Sunday, October 20, 2013

Český Těšín, Czech Republic

Town Hall
Český Těšín is on the west bank of the Olza River.  Until the end of WWI, in 1918, it was called Sachsenberg when it was a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  The new countries of Czechoslovakia and Poland both claimed the entire area.  This was critical for Czechoslovakia at the time because the railway here connected Bohemia and Moravia with eastern Slovakia.
Same coat of arms as Cieszyn

A compromise was reached in 1920 where the city was divided between the two countries which left a sizable Polish minority on the Czechoslovak side.
Cieszyn on the left, the Olza River in the center, and Český Těšín on the right.

Bilingual street sign
The Czech city has about 25,000 people.  Poles make up just over 16% of the population.  According to Czech law, bilingual signs may be displayed in areas where officially recognized minorities make up 10% or more of the population.  It's kind of interesting seeing all of the street signs in both Czech and Polish.  There are no Czech signs in Cieszyn because there aren't enough Czechs living on the Polish side.   

In several of the shops, people spoke both Czech and Polish.  And while prices were posted in Czech Crowns you could also pay with Polish Złoty.

Friendship Bridge
There are no longer border guards separating the two cities.  Since ČR and Poland joined Schengen in 2007, you can easily walk back and forth between the two sides at either the Friendship Bridge or the Peace Bridge.

The Neo-Gothic Catholic Sacred Heart of Jesus Church was built in 1894.

The Anti-Fascist Coalition of International Solidarity memorial was established in 1979.  It is dedicated to the Czech and Polish army units killed from 1939 to 1945.

Masaryk Park

The statue of St. John of Nepomuk is one of the oldest statues in the city.  It dates back to the 18th century and is located in Masaryk Park.

The Těšín Theater was established in 1951 and moved to its current location in 1961.  It's unique because it contains two ensembles who present plays in both Czech and Polish.  It is one of only three theaters outside of Poland with a professional Polish ensemble.

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