In the footsteps of aristocratic dynasties in Teschen Silesia

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Complex history of Teschen Silesia was signifi cantly infl uenced since the medieval settlements until the fi rst half of the twentieth century by aristocratic dynasties. Violent disruption of property relations, which occurred after both world wars on the one hand, and massive infl uence of mining activities on the other unfortunately caused an extinction of many interesting and important monuments. 

Nevertheless, the activities of the nobility in the region of Teschen survived in the form of a series of tangible traces. In several cases they are presented by valuable architectural buildings, especially
palaces and castle parks, sometimes they are associated with the development of economy, they usually include functional industrial operation sites or objects of transport infrastructure. Some monuments document turbulent history of religious processes and others are associated with legends originated by a strong relationship of local residents with certain representatives of nobility. The visitor of the tourist area of Teschen Silesia will certainly be interested in the information about past connection of former naming with some patrons of tourist cottages.

The main eff ect was mainly that of the noble dynasties ruling this region from the late 13th century. It was then when Cieszyn principality headed by Prince Mieszko Piastovsky separated from Opolsko. Piasts for which the center of their dominion, the city of Cieszyn, was also the settlement city, ruled here until 1653. Some of them held important positions at the court of the Czech kings, to whom the princes of Teschen were expressing loyalty throughout their entire reign and thus reported to the Czech state. A symbolic example is the marriage of the last Premyslid Wenceslas III. with Viola, daughter of the aforementioned fi rst Teschen Prince Mieszko. Another confi rmation of the link of Teschen princes to the royal court in Prague and concurrent evidence of their infl uence on historical events of
European importance is the active involvement of Premysl I. Nosak, grandson of Mieszko, in the diplomatic activities of the Emperor Wenceslas IV.

After the death of the last member of this family in Teschen throne, Princess Elizabeth Lucretia, Teschen was passed as a withered fi ef of the Czech kings over to the hands of the Habsburgs. Teschen thus became a seat only of their administrators. However, the involvement of the Habsburgs, especially in the development of economy, in promoting recatholization processes, or in the enforcement of
the strategic and military interests in Teschen region was considerable. Their names are associated with the construction of the so-called Ferdinand’s Northern Railway from Vienna to Bohumin initiated by the Emperor Ferdinand V., or foundation of Steelworks of Trinec by Archduke Charles. During the First World War Cieszyn was the place of headquarters of the General Staff of the Austro-Hungarian army, which was headed by the Prince of Teschen - Archduke Friedrich.

The region of Teschen was signifi cantly infl uenced by the Larisch-Mönnich family, which from the 1790‘s until the end of the Second World War owned vast fortunes around Karvina, especially the castles of Frystat and Solca. The latter disappeared in the 1950‘s. The Frystat castle however, after its recent reconstruction, became a pearl among the monuments of Teschen Silesia. Also, this
dynasty reached a European awareness. Earl John served in the 1860‘s during the reign of Emperor Franz Joseph I as the Minister of Finance of the then Austrian government, count Henry could then thanks to his contacts host even the heir Archduke Ferdinand d‘Este, the German emperor Wilhelm II., and the Bulgarian Tsar Ferdinand at the Frystat castle in the early 20th century. This count‘s family largely contributed to the development of coal mining in the region of Teschen.

A distinctive mark in the county was also left by Nicolas Taafe, a member of the Irish aristocratic family. The time when he was the owner of Frystat estate is reminded here by two statues of the patron of Ireland Bishop saint Patrick, probably the only ones in the Czech Republic.

Visitors of Teschen Silesia can thus admire selected monuments commemorating local noble families as a surprisingly attractive and interesting source of information. Those who are interested in history can fi nd there a potential for inspiration to search for other historical traces and thus receive a deeper knowledge and understanding of the uniqueness of this region.

Monuments of Aristocratic Dynasties in Teschen Silesia


1. Nature Trail Mionsi
Favourite place for hunting trips of the Archduke Friedrich Habsburg, the last Duke of Teschen and the commander of the General Staff of the Austro-Hungarian army in the period from 1914 to 1916 in Cieszyn. He is dedicated part of the information of the second panel of Mionsi trail. The nature trail is open from June to mid September.

2. Tolerance Monument
on Godula and Memorial Plaque on Cantoryje
Two sites resembling secret meetings and church services of the Silesian Protestants in the period of recatholisation onset after the Thirty Years War and the takeover of Teschen in direct administration of the Habsburgs, especially during the reign of Emperor Ferdinand III. and Leopold I. Godula mound commemorate this period of 1931. The mound was installed by the Evangelical “Matica” Tranovskeho in the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Toleration Act by the Emperor Joseph II., who gave the Protestants back, at least partially, their freedom of religion. The third stop of the Knight nature trail on Cantoryje mentions secret religious services. Nearby, in a place called Zakamen there is a rock, under which the Protestants met, with commemorative metal plate. Common
initiators of this reminder installed in 1992 was the community of Nydek Silesian Evangelical Church of Augsburg confession.

3. Trinecke Zelezarny
Metallurgical company founded in 1839 by Archduke Karl von Habsburg. Today‘s „Werk“ as the employees and residents of Teschen still call it in accordance with the local dialect, is a successful industrial company with a strong infl uence on the social life of the city and surrounding region. Its history is also a described in the dedicated permanent exhibition of the Museum of Trinecke Zelezarny and the city of Trinec.

4. Tourist Cottages at Cantoryje and Javorovy
Buildings of the German tourist association Beskiedenverein reminding of the tourism development in late 19th and 20th century. Both were named after the then Habsburgs who ruled in Teschen region: cottage at Cantoryje was named after Archduchess Isabella, patron of Beskiedenverein association and wife of Archduke Albrecht and the cottage in Javorovy named after Archduke Frederick (see also section 1 – nature trail Mionsi).


5. Jablunkovske Sance
Early modern fortifi cation protecting the Silesian-Hungarian border. It was built and subsequently refi ned in the 16th and in the 17th century during the reign of the last Piasts princes Wenceslas III.
Adam, Adam Wenceslas and Elizabeth Lucretia. Its maintenance and renovations continued later in the hands of Habsburgs. It was occupied by a permanent military garrison from selected local Walachians. The military importance began to abate in the 19th century. At present, it is reminded only by fragments of defensive walls, ramparts and ditches.

6. Church of the Elevation of the Holy Cross in Bystrice nad Olsi
One of the six wooden churches in the tourist area of Teschen Silesia. From the very beginning it was under the patronage of princes of Teschen, even after the Piasts passed Teschen to the hands of the Habsburgs. The original church was probably built in the 1580‘s during the reign of Teschen Princess Sidonia Catherine. However, as already dilapidated building, it was dismantled in the 1890‘s and a new church was built in its place in the neoromantic style. Signifi cant part of the costs associated with the construction of the new church in particular was borne by the patron Archduke Frederick Habsburg.

7. Church of St. Lawrence in Terlicko-Kostelec
Ecclesiastical building representing the overgrowth of the heritage from noble families in Teschen into legends. It is also associated with several folk tales about Black princess. One of them tells that this nice lady of Teschen wanted to be buried after her death in the village - close to her subjects. It happened on the hill above Terlicko, where a wooden church was then built and the hill also gave it its name - Kostelec. Although a new church was later erected in its place, the Black lady manifests in it until today. The model for the folk fantasy was most probably Princess Sidonie Catherine, the wife of Prince Wenceslas III. Adam, who ruled Teschen after his death in the late 16th century.


8. Frystat Castle
It was originally a Gothic castle founded by the Teschen Piasts. In 1792 it was bought by Count family Larisch-Mönnich, which was gradually improving it in its present Empire form. The Larisch- Mönnichs owned it until the end of the Second World War, when it was confi scated. The last renovation took place in the period from 1994 to 1997. After that the castle became open to the public
and constitutes a „pearl“ among the historical monuments of Teschen Silesia. High season in the castle is from April to October, exposition of the National Gallery is open all-year-round. Around the castle the visitors can fi nd a large park.

9. Castle, Summer Palace and Statue of St John of Nepomuk in Terlicko
Smaller monuments commemorate the possessions of Larisch-Mönnichs in the Teschen country. Both buildings were used as a base of administrators. They are currently in private hands. Statue of St. John of Nepomuk of 1778 at the castle is a quality piece of Baroque art decorated with aristocratic emblem of the original owners. The summer palace is associated with a legend, maybe even a real statement. In the past, it was followed by a relatively robust - about 300 m long „Hunger Wall“. It is said to have been built in the time of poor harvest in the 1840´s by the owners in order to protect their orchard against the hungry villagers. However, it was gradually „pulled down“ and now only a mere torso remained.


10. Statues of St Patrick in Karvina and Dolni Lutyne
Two Baroque statues commemorating Taaf earls, who owned the estate of Frystat and Dolni Lutyne in the 18th century. The statues of the Bishop st. Patrick, who is the patron of Ireland, are the monuments of the activities of the noble Irish origin, which is a truly symbolical heritage. It is also very likely that they are the only statues of this saint in the Czech Republic. Both are dated from 1749 and are thus associated with the former owner Earl Nicholas Taaf. In Dolni Lutyne the statue of St Patrick is situated in the premises of the church of St. John the Baptist, in Karvina - Frystat it can be seen in the Church of Elevation of the Holy Cross.