Our travels throughout Poland are limited to the small town of Cieszyn, Poland which is separated from Cesky Tesin, Czech Republic by the Olza River. Cesky Tesin and Cieszyn were originally the same city, but when the borders were formed for the new states Czechoslovakia and Poland, the city was separated into two parts, the Czech side and the Polish side.
It is interesting to discover the history behind Cieszyn, Poland. The town’s origin is based on a story of three brothers. It is believed that three brothers inhabited the area that is now Cieszyn and Cesky Tesin, and built a well. The well is known as the Three Brothers well, and it is still in Cieszyn, located on the Three Brothers Street.
Another unique tourist and historic feature that is simple and fun to visit is the border line placed on the bridge of the Olza River. The river itself is pretty, but the border represents history. During communism, Polish and Czech people couldn’t cross the border on a frequent basis, and it was often rather difficult to get across at all. People stayed in their towns and simply went to work and then home again. By simply stepping over the border that you now have the freedom to cross, you can take a visit to another country on a whim.
While living in Třinec, Czech Republic, Margaret would often visit Cieszyn to experience the more romantic European setting that contrasted to Třinec and Cesky Tesin. Unlike Třinec and Cesky Tesin, which radiate communist style buildings and a very stark city center with few distinguishing features, Cieszyn has character, beautiful architecture, and an appealing city center. Cieszyn offers a pleasant city square in the Old Town. The Old Market Square is only five minutes from the bridge. Along the walk to the center there are a plethora of shops for clothes, books, shoes, and confectioneries. The square is surrounded by historic and charming buildings, with a fountain in the middle, and cafes to enjoy some traditional Polish food or coffee and marlenka. A visit to the Old Town is full of relaxed European elegance and Polish culture.
A beautiful and prominent feature of Cieszyn is the Jesus Church, also known as Grace Lutheran, one of the oldest Lutheran churches in the region. The church was built in the 1700’s and has absolutely stunning architecture both inside and out. During World War II and communism, the Jesus Church members and other protestants from Silesia were forced to meet in the mountains using only stones for seats and a pulpit. The top of the church has a massive organ that resonates throughout the church. Most of the organ pipes had to be replaced after they were taken during the war, but the organ itself has not changed. The keys are worn, but somehow enchanting. As you play you can’t help but imagine that the beautiful music coming from the organ has been heard for hundreds of years. Inside the massive church are beautiful statues, pictures, and ornate decorations. The Jesus Church is an incredible and beautiful church, filled with history, culture, and for those seeking it, a spiritual experience.
Finally, one of the most interesting and fun attractions to visit in Cieszyn, Poland is Gora Zamkowa, which translates to Castle Hill. Gora Zamkowa was a former castle that now is open to visitors to stroll about the site, visit the historic buildings, view the Olza River and the city, and climb up the rotunda for incredible views. The site has developed and changed, with new structures being added, but evidence dates the site to as early as the 6th century. Gora Zamkowa has always been a central part of Cieszyn and the inhabitants. Now the former castle is not only a historic and archaeological site, it is also home to the music conservatory, being utilized still today. The castle grounds are beautiful, making for a pleasant afternoon of exploration in Poland, and a highlight of Cieszyn.
Although Cieszyn is not an overly large town, it offers visitors various activities, as well as charm. Cieszyn, unlike other European cities, is much more relaxed and allows you to experience European charm and Polish culture without the hustle and bustle of tourists. For those who want to get off the beaten path and explore a quaint Polish city, Cieszyn is a delightfully enchanting city.
Side Note: There is also a museum about printing that you can visit!