Bytom, Poland – an unknown architecture gem

Bytom, Poland
(Last Updated On: 28/11/2018)

There are places that you wouldn’t even consider visiting as for some reasons they don’t have a good reputation. Yet you somehow end up in them and you’re really impressed, even cursing yourself for being so ignorant and not getting there earlier. That was my story with Bytom, Poland.

Bytom, Poland

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Short history of Bytom, Poland

Bytom is one of the main cities of the Silesian Metropolis – one of the biggest urban areas in the whole European Union. It used to be a heavily industrialized region but not many people know that Bytom is actually one of the oldest cities in Poland, dating back to 11th century. Even now the urban layout of Bytom resembles the Medieval times.

Almost from the beginning it was an important center of trade and industry as the result of being located at the crossroads of trading routes from east to west and from north to south. Over the centuries the city was under the rule of Poland, Kingdom of Bohemia, Austria, Prussia and eventually, after WW2, again Poland.

The long and rich history makes Bytom such a fascinating place and I feel really bad for not knowing about it before!

First impressions of Bytom

The first impression might not be the best as for some people the train station in Bytom might look a little bit neglected, if not scary (especially on the gloomy morning with no one around). But I actually found it beautiful (especially the carport). Fortunately from this moment on things will only get better and better.

As soon as I crossed the street from the train station and entered the pedestrian Dworcowa street I was blown away by the architecture. I didn’t expect to see such a beauty! The key to notice it and fall for Bytom is to look up.

Bytom – the art nouveau gem of Poland

To my great surprise Bytom is a real gem of art nouveau architecture (and if you follow this blog for a while you know I’m a big fan of this style and I’ve found it already in Subotica or Riga). I even heard that the number of art nouveau buildings is one of the biggest in Europe and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised!

When walking around Bytom my jaw was constantly dropped and I didn’t know where to look as almost every second house was special with unique details. Unfortunately the majority of buildings still look neglected but it’s not difficult to imagine how they used to look at their finest moments. And the renovation process is slowly happening so I bet if I visit Bytom again in couple of years I will be even more in awe!

The art nouveau we can admire in Bytom comes from the schools of Vienna and Munich. It focused not only on the houses but also on public buildings.

And so the most spectacular examples of Bytom art nouveau are the court, the former post office or one of the high schools. Unfortunately I was in Bytom on Sunday therefore all of these institutions were closed. Too bad as I could only imagine how amazing the interior is, all made in art nouveau style as well.

When visiting Bytom you can basically wander around the center and take random streets left or right and you will stumble across some amazing architecture for sure! Such a walk is a pure pleasure to the eye!

The main square in Bytom

Funny that the place that’s supposed to be the most representative one – the main square – in Bytom is in the shadow of more spectacular buildings around. When I saw pre-war pictures of the city it looked stunning but, as many cities in Central Europe, Bytom also became a victim of communist planning. Couple of grand buildings at the main square were demolished and replaced with more appropriable ones.

Now the main square is a peculiar mix of styles, guarded by the sculpture of sleeping lion (it returned to Bytom only recently, after being found in Warsaw). Still, the heart of the city is a very pleasant place to relax and do people watching from one of the cafes (or the brewery). This is always one of my favorite parts of travels and it was the same in Bytom.

Industrial past and present of Bytom

While the city might be the art nouveau (hidden) gem of Poland the rest of Bytom architecture is really interesting too! As every other city in the Silesian Metropolis it has a strong industrial influences that can be seen all over the place. Sadly these days most of the former mines don’t operate anymore but the sites are really beautiful anyway.

My favorite ones were the mine shaft “Krystyna” and the power plant “Szombierki” (designed by the most popular architects in the region at the beginning of 20th century – Emil and George Zillman) – both a great example of industrial modernism style. Now these buildings wait for the investors to come and give them a new life (and they have a huge potential!).

But there are institutions in Bytom that already use their industrial past: Armada Golf Club (created on the former grounds of “Szombierki” coal mine) or Dance and Movement Theater Rozbark (located in the former pithead of Rozbark mine) just to name few. I really loved how they transformed those spots into their new usability and I really hope the rest of industrial buildings will share their fate. Right now they only come to life once a year during Industriada – a wonderful festival I was lucky to attend a year ago!

The future of Bytom

Even if the city looks somehow forgotten and neglected at times I believe there is a bright future for Bytom. There’s a well established contemporary art gallery “Kronika” or the already mentioned Theater Rozbark, the creative scene is slowly blooming.

On top of that there are those small facts that made Bytom even more interesting: the oldest working tram in Poland (no 38, with probably the shortest route in the whole country), the world’s oldest non-stop working narrow gauge railway (now it runs only in the summer season), the former border at the times of Prussia when from the main square you could walk in three directions and reach the border within 15 minutes or the churches that are very similar to famous sacral buildings in Munich and Limburg, Germany. And those are just few things I’ve managed to find out about during my short visit in Bytom.

I’m well aware that Bytom might not have the best reputation in Poland, that for years it’s been known for major mining damages. But I was really surprised by the city, in the most positive way. It was beautiful, interesting, full of quirkiness and with wide range of attractions. If you ask me if you should visit Bytom I’d certainly say yes, with no hesitation at all!

Sometimes the least obvious destinations turn out to be the most fascinating and appealing and that’s how I saw Bytom. In nearest future, if the funds allow, I expect Bytom to bloom and I will make sure to return there in couple of years to see how the city changed. I bet I will enjoy it even more than now!

And if you want to read more about Bytom and the whole region make sure to visit Silesia travel website – your best source of information about Silesia!

Do you often travel around your own country? Which place have surprised you recently? Is Poland on your bucket list?

If you think of visiting Poland or just want to read more about the country take a look what else I wrote about it:

If you’re looking for articles about any place in particular this map with posts might be useful for you. Or just take a look at the “destinations” page.



My trip to Bytom was in partnership with Śląskie travel but all opinions remain my own, like always

love, kami 2

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  • Reply
    28/07/2016 at 14:57

    To be honest I have never thought about Bytom as an interesting place. I was there once and I wasn’t impressed. But on Your photos this city looks maybe not amazing, but intriguingly. And You are proving that a lot depends on how ones looks at place/city/region. Because Your point of view is really great :)

    • Reply
      04/08/2016 at 14:35

      Thanks. I also didn’t expect Bytom to be that good but it definitely intrigued me. And it made me think how many amazing places are out there that we don’t even consider visiting!

  • Reply
    28/07/2016 at 15:10

    Mieszkam na Śląsku i wiele nasłuchałam się o tym, jaki ten Bytom paskudny i odrapany, a gdy w końcu tam pojechałam i miałam okazję pochodzić sama po mieście, również byłam pod wielkim wrażeniem i gdyby tak odnowić jeszcze trochę kamienic i zdjąć te szpecące reklamy (bolączka większości polskich miast) jak ta przysłaniająca kamienicę na Rynku, to widzę w Bytomiu duży potencjał i potrafię sobie wyobrazić jak pięknie mogłoby tam być. Ostatnio przeszukując Internet zobaczyłam jak pięknie wygląda wnętrze bytomskiego Sądu. To prawdziwa perełka architektury! Chciałam zrobić tam parę zdjęć, ale niestety mnie nie wpuszczono…

    • Reply
      04/08/2016 at 14:37

      Też własnie widziałam ten sąd na zdjęciach i bardzo żałuję, że samej nie udało mi się go zobaczyć. Ale Bytom jakby dobrze dopieścić to byłby prawdziwą perełką! I cieszy mnie, że nie tylko ja to piękno zauważyłam :)

  • Reply
    28/07/2016 at 16:31

    I was in Bytom once on a business trip and I didn’t really liked this place, most probably because I was somwhere in the suburbs,in an area where only companies are located and there is nothing going on over there. I was almost shocked when I saw all those pics of art nouveau! When I’m back to Silesia I will make sure I go to Bytom!

    • Reply
      04/08/2016 at 14:56

      I guess in every city suburbs are rather boring so next time you’re around you make sure to visit the center, you will be enchanted!

  • Reply
    29/07/2016 at 22:04

    I’ve never paid much attention to Bytom in my many trips to Poland, but know it’s definitely on my radar!

    • Reply
      04/08/2016 at 14:57

      Good, you have a reason to come back :)

  • Reply
    01/08/2016 at 07:17

    Kamila chyba nikt poza Tobą nie potrafi tak pięknie zachęcić do odwiedzenia miasta, któremu niesłusznie przypięto łatkę tego ohydnego, brudnego i mało interesującego. Niech idzie w świat, że Bytom jest ciekawym miejscem, które warto zobaczyć :-)

    • Reply
      04/08/2016 at 14:58

      dziękuję! :)

  • Reply
    01/08/2016 at 21:46

    No proszę, ciekawie wygląda ten Bytom “w środku”. Tak się składa, że przejeżdżaliśmy przez to miasto w drodze z wakacji i zatrzymaliśmy się przy pierwszym lepszym miejscu na nocleg. Na pierwszy rzut oka wyglądało przerażająco, ale nic się nie stało:) miejsca nie wspominam z nazwy:)

    • Reply
      04/08/2016 at 14:59

      i po raz kolejny się potwierdza, że nie obrzeża, a centrum jest najfajniejsze! :) przy kolejnej okazji warto tam zajechać!

  • Reply
    Basia || Podróże Hani
    03/08/2016 at 09:06

    Świetne miejsce na wycieczkę, naprawdę! Skoro widziałaś już ciekawostki, czas pojechać i zobaczyć i te bardziej oczywiste atrakcje ;)

    • Reply
      04/08/2016 at 15:00

      wszystko w swoim czasie :) ale tak, zdecydowanie z chęcią wrócę!

  • Reply
    05/08/2016 at 00:35

    Bytom to moje największe odkrycie ostatniego roku! Jestem kompletnie oczarowany tym miejscem. Uważam, że po Krakowie i Wrocławiu jest to najpiękniejsze miasto południowej Polski. Warto dodać, że miastu przyznano 100mln euro z UE na rewitalizacje. Ogólnie władze mają wydać 1mld zł na ten cel w przeciągu najbliższych 7 lat, więc napewno dużo tam się zmieni.

    • Reply
      23/08/2016 at 23:04

      to podzielamy zachwyt Bytomiem :) A o dotacjach nie wiedziałam, ale fantastyczna sprawa, juz wyobrażam sobie jak tam może być pięknie za kilka lat!

  • Reply
    12/08/2016 at 02:29

    I’ve got inspired of these beautiful architectures in Bytom. I find out that they have something in common, that cross form in the window. Sounds amazing. Thanks for sharing this @Kami.

    • Reply
      31/08/2016 at 11:38

      Thank you! I’m really glad you enjoyed the post!

  • Reply
    17/08/2016 at 20:57

    How beautiful!This city looks amazing. Every single building you feature here is so detailed and full of character. Thanks so much for letting us in on a bit of your adventure!

    • Reply
      31/08/2016 at 12:14

      Thank you for your nice comment! Bytom is definitely interesting and full of surprises!

  • Reply
    19/08/2016 at 11:30

    Bytom is unloved and unsung but I love it! Your pictures are so beautiful. The High School building on Sikorskiego is looking wonderful in your photo – looks like it’s had a good clean since last time I was there. As you say, just look up… there is so much of beauty in Bytom. I also like the “J. B. Spyra” building on Witczaka street, the face carving on Josefczaka and the carvings of workers on Wallisa. I could go on..!

    • Reply
      31/08/2016 at 12:31

      Thank you! Ah, seems like I need to visit Bytom again, for such an underrated city there’re so many amazing things to discover there!

  • Reply
    05/09/2016 at 09:38

    Byłam kilka razy w Bytomiu i po tym wpisie chętnie wrócę tu ponownie. Życzę udanej twórczości i większej ilości ciekawych wpisów.Pozdrawiam

    • Reply
      05/09/2016 at 12:45

      Dziękuję! Również pozdrawiam serdecznie

  • Reply
    Karolina / OOPS!sidedown
    13/09/2016 at 10:46

    O proszę! Moje miasto, moje liceum, moje wszystko <3 Zawsze będę miała sentyment!

    • Reply
      14/09/2016 at 11:40

      Totalne zaskoczenie ten Bytom, naprawdę tam nieźle!!

  • Reply
    13/10/2016 at 09:43

    Polecam Bardzo Ci moje miasteczko Czerwionka-Leszczyny. Stara, zamknięta kopalnia, niedaleko typowa kolonialna zabudowa typu “familoki” no i nasze “Hołdy” jedne z najwyższych w Europie. Polecam i Jestem ciekaw Twoich wrażeń.

    • Reply
      17/10/2016 at 19:48

      Dziękuję! Przyznaję, że nigdy wcześniej o tej miejscowości nie słyszałam, ale może niedługo uda się odwiedzić, kto wie :)

  • Reply
    01/12/2017 at 21:33

    Hi, we’re a family travelling with an active toddler, do you think that Bytom would be a suitable place to go to? Poland is definitely on my bucket list though mainly because I’ve got a fascination with the history during the World War II area. I plan to visit Auschwitz at some point with my husband (not one for the toddler!)

    • Reply
      22/12/2017 at 22:17

      I honestly am not sure. There are some cobbled streets around so it might be tricky to move around. But there are so many interesting cities in Poland I’m sure you will find some amazing ones to visit!

  • Reply
    Angel Santana
    11/11/2018 at 21:33

    I lived in Bytom for 3 years, Im originally from Cuba and I live in USA now. Bytom has many good memories in my heart, its difficult to explain with words such feelings. I used to have lunch at a restaurant on the Rynek and sang every Tuesday in the club Gwarek in Gliwice. Great town with great people, I agree that the architecture is very interesting , at least for me. Congrats on your work.
    Angel Santana West Palm Beach USA.

    • Reply
      12/11/2018 at 13:53

      Thank you! I’m really happy to hear you have so many nice memories from Polan! All the best!

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