|• Mayor||Jiří Michalík (ČSSD)|
|• Total||24.67 km2 (9.53 sq mi)|
|Elevation||215 m (705 ft)|
|• Density||1,300/km2 (3,300/sq mi)|
|Postal code||735 11 to 735 14|
According to legend, Mieszko, a Silesian duke from the lower branch of the Piast dynasty, went hunting with his pregnant wife, Ludmiła. As they rested upon a hill, an eagle suddenly took flight, frightening the couple. The eagle dropped his prey, which fell to earth near them. Ludmiła prematurely gave birth to her child, Kazimierz. The couple, seeing a sign from God in this incident, founded a chapel on that spot and later named the subsequent settlement after the eagle (Polish: orzeł, Czech: orel). Thus, it is not clear when the settlement was really founded; however, it was first mentioned in a document of Pope Gregory IX issued on 7 December 1227 for Benedictine abbey in Tyniec as Orlova. Around 1268 a separate but dependent from Tyniec Benedictine monastery was founded.
Politically it belonged then to the Duchy of Opole and Racibórz and the Castellany of Cieszyn, which was in 1290 formed in the process of feudal fragmentation of Poland into the Duchy of Teschen, ruled by a local branch of Silesian Piast dynasty. In 1327 the duchy became a fee of the Kingdom of Bohemia, which after 1526 became a part of the Habsburg Monarchy.
At the beginning of the 20th century Orlová became an important center of Polish and Czech education and home to many cultural and sport organizations of both communities. There were also a Jewish and a German community in the town.
After World War I, fall of Austria-Hungary, Polish–Czechoslovak War and the division of Cieszyn Silesia in 1920, Orlová became a part of Czechoslovakia. Orlová gained town rights in 1922. During the workers' strike in 1925 four workers were killed by the police. Following the Munich Agreement, in October 1938 together with the Zaolzie region it was annexed by Poland, administratively organised in Frysztat County of Silesian Voivodeship. The village was then annexed by Nazi Germany at the beginning of World War II. After the war it was restored to Czechoslovakia. In 1946 the villages of Lazy (Łazy), Poruba (Poręba) and Horní Lutyně were administratively joined to the town. Widespread coal mining, especially during the communist era, had a devastating impact on the town, its buildings and architecture, especially in Lazy. Many buildings in Orlová were demolished, including the Polish grammar school built in 1909. The architectural character of the town was completely changed.
The most important landmark in Orlová is the Neo-Gothic church, which replaced an older wooden one. It was almost completely rebuilt in 1903–1906, when it became the dominant edifice of the town. An important feature of the church is the stair leading up to it. The church was damaged by extensive coal mining in the town and the surroundings, and renovation work began in the 1990s and still continues. Another notable landmark is the town hall from 1928. There is also a Lutheran church in the town, consecrated in 1862.
There are several primary schools in Orlová, mostly Czech, one Polish. Several high schools are located there. Most notable is a Czech gymnasium which was rebuilt in modern architectural style and opened in 1996.
Notable residents and natives
- Józef Berger, Polish theologian and politician
- Emanuel Chobot, Polish politician
- Adolf Fierla, Polish poet
- Martina Janková, opera singer
- Stanislav Kolíbal, Czech artist and sculptor
- Panic, Idzi (2010). Śląsk Cieszyński w średniowieczu (do 1528) [Cieszyn Silesia in Middle Ages (until 1528)] (in Polish). Cieszyn: Starostwo Powiatowe w Cieszynie. p. 286. ISBN 978-83-926929-3-5.
- I. Panic, 2010, p. 428
- "Ustawa z dnia 27 października 1938 r. o podziale administracyjnym i tymczasowej organizacji administracji na obszarze Ziem Odzyskanych Śląska Cieszyńskiego". Dziennik Ustaw Śląskich (in Polish) (Katowice). nr 18/1938, poz. 35. 31 September 1938. Retrieved 1 July 2014.
- Radłowska-Obrusnik, Martyna (2007-12-22). "Kamienny szept historii". Głos Ludu. p. 10.
- (Czech) Official website
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