Volary (Czech pronunciation: [ˈvolarɪ]; German: Wallern) is a town in the South Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic. It has about 3,700 inhabitants. It is located in the Bohemian Forest, close to the border with Germany. An area in the northern part of the town with timber-framed Alpine-type buildings is well preserved and is protected by law as a village monument reservation.

Aerial view
Aerial view
Flag of Volary
Coat of arms of Volary
Volary is located in Czech Republic
Location in the Czech Republic
Coordinates: 48°54′35″N 13°53′22″E / 48.90972°N 13.88944°E / 48.90972; 13.88944Coordinates: 48°54′35″N 13°53′22″E / 48.90972°N 13.88944°E / 48.90972; 13.88944
Country Czech Republic
RegionSouth Bohemian
First mentioned1359
 • MayorMartina Pospíšilová
 • Total107.51 km2 (41.51 sq mi)
760 m (2,490 ft)
 • Total3,712
 • Density35/km2 (89/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
384 51

Administrative partsEdit

The villages of Chlum and Mlynářovice are administrative parts of Volary.


Volary is located about 14 kilometres (9 mi) southwest of Prachatice and 43 km (27 mi) west of České Budějovice. It lies in the central part of the Bohemian Forest. The highest mountain in the municipal territory is Bobík at 1,266 m (4,154 ft) above sea level, located north of the town. Other high mountains in the territory include Jedlová (1,089 m (3,573 ft)), Křemenná (1,085 m (3,560 ft)), Doupná hora (1,052 m (3,451 ft)), Větrný (1,051 m (3,448 ft)), Mechový vrch (1,012 m (3,320 ft)), and Na Skále (1,011 m (3,317 ft)).

The town is crossed by the Volarský creek. It flows into the Teplá Vltava, which runs along the southwestern border of the territory.


The first mention of Volary is from 1359 when the Prachatice councillor Ondřej from Volary (in Latin Andreas de Wallerii) was listed. The foundation of Volary was connected with the overall colonization of Bohemian Forest in the 13th and 14th centuries. The inhabitants were predominantly ethnic Germans from Bavaria.[2]

Town square with Church of Saint Catherine
Houses on the square with the town hall in the middle

Until the beginning of the 18th century, the main source of income was the trade on the Golden Trail. Volary was the largest settlement of the carriers on the Czech part of the Prachatice Golden Trail and rapidly grew. They served as a place of rest and overnight stays for carriers, who imported salt and other goods on horses along an important medieval road from Passau to Prachatice. The shape of the square has also been adapted to the route of the trail. In the 16th century, during the heyday of the trail, there were 13 pubs and four blacksmiths in Volary. In 1596, Peter Vok of Rosenberg extended the Volary privileges for the right to seize horses and charge of merchants who deviated from the prescribed direction of the trail and avoided Volary.[2]

Until the Hussite Wars, Volary was among the possessions of the Vyšehrad Chapter. After the Hussite Wars, several Czech families settled here. From 1503, the Rosenberg family became the owners of the settlement, and in 1600, it was acquired by Emperor Rudolf II. After 1719, it became a property of the Schwarzenberg family, who owned it until the revolution in 1848.[2]

The Thirty Years' War led to the decline of the salt trade on the Golden Trail, instead it served the imperial army as a supply route. The area was several times a place of battles and Volary was the target of attacks by troops of both sides. After the war, trading on the Golden Trail never returned to its previous level. In the 18th century, following the abolition of the salt trade, the Golden Trail sank into insignificance; this also led to the demise of Volary. It became a stagnant and insignificant settlement.[3]

19th–20th centuriesEdit

In the late 19th century the market town of Volary consisted of 224 houses with 2,069 German speaking inhabitants. Under the patronage of the authorities, the parish Church of Saint 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.

In July 1863, a major fire destroyed over 60 houses buildings. 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. Between 1856 and 1882, Volary was hit by the biggest series of fires.[4]

In 1871 Volary was promoted by Emperor Franz Joseph I to a town and its coat of arms was confirmed.[2] In 1873 a state vocational school for woodworking was opened. On 3 November 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. Until the founding of Czechoslovakia, the town was part of Austria-Hungary. During the First Republic an increasing influx of Czechs took place.[citation needed]

Volary Death MarchEdit

11 May 1945, US troops force Sudeten Germans in Volary to walk past corpses of Jewish women who died in the death march

The "Volary Death March" involved more than 1,300 Jewish women over the course of over 800 kilometres (500 mi) and 106 days and nights. On 20 January 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.[5]

After the addition of about 300 inmates from Grünberg, on 29 January 1945 approximately 1,350 women set off for a 106-day-long march. By 6 March 1945, the 1,350 women had been reduced to 621. The remaining prisoners arrived at the Helmbrechts camp in Germany. The women received almost no food, and no medical treatment.[5]

The women were forced onwards, until those who were still standing made it to Volary in Czechoslovakia on 5 May 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. 17 victims of the death march were buried in a mass grave near Volary, another eight women died in a nearby military hospital.[5]

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, the municipalities of Chlum and Mlynářovice were incorporated into Volary.[6]


Historical population
Source: Censuses[7][8]


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


Church of Saint Catherine
A house built in the Volary Alpine style

The main landmark of the town is the Church of Saint Catherine. It was built in 1669–1690 on the site of a late Gothic church. From the previous church remained a small portal under the tower. During the 18th century, the church was repeatedly severely damaged by fires caused by lightning strikes. Today's appearance of the building is a result of the reconstructions in 1757 and 1863.[2]

The most valuable buildings of the town include preserved unique old wooden houses of the Alpine style. They are timbered or half-timbered houses with an attic room, a carved porch in a suspended gable and a gabled roof. There is also the Volary Museum in one of these timbered houses. The area is protected as a village monument reservation.[2]

On the special cemetery of victims of the death march there is the Memorial of Victims of the Death March.[2]

Notable peopleEdit

Twin towns – sister citiesEdit

Volary is twinned with:[9]


  1. ^ "Population of Municipalities – 1 January 2022". Czech Statistical Office. 2022-04-29.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Historie města" (in Czech). Město Volary. Retrieved 2021-08-25.
  3. ^ "O Zlaté stezce" (in Czech). Město Prachatice. Retrieved 2021-08-25.
  4. ^ "Ve Volarech shořela historická roubenka" (in Czech). iDnes. 2005-12-28. Retrieved 2022-08-16.
  5. ^ a b c "Yad Vashem Marks Women's History Month: The Death March to Volary: A Story of 1,300 Jewish Women". Yad Vashem. 2019-03-07. Retrieved 2022-08-15.
  6. ^ "Historický lexikon obcí České republiky 1869–2011" (in Czech). Czech Statistical Office. 2015-12-21. pp. 185, 340.
  7. ^ "Historický lexikon obcí České republiky 1869–2011 – Okres Prachatice" (in Czech). Czech Statistical Office. 2015-12-21. pp. 19–20.
  8. ^ "Population Census 2021: Population by sex". Public Database. Czech Statistical Office. 2021-03-27.
  9. ^ "Partnerská města" (in Czech). Město Volary. Retrieved 2021-08-25.

External linksEdit