A Travellerspoint blog

Zabrze, a Coalminers' City

Along the Industrial Monuments Route

semi-overcast 19 °C
View Our Poland Stay & The Enchanting Netherlands on Vic_IV's travel map.

Firefighters Tower, Zabrze

Firefighters Tower, Zabrze

Zabrze (read: ['za:bzhe]) is a city belonging to the Upper Silesian Industrial District. Its main attractions are post-industrial monuments, among which there are mines and workers' colonies open to the public. In the nineteenth century, the city developed dynamically thanks to the discovery of coal and the construction of coal mines and surrounding industrial plants.

Enjoying the architecture in Zabrze

Enjoying the architecture in Zabrze

Today, there are two coal mines in Zabrze, while some of the closed, historic plants are open to tourists and are located on the Industrial Monuments Route.
The city library was the first amazing historical building we saw upon our arrival to the railway station.

Zabrze City Library

Zabrze City Library

In addition to the historic mines in Zabrze, there are several workers' colonies with preserved buildings and urban layout as well as neo-Gothic and modernist public buildings, including the St. Joseph Church.

During our visit of Guido Coalmine in Zabrze

During our visit of Guido Coalmine in Zabrze


Enjoying our visit to Guido Coalmine in Zabrze

Enjoying our visit to Guido Coalmine in Zabrze

When it comes to Zabrze, most people in Poland will certainly think of the Guido Mine right away, No wonder since the historic Guido Mine along with Queen Louise Mine belong to the biggest tourist attractions of Zabrze. During our day trip to Zabrze, we decided not to omit Guido Coal Mine because it seemed an interesting place there. This historic coal mine is by far the most popular tourist destination in Zabrze, and also the most visited of all Silesian sites located on the Industrial Monuments Route. Guido is a unique place in Silesia and also one of the world’s outstanding industrial monuments, having no equivalent in other similar museum centers.

Visiting Guido Coalmine in Zabrze

Visiting Guido Coalmine in Zabrze

The mine is open to visitors on three levels - 170, 320 and 355. You can visit it both "lightly" (levels 170 and 320), you can attend an underground concert or a theater performance, if any (level 320). There is also a pub at Level 320 that is advertized as Europe’s deepest pub. We have to pay a visit there someday and have a coalminer’s beer or two.

IMG_7301.JPG

You can also feel like a real coal miner and visit the mine (level 355) during a shift - in full coal-mining gear, and take part in Darkness of the Mine Tour, where you can visit the coal mine only with a small, personal lamp.

City Museum in Zabrze (left)

City Museum in Zabrze (left)

When looking for information about the history and culture of Zabrze and the surrounding area, it would be good to visit the City Museum (“Muzeum Miejskie” in Polish). The museum is devoted to the history of the city and its inhabitants. There are three departments there: History, Culture and Fine Arts. There was also the fourth department specializing in industry, the greater part of the collection of which was transferred to the Coal Mining Museum in Zabrze, established in 1979.

City Park in Zabrze

City Park in Zabrze

The monument to a simple coalminer, Wincenty Pstrowski, was unveiled in 1978 in the city park. It was created by a Polish sculptor, Professor Marian Konieczny. The figure of this simple miner, after his death, became the subject of even greater propaganda of the then post-war authorities. However, this propaganda is not necessarily agreeable. When we were there, we saw the monument was being refurbished. There are rumors it might be disassembled altogether. To understand the history, I found out some facts about this coalminer.

Visiting the city of  Zabrze

Visiting the city of Zabrze

Wincenty Pstrowski worked at Jadwiga Coal Mine in Zabrze (which does not exist today) as a pit cutter. According to the available information, as an employee of Jadwiga Coal Mine, from 1946 until February 1947 he managed to make 240% of the so-called standard consisting in cutting a 72.5-meter-long pavement, and in April 1947, he performed 293%, that is, 85 meters, of the standard pavement. For this simple coalminer, it was important to believe that thanks to his work, the country would quickly get back on its feet. Therefore, in July 1947, he decided to send an official letter to the miners, at the same time calling for the so-called competition, just like it was in the Soviet Union, where the movement of Stakhanovites became widespread with the “blessing” of the ruthless Communist authorities. Wincenty’s slogan was, "Who will produce more other than me?"

Guido Coalmine, Zabrze

Guido Coalmine, Zabrze


Graffiti in Zabrze

Graffiti in Zabrze

Wincenty Pstrowski died on April 18, 1948. He died as a result of the above-mentioned norms, because he undoubtedly worked beyond his health limits and his own free will. For the Communist rulers, the death of Pstrowski was a propaganda failure. One of the sayings circulating around Poland at that time was, Chcesz iść szybko na sąd Boski, pracuj jak Wicek Pstrowski!" ("If you want to go to God's Judgment, work like Wicek Pstrowski"). Others joked: "Wincenty Pstrowski, górnik ubogi, przekroczył normę, wyciągnął nogi".("Wincenty Pstrowski, a poor miner, exceeded the norm, stretched out his legs.").

divider_41.JPGdivider_41.JPGdivider_41.JPG
Hartmann Tower, Zabrze

Hartmann Tower, Zabrze

You can see beautiful examples of different (structurally and stylistically) water towers in Zabrze. Particularly noteworthy is the Art Nouveau water tower at the former Hospital of Unia Bracka, an organization which took care of disabled miners. It served not only for supplying water, but also housed inside an ordinary chimney. The brick tower located at one of the side streets in May 3 Street, on the territory of the Children’s Hospital, is an Art Nouveau brick water tower designed together with the entire hospital complex in 1858 by the Berlin architect Arnold Hartmann. This water tower of the old Zabrze is a monument of both architecture and technology. We admired the half-timbered wall of the reservoir, complexity of the structure and the beauty of its details. Unfortunately, the former water tower stands closed and neglected today. Hopefully, it will find its patron and will be renovated to keep the visitors happy.

A water tower in Zabrze

A water tower in Zabrze

Many of different towers (church towers, castle towers, industrial towers etc.) are an inherent part of the Zabrze panorama. That is the reason why Zabrze is sometimes called "the city of brick towers". One of them is the water tower located on Zamoyski Street (former Vinzentstrasse), which is one of the symbols of Zabrze. It was erected in 1911 according to a design of an architect August Kind and a royal building councilor Friedrich Loose. It was built to improve the water supply to nearby towns (Zaborze, Zabrze, Sośnica, Maciejów, Makoszowy).
We took bus 111 to Biskupice, one of the oldest city districts, and visited St.John the Baptists Church there.

Biskupice District, Zabrze

Biskupice District, Zabrze


Visiting St.John the Baptist Cathedral, Zabrze

Visiting St.John the Baptist Cathedral, Zabrze


St.John the Baptist Cathedral in Zabrze

St.John the Baptist Cathedral in Zabrze

We took a walk along May 3rd Street - one of the central streets of Zabrze. We thought the city reminded us of Paris, although we had never been there. Therefore, we called Zabrze Little Paris.

May 3 Street, Zabrze

May 3 Street, Zabrze


Walking along May 3 Street in Zabrze

Walking along May 3 Street in Zabrze


Architectural details in Zabrze

Architectural details in Zabrze

We saw a huge beautiful church from afar and decided to visit it. It is St.Anna's Church built in 1900. We were greatly impressed by the atmosphere inside the church.

St.Anna's Church, Zabrze

St.Anna's Church, Zabrze


Visiting St.Anna's Churh, Zabrze

Visiting St.Anna's Churh, Zabrze


During our visit to St.Anna's Churh, Zabrze

During our visit to St.Anna's Churh, Zabrze


We visited St.Anna's Church, Zabrze

We visited St.Anna's Church, Zabrze


Visiting St.Anna's Church in Zabrze

Visiting St.Anna's Church in Zabrze


135a6a80-e7cc-11ec-8a1c-511fa4767a50.jpg135a6a80-e7cc-11ec-8a1c-511fa4767a50.jpg135a6a80-e7cc-11ec-8a1c-511fa4767a50.jpg

Posted by Vic_IV 09:31 Archived in Poland Tagged upper zabrze silesia; monuments; memorials;

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Comments

Personally, I don't like to see monuments taken down. I think when they stand for something bad, such as Propaganda, they should be put with other similar monuments in a designated place and used to educate people about the dangers of propaganda. I read somewhere that Hungary was one of the few former iron curtain countries not to destroy its statues of Marx, Lenin and Stalin. It put them all together in one place and charges entry to see them. The people who come to see, or at least most of them, them want a glimpse of history rather than agreeing with what they stood for. I think we should learn from the past rather than deny it ever happened. Just my view.

by irenevt

Irene, we have such areas filled with old demolished Soviet monuments and statues of former heroes.Let's see what the Polish people decide about this monument of the former labour hero.

by Vic_IV

Good to see you're finding lots of places to visit during your enforced Poland stay. I like all the building details and the mining history is interesting.

I agree with Irene above about controversial statues and monuments. I'd prefer that they are displayed with some contextual information rather than destroyed. How can we learn from the past if we try to conceal it?

by ToonSarah

I agree with you here, Sarah! Another variant would be to remove the inscription with the name of the great coal miner and to replace it with simple words, "To Heroic Coalminers."

by Vic_IV

This blog requires you to be a logged in member of Travellerspoint to place comments.

Login