Katowice (pronounced Kah-toh-veet-seh) is the capital and largest city of Silesian Voivodeship, Poland. The largest urban center in the Silesian Metropolis, Katowice stands with a population of over 300,000 in the city itself, and over 2.1 million in the surrounding metropolitan area. Located in the middle of the province on the banks of the river Rawa, Katowice's historical importance as Poland's main industrial centre has been indisputable for decades. Once synonymous as a crushingly gray industrial city, contemporary Katowice has expanded to become a vibrant cultural and business center, with the Silesian Philharmonic, the Silesian Museum, and its famous flying saucer-shaped concert hall, the Spodek, calling the city home. Intrepid visitors will find an interesting city with charming secessionist architecture from the early 1900s, historic reminders of the German and communist past, stunning modern architecture, hospitable and proud local people, and easy access to the Beskid Mountains and other neighboring communities. One of the hidden gems of Poland, Katowice especially delights the senses in April with its numerous flowering lilac trees.
Katowice sits at the intersection of major road and rail routes connecting Poland to the rest of Europe in all directions, making the city relatively easy to get in and out of. Until recently, the dominant economic sectors in the region were mining, steel, electrical machinery, electronics, and chemicals. Due to economic and political changes in the last three decades, this situation has changed dramatically, with heavy industry giving way to the commerce, tourism, trade fair and service industries.