Katowice is the main city of Upper Silesia - a historical part of Poland. The first factories, such as ironworks, started to operate in the 14th century already. In the 19th century the whole area existed as a vast country: Katowice and the Karbowo, Brynów and Bogucice estates. At that time numerous coal-mines and steelworks were established, for example, in 1804 one of the biggest steelworks, still active the Baildon steelwork was opened by the prince Hohenlohe together with the Irish engineer John Baildon. It was the first steelwork in the world where the domestic coke was burnt.
The civic rights for Katowice were obtained on the 11th of November 1865. But the plans of extension and development of the area were already prepared much earlier. The advantage was the geographical situation of the city - by the Prussian and Russian border. An intensive enlargement and development of the city had started immediately after obtaining the civic rights. In the years 1869 - 1872 almost 200 new residential buildings were constructed. Simultaneously, the population rate increased: in 1783 there were 294 people living in Katowice, in 1825 the figure grew up to 675, while in 1861 it reached 3780. The headquarters of coal-mines, steelworks, coal partnerships and several other institutions begin to operate here. After the First World War, Katowice City was incorporated by Germany which caused a period of struggle for independence called by historians the Silesian Insurrections. As a consequence of the Plebiscyte, Katowice were adjudicated to Poland.
In independent Poland Katowice existed as a capital of the province with great autonomy. Important institutions were established here, such as: Silesian Parlament, Bishop’s Curia of the Silesian Diocese, various consulates, banks, etc. As a cultural center, there were also constructed: Silesian Musical Conservatorium, Silesian Technical College and others. Also the first in Poland skyscraper was built here. Between 1922 and 1939 the city developed rapidly. The population rate reached 125,000 inhabitants, 90 % of which was of Polish origin.
An incorporation of the land in the neighbourhood (communes such as Piotrowice, Panewniki, Wełnowiec, Ochojec and Zadole) had a direct influence on the process of enlargement of Katowice. In 1960 also the city of Szopienice together with the neighbourhood lands joined in. Inevitably, several new housing estates were constructed, which was Koszutka and Nowa Ligota. Also a new Park was opened.
There are several higher education schools operating in Katowice: School of Economy (1950), Silesian University (1968), Division of the Academy of Art in Cracow, Silesian Scientific Institute (1957), Academy of Physical Education (1970), Higher Theological Seminary of Silesia (1980).
The special attention deserve cultural institutions, such as: reconstructed Silesian Museum, the Stanisław Wyspiański Theatre, Silesian Philharmony, Polish Radio Orchestra and also the TV station and several radio stations. There are many publishing houses of periodicals, journals, magazines and daily newspapers.
There is also a huge sport center available, Hala Widowiskowo-Sportowa called ”Spodek”. At the moment Katowice takes 165 sq. km of land. The population rate equals almost 500,000 inhabitants.