The Olza in Cieszyn
The spatial development of Cieszyn, which commenced with the Góra Zamkowa [Castle Hill] settlement, gradually expanded to the neighbouring areas during the following centuries. Of great significance for the town were the moments it received its city charters (in the second half of 13th century on the Lwówek Law and in 1374 on Magdeburg Law), as well as the time when it took over the estate belonging to Dominican Friars in Cieszyn. The development of the town’s economy required suburbs laying outside the city walls, which would provide economic support thereto. In the case of Cieszyn, the areas surrounding the town belonged to the Prince and formed a part of his domain, hence they did not constitute an element of the Cieszyn of the time. Only behind Wyższa Brama [the Upper Gate], i.e. behind the gate at today’s ul. Szersznika, was a suburb established, known as the Upper one, subject to the municipal law of Cieszyn. The most important of the Prince’s outer districts was Przedmieście Frysztackie [The Suburb of Frysztat], the most populous one, which also served as the administrative centre, spreading on both banks of the Bobrówka river and along the town walls. Along the Olza river, on its right bank, the suburbs of Mała Łąka [Little Meadow] and Przykopa [Channel] were situated, the latter erected on a narrow strip of land between the city walls and the Olza river, while on the other side of the river the suburbs: Brandys, Kamieniec and the last to have been created Saska Kępa. Such legal status of the outer districts of Cieszyn was valid until mid-19th century.
The breakthrough for the territorial development of Cieszyn came in the form of a temporary municipal Act of 20 March 1849, establishing as the lowest unit of local government the administrative municipality, existing at the time of the enforcement of that Act as a cadastral common, defined by the preceding Josephine Cadaster, towards the end of the 18th century. According to that law, Cieszyn encompassed all its suburbs belonging until that moment to the Teschener Kammer (with the exception of the Upper Suburb). Also the following legal changes, especially the Act of 5 March 1862, introducing the self-government system, intensified the activity of the municipal authorities. Thus, they were granted influence over the shape of the town. At the turn of 19th and 20th century, the city comprised eight districts: the town, the Upper Suburb, the Suburb of Frysztat, the Little Meadow and the Channel, while on the left bank of Olza — Kamieniec, Brandys and Saska Kępa.
Mała Łąka [Little Meadow]
The borders of the Little Meadow are delineated by Olza, the Castle Hill where, at the level of the tower of final defence, there was a smithy channel leaving Młynówka [Mill Channel] and flowing into the Bobrówka river several hundred meters downstream, and by the very Bobrówka river itself. The name of the district most likely originated as a reference to a meadow located near the Castle of Cieszyn, which - in order to differentiate it from Wielka Łąka [Great Meadow] on the other side of Olza - was referred to as the Little one. The name was applied for the first time in 1549; that part of Cieszyn has kept its name ever since. Before that, i.e. in the 15th century, on this side of the castle, there were meadows and pastures, divided into plots and turned into farms. The pasture was still there in 1549; however, it must have been transformed into agricultural terrain, as the land registers cease to mention it later. Of the terrain of the Little Meadow, the Prince owned the hop farm, recorded in 1648 and most likely located near Mały Młyn [Little Mill] adjacent to the castle walls. The above would mean that for the needs of brewing beer in Cieszyn local hops may have been used, at least in part. Other lands of the Little Meadow comprised farms and fields, occasionally with some buildings developed on them, of which some may have served residential functions.
Towards the end of the first half of the 18th century, in a documentation of a tax enforced at the time, known as Carolinian Cadaster, as few as 9 little houses were listed. All the estates were rather small and only one of them may possibly have been referred as a folwark. At that time, the latter belonged to Paweł Kondrela, and subsequently to a Mr. Płoszek. Until mid-19th century, the demographics of the suburb were slow to change. In the 16th and the first half of the 17th century, there were less than a score of taxpayers from that district: in 1577 — 21, 1621 — 12, and in 1647 — 13. In 1770, it was inhabited by a populace of 46 persons, while in 1830 of 76 people in 22 households.
The main route of the district was created along today’s ul. Dojazdowa, ul. Mostowa and ul. Rzeźnicza, running from ul. Zamkowa along the Castle Brewery (and the buildings adjacent thereto), established in 1846 and further developed in 1853, all the way to the power plant and the slaughterhouse. This area was intended for farming, as it encompassed fields, gardens and meadows. In 1869, there were 10 houses there, while in 1910 their number grew to 27. It continued to be the smallest district of Cieszyn at the turn of 19th and 20th century. The character of the Little Meadow was transformed only following the municipal investment projects, which gradually turned it into an industrial zone.
The Suburbs on the Left Bank of Olza; Kamieniec, Brandys and Saska Kępa
The outer districts on the left bank of Olza were rather fragmented; the process of their unification lasted until the close of 17th century. In 1692, the area was referred to as die lange Brücke auf dem Brandeis; additionally the sources list all the taxpayers owning real estate there. Eventually, in the early 18th century, the space came to be officially called Kamieniec (Steinplatz) and Brandys (Brandeis). The borders of both suburbs can only be ascertained on the basis of a cadastral map of 1836. Kamieniec was located along Olza from the castle of Cieszyn southwards, where it neighboured with Sibica, while from the west with Dolny Żuków and Mistrzowice. Thus, it is identical to what was earlier referred to as Za Długim Mostem [Behind the Long Bridge]. Branyds, on the other hand, was situated between Mistrzowice from the west, and Kamieniec with the Olza river from the east, while from the north and west it bordered with Mosty and Ligotka Alodialna, respectively. In the modern times, one could get to the left bank of Olza taking the road through Brama Wodna [Water Gate], near the castle, and later the bridge known as Długi [Long]. The bridge was adjoined by a route identical to today's ul. Hlavní, which several hundred meters down the road forked in three directions: first one leading to Opava through Ostrava, i.e. through today’s ul. Ostravska, the other one, known as early as in 1545 as the Frydek road, led through Frydek to Moravia, while the third one known as the Hungarian or Sibik road (today’s ul. Jablunkovská) headed to Jablunkov, Žilina and further to Hungary. At the same time, along Olza, there was a pavement leading to Brandys, which can most likely be identified as today’s road to Karviná. This layout of streets remained unchanged until the second half of the 19th centry, i.e. until the time when a railway connection was built joining Bohumín with Košice, splitting the route in the place where the road forked.
A little river known in the 17th century as Bleicharka (no longer extant) used to flow through Kamieniec and Brandys. It was an artificial watercourse which served to supply water from the Ropiczanka creek. Next to today’s ul. Frydecka, on its left side (probably above the bus station), there was a bleachery, owned by the Prince, next to the little river of Bleicharka, the early records of which date back to 1442. One may assume that the watercourse existed at least until mid-15th century. Opposite the bleachery, on the other side of the road, in 1461 there was a folwark owned by the family of Czech Piasts. In 1545 and in the subsequent years, the estate was known as the Princely Orchard. It was also there that the Prince’s hunting ground was located, which could boast rearing fallow deer, roe deer, and other wild animals, apparently including a giraffe. A large herd of fallow deer was donated here by Prince Wenceslaus II Adam, who entered into correspondence with the Bishop of Moravia in order to exchange several female deer for males, as all the Bishop’s male deer died. The central spot of the Prince’s estate was a summer palace located at today’s ul. Komorna. It was eventually demolished in 1953. It was there, midway through the year 1617, that the Duke of Cieszyn Adam Wenclaus expired. In the vicinity of the Prince’s folwark, the 17th century saw the operation of a small brickyard, which manufactured bricks to satisfy the needs of the castle and other minor buildings, as well as of the inhabitants of the suburbs governed by the castle law. Next to the little river of Bleicharka, there was one more commercial building, to wit: the mill in Brandys, located next to today’s ul. Ostravska, erected most likely in the early 17th century and owned by the Prince’s Kammer. In all likelihood, a minor mill known as Petrovsky [Peter’s] dated back even earlier. It, too, operated in Brandys, and it was located next to the fulling plant. It was leased to the Drapers’ Guild in 1624. The fulling plant’s operation throughout the entire 17th century is attested in the archives. Another workshop worth mentioning here is the Prince’s pradlo [laundry], located near the Olza in the direct vicinity of the Long Bridge and the Prince’s residence, which served the needs of the patron’s family and the court.
On the left bank of the Olza, there were three suburbs: Kamieniec (Kamenec, Steinplatz) spreading from the Olza to the train line, Saska Kępa, at the time also referred to as Saksówka (Saská Kupa, Sachsenberg) reaching the Olza at the level of the castle along ul. Hlavní all the way to the railway, as well as Brandys (Brandýs, Brandeis) in the area from the rail line to borders of the adjacent municipalities. In contrast to the right-bank part of the town, the grounds of these districts were relatively level, which provided them with an unquestionable advantage and suggested their purpose (the development of the town). However, until the 1860s, these suburbs were predominantly of agricultural character, as they were filled with fields, meadows and gardens. The situation changed in the years 1869-1870 when the railway line connecting the present-day Slovakia with Bohumín was built. The train route was connected to a major railway line, the so-called Emperor Ferdinand Northern Railway. The route running through Cieszyn was to facilitate the supply of iron ore to the steelworks operating in the region of Cieszyn Silesia. The creation of the train line at the north-south axis through the middle outer districts in the left-bank Cieszyn resulted in their division into two parts: the first one — located between the Olza and the rail line and the second one — located west of the railway. The most important streets of the former proved to be ul. Hlavní, ul. Nádražní and ul. Střelniční, providing the railway station with a connection to the right-bank Cieszyn through two bridges on the Olza. On the other side of the rail line, however, there was the forking of the road leading from the castle in three directions: to Ostrava, Frýdek and Jablunkov. The splitting of that route resulted at the time in a partial transfer of the road and curving it under the railway overpass. Concurrently, in order to facilitate pedestrian crossing through the railroad, a subway under the rail line was built at the extension of ul. Hlavní, which came to be known later as the Demel’s dungeon.
Unquestionably, the central feature of the left side of the Olza river was the train station, erected in 1871, as it was a spacious and modern edifice. The significance of the railroad for the development of Cieszyn further grew in 1888, when the Silesian City Railway was built, connecting Kojetín in Moravia with Bielsko. As the distance from the train station and the centre of the town proved an issue for the travellers, in 1911, shortly before the outset of World War I, the municipal authorities funded the building of a tramline. The tramway depot was located next to the train station. It was the starting point for the tramline which ran along ul. Nádražní, then turned into ul. Hlavní, and across today’s Most Przyjaźni [Bridge of Friendship] entered ul. Głęboka, further leading through the Market, where a passing loop was created, then into ul. Szersznika and through the Town Square into ul. Wyższa Brama [Upper Gate], at the end of which the tramline terminated. At that time, there were 4 tram carriages running in Cieszyn. Both sides of the city were connected by two bridges. The first of them, located next to the castle, known today as Most Przyjaźni, was rebuilt in 1891 and furnished with an iron latticework structure, while in 1903, the Jubilee Bridge (today’s Most Wolności [Freedom Bridge]) was opened. Between the bridges, the third way to cross the river was provided by a pedestrian-only footbridge. The fourth bridge over the river Olza was a steel-built railroad bridge erected in 1888 above the Castle Hill.
In the plan of Cieszyn of 1887, one may observe that the quickest to have been developed was the area of Saska Kępa, i.e. the vicinity of today’s Aleje Masaryka. The erection of the train station in 1871 brought with it a gradual development of the space between the bridge on the Olza and the station. In that section of the town, a park on the banks of the Olza was established thanks to a donation by the Polish activist Adam Sikora. Immediately before the outbreak of World War I, the left-bank Cieszyn was inhabited by 40% of its populace, there were 40 streets there, additionally it accumulated the town’s industry. In 1920, when Český Těšín was established, the area could boast 429 buildings. The left-bank of Cieszyn accommodated the majority of the town’s production plants. Among those established there, the most important ones were: the printing works of the Prochaska family and of the Kutzer family, and the furniture manufacture owned by the Kohn family. The Gasworks, built in 1882 at today’s ul. Střelnična, was a municipal company residing in that part of the town. Thanks to that project, the authorities were able to replace the town’s oil lighting with gas illumination. Another investment carried out by the government of Cieszyn was the further development of the water and sewage network, which was to ensure the water supply for the dynamically growing town. From 1894, Cieszyn was provided with water drawn from the creek of Tyrka. The only sacred building in that part of the town was the Catholic Sacred Heart Church, consecrated in 1894, which was established by the Jesuit Order.
The Little Meadow on the cadastral plan of Cieszyn from 1836 (Cieszyn Silesia Museum Collection)
Plan of Cieszyn of 1909 (Wacław Gojniczek Collection)
Cieszyn in the interwar period, plan of 1928, (Wacław Gojniczek Collection)
Plan of Little Meadow during IIWW, 1943, (Wacław Gojniczek Collection)
Little Mill, Entry into Urbarz Cieszyński 1577 (State Archve,s in Cieszyn Collection)