Nikiszowiec Settlement

Nikiszowiec is a fascinating part of Silesian universe enclosed within a maze of 9 "familiok" buildings. All shades of red present inside this prime example of brick social housing settlement, including its remarkable red window frames, provide a unique feeling of time having stopped there. Finished in 1924 to accommodate up to 7,000 miners from "Giesche" coal mine, clean, picturesque and coherently-planned Nikiszowiec incessantly inspires Polish filmmakers with the air of well-known Silesian homeliness it gives.

Tour Overview

Visit the Silesian counterpart of Manchester to fall in love with the mix of industrialism and homely air that define this orderly mining establishment. Take a stroll along the streets of this monument of architecture to realise postcard-like Nikiszowiec is not of the Disneyland type, with real Silesian families having lived there for over a century. See the reconstruction of a miner's flat in the City Ethnology Department Museum and have a piece of a delicious cake at the locally-renowned "Byfyj" Cafe.

Nikiszowiec is a district of Katowice (the capital of Upper Silesia) under special protection of the Conservator of Monuments. It may be conveniently reached within a one hour drive from Krakow. The settlement was supposed to respond to the needs of newly-formed working class of Silesia. This colony of 9 buildings representing Silesian "familiok" architecture, each one forming a ring structure, was consistently limited to the level of three floors. What is surprising, despite the urban planning of the site, its courtyards were equipped with pigsties, utility cells and facilities for bread-baking, while the flats were devoid of any bathrooms. Apparently, the architects were afraid of moisture penetrating the structure of buildings at the time. However, each separate building had an access to a modern washing house. Despite the apparent architectural order, the details of Nikiszowiec buildings, its arcaded passages and suspended passageways, are varied enough to discover something new each time you rest your eyes at something. What is yet the most characteristic feature of Nikiszowiec are its window frames painted red all around. They say the paint of this colour would be complimentarily given to miners by their employers which made them use it so extensively to renovate their dwellings. Katowice City Ethnology Department Museum is where the local colour of Nikiszowiec may be discovered – the decor of a typical flat, the display of a 3-hour lasting mangling cycle or the gallery of local amateur painters. Having some cream pie at the homely "Byfyj" Cafe is another must-do of the place. This quaint district of Katowice provided a setting to a bunch of significant Polish works of cinematic art, including "Salt of Black Earth" by Kazimierz Kutz.

The workers' estate of Nikiszowiec was built in two stages (1908-1915 and 1920-1924) according to the plans by Emil and Georg Zillmann, marked by then-modern social thought. Finally, its spatial layout was complemented by the parochial neo-Baroque church of St. Anne (1927). The aerial perspective of the settlement brings the image of a kite or flower into mind, proving that the vision of both architects trespassed the boundaries of ordinary ground-level design. Due to its Silesia-defining features, Nikiszowiec was listed on the Industrial Monuments Route of Silesia in 2005. This unique quarter would be described as a mix of Krakow's district of Kazimierz, due to its alternative aura, and the Krakow's district of Nowa Huta, with regard to the labour-class purpose it served. 3 hours suffice to thoroughly explore the area.

The original intention behind Nikoszowiec was related to the planned exploitation of newly-discovered coal beds by "Georg von Giesches Erben" mining company. Providing its prospective miners with social housing near the shafts of Carmer (currently: "Pulaski") and "Niskisch" ("Poniatowski") was meant to attract them to undertake jobs there, as formerly proven in the case Giszowiec settlement. Experienced by World Wars, Silesian Uprisings, strikes following miners' massacres, the people of Nikiszowiec were often forced to determine themselves as either German or Polish. Inhabiting their red-brick world, speaking a distinctive dialect and having their specific customs, the dwellers of Nikiszowiec would often suffer from their choices made. Nowadays, their unique culture is cherished and their charming settlement is attracting a growing number of visitors.

Interested in discovering the industrial heart of Silesia during your Nikiszowiec tour? Contact us to have a customised trip arranged!

Tour Details

  • It is possible to have your trip to Nikiszowiec arranged regardless of your place of stay in Poland - simply, inform us of where you are and what the date of your intended trip is - we will do the rest!
  • The price includes: transport (pre-arranged hotel pick-up and drop-off), admission fees to attractions selected, a guide for individual tourists / small groups of visitors.
  • In case of choosing to sightsee the Guido Coal Mine, take appropriate outfit with you, not to be affected by lower temperatures.

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