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Eight centuries of stories


The beginning of the town (500-999)

Settlements existed in Litomerice long before the royal town was formally founded in 1219. The terraced Elbe river valley was already an attractive location in the Neolithic period (4500-3600A.D.). Later the area was settled by Celtic and Germanic tribes and then the Slavs came into the area at the end of the Migration Period. The earliest evidence of the Slavic settlement comes from the 8th century. Settlements were quite isolated from each other which led to the formation of tribes and families. In the 9th and 10th century Litoměřice fell under the control of the Přemyslid family. Litomercie was the residence of a Premyslid management office which was used by the Duke to control the surrounding area. They built an early medieval fortress on top of Dome hill. The fortress became one of the most significant Premyslid centres in the Czech lands.

Chapter foundation and the Middle Ages (1000-1299)

A Litomerice Charter was founded by Spytihnev II, Duke of Bohemia in 1057. Archeological discoveries prove that the area was widely settled in the 9th and even more so in the 10th - 12th centuries. The village Litomerice was mentioned for the first and last time in 1228. However, it was not just a simple farming village, it was a place which developed into a significant High Medieval Period town. By the beginning of the 13th century Litomerice was an important political, cultural and economic centre. Litomerice became a formal town in 1219 when Ottokar I, the Duke of Bohemia granted Litomerce town privileges (market rights, brewing rights, etc.). He also built one of the largest squares in Bohemia. At that time Franciscan and Dominican Orders grew steadily in Litomerice as did the Knights of the Cross with the Red Star. Commerce in the town consisted of many different craftsmen, transport on the Elbe river and the growing of grapes for wine.

14th century

Litomerice flourished during the reign of the Luxembourg Dynasty. It was a significant river port not far from the Zittau, Klum and Elbe trade routes. Litomerice was granted a staple privilege - It required barges and ships to unload their goods at the port and to offer them to the local population for a certain period of time. Only after local customers had not bought the goods were traders allowed to reload their cargo and continue travel. A huge system of underground caverns and cellars was used to store the goods.
The Luxembourg Dynasty has a special place in the history of Litomerice. The town grew during the time of King Charles IV and the streets that are today called Velka Dominikanska and Dlouha were added. He also granted the town ability to establish vineyards on the slopes of Radobyl hill provided that one tenth of the wine would be given to the King.
A new castle was built during the reign of Wenceslas IV, The castle can still be found in the same location today.

15th century

Litomerice was affected by the Hussite wars. In 1420 the town was Catholic and the Hussites who practised the Communion of both kinds were put to death. Jan Zizka decided to put the town under siege the town but Litomerice joined the Prague Hussites who were a more moderate faction of the Hussite movement. The Hussite wars and the absence of a monarch allowed Litomerice to become an independent and politically active town. The town representatives took part in the Bohemian Diet and also contributed to the management of the whole country.
During the reign of George from Podebrady international trade on the Elbe river increased and Litomerice started to flourish again after the turmoil of the Hussite Wars. A bridge was built across the Elbe in 1452.
In the second half of the 15th century Litomerice was in the middle of the conflict between the nobility who wanted new sources of income and the royal towns who did not want to provide that for them.

16th century

The Habsburg Dynasty was strongly against the growing ambitions of the towns and the division of the society into estates. The conflict led to the Bohemian Estate Revolt , Litomerice was a part of that and ended up being punished by the King.
The town built a new renaissance Town Hall.
Litomerice developed a lot in the 16th century, after the war experience they rebuilt the town fortification and walls. The size of the town grew by adding some nearby villages. The town also installed water pipes. There were various Italian architects who started to rebuild Litomerice in the renaissance style. They built the famous House at the Black Eagle and the Chalice House which has a chalice-shaped tower on the top of the roof, the chalice served as a reminder of who the owner was – the mayor of the vineyards.

17th century

In the beginning of the 17th century there were religious disputes between the Utraquists and Lutherans. There were also some disagreements between the town and the nobility. Old town privilages disappeared, the national and language conflict was in the air.
All that led to the uprising of the Bohemian Estates against the rule of the Habsburg Dynasty that began the Thirty Years´ War. Litomerice was strongly affected by the war. After it ended there were only 93 houses inhabited (out of 597). 317 houses were completely destroyed.
After the war re-catholicization started and the Litomerice Bishopric was founded in 1655. A number of artists and architects came to Litomerice at that time. The 1650s was an early baroque period and the baroque style was a great way to repair the town destroyed by the war. Eventually the destruction of the war was no longer visible. The highlight came at the turn of the 17th and 18th century when a new stone bridge was built across the Elbe.

18th century

The 18th century was a century of baroque architecture. Numerous baroque buildings were built in Litomerice – The Church of The Annunciation of The Virgin Mary, All Saints Church, St Vaclav´s Church, St Adalbert´s Church. There was also a baroque hospital with St Anne chapel which was destroyed 200 years later.
1720 was a big year for the town, all 211 citizens who had the right to brew beer joined together and bulit a town brewery where they started brewing Kalich beer or Chalice in English. A Jesuit Grammar School was also established in Litomerice in the 18th century.
All that said Litomerice still suffered the effects of war in the 18th century. The War of Austrian Succession (1740-1748) and then the Seven Years' War in 1756–1763 impacted the town greatly.

19th century

The 19th century in Litomerice was much calmer compared to the two centuries before. After the Terezin fortress had been built Litomerice began to remove the town walls and gates. This led to the growth of the town. In 1821 the toll on the Elbe river was cancelled which meant that all passenger and cargo boats were allowed to use the river. In 1889-90 Litomerice built a new tower adjacent to St Stephen´s Cathedral.
The cultural life of the town flourished at this time, and included people like Josef Jungmann and Karel Hynek Macha. One of the first theatres in the Czech country was built in Litomerice in 1822. Litomerice also had a number of schools and in 1804 a theological seminary opened . Litomerice was a centre administration, culture and education.

20th century

At the beginning of the 20th century Litomerice remained a strong regional capital even though Usti nad Labem was bigger and economically more developed. The town built a large courthouse and two military administration buildings in the city center. Things began to change in 1918 when the town was joined to the Deutschbohmen region which became a part of Czechoslovakia. In 1938 based on the Munich Agreement Litomerice became a part of Germany. Many of the Czechs left at this time. After the World War II the Czechs demanded the deportation of most Germans from Czechoslovakia. The period of co-existence between Czechs and Germans in Litomerice was over.Some buildings in the town centre were demolished and new panel buildings were built. The end of the 20th century was a start of a new story in Litomerice.


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