History of Hradec Králové

In ancient times the elevation between two rivers, together with many tributaries and marshes, formed the natural barrier,

protecting the inhabitants of this region. The first signs of the settling of farmers here in the later Stone Age date from the third century B.C. Many relics from later periods, particularly of the life of the people of the cinerary fielsds, are to be seen in to regional museum. In the 10th century the settlement, called Hradec, belonged to the Slavník family. When they were anihilated, it became the property of the Czech princes of the Poemysl family. In 1225 Hradec became a free royal town. It grew rapidly, new trades sprang up, and the size of its population and its importance soon made Hradec the wealthiest and largest Czech town after Prague.

At the beginning of the 14th century it became the dower town of the Czech Queens and later the word Králové was added to its name. In the first half of the same century a new landmark arose in the town, the Gothic brick - built cathedral, a sign of royal favour. In 1337 John of Luxemburg conferred on Hradec all the privileges of a royal town.

A famous chapter in the history of Hradec Králové was the Hussite period. In 1420 it became a Hussite town for a long period and a year later it welcomed the great millitary commander, Jan Žižka of Trocnov, at its gates.

In the years 1574 - 1580 another outstanding monument arose, the Renaissance White Tower with the second largest bell in Bohemia, Augustin.

The town burned down three times during the 15th and 16th centuries. A new period of development was halted after the Battle of the White Mountain by Swedish troops who attacked the town and occupied it in 1639. Building activity was partly revived again in the latter half of the 17th century when a monumental Baroque church was erected on the town square. War events in the 18th century made it necessary to turn the town into a fortress, this halted the development of Hradec Králové for 100 years and had decisive influence on further building activity. The citadel, erected in

1766 - 89, never fulfilled expectations, particularly not during the 1866 Austro-Prussian war, when one of the largest battles of modern military history took place in Chlum nearby at Sadova. The fortres was therefore abandoned in 1884, dismantled and during the ensuing 20 years torn down.

In the first third of the 19th century Hradec Králove became the centre of patriotic activity among the Czechs in the nort-east of Bohemia and, for a time, the most important centre of Czech writing.

At the turn of the century the town rid itself of its fortifications and a building plan was worked out which was entrusted right from the begining to famous architects. Architect Profesor Jan Kotira built the Municipal Museum in 1909 -12 according to the new urban conception. Another architect Josef Goeár enriched the town with several other buildings. His name is permanently linked with the building - up of Hradec Králové from the mid 1920o when he was entrusted with the job of working out a regulation plan. Right from the beginning the new construction followed comprehensive zoning plans and as a result of this planned development and the strict adherence to zoning stipulations, Hradec Králové became well known at home and abroad. As the years pased, the urban and architectural tradition was formed in the city and became associated mainly with name of Dr. František Ulrich, Mayor of the City for many years. The city reached its pinnacle of nodern architecture during the twenties and thirties when it became renowned as "The Salon of the Republic". The variety of town houses with Gothic and Renaissance central parts, baroque and later fronts, an other valuable buildins had the whole headland above the confluence of the Elbe and the Orlice declared as a municipal historical reserve.