Gliwice is one of many towns in the largest industrial area in Poland, being very different from the stereotype of an Upper Silesian town. It's a city of culture, science and enterprise, with aspirations to become a separate administrative center in Silesia. As one of the oldest towns of the Upper Silesian region, it boasts a good Old Town and several interesting sights.
History of Gliwice
Gliwice's history began in the 13th century when it became a town, and some time later it became a bishopric too. Ruled by Opole Dukes, in 1526 it passed to the rule of Habsburgs. 200 years later it became a part of Prussia. It's clear that it has been outside Poland for the greater part of its existence.
The 31st of August 1939 saw a piece of infamous provocation when Nazi soldiers dressed as civilians attacked a German radio station to pretend that the Polish side had provoked German aggression. It gave Hitler a reason to declare war on Poland, and it led to the outbreak of World War II. Gliwice became a part of Polish territory once more in 1945.
Like other towns of the Upper Silesian conurbation, Gliwice is an industrial center. The best-developed industries are coal mining, steel making and machinery and chemicals production. The inland port on the Gliwice Canal gives it access to the Baltic Sea via the Odra River. Gliwice is also an important educational center, home to most of the departments of the Silesian Polytechnic. The population numbers around 200,000 people.
Gliwice Old Town
But if you think Gliwice is only about factories and mines then you are mistaken. Founded in the 13th century, the Old Town still manages to keep its medieval layout. Even the city walls dating from the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries have been partly spared. Among the remaining interesting historic sites is the Piast castle from the 15th century and later rebuilt, several old churches, the villa of Caro, some pretty tenement houses and the 19th century Town Hall.
All are worth seeing, as is the most characteristic feature of Gliwice’s skyline - the local “Eiffel Tour". This is a 110-meter high radio mast and thought to be the world’s tallest wooden construction.
As one of the greenest towns in the region, Gliwice offers plenty of recreational opportunities. The Chopin Park is an oasis of peace, where you can take a walk or visit the Palm House, one of the best local attractions.
Plawniowice Palace Gliwice
Sources claim that the history of the Plawniowice village dates back to as early as 1317. But the area was a woodland next to a large lake until 1737, when a nobleman called Franz Wolfgang von Stechow bought it. In 1789 it passed through a marriage to the wealthy noble clan of the Ballestrems, who built a fairy tale palace between 1882 and 1884.
Designed by Constantine Heidenreich, the palace is a three-wing structure in the architectural style of Dutch Neo-Mannerism. It's known for its contrast in color and texture between the red brick walls and ornamental stone edging.
Various turrets, towers, dormers and needles of different shapes and sizes adorn the roofs. Moreover, the palatial site is next to a landscaped park along a water canal.
The palace remained in the hands of the Ballestrems until the end of World War II. It was then abandoned as the Red Army approached the village. The palace was then looted and the lavish interiors devastated. Following the war, the Polish state took over the ownership of the palace, and neglected it. This contributed to its deteriorated over time. Since 1993 it has undergone full renovation and is now a local tourist attraction.