Cieszyn is the only Upper Silesian town where archival resources and library collections of public and private provenance, collected over centuries, have survived almost entirely intact. Comprising more than ten distinct historical collections, they contain over 900 linear metres of archive records, 18 000 inventory items of library manuscripts, 24 000 volumes of pre-1801 imprints and 150 000 volumes of 19th and 20th-century printed works. They include archival primary sources, library manuscripts and printed works from the region, as well as publications which, from the Middle Ages onward, found their way to Cieszyn Silesia from the whole of Europe, influencing the development of the region’s culture and shaping its character. They include works written in most European languages, linked to various national and religious groups, and representative of all ideological trends current in European culture. In terms of their provenance, their history as determined by centuries-old links to the region, and their contents, the collections – taken both as a group of collections and as an assemblage of individual items, often of universal value and uniqueness – not only represent the most important heritage of written culture in the region (on both sides of the Polish-Czech border) and the chief pool of primary sources for historical research, but are also an important element of European cultural heritage. In addition, the collections give Cieszyn a special position in comparison with the rest of Upper Silesia, where either the continuity in the amassing of archive and library collections was interrupted, or collections of a similar kind were lost, or – as in the case of Katowice, the capital of the region – the collections only began to be created in the 20th century, by combining collections amassed in other regions.