The history of Cieszyn, especially in the twentieth century is very complicated. A person who – let’s say – was born in 1900 and lived on the other side of Olza river didn’t have to leave home to change the citizenship even six times.
CAPITAL OF HABSBURG EMPRIRE
Impossible? And yet. Although it lasted only for a few weeks, but in 1805 the whole imperial court threatened by Napoleon moved from Vienna to Cieszyn.
If you are lucky to be in Cieszyn at the turn of April and May, you can enjoy an extraordinary view. Streets are adorned by flowering magnolias, which in the eighteenth century brought here traveling Jesuit, Leopold Szersznik.
KINO NA GRANICY / CINEMA ON BORDER
There is a lot of cultural events in Cieszyn. One of the most famous is certainly “Kino na Granicy” (Cinema on Border) festival, organised each year in the first week of May. The festival brings hundreds of Polish, Czech, Slovak and Hungarian films, dozens of meetings with people from movie industry, thousands of tourists enjoying the city.
The historic Castle Brewery was founded in 1846 and is one of the oldest breweries still operating in Poland. The most recognizable brand of the brewery is “Brackie” – lager and several varieties (eg IPA, Stout). Beer in Castle Brewery is being produced in the traditional long-lasting process.
“Prince Polo” is a delicious chocolate wafer produced in Cieszyn. Its main export destination is Iceland. When Icelanders decided to import it, there were hard negotiations with the communist Polish authorities, because the Polish currency was not exchangeable. They decided to barter: and what in Iceland is in excess? Herring!
One of the flagship products of Cieszyn is certainly sandwich with herring. How saltwater fish became popular in the town which is set a few hundred kilometers away from the sea? The story is associated with another flagship product of the town. Check out Prince Polo!
The first mention of Cieszyn comes from 1155, however the history of the town dates back much further. Legend says about 810. Evidence of old age is Rotunda of St. Nicholas located on Castle Hill. It was built in the twelfth century and it is one of the oldest Romanesque monuments in Poland. The image of rotunda is placed on 20PLN banknote.
In 1920 Cieszyn was divided, and Olza became a border river, Poland retained old town center, while the western part of town was given to Czechoslovakia. The border still exists, but after Poland and Czech Republic joined Schengen area, everyone can move freely from one part to another.
Cieszyn has always been a multi-ethnic town. Except Poles and Czechs, here lived also Germans and Jews. It is therefore called a town of many religions, here you can find Evangelical and Catholic churches. Before the Second World War, in the town centre, there was also a beautiful synagogue, burned down during the war.