Jesenik - the seat for the district government, is sometimes called the ”pearl” of the Jeseniky region due to the beautiful surrounding landscape. Situated at the confluence of the Staric and Bela rivers, it has been a strategic position protecting important trade and transportation cross-roads. At present the city’s population is 13.700 people.
Jesenik is first mentioned in 1267 as a village at the junction of the two rivers. By 1290 the town was the centre of a legal district comprised of 10 separate villages. A castle fortress is mentioned in 1326 providing protection for the then-walled city. According to documents preserved from the 14th century, the city produced iron of such high quality that it was exported as far away as England. As a result of further mining development, not only of iron ore, but of gold and silver, the city achieved official ”mining” status. The town was purchased by the well known firm and family, Fugger of Augsburg. By 1547 the company had depleted the iron deposits and sold the city and neighbouring villages back to the Vratislav Bishopric, seated in Wroclaw, Poland. Jesenik then shifted to a more modest and sustainable source of income, growing flax and linen manufacturing. As a result, the town became more mercantile in character as evidenced by a number of craftsman guilds being granted between the 16th and 17th centuries.
Around the end of feudalism (mid 1800s) the city developed its spa character as a result of Vinzenz Priessnitz’s hydropathic therapy. His water therapy became popular in Europe and America, attracting nobility who brought both income and modern infrastructure to the city. In 1850 Jesenik became the executive district seat for the region stretching from Zlate Hory to Javornik.
In 1960 the Jesenik district was assimilated into the Sumperk district, shifting the regional power seat to the other side of the Jeseniky mountains and isolating the area to an even greater degree. Since 1990 the whole area has witnessed major renovation projects. Most significantly, the pilgrimage complex of the Virgin Mary the Kind in Zlate Hory and the Ditter’s Museum in Javornik. In 1993 the pilgrimage complex, which once served as a monastery, had the chapel restored to its original grandeur and now serves as a public concert and exhibition hall. In 1994 a cooperative project was initiated with a Swiss organisation to help develop Jesenik’s travel and spa industries.
In 1995, the Czech Parliament decided to re-establish an independent district seat in Jesenik. On January 1st, 1996, Jesenik again became the regional administrative centre with 23 towns and villages within its jurisdiction.
One of the town’s oldest cultural monuments is the Vodni Tvrz or ”Water Fortress”. Historically called the Water Fortress for the encircling moat (now dry) and its function of housing the city’s protective forces. First built during the 1300’s today’s structure reflects late gothic and renaissance reconstructions. From 1547 up to WW II the Fortress belonged to the Vratislav Bishopric of Wroclaw, Poland. Since WW II it has housed the local history museum. Other sights of historical and architectural prominence are the Jansky Vrch Castle in Javornik, the castle and chateau in Branná, the 18th century baroque monastery complex in Bila Voda (White Water) and the century old observation stone observation tower at Zlaty Chlum with spectacular panoramic views of the Jeseniky Mountains and the Polish Plains.
Vodni Tvrz (Water Citadel) next to the main town square in Jesenik
Priessnitz Spa or Jesenik Spa perched on the hillside above the town
Priessnitz monument in the Smetana gardens
Radnice (town hall) a beautiful renaissance structure from 1610 in the centre of the town square
Katovna (executioner’s house) a rococo house built in 1782
Witch Burning Monument along the road to the spa where over 300 people were burned alive
Over 50 springs flowing around the town and spa
The caves Na Pomezi and Na Spicaku
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