Nikiszowiec in Katowice
Nikiszowiec is a part of an administrative district Janow-Nikiszowiec of Katowice city. Initially it was coal miners’ settlement of Giesche mine built on the land of Gieschewald manor between 1908–1918 on the mining – metallurgical concern initiative Georg von Giesches Erben. Built between 1908 and 1911 to house plebs from the nearby coal mine, this residential complex just east of Katowice’s city centre consists of nine red brick blocks, each centered around a courtyard. Designed by Georg and Emil Zillmann from Charlottenburg this prototype dwelling would have been a socialist planner’s paradise, with the community designed to be completely self-sufficient.
Included in their sketches were a bakery, schools, hospital, police station, communal laundry, post office, swimming baths and church. The Church – St Anne’s – was only added in the 20s, thanks to the political turmoil that gripped this corner of Europe after the original completion of Nikiszowiec, though it is by no means a sight to be overlooked. Built in a neo-baroque style it includes stained glass crafted in Regensburg, and a 75 voice organ featuring 5,350 pipes. The area fell victim to chronic neglect, and at one stage the dark courtyards became a haven for Katowice’s criminal underclass. Now the buzzword is regeneration, and a campaign is afoot to have this marvelous development included on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sights. Today it’s reasonably safe to wander, though that’s not to say sensible precautions shouldn’t be taken, like avoiding zooming your latest bit of hi-tech camera kit in the faces of the shaven headed teens.