This part of Silesia presents extreme contrasts. Heavily developed and industrialised, Upper Silesia (Górny Śląsk) occupies just 2% of Poland’s territory, yet it’s home to a full 9% of the population. Thanks to large deposits of coal, it’s traditionally been the nation’s centre of heavy industry and the most densely urbanised area in Central Europe. Under socialism this region was the 'reddest' in Poland and relatively well treated as a result.
However, despite the urban sprawl centred on Katowice, the region has its share of attractive cities and towns worth a visit. At the other end of the emotional scale is the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp complex, tragic but unmissable. Upper Silesia is also an easy port of call if you’re heading to Kraków or the Czech Republic.