Czech Open Information Project


The beginnings of the Royal Town of Ceske‚ Bdejovice are connected with the attempt made by Otakar II to limit the expansion of the Vitkovec family further into the interior and to bring the royal power closer to the frontier. The town was founded before 1265 in a smooth hollow not far from the confluence of the Vltava and the Malse. The magnanimity with which it was founded can be judged from the vast and perfectly regular central square, which had no equal in thirteenth century central Europe. The settlement of the town was supervised by the burgrave Hirzo of Zvikov, also known as the builder of the monastery of Zlata koruna (the Golden Crown) and castle of Zvikov. The lay-out of the town and its streets had to take account of complex natural features - marshy ground and many streams. The outcome was a chequered plan of housing blocks surrounding the main square and a main street directed towards the city gates, with commercial side-streets running off it. After Otakar II's death the town was twice plundered by the Vitkovec family. Under the rule of Vaclav II it developed further and obtained from him more extensive privileges. It was surrounded by powerful fortifications which took advantage of the many water streams and led to widening the so-called Mill-Stream. Beside secular buildings many churches arose in the town, both parish and conventual. Of these the Dominican monastery was among the most imposing, boasting a foundation charter dated 1265. Its buildings underwent complicated developments. Worthy of note is the lofty, elegant sanctuary of the church of the Sacrifice of the Virgin which has consoles shaped like human heads, important examples of 14th c. Czech sculpture. The construction of the monastery went on into the 14th c., when conventual buildings and a cloister were added to the church. The building of the parish church of St. Nicholas was also begun in the 13th c., alterations were made in the 15th and two hundred years later the building achieved the appearance we know today. It became a cathedral in 1784 when Budejovice was raised to a bishopric. Not far from the church there rises the lofty so-called Black Tower, a characteristic landmark. The rate of development of Budejovice did not slacken in the 14th c. since it had the favour of Charles IV and Vaclav IV. During the Hussite wars the town adhered to the Catholic camp. Numerous fortified walls and bastions date from that troubled period, e. g. the Rabstejn Tower. In the second half of the 15th c. an old dream of the Rozmberk family was fulfilled, if only for a short time, when they received the town of Budejovice as a pledge from Jiri of Podebrady. But the citizens never allowed the Rozmberks to enter their walls. At the time of the 1547 uprising the townsfolk kept faith with the king, which won them further privileges (the silver mines of Rudolfov), and brought new economic advance. In the 16th c. the economic life of the town caused new buildings to be undertaken, the meat shops and the salt house are examples. The Thirty Years' War meant a decline in trade and prosperity, which only began to revive after 1824 when Budejovice was linked to the town of Linz in Austria by first a horse- drawn and later a steam train. The main town square acquired its present characteristic aspect in the 18th c. when the arcaded passages and the richly adorned facades of the burghers' houses appeared. Antonio E. Martinelli gave the town hall its baroque aspect and the Samson fountain which adorns the centre of the square was carved by J. Dietrich and Z. Horn to the designs of F. Baugut and J. Rapp. As with other Czech towns the precondition for 19th c. rebuilding was the pulling down of the fortifications. New districts and industrial concerns arose around the historic town centre, and in the second half of the 19th c. Ceske‚ Bdejovice became the administrative, cultural and economic centre of South Bohemia. It was declared a National Heritage Reservation in 1980.