Saint Nicolas and Saint Wenceslas Church in Cieszyn is a Romanesque rotunda to serve the role of a castle chapel and a stronghold church.
The rotunda was erected within the walls of the castellan stronghold at the top of Castle Mount (built in the 10th century and the first half of the 11th century). The first reference to the rotunda comes from 1223, where it was described as St. Nicolas Chapel, obliged to pay a tithe to Norbertine’s sisters in Rybnik. The end of the 13th century and the entire 14th century was related to a reconstruction of the castle and replacement of wood by bricks. The Romanesque rotunda was adapted to the Gothic castle: the level of the floor was raised by two meters, Romanesque windows in the apse were walled up and bigger, Gothic ones were created.
At the time of the conversion of the lower castle in 1838-40, the Romanesque walls of the temple were ringed by a brick wall. New and bigger windows were walled out and a new, tin helmet was put up. The level of the interior nave and the exterior area was raised (the building was almost halfway up rimmed by soil). The Romanesque chapel received a classical division of the façade adjusted to the style of the castle. The design of a romantic pavilion was created by Joseph Koernhausel. The interior of the Rotunda was decorated by a neo-gothic wooden altar and a picture of Saint Wenceslas.
The Rotunda of Cieszyn as one of the oldest monuments of Polish architecture is depicted on the current Polish 20 PLN banknote.References:
The Beckov castle stands on a steep 50 m tall rock in the village Beckov. The dominance of the rock and impression of invincibility it gaves, challenged our ancestors to make use of these assets. The result is a remarkable harmony between the natural setting and architecture.
The castle first mentioned in 1200 was originally owned by the King and later, at the end of the 13th century it fell in hands of Matúš Èák. Its owners alternated - at the end of the 14th century the family of Stibor of Stiborice bought it.
The next owners, the Bánffys who adapted the Gothic castle to the Renaissance residence, improved its fortifications preventing the Turks from conquering it at the end of the 16th century. When Bánffys died out, the castle was owned by several noble families. It fell in decay after fire in 1729.
The history of the castle is the subject of different legends. One of them narrates the origin of the name of castle derived from that of jester Becko for whom the Duke Stibor had the castle built.
Another legend has it that the lord of the castle had his servant thrown down from the rock because he protected his child from the lords favourite dog. Before his death, the servant pronounced a curse saying that they would meet in a year and days time, and indeed precisely after that time the lord was bitten by a snake and fell down to the same abyss.
The well-conserved ruins of the castle, now the National Cultural Monument, are frequently visited by tourists, above all in July when the castle festival takes place. The former Ambro curia situated below the castle now shelters the exhibition of the local history.