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Gliwice, a Historical City

The Gem of Upper Silesia

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Walking in the Old Town, Gliwice

Walking in the Old Town, Gliwice

Our friends Matt and Urszula recommended us visiting Gliwice, a nice old city full of interesting sights. On a fine weekend, we decided to pay a visit there and took bus M18 from Tychy to Gliwice. It was a hour drive that brought us to a great city indeed.
Gliwice is a city in Upper Silesia, in southern Poland. The city is located on the Kłodnica river. It lies approximately 25 km to the west of Katowice, the capital of the Silesian Voivodeship/Province.

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Gliwice is the westernmost city of the Upper Silesian metropolis, a conurbation of 1.9 million people, and is the third-largest city of this area, with its approximately 200,000 residents.
In Slavic languages, the root "gliw"/"gliv" suggests terrain characterized by loam or wetland. In South Slavic languages, "glive" / "gljive" refers to mushrooms, with "gljivice" meaning "little mushrooms".

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We managed to attend a morning liturgy at the Church of All Saints that was not far from our bus stop. is It is the oldest church in the city. The temple was built in the 15th century in the Gothic style. Every visitor admires the interior of the church and first of all, the beautiful side altar, in the center of which there is the image of the Virgin surrounded by saints.

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Visiting All Saints' Cathedral in Gliwice.
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The beautiful stalls and the pulpit made in the Rococo style, as well as the figures of saints located on the columns also caught our eyes. In good weather, from the tower of the church, which is 63 meters high, you can see the mountain of St. Anne and the western Beskids.

By bus to Gliwice and back

By bus to Gliwice and back

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City's coat-of-arms

City's coat-of-arms

On our way, we passed the City Hall building that was seen from afar. The building seems to be the largest and most characteristic building in the central part of Gliwice. Originally, the building had other functions. It was built in 1922–1928 as the Hotel Haus Oberschlesien (Upper Silesia House).
The powerful building with four adjoining wings had five floors, which housed luxury premises. Due to the concentration of wealth and style, the hotel's fame extended far beyond the city limits.
The unique beauty of the hotel was immortalized by Horst Bienek in his story "The First Polka".
Until the beginning of 1945, it was one of the largest and most prestigious hotels in Upper Silesia. In 1945, after the Soviet Army occupied Gliwice, the building was burned down. After the transfer of the city under the control of the Polish administration, the building was restored and used by the City Council. The current form of the building does not fully correspond to its pre-war appearance. Unfortunately, the building’s numerous architectural details that adorned the massive complex were lost during numerous reconstructions.

Fountain at the City Council, Gliwice

Fountain at the City Council, Gliwice

The "Dancing Fauns" sculpture dates back to 1928. The figures were placed on a cylindrical stone pedestal with a carved decoration depicting a motif of ram heads and festoons. Hans Dammann is the author of the pedestal. The faun casts were made by a local sculptor, Peter Lipp. According to the local legend, the sculpture depicts the conflicted mayors of three neighbouring cities: Gliwice, Zabrze and Bytom, who could not reach an agreement regarding the planned (in pre-war times) unification of the cities into a single entity – Tripolis.
Locals call the fountain “Diabełki” (‘Devils’). This is one of the symbols of the city that you can often come across on many postcards from Gliwice.

The Piast Castle is one of the oldest buildings in the city today. Over the centuries the castle performed various functions. First of all it was used as a prison that existed from the beginning of the 16th century until the end of the twenties of the 20th century. Earlier, in the Middle Ages, the building was used as a city arsenal. It is known for sure that this building was certainly never a princely castle. It received the name Piast Castle only in the eighties of the 20th century. Since 1960, the Museum in the City of Gliwice has been located here.

City History Museum, Gliwice

City History Museum, Gliwice


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We attended the permanent exhibition called "Gliwice - City of Many Cultures". The exhibition covers the prehistoric period, ethnography and history of the city of Gliwice and the Gliwice lands. The exhibits collected here are, first of all, artifacts of the 17th-18th centuries, exhibits from the period of the Silesian uprisings and the plebiscite, the activities of the Union of Poles in Germany, as well as a rich collection of photographs (19th and 20th centuries).

City History Museum_The painting of Virgin Mary the City Protector, 1626, Gliwice

City History Museum_The painting of Virgin Mary the City Protector, 1626, Gliwice


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Cast-iron dampers from old stoves - the museum exhibits.
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All these photographs became an iconographic documentation of the city and industrial facilities of Upper Silesia. We also saw another interesting component of the collection: the numerous military exhibits, including weapons from ancient Japan - samurai armor and swords, Chinese and Korean swords.
St.Barbara’s Cathedral
The temple was built in 1859 by Evangelists and is considered a gem of the region's architecture. This is a rare example of the Neo-Romanesque style of the early pre-Wilhelmian phase. The three-nave church is decorated with stained-glass windows of the 19th century. A large three-level altar is crowned with the image of the Mother of God of Czestochowa.

St.Barbara's Cathedral, Gliwice

St.Barbara's Cathedral, Gliwice


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The figure of Saint Barbara, the patron saint of all coalminers, is in the center of the altar. The church was taken over by a Catholic chaplain for use by the local military garrison in 1945. At present, the parish is subordinate to the Field Bishop of the Polish Army.

Paratroopers Memorial, Gliwice

Paratroopers Memorial, Gliwice

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There is a memorial to the fallen officers in the courtyard of the cathedral.
The inscription on the memorial reads,

Paratroopers of the National Army, the Polish fighting elite
Edward Kiwer ("Run")
Boleslaw Polonchyk ("Crystal")
Liszek Ratajski ("Remorse")
Aleksander Tarnwski ("Upłaz")
Boguslaw Wolniak ("Mint")
Antoni Zachiewicz ("Break")

Holy Trinity Church

Holy Trinity Church, Gliwice

Holy Trinity Church, Gliwice

The temple belongs to the Armenian Catholic community. Built in the 15th century, the building was previously used as a hospital. The building was repeatedly burned and suffered from floods. However, the hospital performed its functions until the second half of the 19th century, when the premises were transferred to the Old Catholics of Gliwice.

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The Armenians began to use this building after the Second World War, and brought here the icon of Lysetskaya Mother of God, which was considered a miraculous image, from Stanislavov. In front of the church there is a figure of St. John Nepomucen (1350-1393) created by Johann Zitzsche.

St.Peter and St.Pail’s Cathedral

St.Peter and St.Paul's Cathedral, Gliwice

St.Peter and St.Paul's Cathedral, Gliwice

The church was built in 1896–1900 in Neo-Gothic style. The Gliwice craftsmen did their best expressing all their professionalism and skill in the building.

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The temple has a high quality organ. The best Rieger-Mocker organ in Upper Silesia is installed in the temple, therefore numerous evenings and organ music concerts are held here.

The City Hall located in the center of the Main Square was reconstructed several times over the course of its history. The rectangular, two-floor shape of the City Hall was built in the 15th century. Today, the City Hall building has a four-level clock tower with a dome and a spire and arcades added on its north side in early 1980s.

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The wall below the spire is adorned with the historical coat of arms of Gliwice, granted to the city by Emperor Ferdinand II in 1629 in recognition for merits during invasion of Mansfeld forces during the Thirty Years' War. This coat of arms is a reminder of the miraculous protection of the city against Protestant forces by the Blessed Virgin Mary.

City Hall in Gliwice_Immaculate Virgin Mary basrelief, 1726_

City Hall in Gliwice_Immaculate Virgin Mary basrelief, 1726_

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The bas-relief of Immaculate Virgin Mary is attached to the outer wall of the City Hall. The bas-relief was created by an Austrian sculptor Johann Melchior in 1726. Scientists had debates about the purpose of placing the Madonna on the facade of the building. There is a naïve theory that says that such figures placed in market squares gave the inhabitants a sense of security. Thorough studies reveal that these types of figures were set up as votive offerings. They were sponsored by powerful landowners and property owners. Such figures were, in fact, made for Mary or other patron saints, and not for people. Placing the sculpture on the wall of the headquarters of the city authorities suggests that the votive offering of Mary was especially solemn and was probably the culmination of other important city events. In 1726, the city organized the centenary's celebration of the most significant event in its history so far: the rescue from Mansfeld’s troops in 1626. The faith in the miraculous saving of the city by the appearance of the Virgin Mary in the mantle in the sky was traced in the works of painters. We saw the painting of Virgin Mary the City Protector at the city museum. It is located above the model of the 1626 Gliwice. The memory of that miraculous event is preserved in the old coat of arms of Gliwice. That old coat-of-arms is kept to this day in the town hall tower.

Market Square
Market Square has dimensions 73 × 74 m. There are two streets leading from each of its corners.

Market Square, Gliwice

Market Square, Gliwice

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Hemingway Club (right), Market Square, Gliwice.

The medieval buildings of the Main Square no longer exist. Most of the current tenement houses were built during later centuries – mainly during 19th and 20th centuries – loosely resembling Renaissance or classic styles.

Neptune Fountain
This sculpture made of sandstone by Johannes Nitsche dates back to 1794. The Neptune fountain is in the western part of the market square in Gliwice. The sculpture represents Neptune on a dolphin. It is made of sandstone. The fountain stands on a pedestal inside a square bassin. In the second half of the nineteenth century the fountain became a favorite feature of the Gliwice landscape and was nicknamed "Jerzy with a pitchfork". By the way, the water that gushed two meters from the Neptune's fountain was supplied by wooden pipes from Wójtowa Wieś (now a district of Gliwice). It was collected in a pond, where the water level was several meters higher than the market level. So the water gushed under natural pressure.

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Neptune Fountain in Market Square, Gliwice

Neptune Fountain in Market Square, Gliwice

Neptune sculptures were traditionally placed in seaside cities such as Gdansk. In the case of Gliwice, the sculpture was placed just after the Kłodnicki Channel, connecting Gliwice via Odra River with the sea, was completed. At the end of the 18th century, the Kłodnica Canal was built. Thanks to that canal, it was possible to transport coal by water from Zabrze and Gliwice via Koźle (now Kędzierzyn - Koźle) to the Oder and further to the Baltic Sea, and via the Finow Canal also to Berlin. At that time there were no cars or even trains. Therefore, waterways were the best opportunity of transporting goods. Where there were no natural waterways or rivers, channels were created. The Kłodnica Canal was about 46 kilometers long. Its construction was initiated by the Prussian king Wilhelm II. In order to equalize the water level in various reservoirs along the route, as many as 18 locks had to be installed. Today, the Kłodnica Canal no longer exists, and its role was taken over by the Gliwice Canal, built almost 150 years later.

Friendship Alley, Gliwice

Friendship Alley, Gliwice

We also went to Frederic Chopin Park and saw the monument to the victims of wars and totalitarianism. This impressive monument has the form of a huge knife and a red drop rolling from the stone.

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We discovered this interesting statue of Prof.Kzysztof Nitsch called "Towards the Sun":
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Towards the Sun sculpture by Kzysztof Nitsch.
In addition, I could not resist taking pictures of several old exquisite doors in the city.
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Soon it was time for us to take our bus M18 and to go home full of great impressions.
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Posted by Vic_IV 19:46 Archived in Poland

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Comments

I like all the churches and also the fountain.

by irenevt

Yes, and the fountain has its own legend behind it. It was great to find out...

by Vic_IV

Adorable name, "Little mushrooms" :)

by hennaonthetrek

Henna, it is always great to find out about the origin of this or that name.

by Vic_IV

this really seems like an interesting place!

by Ils1976

We had heard of it many times, and the city became our first spot to visit outside Matt's place.

by Vic_IV

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