Letohrad (Giersberg) - Kunvald (Kunwald) - Písařov (Schreibendorf)

Letohrad (Giersberg) - Kunvald (Kunwald) - Písařov (Schreibendorf)

Until 1950 Letohrad was called Kyšperk after the defunct castle on a hill above the town. It lies on the foothills of the Orlické Mountains on the river Tichá Orlice at an altitude of 360 metres. More then 6,000 people live there. The first written mention of Kyšperk is registered in the Zbraslav Chronicle. In the year 1513 it is already featured as a town. Kyšperk had its largest boom in the 17th century.

The then owner Hynek Jetřich Vitanovský had a castle and a chapel built in a Baroque style; it is today’s Baroque Church of St. Wenceslas and has unique stucco decoration. The author of the altar painting of the death of this saint is the Viennese painter Charles Sambach. The English style castle built between 1820 and 1830 dominates the square. No less valuable is a listed castle park in which there are many rare trees and an imperial pavilion. In the year 1713 a plague epidemic threatened the town and as an expression of gratitude that this did not happen a Plague Column was built in the square.

After 1989 a new life came to the town. Baroque merchant houses with arcades came into being and a former farmstead from 1720 was restored and today it houses a museum of crafts.

Letohrad has been a preaching station of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren in Horní Čermná since 1921. Local Protestants were supported by new members from the “conversion movement”, however, there was no place to meet. Difficult situation also continued during the Second World War.

An official congregation in Letohrad was founded in 1956 and in the following year the Protestants finally gained a congregation house which only partially met their needs. The construction of a new congregation house started only after the year 1989. This modern two-story house was designed by architect Z. Auer and was inaugurated in 2003. The concept of the building was interesting: an airy house of prayer opens itself in the space under the roof, there are rooms for activities of the congregation and a flat for a preacher. There is also possibility of further accommodation. Congregation house in Letohrad is the first church building built since the seventies of the last century.

The congregation in Letohrad has a preaching station in a distant Písařov, a small town with 7,100 inhabitants. Despite the distance, religious service is held there every week. Within the conversion movement, in 1925 a preaching station, which belonged to the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren in Hrabová was formed in Písařov, later in Zábřeh na Moravě and finally in 1997 it became a preaching station of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren congregation in Letohrad. In this small village there is one of the most outstanding buildings of the architect Oldřich Liska – a functionalist Protestant church with a chalice on the tower. It has been standing here since 1933 and it is a pity that only a few people know about it.

Near Žamberk, in the eastern part of the Orlické Mountains, a small village of Kunvald with just over 1,000 inhabitants lies at an altitude of 445 metres. It was founded in the second half of the 13th century, the first written record comes from 1363 and the road from Bohemia to Silesia and Glacensis led here. From 1389 it belonged to Litice domain. Kunvald has a great historical significance for the Protestants. A religious group which separated from both the Catholic Church and the Utraquist Church took refuge in Litice domain which belonged to George of Poděbrady. Members of this religious group inclined to the teaching of Peter Chelčický and wanted to live exclusively according to the Gospel.

The Unity of Brethren was founded in Kunvald in 1458 and its undeniable historical significance applies to these days. The Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren bought a house called ”At the Congregation” in 1929. There is a monument of the Unity of Brethren and of the last bishop J. A. Komenský in this house. His statue was built in the vicinity of the house already in 1910.

Near Kunvald there is a place called Praying Valley. This is where members of the Unity of Brethren took refuge in times of persecution. A road to the valley leads through so called Bethlehem, a part of Kunvald where most of the members used to live. There is a lime tree called the ”Lime of Brethren,” which is estimated to be 450 years old and is considered a relic of the Unity of Brethren. It is said that the tree was planted during the forced departure of the Czech Brethren from their homeland in 1547 – 1548.