Month: October 2016

When did a “Flying Saucer” arrive in Katowice?

It happened in 1971. But, rather than landing, it grow from the ground a few years before earlier. It is in fact a sports and cultural arena, that is 45 years old this October 2016. It is also an iconic innovative architectural feature that dominates the northern edge of the central part of Katowice.

Spodek arena after facade renovation in 2011
Spodek arena after facade renovation in 2011

Spodek (meaning “saucer” in Polish) is a multipurpose arena complex in Katowice, Poland, opened in 1971 at ul. Korfantego 35 under the name Wojewódzka Hala Widowiskowo-Sportowa w Katowicach (Voivodeship Sport and Show Arena in Katowice), It was built on the site of former Zinc Smelters Huta Fanny  founded in 1822 and Huta Franz in 1818. There was also an iron works on the site.

Aerial view of Spodex taken from the Sky Bar at the top of the Altus building February 2016
Aerial view of Spedex taken from the Sky Bar at the top of the Altus building February 2016

The idea of building a large venue originated in 1955, while Katowice was temporarily renamed Stalinogród. A contest was held to select the best design. Initially, it was to be constructed on the outskirts of town, but the Voivodeship National Council decided it should be built near the city center.on a mining waste dump site classified “2A” was chosen for construction.

1883 map of Huta Fanny formerly on the site now at Spodex
1883 map of Huta Fanny formerly on the site now at Spodex

The classification “2A” indicated medium mining damage with a possibility of local cave-ins. While excavating the foundations, the workers dug through coal instead of soil. Soon after construction began, rumors of design flaws in the new building spread, including the rumour that the dome would collapse when the scaffolding was removed. Because of this, in 1964, construction was halted for 18 months. Spodek’s architects and chief engineers entered the dome when the supports were dismantled as a response to those rumours; clearly they survived. Before opening the building to the public, endurance tests were conducted – 3,500 soldiers marched into the hall and vibration of the building was measured. The outcome was positive.

1958-61 map before Spodex was built
1958-61 map before Spodex was built


Maciej Gintowt and Maciej Krasiński, architects of Spodek, designed the Spodek as one of the first major structures to employ the principle of tensegrity. The roof uses an inclined surface held in check by a system of cables holding up its circumference.


Since then Spodek arena is of great events and entertainment. It’s Spodek starring, among others, Sting, Jean Michel Jarre, Chris Rea, Cliff Richard, Joe Cocker, Tina Turner, Brian Adams, Elton John, Vanessa Mae, Deep Purple, Metallica, The Cure, Genesis, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, Black Sabbath, Saxon, Mike Oldfield , The Kelly Family, Rammstein, Iron Maiden, Robbie Williams, Depeche Mode, Korn, Slipknot. 34 years on stage Spodek guests Rawa Blues Festival, 29 years ago was here the first edition of the cult Metalmania, and 15 years ago Mayday – a festival of techno music.
























Text Sources:

Wikipedia, Spodex

Wikipedia, Huta Fanny

Wikipedia, Huta Franz

Rawa Blues – largest indoor Blues Festival in the world

Katowice is the host to the largest indoor Blues Festival in the world – Rawa Blues. 2016 is its 36th year. It’s name comes from the Rawa river that runs through the centre of Katowice. It takes place around the end of September and the beginning of October in Spodek, the large flying saucer like arena near the centre of Katowice and since it was built next door also in NOSPR – the home of the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra.


The Beginnings

The idea of the Rawa Blues Festival was introduced in 1981. The first festival was organized in the Katowice Theater and gathered about twenty blues bands from all over Poland and 500 fans. Organizing the festival on that times was a big challenge, considering the political background. It was the time when Polish people were struggling with the socialistic system. In 1980, there were the beginnings of Solidarnosc (Solidarity) movements. In 1981, a martial law was introduced in Poland by gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski as head of the authoritarian government. It was the time, when even basic items were hardly available.

Irek Dudek
Irek Dudek

And in that hard times, a group of people, mainly students and blues musicians, decided to organize a blues sessions in Katowice, starting first Rawa Blues edition. On the beginnings, during the 80s the festival systematically received more and more recognition. Polish blues journalist and musicians consider that times of the festival as a key element in fostering the development of Polish blues scene. Rawa Blues Festival is the only festival, where all legendary Polish blues artists have played, and where a lot of them started their artistic career. The list include: Tadeusz Nalepa, Dżem, Easy Rider, Jan Kyks Skrzek, Irek Dudek, Martyna Jakubowicz, Jan Janowski, Silesian Blues Band, Nocna Zmiana Bluesa to name only a few.

The festival director is Irek Dudek  a Polish singer, composer, multiinstrumentalist and songwriter. He is well known in Poland and western Europe for his blues achievements

Corey Harris
Corey Harris

The first night of the 2016 Festival held at NOSPR featured Corey Harris solo during the first half Keb’ Mo’ & NOSPR orchestra with an appearance from Rawa Blues organiser Irek Dudek – himself a well-known Blues artist who increased the popularity of Blues in Poland.

Keb Mo
Keb Mo

More information on the Rawa Blues website