České Budějovice (history)

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České Budějovice (history)

History and presence of the town České Budějovice
The confluence of the big South Bohemian Vltava and Malše rivers was chosen by the Czech king Přemysl Otakar II in 1265 with a view to establishing the town of České Budějovice and thus to strengthen his powerful position in South Bohemia. The regular ground plan of the newly established royal town, whose centre is formed by an extensive quadrate square, is among the top works of medieval urbanism. The town grew economically due to the king's favour and a favourable position on distance commercial routes. Bohemian kings paid for the fidelity to the Royal crown to the citizens of České Budějovice by awarding numerous privileges ensuring economic prosperity. As early as the turn of the 13th and the 14th centuries two magnificent cathedrals were completed and solid walls surrounded the town. In the course of the turbulent 15th century the catholically oriented town of České Budějovice represented a firm support against the Hussite movement. Žižka himself estimated well the solid character of the fortifications and did not even try to capture the town. With its 4,000 inhabitants the medieval town of České Budějovice was among the largest and most important towns of the Bohemian Kingdom. Nevertheless, it remained a town closed in the ring of the walls with several scattered agricultural estates and gardens in the suburbs. The 16th century brought an unprecedented growth of the town and considerable profits flowing to the municipality particularly from silver mining in the surrounding mines as well as from beer brewing, pond economy and trade with salt. The accumulated means were used by the community, among others, for an ostentatious presentation: a new town hall was built, the walls were rebuilt and the town council decided to erect a high tower, which is currently called "Black Tower". České Budějovice thus took on a charming Renaissance face. In 1569 a mint was established here processing silver mined in the fields around the present Rudolfov. During the course of the Estate Uprising and the subsequent Thirty Years' War České Budějovice remained once more again at the Emperor's part and resisted attacks of the Estate Army. The modern fortification made the town a strategically important fortress where during the war in the 1630s provincial officers moved several times; the local church was temporarily hiding the Bohemian crown jewels.

Whereas the war itself did not cause much damage, more than a half of the houses were destroyed in the fire of July 1641. The town renovation extended over several decades. Baroque era again profoundly changed the form of public buildings and private houses in the town, enriched České Budějovice with several ecclesiastical sights and inter alia also with one of the town symbols - Samson's fountain. Maria Theresa's reforms in the second half of the 18th century made České Budějovice the seat of a newly created region. Also the Piarist Order, settling here in 1762 and establishing a Latin grammar school, contributed, to a great extent, to the cultural importance of the town. The town theater was established in the same period as well. In 1785, under the Emperor Joseph II, the bishopric of České Budějovice was founded and not even two decades later the seminary and the philosophical institute started their activities. The 19th century entered the town life especially with revolutionary technical progress and development of modern civil society. Built between 1825 and 1832 as the first one on the European continent, the horse-drawn railway connected České Budějovice with Austrian Linz and along with the Vltava trade run by Vojtěch Lanna accelerated transport in the north-south direction. This fact stimulated development of trade and industry. In 1847 the Viennese firm Hardtmuth brought its enterprise manufacturing pencils and ceramic goods to České Budějovice and the town was thus given its first large factory. So far the small Citizen's Brewery was relocated to Linz suburbs in the vicinity of the railway where it had a perspective of further development. In 1895 its opposite pole, the Czech Joint-stock Brewery, the present Budweiser Budvar, was created making the town famous in many countries worldwide. The 20th century brought a turbulent development. České Budějovice grew in a real economic and cultural metropolis of South Bohemia and in 1949 it became the seat of the newly created Region of České Budějovice. České Budějovice between 1990 and 2000
The social changes after 1989 touched almost all the spheres of the life in the South Bohemian metropolis. In 1990 České Budějovice became a statutory town with a Lord Mayor at the head. Reforms of the state administration caused that the town stopped to be the administrative centre of the region for the period between 1990 and 1999. The church administration was renewed and therefore, after 18 years, the cathedra of České Budějovice was occupied in the spring of 1990 and has been occupied ever since.

Traditional commercial and cultural relations with neighbouring Austria, Germany and other West European countries were re-established. Besides already existing international contracts also partnerships with Austrian Linz, Bavarian Passau and further with Almero in Netherlands, Lorient in France and Nitra in Slovakia were concluded. In addition, opening the border significantly strengthened tourism. An external sign of post-revolutionary changes is, for instance, the process of reintroducing some historically deep-rooted street names, which began in 1991, or reunveiling monuments of the bishop J.V. Jirsík and the entrepreneur Vojtěch Lanna in 1993. On the one hand, restitution and privatization process resulted in the development of commercial network and an extensive renovation of buildings, on the other hand, it entailed damage to many historical monuments. The built-up area expanded by building both new housing estates in the area of Čtyři Dvory and new colonies of family houses on the land so far used for agricultural purposes near České Vrbné, Suché Vrbné, Mladé and Nemanice. Besides, further housing zones were projected in Rožnov, near Kněžské Dvory, around Hus colony and in other places. In the suburbs of České Budějovice new commercial centers and supermarkets appeared in the mid-90s that made most town inhabitants accept modern style of shopping. The tradition of the annually organized exhibition Bread Basket has been maintained; apart from that, the exhibition centre offers some other regular events (Hobby, Beer Festival etc.). In the 90s several architectonically interesting buildings appeared in the town: administration building of Jihočeská energetika (South Bohemian Energy Supplier) in the Lanna Street (1993), Česká pojišťovna (Czech Insurance Company) in the Prague Street (1995) or commercial-economic centre of Budweiser Budvar (1996). The town invested into a non-traditional construction of the new Long Bridge over the Vltava river, which was opened on the occasion of the 80th anniversary celebrations of the Proclamation of the Czechoslovak Republic in 1998. Especially the economic sphere underwent extensive changes. Most industrial enterprises, providing jobs for approximately one third of the town inhabitants, transformed into joint stock or other companies, some of which are operating foreign capital.

Among the most important companies the following have to be mentioned: Budweiser Budvar Brewery, which also accepted the role of an important sponsor (especially in the culture and the healthcare system), pencils manufacturer Koh-i-noor Hardmuth, enamel factory Sfinx or Samson Brewery, run by the joint stock company Jihočeské pivovary (South Bohemian Breweries). The engineering factories then include Motor Jikov or the manufacturer of auto accessories Bosch with a considerable capital share of the German trust. Also a whole range of private and joint stock companies, operating in various fields, were established in České Budějovice: approximately 19,000 such companies were in operation at 1997. Deep changes touched also educational system and culture, spheres that employs approx. 12% of the town inhabitants. Such changes involved especially reorganization of education administration and establishment of private, ecclesiastical and specialized educational institutes. South Bohemian University with the Faculties of Education, Agriculture, Biology, Theology, and Health and Social Studies was opened around 1991. The inhabitants of České Budějovice as well as its visitors can choose from a whole range of cultural events. They include South Bohemian Theatre, which also organizes summer performances on the revolving stage in Český Krumlov, and several smaller theatres. The concert hall of Otakar Jeremiáš or the Music Festival of Ema Destinová offer musical experiences. Rich art-historical, ethnographic and natural historical collections can be visited in the South Bohemian Museum, which among others includes a detailed exhibition elucidating history of the horse-drawn railway. Since 1999 a private museum of historic motorcycles has been open in the town. Fine art lovers can visit one of the local galleries, for instance the South Bohemian Gallery of Mikoláš Aleš or the Art Center. A sculpture symposium is held annually in Stromovka. The exhibition center organizes tens of events every year, the most important of which is the national agricultural exhibition "Bread Basket". Last but not least, the advantage of the town is last but not least extensive green surfaces inviting for walks and relaxation. The winter stadium, the summer and winter swimming pools, the sports hall and other sports and recreation centers provide enough possibilities of active sports. The inauguration of the Arpid Center for rehabilitation of physically handicapped children and youth (1993), a building in the Pekárenská Street easily accessible for the disabled (1992) or the town Asylum house (1996) are important steps taken in the 90s in the sphere of healthcare and welfare. The number of inhabitants of České Budějovice in the 90s was running just below 100,000.

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