Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Gliwice - much nicer than I'd expected

The Silesian agglomeration is a huge industrial/post-industrial chunk of southern Poland, its manufacturing and mining heartland. Centred around Katowice, are clustered towns like Zabrze, Bytom, Tychy, Chorzów, Dąbrowa Górnicza, Ruda Śląska - each of 100,000 to 300,000 in population. Between these towns, full of brick tenements from the 19th Century, are green spaces; above the trees can be seen coal mines and chimneys, pylons and masts. At the western end of the agglomeration lies Gliwice, which I visited to attend a factory opening.

Below: Gliwice station is in the throes of a major modernisation project, which is nearing completion. Inside the booking hall is a splendid abstract mural on ceramic tiles, one of the biggest and best of its kind (Gdynia's station booking hall comes an equal first for me).

Below: Is this Kensal Rise? Or am I in Norwood Green? No - this is Gliwice, pre-war Gleiwitz; the Germanic architecture reminding me of Bricktorian Britain. I have a few minutes before my railbus to Gliwice Łabędy departs, so I have time to take a look around the part of town north of the station.

Below: No longer does Łabędy look Germanic; here, the advert for a confectionery shop painted on the side of a house reminds me of northern France. Note the church at the top of the hill.

Below: industrial housing in Gliwice Łabędy. Note the decorative brickwork. The gently sloping roof is almost invisible from this view. Four or five families live in this building.

Below: Gliwice on a wet autumnal night - this is the main street, ul. Zwycieństwa. which connects the railway station to the Old Town to the south.

Below: the Methodist church on ul. Kłodnicka, which runs parallel to the Kłodnica river.

Below: another fine piece of 19th Century brick architecture is the local labour exchange (powiatowy urząd pracy) on plac Inwalidów Wojennych.

Below - Gliwice's town hall or ratusz (from the German rathaus), which as in many Polish towns, sits in the middle of the old town square. The building dates back to the late 18th Century.

Below: another 'this could almost be England' moment, though the onion-dome spires wouldn't fit. Ornate mouldings above the windows contrast with the red brick. Ul. Zwycieństwa.

Left: detail on the corner of ul. Krótka and Plebańska, a female figure with urn, watering.

Below: back on ul. Zwycieństwa, a beautiful late 19th Century tenement with touches of Art Nouveau. Posh shops and cafes at street level, large flats with high ceilings above. Trams have been removed from this street (a great shame), but the tram tracks remain.

Below: the Kłodnica as it runs under ul. Zwycieństwa. Gliwice is a busy and wealthy city, average wages are said by its mayor to be higher than anywhere else in Poland apart from Warsaw.

The town is, to my mind, far nicer aesthetically than Katowice; more concentrated around an old town market square, it's neater and better looked after. Indeed, there's more to the Silesian agglomeration than just Katowice - if you're down in Silesia, pay a visit to Gliwice. I regret not taking my 10-24mm super wide-angle lens - I'd not been expecting any architectural surprises, yet found plenty.

This time three years ago:
Poland does poorly in Global AgeWatch ranking

This time four years ago:

This time five years ago:

This time six years ago:

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