Herlíkovice - Vrchlabí

Herlíkovice - Vrchlabí

Vrchlabí lies at the foothills of the Krkonoše Mountains under the slope Přední Žalý and the Jankův Hill at an altitude of 477 metres. The river Elbe flows through the town. In this important tourist centre and the surrounding villages where the road to Špindlerův Mlýn leeds along the Elbe valley, there live about 13,500 inhabitants.

The foundation of Vrchlabí is being mentioned in the 13th century in connection with mostly German colonization. In the 16th century the royal mining hetman Kryštof of Gendorf bought the town. In that period (1533) Vrchlabí was promoted to the mining town with its coat of arms and mining laws. Silver, gold and also iron ores were mined and processed here. In 1624 Albrecht of Wallenstein who during the Thirty Years’ War from here supplied the army by weapons and also by pitch and sulphur wreaths, bought the domain. Luther’s teaching penetrated to Vrchlabí thanks to the German inhabitants and a bigger religious freedom was here. However, during the reign of the Morzins family hard counter-Reformation prevailed so, many families left abroad. In the 19th century the textile industry and small crafts began to spread in Vrchlabí. The Second World War interrupted a positive development of the town. A mostly German town of Vrchlabí became part of the Great German Empire. After the end of the war German inhabitants left and new people began to arrive into the town. After years of the totalitarian regime a new life came also here.

The most valuable historical monument in Vrchlabí is the Renaissance castle built by Christopher Gendorf in the middle of the 16th century. Inside we will find rare tiled stove with biblical scenes and a year 1545 is written on it. The former town hall also dates back to the Renaissance period; it was rebuilt in a Baroque style in the years 1733–1737. There is a Neo-
-Gothic deanery St. Lawrence’s Church on the place of the original Gothic later Renaissance church which was demolished in 1886. A cooper font from 1556 was moved from the original church to the new church which has a valuable inner decoration. The former Baroque Augustinian monastery is the seat of the Museum of the Krkonoše Mountains. Historical houses from the 17th century which are preserved in their original condition are very valuable. The House with seven gables – the oldest one in Vrchlabí – is also a remarkable example of the urban architecture of that time.

A history of the German Lutheran congregation in Vrchlabí is connected with the life of the secret Protestants in Rudník where meetings were held also during the counter-Reformation time. Already in 1784 a congregation was founded here and it became a centre of the German Protestants in the area. The church from the 2nd half of the 19th century is a ruin nowadays.

In Vrchlabí there were not many Protestants left. However, gradually their number began to increase so in the year 1900 a branch congregation was founded and an independent congregation was founded 10 years later. A remarkable Art Nouveau congregation house was built in today’s Street of Czech Brethren according to a plan of Dresden architects Rudolf Schilling and Julius Willi Grabner. The Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren (ECCB) obtained this house after the Second Word War as well as on the 1st of March 1948 a newly formed Vrchlabí congregation. The room for worship has a coffered ceiling, decorative Art Nouveau elements and stained-glass windows. Later alterations were good for the prayer room.

The congregation has its own preaching station in Herlíkovice (today part of the village Strážné). You will certainly be impressed by a visit of this beautiful area. In the picturesque countryside of the Krkonoše Mountains which is dominated by Žalý Mountain, a small white Art Nouveau church from the year 1904 shines far and wide. The church was designed by the same architects who designed the Art Nouveau rectory in Vrchlabí. At that time they also designed an Art Nouveau church in Lánov near Vrchlabí but it was demolished in 1982. According to some sources this church in Herlíkovice is the highest located Protestant church in our country. The ECCB got it after the German Protestant Church together with some houses. Later these houses were rebuilt and today they serve as the Mountain Home for summer and winter recreation, for meetings of young people and spiritual as well as lay workers.