Lysá nad Labem (Lissa an der Elbe)

Lysá nad Labem (Lissa an der Elbe)

Lysá is one of the towns in the fertile Elbe valley with the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren (ECCB) congregation. With its population of about 8,500 inhabitants, Lysá lies about 15 km to the east of Stará Boleslav at an altitude of 183 metres above sea level. During the reign of king Wenceslas II and his wife Guta, the former manor house was converted into a royal castle. In 1291 Lysá belonged to the queen of Bohemia.

Later it was owned by various noble families. During the years 1560–1564 a Renaissance chateau was built above the town. At the end of the 17th century it was enlarged in a Baroque style by count F. A. Špork. The Baroque garden was decorated with statues by M. B. Braun. Near the chateau there is a building of a former Augustinian monastery. In Lysá we can find a lot of Baroque style buildings, such as the Baroque Town Hall from the middle of the 18th century, a congregation church with statues by J. Brokoff and M. B. Braun and the deanery building.

The modern development of the town started in the second half of the 19th century. Today Lysá is an important railway junction with a busy exhibition centre.

Until the post-White-Mountain period, Lysá was mainly a Protestant town. A good example can be the Tržický family, who kept “The Evangelical Postil“ (Postila evangelická, written in Czech in 1602) safe for 160 years. In 1625 there was an armed uprising against the forcible recatholization in this region. The Protestants were severely persecuted and in 1628 the uprising was repressed by the army. A lot of Protestants burnt their houses and went to live abroad then. Later, Czech exiles founded the town of Lissa, close to German Halle (Halle an der Saale).

The Toleration Patent, issued by Joseph II in 1781, brought new hopes to the secret Protestants who espoused to the Helvetic (Reformed) confession. In 1783 the first preacher from the Kingdom of Hungary arrived. At that time the services took place in private places. After several attempts to regain the abolished congregation Church of St. Barbara, the congregation members started to build their own house of prayer. The foundation stone was laid in 1787 and the first service took place on the 20th of December 1789. There were no benches then and one had to stand during worship.

In 1807 there was a great fire in Lysá which damaged also the Protestant house of prayer. The building, however, kept its original toleration Neo-Classicist style with pretty gables. On one of them a chalice has been placed. Inside the House there is the Lord’s table from the late 18th century standing in front of a pulpit; an organ comes from 1829. Greater renovations were made in 1907 and in the 1950s.

In 1864 the congregation bought a building neighbouring with the house of prayer (situated on today’s Bedřich Hrozný Square), where they put a school and rectory. The school was later moved to a place on a hillock between the house of prayer and the rectory. Today there is a congregation house which is also used as a winter house of prayer. The whole complex is replenished with tombstones from the original Protestant cemetery.

The most famous Lysá native Bedřich Hrozný, the son of a local preacher, Václav Hrozný, became a world famous orientalist. In 1915 he deciphered the ancient Hittite language. After nearly 3 thousand years the seemingly dead language spoke: “Now you shall eat bread, then you shall drink water”, was the first translated sentence. Bedřich Hrozný was a university professor and later a rector of the Charles University in Prague. He was also awarded a honorary doctorate at many universities. His memorial can be found in the garden of the Lysá congregation complex. The congregation premises including the well maintained garden were added to the Town Reserve Zone on the 1st of September 2003 and declared a cultural monument in 2005.