The oldest evidence of settlement in the castle hill in Cieszyn dates back to the 6th and 5th centuries BC. With time the Cieszyn castle gained in importance, in the 12th century it was promoted to the rank of castellany, and a century later it became the capital of the independent Duchy of Cieszyn, playing an important role as the state administrative centre of the first Piasts and as a border post.
The wooden castle acquired a new, Gothic character in the 14th century, when it was rebuilt in stone. It was divided into two parts: the upper and lower. The upper part, surrounded by a wall and bastions, consisted of living quarters. The castle chapel and the still-surviving defensive tower called the Piast Tower were also located there. In the lower part there were stores and utility rooms, the living quarters of the court servants, an armoury, stables and also dungeons for prisoners.
Unfortunately the following centuries were not kind to the castle. The Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) and the dying out of the Cieszyn Piasts (1653) sealed the decline of the ducal residence. The castle became the property of the Hapsburgs for whom it served no strategic purpose.
Only in the 19th century (1840) was the hill modified in Neo-classicist style according to plans by Joseph Kornhäusel. A summer hunting palace was built on the foundations of the lower castle, which contained the guest rooms of the Cieszyn archduke and the offices of the Teschener Kammer. A park was established in the remaining part of the hill which contained the Piast Tower and the Rotunda of St. Nicholas.
Before the First World War artificial ruins were built on the remains of the keep whose original appearance was restored in the 20th century. The Supervisory Council of the Cieszyn Duchy was located here until the end of 1918 and subsequently the Directorship of the State Forests. Since 1947 some of the rooms of the hunting palace have been occupied by the State Music School, and since 2005 the castle has been the home of a regional design centre – Zamek Cieszyn. Thanks to funding from the EU’s Structural Funds the building underwent a makeover and the palace orangery was totally reconstructed. In 2005 a regional design centre, Zamek Cieszyn – Research Centre into Material Culture and Design was opened.References:
Built around AD 90 to entertain the legionaries stationed at the fort of Caerleon (Isca), the impressive amphitheatre was the Roman equivalent of today’s multiplex cinema. Wooden benches provided seating for up to 6,000 spectators, who would gather to watch bloodthirsty displays featuring gladiatorial combat and exotic wild animals.
Long after the Romans left, the amphitheatre took on a new life in Arthurian legend. Geoffrey of Monmouth, the somewhat imaginative 12th-century scholar, wrote in his History of the Kings of Britain that Arthur was crowned in Caerleon and that the ruined amphitheatre was actually the remains of King Arthur’s Round Table.
Today it is the most complete Roman amphitheatre in Britain.