CZ: Liberec - Vienna Of The North
The town of Liberec (Reichenberg in German language) is placed in North Bohemia, inside valley between Jizerské Mountains and Ještěd Mountain Range. It is located on surface of 106 square kilometres, and is inhabitated with 106 000 persons. Nisa-river, which springs in Jizerské Mountains, flows through this basin, forming later border river among Czech Republic, Germany and Poland. Ještěd Mountain (1012 m) forms main symbol of Liberec, statutory town, a centre of Liberec Region.
The first written notice of Liberec is dated to 1352, when small community of Reichenberg was established along merchant way from Bohemia to Lusatia, which served as relax locality for merchants, after long and difficult way across Ještěd Mountain Range. Later, within 15th and 16th centuries, the community was enlarged subsequently. It was a merit of aristocracy Redern Parentage, owner of Friedland as well as Liberec dominion. So, the town obtained the right to brew the beer and organize the markets. In 1577, the Emperor Rudolph II. granted the town the escutcheon,which is used till now. At that time period, the first town buildings were created, stipulating in such way its characteristic face. At the same time, the textile production, such as drapery and linen-draperies were established there. Liberec New Town was founded during Albrecht of Wallenstei period, the next owner of Liberec Dominion.
In the second half of 18th century, new buildings, constructed in brick, in Neo-classical style, were created. Finally, within 19th century, the locality noted great swing of textile industry as well as industrial architecture. So, Liberec became the second greatest town of Bohemia (after Prague). Except very developped industrial branch of textile industry (50 factories), and metallurgical industry (60 factories), the manufacturing of RAF motor vehicles was introduced. In the course of this time period, many important and representative buildings were constructed in city centre, symbolizing the wealthy as well as the economical and cultural development of the town, such as: Town´s Theatre (1893 - now F. X. Šalda Theatre), savings-bank building, museums-buildings and Chamber of Commerce (1901-1902), villa-quarter (break of 19th and 20th centuries). So, Liberec was often characterized as „Bohemian Manchester“ of „Vienna of the North“.
At the beginning of 20th century, total reconstruction of city centre was effected. At that time, many public buildings were built, including infrastructure, necessary for tourists´activities (look out towers, cottages, tourist paths, etc.). However, this prospective development was cut and stopped by the 1st World War. Later, the 2nd World War meant great slow down of development and prosperity of the town. Moreover, after a War, all German inhabitants of Liberec were forced to leave the area for Germany. Apart of this, the era of Communist totality was time period of stagnation.
After Velver Revolution in 1989, the town got „the second breath“ and continued in its development, terminated before the 1st World War. So, complete reconstruction of historical city nucleus was effected and new pubic buildings, including infrastructure, were created.
At present, Liberec is a modern town, offering many sightseeing to the visitors.The town could be proud on ZOO-garden, botanical garden. If you prefer so culture events, you can visit, for instance Naive Theatre (its tradition refers to 1949) or F. X. Šalda Theatre. Nevertheless, local House of Culture gives greater diversity of cultural events. Even Babylon Centre could offer interesting entertainment events, such as: laser games, bowling, aquapark and other leasure time activities.
As far as sports and games are concerned, Liberec offers beach-volleyball area, lawn-tennis courts, baseball playgrounds, golf playgrounds, mountaineering walls, etc.
Ještěd Tower was constructed in 1973, according to project of architect K. Hubáček. He was awarded with Perret Price for this work. The tower has a form of rotary hyperboloid. Now, you can find inside hotel, restaurant and connecting centre.
Dam on Harcov Torrent was constructed within 1902-1904, after big inundation in 1897, according to project of Professor Intz of Aix-la Chapelle (Germany). This dam was the first built in brick dam pier in Europe. This construction belongs to interesting technical sightseeings from secession time period. The construction is 20,5 metres high (including ground), and is 157 metres long.
Liebig Villa was constructed in 1897 as family seat of Baron Theodor von Liebig, owner of textile factory. The building presents carpentered house in romantical style, including bay-window at the corner, enlarged with a castle and four-side tower. In 1904, the third part, including secession elements, was added.
God´s Heart Jesus Christ Church was built within 1894-1896, according to suggestions of architect A. Burger. It is simple one-navy church of Neo-Gothic style. As interior dominanta, it is an altar with a statue of Lord´s Jesus Heart, created in Munich (Germany). Later, a school building and lodging houses for Order sisters were built. At present, the spaces serve as a policlinic and a chemistry.
Original Jewish Synagogue was constructed within 1887-1889, according to project of architect K.Konig from Vienna, in Neo-Renaissance style. However, in 1938, during so called „Cristall Night“, the building was completely destroyed by Nazis. Now, new synagogue was built on the original place, forming a face of half of Davide Star, with a covering, symbolizing Moaning Wall in Jerusalem.
So called Wallenstein Houses belong to most preserved houses in Liberec, coming from 1678 - 1681. They were built several years after Albrecht of Wallenstein´s death. The houses served originally as a shelter for handicraftsmen and drapers, later, Christmas Markets were organized there. However, in the course of the time, these houses fell to decay, and there was a need to reconstruct it or to demolish it. Nevertheless, thanks to efforts of students and professors of Liberec Industrial School, very complicated reconstruction was made, and so, the monument was preserved.
Šolc House was built in 1771 by Frederick Šolc, linen merchant. It is wooden and carpentered one-floor house, especially rising after effected park arrangement. In past, Liberec was an important centre of textile production, and textile manufacturers built their houses, including water supply, necessary for production. At present, the house is a seat of Protected Countryside Area Administration of Jizerské Mountains.
Text: Maxim Kucer
Translation: ing. Jan Jonáš
Photo: Tereza Flašková
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