You might have never heard of the Silesia region in southern Poland, or if you did – you may think it’s not worth visiting. Well, there’s still the stereotype that this area, known for the mining industry, is grey, dull and somehow dodgy, with not much to see and do. I still remember Katowice 10 or so years ago when I never really felt safe there, no matter what time of day or night. These days however Silesia is nothing like that! The region is shining like never before, bustling with creativity, with too many places to visit in just one weekend! Even if some of the companies are shut down the industrial spaces are still in use, turned into culture spots, galleries or museums. The effect of this change is really incredible and makes Silesia one of the most interesting Polish regions to visit!
The first time I got to know about Industriada festival was when I got the invitation from the Silesia region to attend this event. I was really surprised how come I’ve never heard of it before even thought it totally looked like my thing and this year it was already the 6th edition! But as it turned out it’s organized mostly for local people who on this one day can visit some of the places that usually are closed to public: power plants, shaft mining or rolling mills. Even if the event isn’t largely promoted outside of Silesia region, everyone is welcome to attend the festival and celebrate the greatness of the technical landmarks! I didn’t have to think twice, I accepted my invitation right away!
After a way too long train journey from Warsaw (of course there had to be something wrong on that very day) we arrived to Katowice just in time for the opening of the Art Naif Festival, held in the grounds of the former Giesche mine. I heard the name “art naif” before but didn’t really know how exactly this movement looks like. And well, it was love at first sight! Every single piece of work was just so pretty and cute, with bright colours and simple shape! I was wandering around, smiling like crazy and falling for each and every painting or sculpture I admired. There were hundreds of works by artists from all over the world and they really looked different depending on the country of origin: Brazilian ones had more psychedelic colours than soft Finnish. It was already 8th edition of the festival and the venue wasn’t a random one – art naif was especially popular in industrial areas where talented workers relaxed with paintin gafter the hard day. After seeing all these beautiful works of art I became a big fan of art naif too!
From the gallery our group headed to the coal mine that is still operating! It was definitely a highlight of the weekend and such an unique experience. There were no outsiders visiting the grounds before us and during Industriada there was only one more group who could go inside! But before we could visit the mine we had to be checked with breathalyzer (my first time ever, even if I knew I didn’t drink anything on that day I was still slightly nervous) and undergo a training in case of the emergency. Once we were done with that we were guided around, sadly without going underground. It was such a weird and surreal feeling to walk around these industrial grounds still in use, I felt really intimidated when miners were passing us by as I didn’t want to be any disturbance at their hard work. Most of them were really young guys, in their mid 20s and that was probably the most surprising thing. After a tour around we were able to take the elevator up to the top of the mine shaft, along the way we could see some mighty machines at work – that impressed me big time too! The view from the top was pretty incredible, even if at dusk. The mining grounds with a huge coal bing and countless train tracks, vast green spaces and Katowice shining afar. After a crazy hot day it was a blessing to stand up there, with a wind blowing my hair and admire the landscape of Silesia, where industrial and green spaces harmonize, breaking all the stereotypes about the region.
The day ended at yet another impressive site: renovated towers of the former coal mine “Polska” in Świętochłowice. That’s the only remnants of the once virile plant that was operating from 1873 till 1995. They were decaying over the years and probably the only reason why they survived was the location next to the police station. Now the towers shine like never before, being a wonderful testimony of the industrial past of Świętochłowice. The grand opening of the towers took place during Industriada – exactly at midnight with a light&sound show (using “Requiem for a dream” theme song, that always gives me shrivers). Now the buildings will serve as a venue for exhibitions.
Saturday, the right day of Industriada, was even hotter but there were so many amazing events and attractions to choose from that there was no place for complaining about the weather! We started with visiting a working power plant in Łaziska Górne where I could witness something extremely exciting for the railway geek like me – how the coal is disembarked from the cargo railway car. It might sound dull but was pretty impressive, so much that we wanted to see it twice! But the whole power plant, together with the museum of the energy production, was incredibly interesting and kind of abstract as I still don’t really understand how the power is made!
The next stop was zink rolling mill in Katowice-Szopienice where on the previous night a big industrial music concert took place. I can only imagine how perfect it must have been as the industrial scenery couldn’t have been better for this kind of show! It was much calmer when we visited, the building served as an exhibition hall and a small concert venue at that time. This was so much my kind of place, where the industrial surrounding is made for the cultural events! I could have spent there hours, just enjoying the place and still wouldn’t be bored!
Before heading to the final event of Industriada we stoped in Guido Mine in Zabrze. That’s the mine everyone can visit on daily basis as it’s not working anymore, but for Industriada there was a special show prepared. The mine was transformed into the research station, full of robots and creatures from the outer-space. To play along at the very beginning we got white coverall and a mask and at the very end of our underground journey we were treated with a local beer – 320 meters below the ground! That must be the world record in the lowest located pub competition!! Everything about Guido Mine on that day was pretty unique and unforgettable and the beer tasted better than anywhere else!
The grand final of Industriada 2015 took place in Queen Louise Adit. First we could see how the old, a hundred years old steam machine, works and despite the age is still doing really good. After the impressive show it was time to climb up the main shaft to admire a green landscape of Silesia one more time. But the crowd in the adit was getting thicker and thicker as an unique concert was about to start. A famous local hip hop artist – Miuosh – collaborated with Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, directed by another local music hero – Jimek and gave a magnificent show. Before they played together only twice but it was always indoors. To be honest I’m not a fan of hip hop but such a combination was pretty incredible and so enjoyable! I wouldn’t be surprised if the artists with the orchestra will soon be world famous, they surely deserve that! After the concert, an incredible laser show (that made me jump with surprise couple of times) ended Industriada 2015, leaving everyone who attended more than happy and wishing for more.
During the one a half day of Industriada there were 372 activities and events to choose from, located at 42 technical landmarks in 27 Silesian cities. Some of the events were free of charges, for other everyone interested had to sign up or get a ticket before. Overall around 90.000 people attended Industriada 2015! In some places queues were pretty long but no one complained as it was worth waiting! I’m still impressed how amazing the whole event was, how interesting and unique every single thing and place was and how many people actually came! You definitely should plan a trip to Silesia in June next year, to attend another edition of Industriada. I know I will! And in the meantime I’m going to visit the region in few weeks as what I’ve seen in these two days just made me want to discover more and more of Silesia!
Do you like industrail landmarks? What’s the most unique event you’ve been to? Would you like to attend Industriada?
If you think of visiting Poland or just want to read more about the country take a look what else I wrote about it!
Note: I was invited to Industriada festival by Silesia region however all the opinions are 100% mine, like always!
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