Volary (Czech pronunciation: [ˈvolarɪ]; German: Wallern) is a town in the South Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic. It has about 3,800 inhabitants. It is located in the Bohemian Forest, close to the border with Germany.

Aerial view
Aerial view
Flag of Volary
Coat of arms of Volary
Coat of arms
Volary is located in Czech Republic
Location in the Czech Republic
Coordinates: 48°54′32″N 13°53′12″E / 48.90889°N 13.88667°E / 48.90889; 13.88667Coordinates: 48°54′32″N 13°53′12″E / 48.90889°N 13.88667°E / 48.90889; 13.88667
Country Czech Republic
RegionSouth Bohemian
First mentioned1359
 • MayorVít Pavlík
 • Total107.63 km2 (41.56 sq mi)
760 m (2,490 ft)
 • Total3,787
 • Density35/km2 (91/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
384 51


Volary is located southeast of Bobík (Schreiner, 1264 m above sea level), which is separated from the south by a ridge from the Vltavická brázda (Vltava furrow). The town is crossed by the Volarský creek. Six kilometers south of Volary the Hot Vltava and Cold Vltava unite in the Mrtvý Moor to form the Vltava River. To the north of Volary lies the Small Stone Mountain (874 m nm) and the U Myslivem rise (891 m), in the northeast of Vysoký Les (942 m), the Zlatá stezka (Golden Path, 920 m), the Ořechovka (919 m) and the Kamenac (899 m) east of Větrný (Lichtenberg, 1051 m) southeast of the Na Skále (1011 m), the Doupná mountain (Schusterberg, 1052 m), the Křemenná (stone layer 1085 m) and the Mechový vrch (Maystadt, 1012 m), in the southwest lies Lískovec (Sipplberg, 834 m) west the Smolna hora (883 m) and in the northwest Dvorský vrch (Brix, 914 m nm ), the Jedlová (Stoeger Mountain, 1088 m above sea level), the High Mark and Bobík.


Volary is located within the southern part of the Bohemian Forest. According to archaeological findings, the Šumava area was not significantly populated during the Paleolithic era – the Stone Age (dates back to 9000 BC). The initial settlements of a more permanent character appeared in the southwest of Bohemia during the Bronze Age (3,000 to 1,000 years BC). In the 1st century AD, the forest was inhabited by Gallo-Romans as well as by Germanic tribes in its northern part.[2]

The Celts were however gradually forced out by the Germanic tribe (the Marcomanni), who left the Celtic agricultural settlements desolated. With the departure of the Marcomanni, the forests were left to evolve with almost no human influence. The Šumava forests began to change character only with the arrival of the Slavs in the 6th century, who found a refuge in the middle of the impenetrable forests. The cultural landscape began to penetrate the wooded surroundings. The gradual but disorganized and fairly subtle form of colonisation of the region of Bohemia surrounding Volary continued until the late 11th century when the first mass and more or less organized colonisation of Šumava began, under the rule of Ottokar I of Bohemia. Since then the nature in Šumava, including the forested landscape developed under the strong influence of human activity. The borderline virgin forests receded, making way for fields and pastures, and thus in the 13th century, the colonisation of the Bohemian borderland began.[3]

Volary was first documented in 1359 in connection with the Prachatice Councillor Andreas de Wallerii. At the beginning of the 15th century Volary had grown into the most important part of the Passau salt trade, forming a stage in the Bohemian part of the "Golden Trail" or "Golden Path".[4][circular reference] Volary became a market place in that time for traders and travellers on the route. The Prachatická Golden Trail that passes through Volary is one of the oldest salt routes in Bohemia (some documents state that the Golden Trail was probably used in prehistoric times; the first written records of this important business channel originate from the 11th century). The Prachatická Golden Trail leads to Old Prachatice (about 70 km in a straight line) from its origin in the south of Passau, Bavaria.[5][circular reference]

From the 13th century AD until 1945–1946, much of the region around Volary was cohabited with ethnic German Bohemians, many of whom migrated to the region as woodcutters.

Until the Hussite wars Volary was among the possessions of the Vyšehrad Dynasty and then it fell to the royal chamber. Later, traffic was severely affected in the Golden Path through wandering mercenary gangs. in 1437 King Sigismund mortgaged the Volary dominion to Jan Smil of Krems. Jan Smil clashed with Ulrich von Rosenberg in numerous feuds and was taken prisoner in 1439 to the Krumlov castle. Then Raubritter Habart Lopata of Hrádek seized Volary and used it as a hideout for his raids on by traveling salesmen on the Gold Trail; in 1441 Volary was captured and razed. In 1444 Ulrich von Rosenberg took possession by means of a forged document the reign Volary, which he in 1457 the brothers Prokop and Johann von Rabenstein left. From 1503 Volary was again under the control of the Lords of Rosenberg, under which Volary received the right to free extraction of timber and firewood, and the farming of cattle in the stately forests up to a distance of four hours. In 1506 Peter von Rosenberg granted privileges of exclusive territories between Prachatice and the Bavarian border and Volary was first mentioned as a market town.

During its heyday of the Passau salt trade of the 16th century in Volary there were 13 Pubs and four forges for mule trains. At that time also took place the construction of the typical local alpine houses. In 1591 Sigmund Stoeger of Wilhelm von Rosenberg granted the privilege of operating a Spiegelhütte in Volary. Peter Wok von Rosenberg extended the Volary privileges in 1596 for the right to seize horses and charge foreign Säumer that differed to the detriment of the market from the Golden Path and elsewhere their goods sold, where the confiscated property in half fell to the Volary market and the authorities. The beginning of the 17th century belonged to the reign of Catherine of Gutenstein and then fell back to the Court Chamber. King Rudolf II. Confirmed in 1608 the market town all privileges except for the confiscation law for Ross and charge. Ferdinand II gave the dominion of Volary on 23 December 1622 to Hans Ulrich von Eggenberg. The Thirty Years' War led to the decline of the salt trade on the Gold Route, instead it served the imperial army as a supply route. After the war trading on the Golden Path never returned to its previous level due to high protective tariffs on Bavarian and Passau salt and increased imports of Austrian salt from Gmunden. In 1679 a major fire destroyed 45 houses. In 1693 the brothers Johann, Georg and Kaspar Stegbauer in Volary donated a hospital for four Pfründler. During the Spanish War of Succession Joseph I. finally banned the import of Bavaria and Passau salt to Bohemia and picked up the salt in Prachatice law. After the princes of Eggenberg in 1717 became extinct in the male line, the rule of the Prince fell to the Schwarzenberg, in whose possession it remained until 1848.

In the 18th century, following the abolition of the salt trade, the Golden Path sank into insignificance; this also led to the demise of Volary. Major fires occurred in the years 1715, 1719 and 1754. In 1754 the Church of St. Catherine was burned down after a lightning strike, according to its reconstruction, the church was consecrated in 1756. The market was led by a regulated magistrate. In 1807, the mirror glass factory was shut down. Since the use and grazing rights in the state forests ended, in the 18th century forestry operations led to increasing irrigation, leading to its closure by Joseph II. The use only for packhorses on the old Golden Path was dropped in the 19th century as a transport route to Bavaria and the mule track's regional importance further decreased, replaced by roads to Prachatice or upper Vltava. 1833 built-born Wallern owner of the domain Liboch, Jakob Veith another Gestift of 2000 guilders, which served the better subsistence of the magistrate.

In 1838 the intervening villages of Vimperk dismembered into three parts including Volary. In the villages north of Prachatice Czech was the spoken language, German was spoken in the south. To rule the protection and Municipality of Prachatice, the market of Volary and the villages were sealed Biel (Běleč) Danetschlag (Rohanov), Lhota (Bělečská Lhota), Tieschowitz, Weyrow (Výrov) and Zdenitz (Zdeníce). The official seat of government was located in Prachatice.

St Catherine's church in Volary

In the late 19th century the market town of Volary consisted of 224 houses with 2069 German speaking inhabitants. Under the patronage of the authorities, the parish church of St Catherine and the school were built and maintained. There was also in a public chapel of St. Florian and a town hall. The main sources of income were agriculture, cattle breeding and cattle fattening, linen weaving and the production of yarns. Every year Volary sold about 400 steers to Prague. The deposited borough was surrounded by agriculturally used meadows with numerous wooden houses, hay barns and traditional alpine architecture which gave the area along with the special construction of the houses an alpine character. The mostly wooden houses of Volary were built on flat land, close to each other, combined with large stones, gabled roofs and gabled fronts.

At this time residents called "Wallinger" or "Wallerer" kept their old customs and traditions against outside influences. During the 1800s to early 1900s there were up to 73 business establishments. In Volary two annual fairs were held, but their meaning was only slight. For market Volary were the Magdalene yards (Svatá Magdaléna, seven houses and a chapel for St. Magdalena), Spanolahof (Spanolerův Dvůr) and fence mill (four houses), Gemeindmühle (mlýn Obecní, two houses), Austen mill Schoberhof, Sippelhöfe (Sipplovy Dvory, four houses), Prix yards (Brixovy Dvory, five houses), Stoeger huts (Stögrova Huť, nine houses with Brettsäge) Grünhof (Zelené Dvory, two houses), Ratschinhof, Jägerhaus (Myslivny, two houses) and Nuskohof. Volary was vicarage for Neuhäuser (Nové Chalupy) and upper snow village.

After the abolition of patrimonial Volary (1849) along with the districts Stoeger hut and St. Magdalena it formed a town in the judicial district Prachatice. On July 22, 1863, a major fire destroyed 59 houses, the church and the school; the next day Volary was hit by a storm, in which the long-Wiesenbach burst its banks. During the reconstruction after the fire of 1863, the typical Volary houses were not built entirely of wood, but partly with walls of stone and brick. Overall between 1856–1882 in the town there were eight major fires mostly consisting of wooden houses. In 1865 a post office was opened in Volary, and in 1869 there was a telegraph office. From 1868, the municipality belonged to the district Prachatice. Various records have indicated a heavy storms dating back to the 1700s and particularly of October 27, 1870 which left the Volary forests (as in the entire Bohemian Forest), damaged due strong wind breakage. Historically, the Bohemian Forest around Volary has suffered impacts of deforestation and monoculture planting of forests, bark beetle infestations, salvage logging, and windstorms.

On April 30, 1871 Volary was raised by Emperor Franz Joseph I to the status of town and received a coat of arms; at that time 2712 people lived in the town. In 1873 a state vocational school for woodworking was opened. On November 3, 1874, Judicial District Volary was formed and brought the town to the seat of a district court. In 1879 a brewery was built, as well as numerous wood processing companies and sawmills and a bicycle chain factory were in the second half of the 19th century in the town founded. The State College for woodworking moved in 1894 a newly constructed school building. 1899 Volary received a rail connection in the course of the extension of the railway line Číčenice-Prachatice. In the same year the railway Lenora-Volary went into operation, the section between Lenora and Vimperk was inaugurated in 1900. Ten years later, the rail link was extended to the Bavarian Haidmühle. In the Census of 1910, the town had 3,573 residents. Until the founding of Czechoslovakia, the town was part of Austria-Hungary. During the First Republic an increasing influx of Czechs took place. In 1923 Volary was connected to the electricity grid. 1924 was a new dairy in operation. In 1930 the town had 3,905 inhabitants.

In pre-World War II there was a Czech school and a Czech kindergarten as well as several Czech clubs. In 1939, there were 4,099 people in Volary. During World War II the owner of Metallwarenfabrik Knäbel and Co. OHG, Oskar Knäbel, took over (in 1941) the management of the former paper mill Franzensthal in the valley of the Warm Vltava under the code name "Möbelwerke Franzensthal AG" and built an underground production plant of the Messerschmitt AG.[6][circular reference]

Volary Death MarchEdit

The "Volary Death March" involved more than 1,300 Jewish women over the course of over 550 miles and 106 days and nights. On January 20, 1945, around 1,000 female Jewish prisoners were evacuated from a camp at Schlesiersee in Western Poland. The women and girls had been sent there from Auschwitz-Birkenau a few months earlier, in order to dig anti-tank trenches to slow the Red Army’s advance. More than a thousand others had to march southwest toward Germany. As they passed more camps, such the one at Grünberg, more women had to join the death march. Survivors attest that girls were forced to march "without hair, wearing wooden shoes without socks, wrapped in rags.”[7]

After the addition of about 300 inmates from Grünberg, on January 29, 1945 approximately 1,350 women set off for a 106-day-long march. For trying to escape or simply stumbling they could be, and were, murdered at any time in the course of those three months. Any prisoners who could no longer walk, the SS guards leading the march killed. If someone escaped, they made a row and shot every other one. They would never eat more than once a day. The women marched without shoes, with just wooden clogs. There were bitter winter winds and heavy snow.[8]

The penalty for attempting to escape was death by execution or the butt of a rifle. By March 6, 1945, the 1,350 women had been reduced to 621. The remaining prisoners arrived at the Helmbrechts camp in Germany. They were forced into a hut with just two buckets for waste between them. When the hut became dirty, they were whipped. The women received almost no food, and no medical treatment. When one young woman, Frania Reifer, was found with photos of her murdered family, she was forced to spend the whole day standing barefoot in the freezing snow.[9]

May 11, 1945: German civilians are forced to walk past the bodies of 30 Jewish women starved to death by German SS troops in a 500-kilometre (300 mi) march across Czechoslovakia from Helmbrechts concentration camp. Buried in shallow graves in Volary, Czechoslovakia, the bodies were exhumed by German civilians working under the direction of Medics of the 5th Infantry Division, US Third Army. The bodies were later placed in coffins and reburied in the cemetery in Volary.

But hellish as Helmbrechts was, it was merely the halfway point. The women were forced onwards, until those who were still standing made it to Volary in Czechoslovakia on May 5, 1945. There, American forces liberated the women. Of the 1,350 forced on the death march, only 118 were still living. Those who were alive were in terrible condition; although the Americans took them to an improvised hospital, twenty-six died within days. The women were in dire condition, suffering from malnutrition, dysentery, frostbite, injuries to their feet, and riddled with lice. Yet some survived. 17 victims of the death march were buried in a mass grave near Volary, another eight women died in a nearby military hospital.[10] Many other victims of the death march were exhumed at Mlýn in Kvilda, Polka, Cudrovice, Můstek and Blanický; 95 predominantly Jewish women were buried in a separate cemetery next to the cemetery of Volary.

Post-war eventsEdit

Following the end of World War II, the town was returned to Czechoslovakia. As of March 1946, the German population were expelled due to the Beneš decrees.

In 1961 Chlum (with Dolni Sněžná, Horní Sněžná, Nové Chalupy and shares of Jodlovy Chalupy) and Mlynářovice were incorporated into Volary (with Cudrovice, Milešice and Plešivec). As of October 1, 1951 a Border control unit of the Czechoslovak army was stationed in Volary, which was dissolved after the fall of the Iron Curtain.

Since 1995, the town carries a banner showing a silver angle or a lying V in the green field. Part of the historic center was declared in 1995 to protect the Volary wooden houses conservation area.


Through Volary the state road I / 39 leads between Vimperk and Horni Planá, which branches off to Prachatice from the center in the road II / 141. The town lies on the railway lines Číčenice-Haidmühle and Strakonice-Volary.

Twin towns – sister citiesEdit

Volary is twinned with:[11]


  1. ^ "Population of Municipalities – 1 January 2020". Czech Statistical Office. 2020-04-30.
  2. ^ http://dbrockway.weebly.com
  3. ^ http://dbrockway.weebly.com
  4. ^ cs:Zlatá stezka
  5. ^ cs:Zlatá stezka
  6. ^ de:Volary
  7. ^ http://www.jspacenews.com/death-march-volary-goal-everyone-die-along-way/
  8. ^ http://www.jspacenews.com/death-march-volary-goal-everyone-die-along-way/
  9. ^ http://www.jspacenews.com/death-march-volary-goal-everyone-die-along-way/
  10. ^ http://www.jspacenews.com/death-march-volary-goal-everyone-die-along-way/
  11. ^ "Partnerská města" (in Czech). Město Volary. Retrieved 2020-08-22.

External linksEdit