Ruda Śląska is located in the southern part of the Silesian (Śląskie) Voivodeship. In terms of transport links, its location is strategic as it lies on the intersection of roads connecting the western with the eastern, as well as the northern with the southern, parts of the Upper Silesian urban area. It occupies an area of 77.7 km2 and its neighbouring localities are the cities of Bytom, Świętochłowice, Chorzów, Katowice, Mikołów, Zabrze and the village of Gierałtowice. The city has 144 thousand inhabitants and the population density is approximately 1853 people per square kilometre. About 3 million people live within 25 kilometres of the city.
The granting of a town charter to Ruda according to the German law model is mentioned by “Rejestr Ujazdu”, a document created in the years 1295–1305. In the second half of the 17th century hard coal beds were discovered in the area of Ruda and in surrounding localities. Rich beds of coal attracted many entrepreneurs to come and invest in the area, building mines, a steelworks and numerous brickyards. Until 1950, many different localities existed in the area of today’s Ruda Śląska, and each of them had its own history dating back many centuries. First these were joined to form two towns, Ruda and Nowy Bytom, and subsequently, in 1959, the city of Ruda Śląska was created.
Each of the city’s districts has a distinct character and the city as a whole has a polycentric structure, shaped over a period of several centuries. Ruda Śląska is divided into eleven districts: Ruda, Godula, Orzegów, Bykowina, Halemba, Kochłowice, Chebzie, Nowy Bytom, Wirek, Bielszowice and Czarny Las. A very well developed technical infrastructure connects these districts to form a single urban unit.
The A4 motorway runs through the southern districts of the city. The city’s principal road is 1 Maja Street, which is a section of the Bytom–Rybnik route. Using the Drogowa Trasa Średnicowa (an expressway connecting cities of the Upper Silesian urban area), one can quickly reach the eastern part of the Silesian Voivodeship. There are two railway stations, one in Ruda and the other in Chebzie, both on the Wrocław–Krakow railway line. The nearest airport (Pyrzowice) is just 35 kilometres away.
There are modern housing estates as well as old districts of miners’ houses in Ruda Śląska. Although the many types of heavy industry developing over the centuries, such as hard coal mining and iron metallurgy, have left a rich heritage of post-industrial buildings, the city has maintained an interesting regional architecture that manages to combine its own history, identity and the Silesian tradition.
Despite its industrial character, Ruda Śląska is one of the greenest cities in Upper Silesia, with many parks, squares, forests and other places where people can spend their time in relaxation.