The pleasant, intimate town of Cieszyn lies on the Olza River, half on the Polish and half on the Czech side of the border. It is one of the oldest towns in the country, according to legend, founded by three brothers – Bolek, Leszek and Cieszek in memory of their friendship. Contained in the city’s name, “cieszyć się” is be happy in Polish, which reflects well the atmosphere you will experience while strolling through Cieszyn’s old town.
The oldest part of Cieszyn is located on a castle hill, on which stands an 11th-century Romanesque rotunda visible on the Polish 20-zloty bill.
Walking south along the border Olza River, you will come across a charming street called “Venice of Cieszyn,” along which a small artificial canal flows. It is full of quiet pubs and restaurants. Slightly higher towards the market, at 1 Sejmowa Street you will come across a beautiful bookstore called Kornel i Przyjaciele, named after Kornel Filipowicz – a great writer, longtime partner of Wisława Szymborska, master of short stories.
From there it is only a step to the Market Square, which is surrounded by old townhouses in the characteristic Austro-Hungarian style. The spirit of the former Habsburg monarchy can be felt throughout the southern part of Poland, with Kraków at the forefront, but in multicultural Cieszyn it seems to be particularly alive and present.
The Church of Jesus, the city’s most important Protestant temple, is also worth a visit.
In the entire region of Cieszyn Silesia the presence of Polish Lutherans, whose largest concentration is in the town of Wisła, is alive. At the Museum of Protestantism housed in the church, you will learn more about the history of Lutheranism in Cieszyn and the surrounding area.
Distinguished by its excellent acoustics, the church is a frequent venue for classical music concerts. And there is no shortage of these, as despite its small size, Cieszyn is home to many festivals and cultural events, the top of which is the cross-border Polish-Czech film festival “Kino na Granicy.”