Opole is not distant from the Upper Silesia Metropolis (1-hour drive along the A-4; 1.5 hours by train), one of the largest industrial regions in the European Union, after the Ruhr Basin and the English Midlands. Although being an industrial region does not contemporarily bear positive aesthetic connotations, the Silesian conurbation offers many, though specific, tourist attractions. We recommend taking one-day inexpensive trips to some places in this region on your own.
Those of you who are interested in architecture will find excellent examples of (what is nowadays called) the Wilhelmian–style construction there. Whole quarters in the centres of Upper Silesian towns, as well as many edifices were uniformly built after the Franco-Prussian-War of 1870-1871. (Contrary to the West-German cities, the region was not affected by carpet bombings during WWII.) If you would like to take a look at Katowice, Gliwice, or Bytom - buy a train ticket and do go there!
In the southern quarter of the centre of Katowice one may also find many interesting examples of the pre-war functionalist architecture inspired by Bauhaus and De Stijl. In turn, the district of Nikiszowiec in Katowice, built in 1908-1918, is a unique example of a coal-miners’ settlement.
Tychy is a town built after WWII. The unique city route “From socrealism to postmodernism” enables the tourist to get acquainted with all the trends present in the post-war architecture in Poland.
Silesian Central Park is a recreation complex in the centre of the Upper Silesia Metropolis (bordering on Katowice and Chorzów). It is one of the largest urban parks of this type in Europe (its area is 620 ha), larger than Central Park in NYC (341 ha). The park was founded in the fifties as a centre for sports, arts, and recreation. The park is accessible by bus or tram from the centre of Katowice. You may also visit the Palm House in Gliwice (closed on Mondays).
Silesia City Center offers many shopping opportunities. It is one of the largest shopping malls in Poland (86 000 m2) and it is almost adjacent to Silesian Central Park.
The Guido Museum in Zabrze is unique on the European scale. If you want to visit an authentic coal mine, go to Zabrze. A ramble along hundred meters long underground galleries (170 m and 370 meters beneath the ground level) offers a peculiar picture of Silesian coal mines. (The visitor gets a miner’s outfit, torch and helmet.) The museum is closed on Mondays. Reservation necessary: phone (048) 32 271 4077, ext. 5183. One ticket (for visiting the two levels) – PLN 36 (in 2011).
In Tarnowskie Góry you may see a historic Silver Mine Museum and/or the “Black Trout” Gallery. The underground silver mine gallery is 1700 metres long (300 metres floating in a boat included). Reservations: phone (048) 32 285 49 96.
Błędów Desert (32 km2) is the largest in Central Europe accumulation of loose sand away from any sea. It is situated in the eastern of Silesia Region.
When you reach Upper Silesia, buy a bus or tram ticket (PLN 4) and go sightseeing!