Jeseník, the seat for the district government, is sometimes called the „pearl“ of the Jeseníky 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.
Jeseník 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 composed of 10 separate villages. A castle fortress is mentioned in 1326 providing protection for the 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.
Jeseník 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 Jeseník became the executive district seat for the region stretching from Zlaté Hory to Javorník.
In 1960 the Jeseník district was assimilated into the Šumperk district, shifting the regional power seat to the other side of the Jeseníky 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 Zlaté Hory and the Ditter’s Museum in Javorník. 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 Jeseník’s travel and spa industries. In 1995, the Czech Parliament decided to re-establish an independent district seat in Jeseník. On January 1st, 1996, Jeseník again became the regional administrative centre with 23 towns and villages within its jurisdiction.
One of the town’s oldest cultural monuments is the Vodní Tvrz or in English 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.