Valašské Meziříčí

Valašské Meziříčí

Valašské Meziříčí is situated on the confluence of the rivers Vsetín Bečva and Rožnov Bečva, between the Hostýn-Vsetín Upland and the western border of the Moravian-Silesian Beskydy Mountains, 294 metres above sea level. The town has the population of about 28,000 people. The little town of Krásno (at the first time mentioned in 1491) on the right bank of the Bečva river became a part of Valašské Meziříčí (situated on the left bank of Bečva) in 1924.

The first records about Valašské Meziříčí were made in 1297 and by the end of the 15th century, it was already described as a town. During the Wallachian uprising in the 17th century the town supported and joined the rebels. When defeated in 1621, the leaders of the uprising were executed. During the Thirty Years‘ War, the town was plundered and burnt out by the Swedes several times.

The 19th century witnessed an industrial development – glass factories and gobelin manufactories were built, and at the turn of the 19th and the 20th centruries a lot of schools were opened so that Valašké Meziříčí started to be called the Wallachian Athens. The renewed 16th century Renaissance castle of the Žeroníns family has become a significant monument of the town. It was rebuilt in a Baroque style in the early 18th century. The castle, however, had an eventful past. It was changed into a military hospital after the Battle of Slavkov in 1805. After the year of 1854, when it was bought by the state, there was a women‘s prison and it kept being used as a military hospital and barracks even in later years. Today it is a cultural centre and looks beautiful again. In the Empire style Kinskys‘ Castle with its large park there is a museum. As for religious buildings, there is a congregation Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, originally Gothic, with its Renaissance tower and valuable portal annexed to it in 1581. The later alterations are from the Baroque period. The wooden Church of the Holy Trinity dates back to the 16th century. The St. Jacob‘s Church was used by the Protestants at the end of the 16th century. The town hall from the late 16th century, rebuilt in a Baroque style, is the only historical monument of the village of Krásno and it is a town library today. At the time of the communist regime a lot of historical buildings were pulled down and prefab houses were built instead. The historical centre of the town has been declared a Historic Town Reserve.

The history of the Protestants in Valašské Meziříčí began in the 16th century, the important role being played by the Czech Brethren supported by the Pernštejns family and later by the Žerotíns. The congregation was established in the town and a school was opened. Jan Lanecius, a bishop of the Unity of Brethren and one of the ministers of the congregation, went to Přerov later where he taught Jan Amos Komenský and Karel Starší of Žerotín. In 1612 – 1625 Jiří Třanovský was a rector of the Lutheran school. He became famous as a poet and writer – his Cithara Sanctorum is an important Evangelical hymn-book.

Recatholization after the Battle of the White Mountain affected Valašské Meziříčí, too. A Czech gymnasium was opened here in 1871, with an Evangelical home for poor students. The number of the Protestants was growing steadily; in 1902 a preaching station was founded and a congregation of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren was established in 1923. The church started to be built according to Leo Kalda‘s architectural design as early as in 1909. The modernism style church with a tetragonal tower with vertical windows, to which a rectory building was annexed, was opened on the 1st of November, 1909. There was a lot of construction work done on the church later – above all, it was lengthened. The church interior is not original, either. In 1989, a relief produced by Barbora Veselá picturing Biblical parables was placed on the front wall. She and her husband Jiří Veselý, an architect, also worked on new lighting of the church. The Protestant church in Valašské Meziříčí became a cultural monument in 1997.

There is also the Diaconia of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren which belongs to the congregation and in 2003 the Protestants iniciated building the Citadela hospice which was proclaimed “The Building of the Year“ in 2003.