Šance near Mosty u Jablunkova
a medieval fortress visited by an emperor
A ram with sheep and lambs, goats running about, this is the present crew of the medieval fortress
of Šance near Mosty u Jablunkova, ecological lawn mowers in the place where the history of our land
was made. It was the point-defence at Jablunkov Pass, an entrance through the natural gate in the
range of the Beskyd Mountains of Těšín, with the crew of the emperor’s military unit. These days,
anybody (that is, those not scared off by the sheep and goats) can walk through it.
The sheep and goats are not only the
living and ecologic “lawn mowers”, but
also a tourist attraction. You may walk
in a place with the most picturesque
views. You can see the district of Těšín
on one side and of Kysuce in Slovakia on
the other. Cities spread out below with
the noise and fuzz of all that urban life
is. The endless rush is replaced with the
monotonous sound of wildlife and the
important, sometimes warning baa of the
ram and high pitched bleats of the lambs.
Can you imagine any better way to get
your brain rebooted?
However, this place did not always feel
comforting. Quite the contrary, it much
too often smelt of gun powder, of soldiers’
sweat, of bloodshed and a fight for lives.
Mosty u Jablunkova has traditionally been
a place of great strategic importance. Who
would not carefully guard the border and
entrance to their country? The corridor
which merchant caravans walked in peace
became the passage for armies to march in
times of conflicts.
Defence Sconce Šance was built in this
ideal location, looking over all the region
in all directions to preclude the invasion of
the Turks. It was repeatedly renewed and
improved so as to resist newer and stronger
weapons and military strategies. The layout
resembled a star, as you can clearly see.
Even though the fortress was always a stateof-art construction, it was conquered by
Prussian armies a few times.
In 1765, Joseph II, son of the empress Maria
Theresa, visited this fortress in the east of
the present Czech Republic. When he saw
the poor condition of the construction, he
ordered its renewal. The young man, who
later became famous for his numerous
reforms, also “reformed” the fortress, adding
a post office and forest district office.
This visit also explains a legend: do you
know why the Gorols’ (Beskyd Highlander)
waistcoat buttons are decorated with an
Austrian eagle? It is the reminder of this visit
of the heir to the throne at Šance. Whenever
Joseph II went to a distant location of the
empire, he was of course accompanied by a
caravan of hairdressers, assistants, hostlers,
tailors and servants of various kinds. One
of the tailors left a case in a local cottage.
When the delegation left and the case was
opened, people discovered it was full of
buttons to fit and fix the emperor’s uniform.
Just in case he lost a button-- very clever,
wasn’t it? A case full of buttons which were
not wasted. To honour the precious visitor,
the Gorols decorated their best clothes with
the emperor’s buttons and keep doing so
Nowadays, the place is no longer soaked
with the sweat and blood of soldiers of
fortune, yet the land speaks of the great
stories of Jablunkov Pass where merchants
in peace and armies in war ages passed
through. A constant caravan of trucks and
lorries down in the valley connecting the
Czech and Slovak Republics contributes
more chapters. The chapters which develop
the book once started with horse-driven
carriages loaded with amber, salt, spices
and jewels, continue with truckloads of
anything that a human being might wish for.
Mapa pevnosti Šance, Mosty u Jablunkova
POSITIV ǀ 2/2018 63