kamila

Can't live without travels! Wherever she goes she always looks for alternative spots or street art. A huge fan of Central Europe and off the beaten path places and a living proof that you can balance full time job and extensive travel!

Bytom, Poland – an unknown architecture gem

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.


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


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27 Lip '16

There are 28 Comments.

  1. 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 :)

    • kami
      14:35 04/08/2016

      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!

  2. 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…
    Epepa latest post…Łazienki Park in WarsawMy Profile

    • kami
      14:37 04/08/2016

      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 :)

  3. 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!

    • kami
      14:56 04/08/2016

      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!

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

  5. 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 :-)

  6. Asia
    21:46 01/08/2016

    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:)

    • kami
      14:59 04/08/2016

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

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

    • kami
      15:00 04/08/2016

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

  8. Robert
    00:35 05/08/2016

    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.

    • kami
      23:04 23/08/2016

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

  9. Faye
    02:29 12/08/2016

    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.

    • kami
      11:38 31/08/2016

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

  10. Morgan
    20:57 17/08/2016

    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!

    • kami
      12:14 31/08/2016

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

  11. Adrian
    11:30 19/08/2016

    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..!

    • kami
      12:31 31/08/2016

      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!

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

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

    • kami
      11:40 14/09/2016

      Totalne zaskoczenie ten Bytom, naprawdę tam nieźle!!

  14. Paweł
    09:43 13/10/2016

    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.

    • kami
      19:48 17/10/2016

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

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