Jindřichův Hradec

Jindřichův Hradec

Once you visit Jindřichův Hradec, you will always like to come back. It is a charming town, located 475 metres above sea level, surrounded by greenery and water and there are so many historical monuments that you do not even manage to see all of them in one day. The town has more than 22,000 inhabitants. Its historical centre was declared a Historic Town Reserve. On the surface of the Lake Vajgar not only buildings of a historical castle and chateau are reflected but also picturesque original small houses of the tanners. Now there are Gobelin tapestry workshops and studios in these small houses.

The founder of the castle was Jindřich from the Vítkovec dynasty. He was the first bearer of a name of the lords of Jindřichův Hradec. His son Oldřich finished the building of the early Gothic castle which is preserved in the present chateau (a valuable mural cycle of St. George’s life dates back to the year 1338). At the same time a settlement bearing George’s name was being established. History of the castle and later the Renaissance chateau is the history of fights between a royal power and proud lords of Jindřichův Hradec. The town as well as the chateau reached their biggest development in the 16th century during Renaissance rebuilding. A garden summerhouse, known as a rondel comes from 1591. The whole chateau complex is even more valuable thanks to the fact that it has been preserved in its Gothic and Renaissance form and it was not rebuilt in a Baroque style.

In 1604 Vilém Slavata of Chlum and Košumberk, a famous victim of Prague defenestration from 1618, became an owner of the chateau. After the finishing of the Thirty Years’ War in 1648 Jindřichův Hradec was the second biggest Czech town. In 1801 the whole chateau burned down. It was restored as late as at the beginning of the 20th century thanks to Earl Evžen Černín who was the owner of the chateau at that time. Today it is an admired place for many visitors.

The town also suffered by the fire. A number of late-Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque merchants’ houses in the square have however been preserved. The provost Church of the Assumption of Our Lady from the 14th century with a tower more than 68 metres high (in the 15th century church belonged to the Utraquist church for many years) dominates the town.

St. John the Baptist’s Church with a former Minorite monastery is a unique monument of the Central European importance. A Gothic completion of a construction from the first half of the 14th century follows the Romanesque foundations from the third quarter of the 13th century. The preserved wall paintings are unique.

You will certainly be able to find other important monuments by yourselves. Let us also mention Krýza’s Christmas crib in the town museum. A trip by a narrow–gauged small train from Jindřichův Hradec to Nová Bystřice or to Obrataň is also one of the local attractions.

A history of local Protestants is connected to the history of town and its surroundings. Oldřich of Hradec led the crusade war that the Pope announced in 1340 against the Waldensian community.

During the 16th century a favour of the lords of Hradec to the believers of the Utraquist Church was changing according to their confession. The Battle of the White Mountain in 1620 meant as everywhere in the Czech Lands the end of religious freedom. At that time the Protestants met secretely especially in the villages. At the beginning, not even the Toleration Patent from 1781 had any influence over fully Catholic town Jindřichův Hradec. Gradually, however, the Protestants began to appear here as well, mostly the members of the village congregations with the others. It was the way how a preaching station of a congregation in Horní Dubenky was established in Jindřichův Hradec in 1904. (The congregation in Jindřichův Hradec was set up as late as in 1921). Soon after establishing a preaching station the idea of building a church appeared. The foundation stone of a building was laid on the 29th of April 1906 and already on the 28th of September 1906 the church was inaugurated. It was built according to architect M. Blecha’s plan in the Art-Nouveau style enriched by Neo-Gothic elements and also elements of folk architecture. (It is interesting that very similar Protestant church can be found in the Austrian Heidenreichstein). Later sensitive extensions and modifications of the church and rectory did not interfere with a character of the building. Today a modern congregation house with a house of prayer and other common rooms serve the needs of the live and opened congregation.