Project Trail of the Rothschild family (No. CZ.11.2.45/0.0/0.0/16_013/0000814) is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund and the state budget under the "Micro Project Fund in the Silesia Euroregion" in the Interreg V - A Program Czech Republic - Poland 2014 - 2020.
The Polish-Czech cooperation in the Euroregion Silesia has a rich social heritage. Opportunities, but also challenges posed by the modern economy, including the tourism industry, make us look at cross-border issues from the business point of view. Therefore, we want not only to strengthen people’s ties, but also to look for the foundations of sustainable development within the EU. Such activity is a project called the Trail of the Rothschild family. We use here tools that describe well our common tourist product, and at the same time maximize its reach to a wide range of customers from Poland, Czech Republic, Europe and all over the world. We believe that such activities, aimed at increasing the potential of our upper Oder microregion, will deepen long-term cooperation and give an example to other local governments who want to appear not only on the social, but also economic, in this case on the tourist map of Europe.
In 1844, baron Salomon Mayer von Rothschild (1774-1855), founder of the Viennese branch of the Rothschild bank, bought from the von Eichendorff family the PALACE IN ŠILHEŘOVICE together with approx. 2,1 thousand hectares of land. He was already a representative of one of the wealthiest financial families in the history of the world, founded in Frankfurt by senior Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1744-1812). Familia conducted its business in five banking houses: in London, Paris, Frankfurt, Neapol and Vienna, mediating in commercial and financial operations, supporting, among others, imperial, royal and princely courts, as well as states.
The Viennese Banking House, with the mentioned Solomon at the head, was involved in numerous transactions of the Habsburgs and the most important politicians in the state (including Chancellor Clement von Metternich), as well as in the creation of a family banking and industrial empire. Effectiveness and discretion caused that they enjoyed great trust. In 1842, as the first Jew, Salomon obtained civic rights in Vienna. It gave him the opportunity to buy real estate. In 1843 he bought the famous Vitkovice Ironworks (Vítkovické Železárny) in today’s Ostrava, in the nineteenth century they were one of the largest coal and steel concerns in Europe. He founded the Nordbahn joint stock company (Northern Railway) and became its “permanent director”. Thanks to his efforts, it was possible to combine its railway infrastructure on the border between Chałupki (German Annaberg) and Bohumín with the Prussian Wilhelm Railway.
The palace in Šilheřovice – today a impressive threewing neo-baroque building from the beginning of the 19th century with a chapel, surrounded by a large English-style park – became the summer residence of the Viennese Rothschilds. Baron Solomon traveled comfortably from Vienna to Bohumín, in the attached to the fast railway salon. He arrived in Šilheřovice with a carriage. He welcomed many high-born guests here, including Polish counts of Potocki, especially willingly arriving at perfectly organized hunts.
At the end of his life, Salomon was considered the greatest landowner in Europe. From 1846, belonged to him the castle in Chałupki – a former medieval stronghold. He passed his entire property in 1852 to his son Anzelm (1803-1874). After his death, the youngest son Albert von Rothschild (1844-1911) took over the banking house, married to his Parisian cousin Bettina. The eldest son Nathaniel (1836-1905) showed little interest in banking interests. He was mainly travelling and collecting art works. He received a significant part of the family fortune, as well as Šilheřovice estate. Before his death, he wrote them to his nephew Alfons, dr. of philosophy. After marriage in 1912 with Clarice Sebag-Montefiore (1894-1967) – the daughter of an English millionaire, he and his family settled there permanently. The instinct and the ability to predict caused that in 1937 many valuable objects and works of art belonging to the palace were taken to England. In October 1938, German troops entered Czechoslovakia. In 1939, dr. Alfons von Rothschild had to hand over the property to the Third Reich.
At the time of the Rothschilds ruling the Šilheřovice, the former Eichendorf palace from the beginning of the 19th century underwent numerous modernizations. A number of neighboring buildings were erected. A hunting lodge was built, modeled on a gingerbread house (today it serves as a restaurant), an orangery, greenhouses, caretaker’s houses at the entrance gates of Ostrava and Bohumín, a dairy and a stable. Currently, the palace has been used for years as the seat of a hotel school. Around it there is a golf course, one of the largest in Europe.
The heritage of the Rothschilds on the Polish-Czech borderland, in Chałupki and Šilheřovice, prompted the local government of this Czech town and the Commune of Krzyżanowice to carry out a joint cross-border tourist project. This is not the first joint venture. The beginning of cooperation dates back to 23 May 1998, when the partnership agreement was signed. Since then, good neighborly relations have been successfully formed on many levels – from the exchange of local government experiences, to educational, cultural and sports cooperation. Commune Krzyżanowice and Šilheřovice implemented a number of joint projects under the aegis of Euroregion Silesia, focusing recently on the identification and promotion of a common tourist product, which are the natural and cultural values of the upper Oder. Their unique element is the memorabilia of the Rothschilds, the most famous banker’s family in the world.
The trail of the Rothschild family leads us, outside their palace, to the Šilheřovice baroque church of the Holy Assumption of the Virgin Mary from 1713 and local nature reserves Czarny Las and Czarny Las II (total 1000 hectares). Unique places can be visited in the Krzyzanowice commune. Let’s start with a 19th-century construction, specifically the jubilee bridge built in 1881 by Emperor Franz Josef I. On the left side of the historic structure there are Polish Chałupki, on the right – Bohumin (German Oderberg). Settlement in this place dates back to the 13th century. Bohumin is a location town from that period, founded by settlers from Western countries, amongwhom the Benedictine monks from the Polish Tyniec served. Contemporary Bohumin, however, is actually two centers – a former Oder river town with a beautiful market and a hotel Under a green oak tree and the New Bohumin, a much larger agglomeration, whose career began in the mid-nineteenth century, when an iron rail-way line connecting the North Sea – via Berlin , Wrocław, Racibórz – with a distant Constantinople (today Istanbul in Turkey).
On the left bank of the Oder survived the former Medieval Piast stronghold, or CASTLE IN CHAŁUPKI, also formerly known as Barutswerde, the property of a prince, then knight and noblemen. The building guarded the Odra crossing, it will also be the southernmost defensive point of the Piast dynasty. Although the castle has a baroque appearance and traces of numerous modern changes in its architecture, the old moat and bridge have remained in its surroundings. Above the main entrance you can see the Rothschilds coat of arms, including a hand squeezing five arrows. Each shot means one of the five sons of Mayer Amschel Senior: Nathan Mayer, Amschel Mayer, Solomon Mayer, Carl Mayer and James Mayer. One arrow alone can easily be broken, but many arrows squeezed are indestructible. The castle is today a hotel with a restaurant. Around him stretches the park with old-grow trees and miniatures of Silesian castles and palaces in: Moszna, Tworkowie, Kamień Śląski, Bielsko-Biała, Bruntál and Hradec nad Moravici.
In the vicinity of the castle, you can see the OLD BORDER CROSSING, known for example from the popular Polish broadcast called “Lato z radiem” where the time needed for border checks was given. Every year large fairs of antiquities, antiques and handicrafts are held on the site of the crossing.
Liebhaber des 19. Jh. wird sicherlich ein Besuch des BAHNHOFS in Chałupki zufriedenstellen. Wie bereits vorher erwähnt, wurden hier 1849 zum ersten Mal die Nordbahnlinie der Habsburger mit der preußischen Wilhelmsbahnlinie zusammengelegt. Dies wäre ohne die diplomatische Unterstützung der Rothschilds und auch der preußischen Aristokratie, u. a. des Fürsten von Lichnowsky aus Kreuzenort, nicht möglich gewesen. Die Inbetriebnahme der Eisenbahnlinie beschleunigte die wirtschaftliche Entwicklung der Region. Hier fuhr der berühmte Orient Express entlang.
A unique attraction of the Chałupki are MEANDERS OF THE ODRA RIVER, entered into the Natura 2000 areas. The river has never been regulated here. It creates its current in a picturesque way. Meanders are a refuge place for birds and plants. The water sports have been developing here for many years. You can admire them from the observation tower, 27 meters high (114 steps to the top).
Lovers of 19th century history will surely be content to visit RAILWAY STATION in Chałupki. It is here, as mentioned, that in 1849, for the first time in history, the Habsburgs railway line (North Railway) and the Prussian Wilhelm Railway line were connected. It would not have been possible without the diplomatic support of the Rothschilds and the Prussian aristocracy – prince Lichnowski from Krzyżanowice. The launch of the railway line has accelerated the economic development of the region. The famous Orient Express traveled through here.
A unique place is the PALACE IN KRZYŻANOWICE, made famous by Franz Liszt and Ludwig van Beethoven. The building dates back to 1700. The most beautiful of its pages was written by the Lichnowski family. From the family comes prince Felix von Lichnowski, Prussian officer and politician, birbant, traveler, friend of the world-famous composer Franz Liszt, who visited the palace in Krzyżanowice three times (1843, 1846, 1848). – During the waiting period, the happiest man in the world I feel in Krzyżanowice, where I spend my blessed days completely alone, from morning to evening at work – the composer recalled.
In September 1848, prince Felix, then a member of the Frankfurt Parliament, was murdered by an angry mob for indiscriminate criticism and scoffing at the parliamentary left. Before giving his soul he wrote down the family fortune to the greatest love of his life, the lady who was considered the richest party in Europe, the unusually beautiful and charming Dorothea princess of Sagan (1793-1862), long-time companion of life and trustee of France’s famous foreign minister Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord. She was twenty years older than Felix, but she seemed to feel a reciprocating feeling. Fortunately, she did take the entire inheritance. She exalted the most valuable furnishings of the palace, leaving the earthly possesions to the successors of Felix.
Lichnowscy were friends with other prominent composers. The first steps in this world were put by the prince Karol Alojzy Lichnowski (1761-1814), friend of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). After Mozart’s death he came across another great genius – Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827). This Flemish musician born in Bonn, precursor of musical romanticism, was persuaded by Lichnowski to come to their castles in Hradec and Krzyżanowice in August 1806. In Krzyżanowice, he gave concerts for the guests of the hosts, playing on the spine, a small instrument that is a variation of the harpsichord.
In 1856, prince Charles Lichnowski commissioned the construction of a magnificent entrance gate to the palace park. In 1860, the construction of a round tower and a knight’s hall, which now serves as a chapel, was completed. The remarkable Berlin architect Karl Lüdecki was involved in the reconstruction of the palace into neo-Gothic fashion. A beautiful park and garden were created. Naturalists pay attention to several species of growing trees, including the impressive Liriodendron tulipifera, an American tulip tree from the magnoliaceae family – the second largest specimen in Poland with a trunk circumference of 4.1 m, or the thickest in Silesia, with a trunk circumference of 3.25 m, gingival biloba.
Let us add that on March 8, 1860 Karol Maksymilian von Lichnowski was born in the Krzyżanowice palace, in the years 1912-1914 he was the German ambassador in London. In September 1913, at his invitation, emperor Wilhelm II was in Krzyżanowice. The prince was supposed to take part in the virgin voyage of Titanic, but he was late on April 10, 1912, to the port of Southampton. “Thanks to that I avoided death,” he concluded. The CASTLE and the BAROQUE CHURCH IN TWORKÓW can not escape the attention of tourists. The castle is a former mansion residence. The date 1567 on the stone detail of the tower has been preserved, refer- ring to the reconstruction in the spirit of the Renaissance. The building has a much older, medieval provenance. She changed owners many times, among whom there are Eichendorffs. Many paintings hung on the walls of the Tworkowski castle. To this day, one called the Golden Ear [Złoty kłos] survived. The painting depicts a certain natural peculiarity which the inscription describes in detail: – In 1720, in Tworków, in a large pond, one stalk of wheat grew out of one grain, which had 83 ears, each of which had 50 or 60 grains. In 1841, the Saurma-Jeltsch family took over the estate in Tworków. In 1868, graf Johann Gustav Saurma von der Jeltsch decided on the neo-Renaissance reconstruction of the castle. Each castle has its own secrets – from the castle in Tworków it is supposed to lead a tunnel ending at the edge of the village, in a forest called Urbanek. There is a pilgrimage church of St. Urban there. A few hundred meters away, in an old oak tree, there is a large boulder, as claimed by the inhabitants, protecting access to the old dungeon. One of the local legends says that a mysterious white lady appeared in the castle. The last time was to appear on Christmas Eve in 1930. Then, as before, she preached misfortune. On the night of January 8, 1931, a fire broke out in the castle for unknown reasons. It is currently undergoing partial reconstruction combined with the restoration of the park.
Egypt has the curse of Tutankhamun, Cracow of King Casimir Jagiellon, and Tworków of the family von Reiswitz. It was born with the beginning of exploration of the crypt under the so-called babnik (place for women) in the local CHURCH OF SAINTS PETER AND PAUL. Its existence was known for a long time, but in 1993, when due to the necessity of drying the foundations looked inside, things then moved very quickly.
Eleven heavily damaged coffins were found in the crypt, and in them, as it was thought at the time, puppets. Specialists became interested in burials. Immediately, they were told that they were symbolic graves. It was decided that the coffins were located in the old church of St. Margaret, who burned down in 1676. In its place was built a new, existing church, and Wacław von Reiswitz, then the master at Tworków, wanted to preserve the graves of his ancestors, even symbolic. He ordered to put in coffins the puppets dressed in noble costumes. In 1995, it was decided to open the sarcophagi and carefully examine their contents. And again, there was sensation. The research group included a microbiologist from Krakow, prof. Bolesław Smyk, who participated in the famous opening of the tomb of King Casimir the Jagiellon in 1973 in Wawel castle. Many researchers who explored the ruler’s burial site died in unexplained circumstances. Professor Smyk survived, but when after descending to the crypt in Tworków he was in astonishment, the news immediately circulated the main nationwide newspapers, radio and Polish television. Tworków had his curse. A few days later, it turned out that the researchers of the crypt had contracted ordinary flu, but the curse of the Reiswitzs has become a reality and is still alive today. Metal sarcophagi and wooden coffins discovered in the crypt, initially considered as symbolic burials, actually contained human remains that had been mineralized. A close inspection revealed that two belonged to adults, nine to children.
The coffins from the crypt were subjected to conservation, and then in the porch a permanent display of them was prepared, showing also exposed clothes, including tied with the belt of Jerzy Wilhelm’s żupanik, referring to the appearance of the Polish noble dress and the dressof Klara Ludwika. The entire collection stands out from the similar ones preserved in Poland – in Wawel (there is the oldest monument of this type, the sixteenth-century shoes of Zygmunt August) and Brzeżany, Brzeg, Legnica, Złotów and Sieraków. It can impress having in mind similar exhibits in Vienna and Munich. It is the only such a large collection of children’s sarcophagi in Poland. Let us add that the parish church in Twów, erected according to the design of Jan Zeller from Opava in the years 1691-1694 in the place of a wooden temple, delights the lovers of the Baroque. The richly furnished interior puts the building among the most interesting seventeenth-century monuments in Silesia. Here you can see a beautiful stucco decoration by Antoni Signo from Opava, a collators’ lodge, a late-baroque polychrome from the mid-18th century, a painting over the choir with a composition of the Last Judgment and a richly decorated two-storey high altar. The landscape of Racibórz land was formerly filled with mills, windmills and granaries. To this day, dozens of such facilities have survived. In Bolesław, you can see old granaries, and in Tworkow A BRICK MILL WITH ELECTRIC DRIVE, belonging to the Pawlik family. It is located at Młyńska street, near the pond close to the castle. It was built on the site of an older wooden water mill, mentioned already in 1703. The owners have been involved in milling for ten generations. Special shows are organized for tourists, including the launch of a water-driven wheel from the pond.
Formerly, at every important course, there was a SMITHY, in which the blacksmith put horseshoes on horses. The oldest such facility in Poland, in addition still active, is located in the village of Bienkowice. As the news brings, the beginning was given by Janek Socha, born in 1665, who in 1683 along with the army of King Jan III Sobieski went to Vienna. In Bienkowice he met a beautiful girl whom he promised to marry if only he returned from the war expedition. Fate favored him, the Polish army was triumphant, and Janek returned to his beloved. In 1702, he founded a smithy in Bieńkowice, which was inherited by his succesors: Andrzej, Franciszek, Urban, Antoni, Jan and Alojzy. The smithy is managed today by the son of Alojza Jan and his grandson Robert. The Sochowie family still strikes the iron in the old forge (the current brick one was built in 1840 on the site of the original wooden), and at the house they also organized a blacksmith’s museum. This place also has its secrets. Apparently, in Prussian times, one of the Sochów family was striking fake coins that he was supposed to sink in the well because of fear of being arrested.