Litoměřice

Litoměřice (Czech pronunciation: [ˈlɪtomɲɛr̝ɪtsɛ]; German: Leitmeritz) is a town in the Ústí nad Labem Region of the Czech Republic. It has about 24,000 inhabitants. It lies at the junction of the rivers Elbe and Ohře, approximately 64 km (40 mi) northwest of Prague. The town centre is well preserved and is protected by law as an urban monument reservation.

Litoměřice
Cathedral of St. Stephen with belfry
Cathedral of St. Stephen with belfry
Flag of Litoměřice
Coat of arms of Litoměřice
Litoměřice is located in Czech Republic
Litoměřice
Litoměřice
Location in the Czech Republic
Coordinates: 50°32′3″N 14°7′58″E / 50.53417°N 14.13278°E / 50.53417; 14.13278Coordinates: 50°32′3″N 14°7′58″E / 50.53417°N 14.13278°E / 50.53417; 14.13278
Country Czech Republic
RegionÚstí nad Labem
DistrictLitoměřice
First mentioned1057
Government
 • MayorLadislav Chlupáč (ODS)
Area
 • Total17.99 km2 (6.95 sq mi)
Elevation
136 m (446 ft)
Population
 (2021-01-01)[1]
 • Total23,623
 • Density1,300/km2 (3,400/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
412 01
Websitewww.litomerice.cz

Litoměřice and its surroundings is sometimes called The Garden of Bohemia due to the mild weather conditions important for growing fruits and grapes. During the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, many pensioners chose it over more southern areas of the Empire.

The town is the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Litoměřice (part of Archdiocese of Prague), the 4th oldest – and 3rd still existing – Catholic diocese on present Czech territory.

Administrative partsEdit

 
Litoměřice as seen from the Radobýl Hill

Litoměřice is made up of four town parts: Litoměřice-Město, Pokratice, Předměstí and Za nemocnicí.

HistoryEdit

Early historyEdit

The settlement of Litoměřice has a deep history of Paleolithic cultures as well as large Celtic settlements of the La Tène culture, which did not survive the incoming Germanic attacks. The area was later settled by Germanic tribes, when Litoměřice first appeared on Ptolemy's world map in the 2nd century under the name of Nomisterium. The Germanic tribes later migrated west and those remaining mingled with the incoming Slavs. The earliest evidence of the Slavic settlement comes from the 8th century.[2]

In the 9th and 10th century, Litoměřice fell under the control of the Přemyslid dynasty. Přemyslids built here an early medieval fortress, one of the most important Přemyslid centres in Czech lands.[2] The area was settled by the Czech tribe of Litoměřici, after which the town was named. In 1057, the Litomeřice Charter was founded by Duke Spytihněv II, which is the oldest written evidence of the existence of the town.[2]

A royal-town statute was granted in 1219 by King Ottokar I of Bohemia. At the beginning of the 13th century, Litoměřice was an important political, cultural and economic centre.[2]

15th–19th centuryEdit

The population suffered during the 15th century Hussite Wars. After the Protestant tensions with the Catholics that triggered the Thirty Years' War and the Protestants' defeat in the Battle of White Mountain, the surviving population of the town was forced to accept Catholicism or face property confiscation and the obligation to leave the kingdom. In this way, the town became a Catholic bishop's residency in 1655.[2] As a result, the Czech Protestant population shrank and the town became largely germanized.

In the 18th century, many Baroque building, which are today cultural monuments, were built. However the prosperity of the town suffered from the War of the Austrian Succession and the Seven Years' War.[2]

20th centuryEdit

 
Occupation, 1938

In 1918, Bohemia, Moravia and Czech Silesia became constituent parts of the newly-created Czechoslovakia), along with a large border area inhabited predominantly by Sudeten Germans. Local Germans tried to join German Austria (which in turn aimed to join post-war Weimar Republic), but Czechoslovak troops prevented this. Known under the informal name of the Sudetenland, the region became the subject of political controversy in the following years. Slavs settled there again, but remained a minority. In 1938, after the Munich Agreement, German troops occupied the Sudetenland (and all the rest of Czech lands a few months later). The Czech population, which had grown to about 5,000 people, had to leave again.[2]

Jews from Litoměřice were forced to flee to the Protectorate or were deported during the Holocaust in the Sudetenland.[3] From March 1944 to May 1945, Leitmeritz concentration camp was located west of the town. 18,000 prisoners passed through the camp and were forced to work mostly on excavating underground factories (Richard I and II) under Radobýl. 4,500 died.[4][5]

In the final stages of World War II, German troops retreated to escape the advancing Red Army. The Czech resistance took control of the castle on 27 April 1945, and after a few days they started negotiations with the German commander about the terms of his surrender. The Wehrmacht capitulated in the night after 8 May, but German troops fled on 9 May, just before Soviet troops entered the town on 10 May 1945. Most of the German population of the town was expelled by the Beneš decrees in August 1945, along with about 2.5 million other former Czechoslovak citizens of German ethnicity from the country.

DemographyEdit

Historical population
YearPop.±%
186910,811—    
188011,728+8.5%
189012,203+4.1%
190014,063+15.2%
191016,595+18.0%
YearPop.±%
192118,135+9.3%
193019,718+8.7%
195015,126−23.3%
196116,830+11.3%
197019,595+16.4%
YearPop.±%
198022,869+16.7%
199125,719+12.5%
200124,879−3.3%
201124,098−3.1%
202123,623−2.0%
Source: Historical lexicon of municipalities of the Czech Republic[6]

CultureEdit

North Bohemian Gallery of Fine Arts is based close the main square. Extensive collection spans from 13th century to contemporary art with numerous other exhibitions during the year. On the Mírové Square there is also the Gallery and Museum of Litoměřice diocese.

SightsEdit

 
Old Town Hall and the Church of All Saints
 
Mírové Square with the town hall

Since 1978, historic centre of Litoměřice has been an urban monument reservation.[7] The protected territory is delimited by remains of town walls. About 1,800 metres (5,900 ft) of town walls is preserved to this day. Originally they had four town gates, none of them is preserved.[8] Part of the town fortification was Litoměřice Castle. Today it contains an exposition of Czech viticulture.

Its core form Mírové Square, a large square with an area of about 2 hectares. Most of the houses on the square are in the Gothic style.[9] The Old Town Hall building on the square is the oldest Renaissance building in the town. Today, the building serves as a regional museum.[10] Other sights on the square include the "Chalice house" (new town hall with a lookout tower in the shape of chalice), Dům u černého orla ("Black Eagle House"; one of the most significant Renaissance houses), or Museum of Crystal Touch.

There are several valuable sacral buildings in Litoměřice. On the main square, there is the All Saints Church. Its existence was firstly mentioned in 1235. Originally it belonged to the town fortification. It has a 54 metres (177 ft) high bell tower.[11] The Baroque Saint Stephen's Cathedral at the Dómské Square was built in place of an older Romanesque basilica in the years 1664–1668. It has a 50 metres (160 ft) high tower open to the public.[12] The interior is almost completely authentic with main and six side altars and a lot of original paintings. Right next to the dome is a bishop's residence built in 1683–1701 by Giulio Broggio.

There is also the Jesuit Church of the Annunciation. It is a massive Baroque church built by Giulio and Octavio Broggio in 1701–1731.[13]

There are numerous cellars connected by an extensive web of underground ways under the town. In some places, the cellars were built in three floors. The ways are about 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) long and they belong to the longest of their kind in the county. Only 336 metres (1,102 feet) of these underground ways are open to the public.[citation needed]

Notable peopleEdit

Twin towns – sister citiesEdit

Litoměřice is twinned with:[14]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Population of Municipalities – 1 January 2021". Czech Statistical Office. 2021-04-30.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Eight centuries of stories". Město Litoměřice. Retrieved 2021-07-18.
  3. ^ Osterloh, Jörg (2015). "Sudetenland". In Gruner, Wolf; Osterloh, Jörg (eds.). The Greater German Reich and the Jews: Nazi Persecution Policies in the Annexed Territories 1935–1945. War and Genocide. Translated by Heise, Bernard. New York: Berghahn Books. pp. 68–98. ISBN 978-1-78238-444-1.
  4. ^ Le Blond, Josie (26 May 2014). "Slave probe exposes Audi's Nazi past". The Local. Retrieved 9 January 2020.
  5. ^ Skriebeleit, Jörg (2007). "Leitmeritz". In Benz, Wolfgang; Distel, Barbara (eds.). Flossenbürg: das Konzentrationslager Flossenbürg und seine Außenlager [Flossenbürg: Flossenbürg Concentration Camp and its Subcamps] (in German). Munich: C. H. Beck. pp. 169–175. ISBN 9783406562297.
  6. ^ "Historický lexikon obcí České republiky 1869–2011 – Okres Litoměřice" (in Czech). Czech Statistical Office. 2015-12-21. pp. 7–8.
  7. ^ "Litoměřice" (in Czech). National Heritage Institute. Retrieved 2021-07-18.
  8. ^ "Town fortifications". Město Litoměřice. Retrieved 2021-07-18.
  9. ^ "Peace Square". Město Litoměřice. Retrieved 2021-07-18.
  10. ^ "Regional Museum". Město Litoměřice. Retrieved 2021-07-18.
  11. ^ "All Saints Church". Město Litoměřice. Retrieved 2021-07-18.
  12. ^ "Tower of St. Štěpán". Město Litoměřice. Retrieved 2021-07-18.
  13. ^ "Jesuit Church of the Annunciation". Město Litoměřice. Retrieved 2021-07-18.
  14. ^ "Partnerská města" (in Czech). Město Litoměřice. Retrieved 2020-08-17.

External linksEdit