Heavily developed and industrialised, Upper Silesia (Górny Śląsk) occupies just 2% of Poland’s territory, yet is home to a full 9% of the population. Thanks to large deposits of coal, it’s long been the nation’s centre of heavy industry, and sustains the most densely urbanised area in Central Europe. Under socialism this region was the 'reddest' in Poland and relatively well treated as a result.
The region's largest city, Katowice, offers cultural highlights that outstrip its utilitarian appearance. Beyond this urban web, the region has its share of attractive cities and towns.
Upper Silesia is where the German Nazis built the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp complex. Preserved as though frozen in 1945, this essential site is now a profoundly moving and important memorial.