 13
41-500 Chorzów, Poland

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. ...

'Zawada' Historic Water Supply Station
Zabytkowa Stacja Wodociągowa Zawada
Bytomska 6
42-674 Karchowice, 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 ...

Nikiszowiec Settlement
• Muzeum Historii Katowic, ul. Rymarska 4, 40-425 Katowice +48 (0) 32 - 2561810
• Stowarzyszenie Fabryka Inicjatyw Lokalnych, Plac Wyzwolenia 21
40-423 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 ...

Zinc Rolling Mill
11 listopada 50
40-387 Katowice, Poland

The Bread and School Museum is not a typical museum. The exhibits are not displayed in show cases as in many other museums. No, here everything is easily accessible and visitors can actually handle and touch the interesting and unusual exhibits. The museum was established as a “labour of love” by ...

Museum of Bread, School and Curiosities
Muzeum Chleba, Szkoly i Czekawostek
ul.Z.Nałkowskiej 5
41-922 Radzionków, Poland

For Ruda Śląska, Huta Pokój, being the original owner of the Blast Furnace, is a special facility because the roots of the city emerged thanks to the establishment of a metallurgical plant here in 1840. A large part of the development in the central district of the city was built for employees of ...

Blast Furnace 'A' of Huta Pokój Ironworks
Wielki Piec Huty 'Pokój'
Niedurnego 79
41-709 Ruda Śląska, Poland


Bielsko-Biala | Poland
The twin towns of Bielsko and Biala on either side of the Biala River, that make up the modern city of Bielsko-Biala both have medieval origins. They were part of the Habsburg Empire between 1772 and 1918, and ethnically were predominantly German until 1945. The cities lie at the point where the ...

Old Factory
Stara Fabryka Plac Żwirki i Wigury 8 43-300 Bielsko-Biała Muzeum Techniki i Wlókiennictwa
Plac Żwirki i Wigury 8
43-300 Bielsko-Biala, Poland

In 1851, the construction of the branched narrow-gauge railway network with the spacing of 785 mm, i.e. 30 Prussian inches, was started in Upper Silesia. First sections were passable as early as two years later. To this date, a 21-km section was left.

Upper Silesian Narrow-Gauge Railways
Górnośląskie Koleje Wąskotorowe
41-902 Bytom, Poland

A hoist tower was a part of the non-existent mine where coal was extracted until 1993. When the mining was discontinued, some of the facilities were demolished. The following buildings were left: a management office, an old assembly room, a former dwelling-house for mine foremen, a mining fire ...

Hoist Tower of the President Shaft with the Sztygarka Complex
Szyb Prezydent wraz z kompleksem zabudowań Sztygarka
Piotra Skargi 34 a/d
41-500 Chorzów, Poland

Cieszyn | Poland
The brewery in Cieszyn was established in the 1840s and founded by Karl Ludwig Habsburg, Archduke of Cieszyn. It was built in the centre of the castle tower. He continued the old medieval traditions of local brewers, using modern production methods and offering a new product - Pilsner beer, which ...

Cieszyn Brewery
Browar Zamkowy Cieszyn
Dojazdowa 2
43-400 Cieszyn, Poland

Cieszyn | Poland
It is a complete, old printing house where the characteristic atmosphere of the old times has been preserved. This is the only such place in Poland where the entire collected equipment is fully operational. Here you can see not only various machines and devices, but also learn about their use.

Museum of Printing
Muzeum Drukarstwa
Głęboka 50
43-400 Cieszyn, Poland

The site dated back to 1903 is a part of the mine funded by Prince Hugo von Hohenlohe zu Öhringen. The mine closed down in 1996. There are machines and equipment left in the power plant, and among them the most impressive one – Wanda flywheel.

Elektrownia Contemporary Art Gallery
Galeria Sztuki Współczesnej Elektrownia
ul. Dehnelów 45
41-250 Czeladź, Poland

Czerwionka-Leszczyny | Poland
The complexes of multi-family housing for staff and inspectors of the former mine „Dębieńsko”, called familoki (family block), which survived in Czerwionka, are an extremely important and distinctive part of the urban buildings of the district and town of Czerwionka-Leszczyny. These housing ...

“Familoki” Settlement
Tourist Information Centre
Mickiewicza 10
44-230 Czerwionka-Leszczyny, Poland

Częstochowa | Poland
Częstochowa in southern Poland was the centre of the country’s iron ore mining industry. A museum was established in 1968 with displays illustrating mining techniques, and collections of winding equipment, roof support systems, tools, drilling and face-cutting machinery, lighting and ventilation ...

Museum of Iron Ore Mining
Muzeum Górnictwa Rud Żelaza
Aleja Najświętszej Marii Panny 47
42-217 Częstochwa, Poland

Częstochowa | Poland
The Museum was established in 2001 by the Association of Warsaw-Vienna Railway Enthusiasts. The exhibits include: devices and elements of the railway equipment, lamps and uniforms. There is also a collection of plates from locomotives and cars, railway documents, plans, and old photographs.

Museum of Railway History
Muzeum Historii Kolei
Pułaskiego 100/120
42-200 Częstochowa, Poland