city with powiat rights of Poland

Bytom is an industrial city in the Silesian Voivodeship of southern Poland. With a population of 161,139 in 2021, it's part of the Silesian Metropolis centred on Katowice 7 km southeast.

Understand edit

Bytom is first documented in 1136 but all that remains of its early days are museum pieces and a few baroque church interiors. It industrialised from the 19th century with metal production and coal mining, and this ramped up in the 20th. There was a long-established German-speaking population, who called it Beuthen, and in 1939 it was swiftly occupied by the Nazis. In 1942 its Jewish people transported to Auschwitz. Post-war the communists built more collieries and steelworks wherever they could, while the ground subsided as miners tunneled beneath. These industries collapsed in the late 20th century, leaving a vast brownfield area that is still trying to re-invent itself.

Get in edit

By plane edit

Katowice-Pyrzowice airport (KTW IATA) is 24 km north of Bytom. It has domestic and European flights plus holiday destinations around the Med & Red, plus the Gulf States. Take the local bus into Katowice and change, there's no direct transport to Bytom.

Kraków John-Paul II Airport (KRK IATA) 80 km east has a far greater range of flights. Take the train or Bus 300 into Kraków and change for Katowice.

By train edit

Train run every hour or so from Katowice, taking 30 min via Chorzów and continuing to Tarnowskie Góry, another 45 min. Change in Katowice for other cities such as Kraków, Warsaw and Częstochowa.

Trains run every couple of hours from Gliwice, taking 16 min.

1 Bytom railway station is at the south edge of the historical centre. It's under interminable renovation so you may find makeshift arrangements for tickets and other facilities.

In summer the GKW narrow-gauge railway (Górnośląskie Koleje Wąskotorowe, 785 mm) chuffs between Bytom and Tarnowskie Góry.

By road edit

From Kraków follow A4 west to Katowice then Highway 79 north through Chorzów. From Warsaw or Łódź follow E75 south past Częstochowa, which becomes A1 into Bytom. From Berlin or Poznań head for Wrocław then take E40 southeast to Gliwice, then A1 north. From the Czech Republic join A1 near Ostrava.

Long-distance buses don't serve Bytom: change in Katowice for local transport, described below. Bytom bus station is next to the railway station.

Get around edit

ZTM is the transport combine for the entire metropolis.

Bus M3 from Katowice runs via Chorzów to Bytom, taking 30 min, and continues to Tarnowskie Góry. It's every 15 min daytime and hourly through the night.

See edit

"Sleeping lion" in Market Square
  • 1 Upper Silesian Museum (Muzeum Górnośląskie), Plac Sobieskiego 2, +48 32 281 34 01. Tu F 09:00-15:00, W Th 10:00-18:00, Sa 11:00-16:00, Su 12:00-17:00. Extensive display of regional prehistory and history. The permanent exhibitions are free on Sunday. Adult 10 zł, conc or child 5 zł.  
  • 2 Rynek is the market square. It's traffic free and pleasant enough, but with slabby buildings and you won't mistake it for Kraków. "The Sleeping Lion" (Lew śpiący), erected in 1873, commemorates local people slain in the France-Prussian War. The statue was moved about during the 20th century, even slumbering for a time at the entrance to Warsaw Zoo, but returned here in 2008.
  • Church of St Mary (Kościół Wniebowzięcia NMP) looms over the northwest corner of market square, set back a little by a graveyard. It's from early 13th century, pre-dating the town. The exterior is Gothic but within is mostly Baroque.
  • Church of St Vojtěch is on Plac Klasztorny a block southeast of market square; it was originally a monastery church. Vojtěch is known in the west as St Adalbert of Prague (956-997).
  • 3 Church of the Holy Ghost (Świętego Ducha) east of the square is Baroque, from 1721. They celebrate Tridentine Mass here, the 1962 version of the 1570 liturgy.
  • 4 Mater Dolorosa Cemetery was laid out in the 19th century and is studded with artistic funerary monuments. It's on Piekarska tram route and open daily 07:00-21:00.
  • New Jewish Cemetery (Cmentarz żydowski) is on the other side of ul Piekarska. It was laid out from 1866 and somehow escaped destruction during Nazi occupation. The old cemetery of 1732 is now only marked by a plaque on Piastów Bytomskich a block south of market square.
Szombierki Power Station
  • 5 "Krystyna" Shaft is the derelict head tower and winding gear of Szombierki coal mine, built in 1927-29 when the shaft plumbed greater depths. After the mine closed there were fanciful plans to turn the building into a hotel, cultural centre or something, which even the European Union declined to waste money on. Most of the colliery site is now a retail park, but "Krystyna" awaits a buyer / developer.
  • 6 Żabie Doły   is a group of shallow lakes or lagoons east of town. Upper Silesia is dotted with lakes like these, but they only formed in the late 20th century through mining subsidence; some have residual pollution. This group has been landscaped into an area for walking, fishing and water fowl.
  • 7 Kolonia Zgorzelec is a grid of 34 housing blocks built 1897-1901 for workers at Huta Zygmunt steel mill. Frankly they look like a 19th century experiment in prison reform - Kolonia Bobrek (below) has more style. Some are still inhabited but the neighborhood is unkempt and falling derelict.
  • 8 Szombierki Power Station (Elektrociepłownia Szombierki), Kosynierów 30. Stonking great cathedral to 20th century industry, with its sturdy clocktower, hall and chimneys, this opened as a coal-fired power station in 1920. In the 1970s it was converted to a hybrid power and heat station, thus heat was no longer just a by-product but intentionally created for local industry and housing, conveyed by steam pipes. It was largely redundant by the 1990s but kept on as a reserve, then closed in 2011. There's talk of making it a museum, but no-one wants the huge burden of maintaining this derelict complex. Occasional guided tours visit, don't wander in by yourself as it could collapse any minute.    
  • 9 Kolonia Bobrek (Nowa Kolonia Robotnicza) is a neighbourhood of mine workers' apartments, laid out on a grid 1907-22 in sort-of-Art Nouveau style. It's atmospheric, but a rough neighbourhood so don't linger. The intended museum here remains virtual.
  • 10 Holy Cross Church (Kościół Świętego Krzyża) in the northwest suburb of Miechowice is neo-Gothic, completed in 1864. It's buttressed because of mining subsidence.
  • Park Tiele-Wincklerów stretches west of the church. Its "palace" is just an annex of a 19th-century merchant's mansion, now an events venue - the Soviets blew up the main building.
  • Schron Miechowice on Kasztanowa is a Second World War air raid shelter, with room for 250 people. It's now a wartime museum, but temporarily closed in 2024.

Do edit

Steelworkers' houses in Kolonia Zgorzelec
  • Cinema City is within Agora shopping centre, a block west of Market Square.
  • 1 Silesian Opera (Opera Śląska), Stanisława Moniuszki 21/23, +48 323 966800. Founded in 1945, this occupies a neo-classical building of 1901.    
  • Football: Polonia Bytom[dead link] play soccer in II Lyga, the third tier. Their home ground Edwarda Szymkowiaka Stadium (capacity 5500) is 2 km northwest of town centre. For top tier games head into Katowice.
  • Bytom Sports Centre has a swimming pool. It's on Parkowa 1 km northeast of town centre.
  • Narrow gauge railway: see "Get in" above.
  • City Half Marathon is held mid-September.

Buy edit

  • Agora is a shopping centre on Plac Kościuszki, a block west of Market Square.
  • Kaufland is a supermarket on Zabrzańska, one km southwest of town centre, open M-Sa 06:00-22:00.

Eat edit

Memorials in Mater Dolorosa Cemetery

Drink edit

  • Pubs cluster around Market Square. Warka at Rynek 26 is a microbrewery, open Su-Th 16:00-23:00, F Sa 16:00-01:00.

Sleep edit

  • 1 Bristol Residence, Dworcowa 16, +48 721 322 811241. Pleasant small hotel, and the most central. B&B double 300 zł.
  • 2 Seven Hotel, Feliksa Musialika 7, +48 721 277777. Decent mid-price place north of town centre. B&B double 350 zł.
  • 3 H33 Apartmenty, Marszałka Józefa Piłsudskiego 33, +48 609 582876. Clean serviced rooms. No reception, so pay heed to the access instructions. Double (room only) 200 zł.

Connect edit

As of March 2024, Bytom and its approach roads have 4G from Plus, and 5G from Orange, Play and T-Mobile.

Go next edit

This city travel guide to Bytom is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.