Getting to know the city is like eating a gourmet round cake. You can of course focus on the surface, lick its whole sweetness, leaving the rest. There is nothing wrong about that. But only swallowing and digesting it all, hulling all the unique tastes hidden deep inside and mixing them together will let you experience its elevated and real aroma.
There are places that, besides the incredibly sweet and frosted surface, hide intriguing and diverse flavors deep down. They can be found especially in Central Europe area, the place that Milan Kundera once described as “maximum diversity in the minimum space”.
In the territory of the former Duchy of Teschen and its capital – Cieszyn – you breath multiculturalism. But to feel the full taste of the cake the foodie-explorer would have to spend weeks on chewing, swallowing and digesting. Hence this guide for explorers – you can choose, discover for yourself and try the taste that intrigues you the most. These are, of course, only the most important ones.
For breakfast – Viennese egg
Austria-Hungary is still trendy! Long and grey Habsburg moustache and enormous grey bushy eyebrows give a shadow in numerous pubs, cafes and restaurants. Duchy of Teschen has been part of the Habsburg Empire for several centuries. The sentiment to grandma Austria is still understandable among the inhabitants. Especially that back in the days the region was treated as the important center by the core – Vienna. That’s when the spectacular town houses, the art nouveau architecture and the incredible building of the theatre (now Adam Mickiewicz Theatre) were built in Cieszyn. You can easily admire the beauty in public. During the Napoleon Wars Cieszyn was the temporary capital of Austria – that’s where the Habsburg court has hidden when Napoleon troops were attacking Vienna.
You can sate Austrian and Viennese vibe also on the street level, trying to catch middle class – coffee houses lifestyle of Cieszyn’s inhabitants. You can notice the remnants of the old pride of the town – the shortest tramline in the whole Austria-Hungary! For over 10 years it used to take passengers from the Upper Market all the way to the train station. Even if it’s not entirely true that Cieszyn got its glory thanks to Habsburgs (more about that later!) it surely was seen by Vienna as the important center.
Second breakfast – a simple sandwich, eaten on the run
That’s the favorite taste for everyone ticking off monuments, those who love stones, fossils, museums and history. The sandwich has very little freshness, its taste has been adjusted for over thousand years but still it’s fairly easily digested.
Over thousand? That’s not a mistake – the fortified gord remembers first Slavs, those who had no idea about Jesus Christ existence. Nearby, in Chotebuz, you can find the reconstructed gord that is often called “Czech Biskupin” (referring to the name of the oldest gord in Poland). The city has been developing already when Habsburgs were still not so important line – back then Cieszyn was under the Piasts rule.
One of the biggest attractions that we can definitely call “touristy” is the Castle Hill. You can find there the remnants of the fortified castle. If you still have doubts about graying hair on city’s eyebrows head to the Three Brothers Well and learn the legend about three princes that met here in the year 810. They were so happy about their meeting and they liked the area so much that they’ve decided to stay here, establish the settlement and – as a reminder of their happy meeting – call it Cieszyn (which is very similar to “be happy” – “cieszyć się” in Polish).
For lunch – energy bar for those who don’t know what the shortness of breath is
We have fossils, we have grandma Austria but we didn’t forget about those who don’t find happiness living in the past. Those who have to run 100 km per day, do 500 sit-ups and feel the wind in the hair to have a fulfilling day.
The region doesn’t disappoint – beautiful Beskidy Mountains tower above part of it. You can put the guitar on your back, hide the song book in the backpack and hit the trail. Another option would be checking one of numerous well prepared biking trails, either on the Polish or on the Czech side.
For those of you who adore profile pictures with a beautiful background view I recommend Równica Mountain or – on the other side of the border – Javorovy peak. That’s where you will find paragliding center but that, to be honest, is not my kind of things…
Greasy Sybarite’s dinner – for those who are always short of breath
Why the crossroad of cultures is so magnetic and unique? Because different ethnic groups cultivate their traditions surrounded by others, juicing up the colourful scenery. What’s more: if they coexist together long enough they can – without losing their identity – create the unique mix, so typical for a certain place. That’s what happened in the Duchy of Teschen – German, Czech, Polish and Silesia traditions created a fully integral essence of Cieszyn and surroundings. It is probably best seen in the regional cuisine. The true foodie can’t be bored here – besides the currently most popular Central European dishes such as kebab and pizza you can find on both sides of the border places serving local food.
Very effective explorers of the local tastes are beer lovers. Cieszyn’s brewery traditions came from the Middle Ages, the ducal castle brewery was established here in the middle of the 19th century. No wonder local breweries either on the Polish or on the Czech side of the border are doing so good – beer lovers visit the Duchy of Teschen more than often!
Frosting or stuffing?
The Duchy of Teschen, just like other similar Central Europe historic regions, doesn’t have a beautiful frosting that would attract crowds of sweetness lovers. In those mentioned places almighty confectioner focused more on consistency. Unfortunately – foodies have a more difficult and ambitious task than frosting lovers. You can recognise the surface from far away but it’s not so easy with the inside of the cake.
However in the places like this we can slowly see that the race to see as many over sweet cakes as possible is pointless. This article, in a very casual and sketchy way tells you about most basic tastes. Why casual and sketchy? Each of us has different taste buds and should try the cake himself. Be the independent explorer.