The town of Český Těšín was founded based on the decision to divide Cieszyn Silesia adopted at the Spa Conference on 28th July 1920 that resulted from a dispute between Czechoslovakia and Poland over the state affiliation of Cieszyn Silesia. It was formed by joining three main districts located on the left bank of the Olza River – Saska Kępa (Sachsenberg), Kamieniec (Steinplatz) and Brandys (Brandeis).
In the past that area was part of the bigger town (Czech: Těšín, German: Teschen), the residence of Silesian Piasts. Dukes of Teschen tried to surround the area with a wall, mainly to generate higher revenues for the duke’s treasury. For this reason, they mainly supported settlement of craftsmen, the duke’s administrators and townsmen, who owned granges, orchards, fish ponds and mills.
The first significant inflow of people to the district of Brandys was recorded after a serious fire that affected the town in 1789, in which town walls were demolished. A crucial factor was also the decision made by Albert Casimir of Saxony, Duke of Teschen, who around the year 1799 ordered the construction of cloth-making workshops along the road leading to the castle and by that, he laid the foundations for Saska Kępa, currently Główna Street. Despite those changes the left-bank suburbs retained their rather rural nature for a long time – only wooden houses with thatched or shingle rooves and narrow, unpaved streets could be found there. The first attempts to introduce a uniform urban planning solution in the left-bank part of the town remain quite unclear to this day. Most probably they took place in the 1870s and were connected with the plans of the engineer and metallurgist, Adolf Hohenegger.
The second significant migration of people was related to the extension of the railway to Cieszyn and the beginning of the industrialisation of the suburbs. The creation of a well thought-out spatial concept of the developing town was assigned in 1891 to an urban engineer, Leonhard Hulka, who consulted the project with the famous Austrian town planner, Camillo Sitte. The development plan of Cieszyn was approved by the Silesian National Government in September 1894. It had, however, one important effect, which was soon to become noticeable – the plan divided the town not only into factory and residential areas, but also into the left-bank industrial part and the right-bank administrative and cultural centre.
The situation after the end of World War I, i.e. the division of Cieszyn Silesia, and with it also the previously uniform city’s organism, into two parts – Český Těšín and Cieszyn – required new urban planning solutions for the left-bank suburbs. On the left bank of the Olza River only two important urban facilities remained – the gasworks and the train station. What was bothersome for the town was the lack of central and local administration buildings, as well as municipal and residential buildings.
A new, fully functional town could have been formed only as a result of large-scale construction development, however, it should be added that the transport situation was clearly conducive to such a process. In 1922 the Czechoslovak government granted a loan of 15 million crowns to the town for the construction of public buildings, and the development of the urban planning solution for Český Těšín was assigned to a specialist, the Moravian architect and urban planner, Emil Leo. He created a perfect vision – a town development plan, which he finished in 1927.
The transformation of the previous suburbs into a district town was unusually fast. The comprehensive development resulted not only in construction of municipal buildings, but also churches, private and cooperative residential buildings, service buildings, shops, hotels, banks, etc. The promising extension was discontinued only in 1938 due to political changes at the brink of World War II. After giving up a large part of Czechoslovak Cieszyn Silesia to Poland in autumn 1938, the towns re-joined, and Český Těšín, as a part of the revived Cieszyn, was renamed as West Cieszyn. The town constituted one administrative district also during the German occupation in the years 1939-1945 and at the time it was called Teschen West.
After World War II, Český Těšín became an independent town again – an administrative centre with a well-developed manufacturing sector, secondary schools and services. In addition to its rich cultural offer, it provided job opportunities for people from nearby and further areas. As a district town, it served as a cultural and social centre, which for the Czech part of Cieszyn Silesia was what the larger Cieszyn used to be. Although after the issuance of the socialist constitution in 1960 the district of Český Těšín was, in fact, dissolved, and the town was incorporated into a new district of Karviná, it did not diminish its cultural and economic role in any way.
Town Hall in Český Těšín, (Muzeum Těšínska Collection)
Bank on Hlavní Street, (Muzeum Těšínska Collection)
Na Rozvoji” Evangelical Church, (Muzeum Těšínska Collection)
Gymnasium - no. 30, ulice Frýdecká (Muzeum Těšínska Collection)
The T. G. Masaryk school in Komenského Street, (Muzeum Těšínska Collection)
Hospital buildings on Ostravska Street, (Muzeum Těšínska Collection)
Provincial headquarters - no. 2, ulice Tyršova, (Muzeum Těšínska Collection)
The Post Office, (Muzeum Těšínska Collection)