Commemorative medals from points of interest in CZ
coinage 377

The town Hořice


náměstí Jiřího z Poděbrad 342, 508 19 Hořice 

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The town of Hořice is located on the south slope of the Hořice Ridge. This wooded range is often regarded as the southernmost tip of the Bohemia’s Giant Mountains (Krkonoše, Ger.Riesengebirge) and actually forms a divide separating the warmer fertile Labe (Elbe) Plain in the south and the climatically harsher piedmont foothills in the north. The range stretching for some 20 kilometres in the east-west direction is formed by the area’s most valuable natural resource which is high quality sandstone suitable both for masonry and sculpture. The warm southern face of the range provides ideal conditions for fruit-growing, especially cherries and apples, while the fertile soil facilitates high yields of agricultural produce such as grains, sugar beets and vegetables.

It must have been due to the pleasant climate that people started settling in the area as early as the Palaeolithic, and traces of other subsequent prehistoric cultures, e.g. Lusatian, have been unearthed here as well. In the Middle Ages, the first historical record mentions the existence of a village with a fortified stronghold on a rise where in the mid-12th century German Premonstratensian monks from Prague’s Strahov Monastery founded a chapel consecrated to St. Godehard of Hildesheim. The Czech version of the German form of Abbot Godehard’s name (Gotthard) later became to be applied to the whole elevation known since then as the Gothard Hill (alt. 352 m above sea level).

During the 13th century, the original settlement moved to a more strategically located place under the hill where the village quickly grew and Hořice (Ger. Horschitz) thus gained another place of worship as well as a large market square and a second fort. Historical records from 1365 already speak of Hořice as a townlet.

The subsequent history of Hořice and its environs was then marked by the Hussite Wars when on 20 April 1423 the Gothard Hill became the scene of a major battle in which the field army of the Hussite military leader Jan Žižka of Trocnov, using to advantage the ingenious wagenburg (wagon fort) decimated the troops of the Utraquist Calixtines commanded by the head of the Lords’ Unity, Čeněk of Vartenberk (Vinzenz of Wartenberg).

The town and the estate of Hořice were then the fief of a number of feudal lords, experiencing the greatest advancement under the rule of the house of Smiřický between the mid-16th century and the first quarter of the 17th century. However, as Albrecht Jan Smiřický’s sided with the anti-Habsburg revolt of the Bohemian nobles, after the lost Battle of the White Mountain the estate became a confiscate and the Emperor Ferdinand II gave it together with many other landed estates to the generalissimo of the Imperial armies, Albrecht Wenzel Eusebius of Wallenstein, Duke of Friedland. After Wallenstein was murdered at Cheb (Ger. Eger) in 1634, the Emperor in 1635 gifted Hořice to his Palatine (Chamberlain) and Field Marshal, Count Iacopo (Jacob) Strozzi of Florence in recognition of his services. After Iacopo’s death, the estate passed to his son Pietro (Peter) who likewise pursued the career of a soldier and diplomat and in 1664 died at the age of 38 during a campaign against the Turks. However, having been wounded in 1657, he willed the income from the Hořice estate to an endowment set under the trusteeship of the Archbishop of Prague to take care of war veterans. In the 1730’s, a hospital and retirement for maimed and disabled soldiers was thus established, albeit not in Hořice but in Karlín, then a suburb of Prague, with the state taking over its administration a century later.

Following the abolishment of villeinage in 1781, the 1780’s saw the practical impact of the so-called raabisation (a land reform plan devised by the Austrian mercantilist F. A. Raabe in 1775) under which the Hořice estate was parcelled and leased to freed peasants.

Further major changes in the life of Hořice and its environs took place during the 19th century. The vicinity of Hradec Králové (Ger. Königgratz), one of the centres of the budding National Revival Movement, had a great impact on the cultural life in Hořice where in fact amateur theatre performances in Czech had been held as early as the mid-1780’s. In the 1820’s, the nationally-minded priest Antonín Tadeáš Hanl opened his large library collection to the public.

On the other hand, the 19th century brought also hardship. Hořice, built mostly of wood, had seen in its past a number of fires but the one that broke out in 1846 ravaged it in an unprecedented way as the entire east side of the square burnt to the ground within half an hour.

However, as stone was used largely for reconstruction, the demand provided an impulse for the development of a number of local quarries. As a result, Hořice were now built as a real town. Its economic growth was also associated with other, namely textile industries, as various factorial firms established themselves in Hořice as early as the 18th century to buy locally made homespun to be traded in Prague, Vienna and elsewhere. After the onset of the Industrial Revolution, the second half of the 19th century saw the construction of a number of textile mills run mostly by Jewish entrepreneurs, the families of whom (e.g. those of Hirsch, Goldschmidt, Mauthner and Feuerstein) also built their residences in the town. The boom uplifted also local sandstone quarries that now started delivering quality building stone all over the land. In 1882, the town’s commerce and trade received a further boost when a railway linked it with Hradec Králové and Jičín (Ger. Gitschin).

Intensive development naturally marked also the town’s cultural life. In 1858 an amateur theatre company was founded, followed by the Ratibor male glee-club (1862), the Dalibor Musical Society (1881), the Vesna ladies’ club (1888) as well as a whole number of other associations.

In 1884, another major impetus was the establishment of a vocational stone-working and masonry school. It soon acquired considerable fame and Hořice thus during the school’s distinguished history stood at the start of the professional career of a number of major Czech sculptors including Mořic Černil, Quido Kocián, Jan Štursa, Bohumil Kafka, Otakar Kubín, Marie Wagnerová-Kulhánková and many others. Secondary educational facilities in town later became to include also a commercial school (founded 1898 as a two-year vocational facility and transformed into a regular four-year secondary school in 1914), the Vesna girls’ institute (1908), an agricultural school and in 1945 also a comprehensive school.

The most ill-fated date which affected the town was 3 July 1866 when the decisive battle of the Seven Weeks’ War between Prussia and Austria took place at the nearby village of Sadová (Sadowa), with the count of the dead and wounded amounting to several scores of thousands as attested by hundreds of war memorials scattered all over the area. During the conflict Hořice served as the Prussian command post and became one big hospital where hundreds of wounded soldiers were brought from the battlefield, with many finding their last repose in the cemetery on the Gothard Hill.

The town’s most valuable historical monuments include the Baroque deanery Church of the Nativity of Our Lady built in 1738  — 48 after the design by Kilián Ignác Dienzenhoffer (Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer), the cemetery Church of St. Godehard (standing in the place of the original chapel and finished in 1783) and the Baroque manor house re-styled in the mid-18th century to its current appearance and including in its court remnants of the original Gothic fort. The existence of Hořice’s sizeable Jewish community is best attested by the Baroque synagogue built in 1729 and located in Factory Lane (Tovární ulička), and by the old Jewish cemetery in the north part of the town. The rich stone-working tradition associated from the 1890’s on with the existence of the sculpture and masonry school produced a number of remarkable sculptural monuments in the town and its environs. Sacral sculptures ascribed to several sculptors trained in the course of the 1st half of the 18th century by Matyáš Bernard Braun (Matthias Bernard Braun) in his school at the Kuks Château adorn both the deanery Church of the Nativity of Our Lady and the Church of St. Godehard on the Gothard Hill, while the Marian, or plague, column highlighting the town square and sculpted by Josef Rychtera dates from 1824. The Smetana Park established at the foot of the Gothard Hill in 1900 quickly became a unique open-air sculpture gallery when the first-ever sculpture depicting the composer Bedřich Smetana was placed in 1903, to be followed in 1910 by the first sculpture of the composer Antonín Dvořák, as well as of the painter Petr Maixner, the writer Mikoláš Aleš and the founder of the patriotic Sokol physical education and sports union,Miroslav Tyrš. In 1919, shortly after the rise of an independent Czechoslovakia, the first-ever Czech statue of Juraj Janošík, Slovakia’ Robin Hood, was unveiled in the park. Notable is also an attractive sculpture by Ladislav Šaloun which depicts Krakonoš (or Rýbrcoul, from the German Rieberzahl), the mythical giant spirit of the Giant Mountains, and which has became something of an icon for the town.

Major monuments are also to be found on the Gothard Hill where the site of the original fort is now adorned by the first-ever Czech sculpture of Jan Žižka. There is also an impressive Neo-Renaissance cemetery portal built in 1892—1905 after the design by Antonín Cechner and Bohuslav Moravec, professors at the Hořice stone-working school. The sculptures decorating the portal were designed by Mořic Černil and Quido Kocián, the actual reproduction sculpture work was executed by the school students. The first-ever monument of its kind is also the unique Rieger Needle, unveiled in 1907. The sandstone monolith obelisk measuring 12.4 m in height and dedicated to the patriotic Czech politician František Ladislav Rieger who represented the Hořice electoral district in the Imperial Diet in Vienna, is a feat attesting to the craft of the local masons. A number of works by foremost Czech sculptors of the 1st half of the 20th century can be seen on display in the Sculpture Gallery founded in 1908 and located on the west slope of the Gothard Hill next to the Smetana Park.

Among monuments found in the town itself, especially noteworthy is the sculpture of Master John Huss (Cz. Jan Hus) by Ladislav Šaloun. Located outside the Commercial School, it is a replica of the statue adorning the centre of Prague’s Old Town Square. Other major sculptures includeAbel Slain by Quido Kocián and Awakening by Jan Štursa installed outside the Masonry and Sculpture School.

Quite unique structure boasting rich sculptural decoration is the Masaryk Independence Tower on the top of the Hořice Hurst (Cz. chlum, elevation 407 m above sea level), now a memorial to the victims of the world wars and a lookout tower. The fact that the local stone-working tradition has continued to flourish is attested to by annual international sculpture symposia and workshops (started in 1966 but discontinued by the Communist regime in the 1970’s and 1980’s). The venue of the event attended by artists from all over the world is the magical environment of the St. Joseph Quarry which has given rise to a unique open-air collection of world sculpture located in part on the slopes of the Gothard Hill and in part lining the road leading to the quarry.

Hořice is the birthplace of a number of notable figures including Josef Ladislav Jandera (1776—1857), a Premonstratensian monk and an outstanding mathematician elected Chancellor of the Prague University for 1828, Prof. Jan Levit (1884—1944), the famous military surgeon of local Jewish ancestry who therefore perished in Auschwitz during WWII, the painter and graphic artist Karel Vik (1883—1964), the pointer and graphic artist Rudolf Švajdler (1906—1928) whose promising artistic career was cut short by an early death, the painter Petr Maixner (1831—1884), his younger brother, the engraver Čeněk Maixner (1838—1911), and the youngest of the brotherly trio of artists, Karel Maixner (1848—1881), their nephew, the sculptor, wood carver and medallist Jaroslav Maixner (1870—1904), all hailing from a local family actively pursuing the arts for four generations, the writer Věnceslava Lužická, or Prof. Josef Durdík (1837—1902), a noted philosopher, psychologist, translator and literary critic, the author of Czech philosophical terminology, as well as his younger brother, the physician, traveller and ethnographer Pavel Durdík (1943—1903) who worked in Russia and namely in the Dutch East Indies.

Hořice is also remembered for its delicate speciality, the so-called Hořice Rolls, sweet tubular wafers made locally for almost two centuries. Legend has it that the recipe was brought to the town by French soldiers who survived Napoleon’s 1812 ill-fated invasion of Russia.

Aficionados of motor-cycling know Hořice best for its 300 Serpentines of Gustav Havel Motorcycle Race, one of the last events of its kind run on a regular road circuit. Dating as far back as 1936, it was renamed to commemorate the champion Czech motorcycle racer Gustav Havel (1930—1967). The tough circuit likened to that of the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy is also the scene of the Czech TT and the Czech Oldtimer TT races.

Far from living merely from its great traditions, Hořice is a modern town offering comfortable living, good transport connections, rich cultural and sporting life and last but not least, also beautiful and unspoilt surroundings.

pultový prodej

náměstí Jiřího z Poděbrad 342, 508 19 Hořice