If you follow me for a while now you probably know very well I have a strong affection for Central Europe. And then, among all the places in the area, I have a strong affection for Cieszyn, Poland. This small town has everything I adore about the region, it’s like Central Europe in a nutshell!
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Duchy of Teschen
Even if the current look and feel of Cieszyn comes from the times when the town was part of the Austria-Hungary the history of the place is so much longer. The place was first mentioned in the 9th century but the town got its rights in 1220. Shortly after, in 1290 Cieszyn became the center of Duchy of Teschen and that defined and still defines the place even now.
Duchy of Teschen was connected first with Piast dynasty and eventually with Habsburg-Lorraine dynasty. The region always had a strong sense of individualism and independence that can be felt there even now. When in 1918 Poland celebrated the return of independence after 123 years in the Duchy of Teschen it was the sorrow time of losing its autonomy.
Multiculturalism in Cieszyn
Cieszyn has always been on the crossroads of two important trade routes. That’s why the town could grow strong and wealthy, that’s also why the idea of multiculturalism was never an issue there. Cieszyn was home to numerous nations, cultures and religions, even today the town is the center of Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland.
For me, however, one of the most beautiful spots in Cieszyn is the Jewish cemetery. Located on the hill where the plants took over the place it looks especially magical around the sunset time. The sun peeks through trees, giving the soft light, there is no one around and you can just wander around, lost in thoughts.
My love affair with Cieszyn
I fell for Cieszyn during my first proper visit in the town in 2013. I fell for it so hard that I keep returning there on every occasion, few times each year (last time I was there in January, just for few hours on my way to Slovakia, I just had to stop by when I was that close). I’m very picky when it comes to naming the place “my favorite one” but Cieszyn definitely lives up to this title. I like calling it “my happy place” as that’s how I instantly feel each time I arrive to Cieszyn.
This is the town like no other. Even if technically it is part of Poland it doesn’t feel like that (nor it feels like Czech Republic that is just a short walk away). It always seems to me that Cieszyn and surroundings are a separate state and looking at the strong legacy of Duchy of Teschen I might be not too far from the truth. I wasn’t even that surprised when last year, on top of the Piast Tower – one of the most important landmarks in Cieszyn – I saw the flag of the Duchy.
By now I have some friends from Cieszyn and every time I’m impressed with their sense of the local patriotism, how proud they are with their small homeland, how they can talk about it for hours, knowing all the details and historical facts. I don’t think I’ve encountered something similar anywhere else!
Cieszyn – Central Europe in a nutshell
For me Cieszyn is a perfect example of how amazing but overlooked and underrated Central Europe is. While the majority of people focus on big and famous cities (like Prague, Budapest or Vienna) they are not what make the region so special and unique.
It’s the smaller towns, full of interesting history, nuances that only the adept eye can spot and the sense of uniqueness. They are the reason why this part of Europe attract more and more people who want to dig deeper, see what’s under the surface. As Milan Kundera, famous Czech writer, once said: “maximum diversity in minimum space”.
If you would like to get to know the real charm of the region I can’t think of a better place than Cieszyn. This truly is Central Europe in a nutshell, with the beautiful architecture, multicultural past, amazing cafes and slow pace of life. I bet you will love it as much as I do! What’s more: Cieszyn is a perfect stop if you travel from Krakow to Prague (or another way around)!
When you decide to visit Cieszyn I strongly recommend staying at 3 Bros’ Hostel or at 3 Bros’ Apart. The owners, now good friends of mine, are among the people who made me curious about the place and taught me so much about the town, its history and Duchy of Teschen. Talking to them about Cieszyn is a real treat and a reason itself to visit the place. It is also very likely you will meet me there when you visit Cieszyn (as did some of my dear readers in the past).
Disclaimer: The post was written as part of EU funded webPR_SCI project. / Tekst w ramach mikroprojektu webPR_SCI dofinansowanego ze środków Unii Europejskiej w ramach Europejskiego Funduszu Rozwoju Regionalnego – Funduszu Mikroprojektów Programu Interreg V-A Republika Czeska – Polska i budżetu państwa za pośrednictwem Euroregionu Śląsk Cieszyński. Wykonawcą projektu webPR_SCI była Fundacja Volens w partnerstwie ze Stowarzyszeniem Polskiej Młodzieży w Republice Czeskiej.
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