The Silesian Voivodeship in southern Poland is the centre of the former German Oberschlesien, today Górny Śląsk (Upper Silesia). The capital is Katowice (German Kattowitz). Located in the south of Poland it borders both the Czech Republic and Slovakia. It includes the Wyżyna Śląska (Silesian Upland) in the centre and north-west, and the Jura Krakowsko-Częstochowska (Krakowsko-Czestochowska Upland) in the north-east. Along the border to the south lie the Beskid Śląski and Beskid Żywiecki (Beskidy Mountains).
The region is rich in mineral deposits, most notable are one of the world's largest bituminous coalfields in the Upper Silesian Industrial District and the Rybnik Coal District. There is also lead, zinc and iron ore mining. Based on a long history as a mining district the area today becomes a car industry hotspot, with factories of Fiat and General Motors (Opel).
The expansion of railway connections started in the mid-19th century. This allowed the transport of raw materials and finished products, and enabled the rapid development of the Upper Silesian industry. New mines, steel mills and factories were built in the Zabrze region. Steam was used to drive trains, machines and devices, which resulted in a rapid increase in demand for coal. The result was the opening of numerous coal mines.
The industrial monuments of Silesia are today part of the European Route of Industrial Heritage. The regional Industrial Monuments Route includes show mines, abandoned factories and furnaces, museums and historic railways. During the last decades multiple sites were renovated and opened to the public. A full list is provided by the websites of the Route.