České Budějovice is a regional capital and at the same time the biggest town of the South Bohemian Region. It lies on the confluence of the river Vltava and Malše between the Basin of České Budějovice and the Třeboň Basin at an altitude of 381 metres above sea level and has about 96,000 inhabitants.
From 72 metres high Black Tower built in a Gothic-Renaissance style which dominates the town is a nice view of a main square (in a shape of a square) which is one of the largest in the Czech Republic. The edge of the square is well-preserved, mainly Renaissance merchants’ houses with typical arcades. The square is named after Přemysl Otakar II. In 1265 he founded here a royal town as an important centre on the trade routes but also as a barrier against the expansion of a noble family of Vítkovec and later the Rozenbergs. There is a Baroque fountain called “Samson“ in the middle of the square. The early Gothic Monastery Church of the Virgin Mary from the 13th – 14th century as a unique Gothic church of the Přemyslids era is worth mentioning among the significant church monuments. St. Nicholas’ Cathedral Church was mentioned already in the 13th century. Later it was rebuilt in a Baroque style.
In České Budějovice there was also a monumental synagogue which was destroyed during occupation. In 1924 a basilica of Hus congregation of the Czechoslovak Hussite Church (CHC) was built here. The Brethren Church also has its house of prayer here.
The town flourished mainly in the 16th century when crafts and trade flourished, beer was brewed, fish-pond cultivation was developed; silver mining brought the wealth, too.
In the Hussite time České Budějovice stood on the side of the Emperor Sigismund; the town did not support a revolt of the Estates in 1618. During the Thirty Years’ War and later the town did not escape destructive fires and plague.
In 1751 České Budějovice became a centre of the region. In 1762 the Piarists founded a grammar school here and in 1785 a Catholic Diocese of České Budějovice with a seat of a bishop was established here. The town became strongly Catholic. A number of the German inhabitants was rising.
In the 19th century the town began to develop rapidly. In 1832 a horse-drawn railway pulled out from Budějovice to Linz – the first train in the European continent. Vojtěch Lanna introduced a voyage on the river Vltava. This positive development continued also in the 20th century.
In the year 1900 a Czech Protestant preaching station was founded in České Budějovice. After the establishing of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren (ECCB) in 1918 a number of new members was rising and an ECCB congregation was founded in 1922.
Later a building in Lannova Street was purchased and rebuilt as a congregation house. After the 2nd World War the congregation obtained a church after the German Evangelical Church at today’s Street of the 28th of October. This Neo-Romanesque church comes from the year 1889.
Today’s house of prayer is located on the 1st floor. A hall is multifunctional- except regular Divine service also gatherings of ministers and also weddings take place here. In the building there are rooms for congregation work in addition to a flat of a preacher: children and young people gather here, Bible lessons are held here. There is also a possibility of accommodation.
Thirty kilometres south of České Budějovice a small town Kaplice lies in a beautiful landscape of foothills of the Novohradské Mountains near the river Malše (537 metres above sea level, about 7,000 inhabitants). It is mentioned already in 1382, a well-known “Salt Track“ went here. St. Peter’s and St.Paul’s Church and St. Florian’s Church come from the late Gothic period. In the 16th century originally Protestant St. Joseph’s and St. Barbara’s Chapel was built. Until the end of the 2nd World War predominantly German population lived here.
České Budějovice congregation has its preaching station here. Long distance from a home congregation led to the idea of building a separate house of prayer in Kaplice which would serve the domestic as well as international meetings besides the Divine service. Thus so called “Ark“ with a modern house of prayer for 85 people and a possibility of accommodation was opened in 2005.
If you wander about the Novohradské Mountains, don’t forget to stop there.