The city's central market square is not lined with historical burghers' houses as you’d find elsewhere in Silesia, but is instead encircled by drab postwar blocks and newer retail developments. It’s a showpiece of the 'early Gierek style' – the term Poles sarcastically give to architecture spawned during the fleeting period of apparent prosperity in the early 1970s, when Edward Gierek's communist government took out hefty loans from the West with the fanciful aim of making Poland a 'second Japan'.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Katowice attractions

2. Cloud Scraper

0.49 MILES

This blocky, 14-storey, 60m-high apartment building was Poland’s tallest building from 1934 until 1955. Considered the purest example of functionalism in…

3. Spodek

0.49 MILES

Built of reinforced concrete between 1964 and 1971, Spodek – which means 'saucer' – really does look like a UFO has landed just north of central Katowice…

4. Cathedral of Christ the King

0.55 MILES

With a base measuring 89m by 53m, this is Poland's largest cathedral. Erected between 1927 and 1955, the neoclassical sandstone basilica's progress was…

5. Archdiocesan Museum

0.59 MILES

Spread over two floors, this museum showcases sacral art from the late 14th century to the present day, including some beautiful Gothic altarpieces. Entry…

6. Silesian Museum

0.67 MILES

A symbol of Katowice's transition from a centre of heavy industry to one of culture, the Silesian Museum sits in an ingeniously repurposed coal mine in…

8. Upper Silesian Ethnographic Park

3.27 MILES

This sprawling open-air museum contains scores of traditional wooden buildings spread over 20 hectares, representing architectural styles from Upper…