Significant Hradec Králové Monuments
There are many architecturally important sites in Hradec Králové. To make sure that you do not get lost in this open-air textbook of architecture follow the Sightseeing Routes of the City. Each route has its own topic of a certain architectural or historic period of the development of the city. Information boards are placed along these routes and more materials about these walks can be obtained at information centres on request.
Holy Spirit Cathedral
Originally, this was the Church of the Holy Spirit until the establishment of the Episcopate in 1664 when it was promoted to a cathedral. It is a Gothic brick construction founded by Queen Elizabeth Richeza in 1307. In 1424 Jan Žižka of Trocnov was buried there. In 1864–1874 it was reconstructed in the Neo-Gothic style while the towers were adapted in 1901. The cathedral is 56 m long and the nave reaches a height of 33 m. The central roof bolting of the organ loft bears the oldest depiction of the town emblem dating back to 1463. The interior contains valuable relics, such as a pewter baptismal font from 1406 and also a Gothic triptych originating from 1494, which is inserted in the Neo-Gothic altar. The sandstone pulpit is decorated with reliefs of four evangelists – an early work of the Czech sculptor J. V. Myslbek.
Info: Open during church services and also by request made at the Deanery
The 71.5 m high Renaissance belfry was completed in 1589 and served the town as a fire and watch tower. It was named after the building material from which it was made – white stone. The tower houses the third largest and heaviest bell in the Czech Republic. The Augustine Bell was cast by Hradec Králové bell-founder Ondřej Žáček in 1509 and originally was placed on a wooden base near the Church of St. Clement and the foundations of the White Tower. It weighs 10 tonnes and its diameter is more than two meters. On important occasions no fewer than eight men were needed to ring the bell. The former astronomical clock made by the clockmaker Laurence in 1591, which had been located on the tower, was replaced by Josef Božek’s clockwork in 1829. This clock measures time in a most extraordinary way – the large hand points to hours and the small one to minutes.
This beautiful Baroque building was erected in 1709–1716. In the second half of the 18th century the residence was extended by another floor. A stone entrance portal is the work of Jan Blažej Santini-Aichel. The chapel of this building is the place where the Czech historian Josef Dobrovský was ordained as a priest.
Originally built in the Renaissance style in the second half of the 16th century, it was adapted in the Baroque style in 1750 (F. Kermer). The back part of the building was used as a house of prayer by Czech Brethrens from the 15th century. Moreover, the house was the birth place of František Ulrich, an important Hradec Králové Mayor. The stone banister of the balcony is decorated with a statue of the Virgin Mary.
Plague Column of the Virgin Mary
The almost twenty metre high Baroque column is one of the dominating features of the Large Square. Its construction began in 1714 to commemorate the fact that the town had been spared from the plague. The architect was probably J. B. Santini himself and the sculptures were created by G. B. Bulla. The column was completed in 1717. The top of the main column with a Corinthian capital is adorned with a statue of the Virgin Mary. On the base there are sculptures of other saints – St. Ann, St. Charles of Boromio, St. John of Nepomuk and Saint Joachim. More sculptures can be seen on the column enclosure, these are images of St. Joseph, St. Wenceslas, St. Sebastian and St. Lawrence. The base is also decorated with reliefs of St. Francis Xavier and St. Rosalie along with the symbol of the empire and the first depiction of the new Hradec Králové emblem – a lion bearing the letter G (Gradec).
Gallery of Modern Art
The gallery building was constructed in the late Art Nouveau style according to the plan of the architect Osvald Polívka. The sculptures are the work of Ladislav Šaloun. As to its quality and the volume of art collections, this gallery ranks among the most renowned in the Czech Republic. The exposition focuses on fine art of the 20th century displaying works of Bohumil Kubišta, Jan Zrzavý, Josef Váchal, Štýrský, Toyen, Václav Špála as well as Josef Čapek. The second half of the 20th century is represented for example by statues by Olbram Zoubek. The gallery organises seasonal exhibitions and other events.
Church of the Assumption of the Virgin
This Baroque church was built by Jesuits according to the plans of the renowned Italian architect Carlo Lurago in 1654–1666. In 1762 it was seriously damaged by fire, and only the frescoes in the Chapel of St. Ignatius and the painting – Glorification of St. Ignatius of Loyola by Petr Brandl were preserved from the original decorations. Other decorations date back after 1765, such as the altar painting of the Assumption of the Virgin. The church houses the oldest organ in Hradec Králové – a Baroque instrument from 1765 (Kralice organ maker Josef Streussel). The church towers were built as late as 1857; the interior was rearranged many times, most noticeably in the early 20th century.
Info: Open during church services and also by request made at the Deanery
The staircase was built at the end of Na Kropáčce Lane, where originally a water tower of the same name which also served as a local magistrate’s jail used to stand. In 1909–1910 Josef Gočár built a unique staircase in its place. In view of the composition and the material used (reinforced concrete) this structure was ahead of its time and advanced the further development of Czech modern architecture.
The original appearance of these buildings dates back to 1844–1846 and the grounds have been gradually enlarged to the present size. After the discontinuation of beer production the vast brewery complex underwent a complicated reconstruction resulting in the creation of the modern seat of the Hradec Králové Regional Authority. The original wall of the brewery cellars was decorated with a statue of Gambrinus - the brewers’ patron, along with four reliefs of a lion’s head. Today, the entire grounds have been modernised and adapted for the needs of the Regional Authority of the Hradec Králové Region and other institutions. During the reconstruction, remnants of the argillite inner wall with a bastion from the 15th –16th centuries were discovered. The structure was preserved and visitors to the building may view it behind glass under artificial light.
The Bono Publico Staircase
This Classicist staircase was built at the place of the former Fishermen’s Gate in 1810. It is decorated with three turrets carrying cupolas, erected above the landings, which also provide the roofed staircase with daylight.
Fountain in the Small Square
This fountain is adorned with a statue of St. John of Nepomuk from 1772, which was moved there from a former Dominican Monastery. Currently, a replica of the statue is placed on the fountain and the original is displayed in the Lapidarium of the Museum of Eastern Bohemia.
Regional Court Building
The Regional Court building with a jail was built on the spot of fort cavalier No. 35. Its original pentagonal ground plan was maintained during the construction. The design was the work of the architect V. Rejchl, who was inspired by modern Classicism. The structure was erected during the period of 1933–1934. In front of the main entrance stand the allegorical sculptures of Law and Justice (J. Bílek).
The dominating feature of the 3.5 ha large park is the statue of Jan Žižka of Trocnov from 1971. In its eastern edge stands the memorial to Deputy Mayor Jan Ladislav Pospíšil, who is credited with working toward the demolition of the city walls.
City Music Hall
The former Episcopal seminary with the Church of St. John of Nepomuk is situated at the spot where until 1423 a royal castle – a seat of the Czech Queens Elizabeth Richeza and Elizabeth of Pomerania – used to stand. The structure, which was erected in 1709–14 according to the design of V. Schneider, serves today as the City Music Hall. The church was built in the Baroque style and has a ground plan in the shape of a Latin cross. Its interior is decorated with wall paintings, created by monks from the Prague Emmaus Monastery in 1887. The internal dominating feature is the massive modern organ.
Info: Open during concerts and similar events
Museum of Eastern Bohemia
This symbol of the then upcoming Czech modern style was built on the city embankment according to the design of Jan Kotěra in 1909–1912. Due to its unique architecture and decorations the museum was declared national cultural heritage – as the only building in Hradec Králové. Semi-glazed bricks were used as building material. Significant Czech artists such as the sculptor Vojtěch Sucharda, painters František Kysela and Jan Preisler participated in its decoration. Some items of the interior including furniture and other fittings were also created according to Kotěra’s design. The permanent exposition displays three models of the town – the so-called Žaloudek’s model, depicting the town during its time as a stronghold, a model from a laboratory of the Prague Faculty of Architecture of 2000 and newly also a model of the town showing its medieval appearance.
City Bath House
The City Bath House on Eliška’s Embankment is the magnum opus of the architect Oldřich Liska and was completed in 1933. With its thirty-metre long swimming pool with artificial waves, the bath house became the most modern indoor swimming pool in the republic in its time. The current appearance and facilities of the City Bath House result from the vast reconstruction, completed in 1999, changing it into an aqua-park with many attractions. The building is a part of the urban complex on the Elbe embankment, which is formed by the building of today’s Commercial Bank (J. Rejchl) and the Sokol Gymnasium (M. Babuška). Its right wing serves as the seat of the Hradec Králové Philharmonic Orchestra.
Novák’s Palace of Garages
The palace of garages of Ing. Novák, a Hradec Králové pioneer in the automobile industry, was built in 1932 according to the design of Josef Fňouk. The dominating feature is a six-metre wide spiral-shaped drive-up ramp twisting through the centre of the building, covered with a dome on the roof and passable in both directions at the same time. This building of a revolutionary construction style provides 300 parking spaces together with a filling station and car wash facilities. The palace was reconstructed according to the original plans and is owned by Ing. Novák’s descendants.
This square, the second most important area in the city after Ulrich’s Square, is of a triangular ground plan and is located among blocks of buildings away from busy traffic. Its north-west side is demarcated with a set of buildings, which were designed according to J. Gočár’s plans (1922). The facades of the buildings are completed with an “M” shaped element that is supplemented with an impressive statue of T. G. Masaryk created by the sculptor O. Gutfreund and placed there in 1926. In 2002 the square became a part of the pedestrian zone together with Čelakovského and Švehlova Streets as well as Baťka’s Square. Currently, a modern rustproof fountain is situated on the square and social, sporting and ceremonial events are held there.
Following his intention to create a modern city centre, Josef Gočár designed a monumental rectangular area. At the place, where Gočár Avenue enters the square, stand four high corner buildings surmounting the neighbouring houses by two storeys, thus creating symbolic gateways. The south side of the square is formed by the building of the former Headquarters of the State Railway (Gočár) from 1932, which today is a seat of the Police of the Czech Republic and other institutions. The opposite side is dominated by the monumental Steinský-Sehnoutka Palace. This former impressive industrialist’s residence was built according to the design of O. Novotný in 1929 and today it is the seat of the ČSOB – Czechoslovak Business Bank.
Congregation of the Czechoslovak Hussite Church of the Priest Ambrož
The Congregation of the Priest Ambrož is also the work of the architect J. Gočár and was built in 1926–1929 together with the construction of the school complex in the Elbe Basin. The set of buildings, which comprise of a church, episcopacy, parsonage and columbarium is of a triangle-shaped ground plan and designed in the Constructivist style. The structures are made of concrete, exposed brickwork alternate with the white plaster on the façades. The Congregation of the Priest Ambrož has recently undergone a reconstruction, which has enabled the organising of cultural events, particularly exhibitions of fine art, concerts – etc.
This structure is situated at the place where a bridge used to stand at the time when the town was a stronghold. It was designed by J. Kotěra, who created a complex bridge construction with a stone banister supplemented with impressive illuminations and two pairs of kiosks. It is one of the main symbols of the city.
School Complex – V Lipkách
The complex was built according to an impeccable urban concept on Tyl’s Embankment. Tyl’s (originally Rašín’s) Grammar School was founded in 1925–1927 and comprises of a school building, gymnasium and the director’s mansion. In front of the entrance on a high base stands a bronze statue of the “Winner” by J. Štursa which was presented at an international exhibition in Paris in 1925, as well as the state emblem of the Czechoslovak Republic by O. Gutfreund on the southern wing of the building, which bears the years of 1925–1927. Next to the Grammar School there is a complex of elementary and council schools, including a nursery school. This set of buildings date back to 1928 and in its time was unrivalled in Czechoslovakia. The design is the work of J. Gočár, but the west wing of the schools was erected as late as the 1950s according to plans by V. Rohlíček, however keeping to Gočár’s original dispositional layout.
Hydroelectric Power Station on the River Elbe
This, as one of the most beautiful Art Nouveau structures in the city, was built according to the design of the architect F. Sander in 1910–1912; however it was not fully completed before some time after World War I. It also includes a radial gate and a bridge called Hučák. Even today the power station is still a functioning technical monument. The two-wing building is dominated by a clock tower decorated with a relief city emblem in the plaster. The bridge is 5 m wide and 56 m long and is equipped with lighting and technical facilities placed in booths. In 1996 an overall reconstruction took place and a new impressive illumination system was installed. In 2008 the Renewable Sources Information Centre was opened in Hučák Hydroelectric Power Station, which can also be viewed.
Address: Renewable Sources Information Centre, Křižíkova 233
Established in 1868 on the triangle-shaped piece of land formed by the Rivers Elbe and Orlice and their confluence, Jirásek’s Garden originally used to be a park for officers. Today it is referred to as the most beautiful park in Hradec Králové, landscaped in the style of French gardens with rare wood species, geometrically laid out flower beds and a charming area formed by a rosarium. It is possible to find in this park the remains of the fortification system as well as a huge gazebo where promenade concerts are held during the summer months. Not far from the confluence stands a statue by J. Škoda from 1934, an allegorical depiction of the joining of the Rivers Elbe and Orlice, and there is also a monument of Alois Jirásek situated in the park. It is possible to enter the park from Křižíkova Street or Komenského Avenue.
Church of St. Nicolas
This interesting example of wooden folk architecture of the early 16th century was brought here in 1935. The Orthodox Church was built in the East-Slovakian village of Habura near Medzilaborce in 1502–1510. In 1740 it was sold to Malá Polana, where it was changed into a Greek-Catholic Church of St. Nicolas – the Miracle-Worker. In 1935 it was purchased for the city by Hradec Králové Mayor – V. B. Pilnáček, then restored at a high cost and placed in Jirásek’s Garden. The church is surrounded by the original fencing and the interior is dominated by a preserved original iconostasis.
Urban Grand Hotel
The former hotel building was rebuilt in 1910–1911 according to the plans of Jan Kotěra. He created in the interior the so-called “Palm Garden” – a social hall and cinema projection room in the shape of an indoor garden with the capacity for 1,000 people. The façade of the hotel is decorated with masks created by the sculptor J. Štursa. At present a very careful reconstruction of the entire set of buildings is underway.
This Classicist building completed in 1897 (F. Hellman) originally housed printing works and an editorial office of Catholic newspapers. Until 1948 it had been used as a Catholic Diocesan House, today it is a seat of Hradecká kulturní a vzdělávací společnost, s.r.o. (Hradec Cultural and Educational Company, Ltd.)
Remnants of the Fortification System
Even after the demolition of the city walls it is still possible to see some structures in Hradec Králové, which remind us of one period of its history. These are for example Gayer’s Barracks with its oldest part dating back to the 18th century. Buildings of cavalry barracks with two internal courtyards have also been preserved. In the past the bottom vaulted section used to house stables, above them there were the quarters for the men and other facilities and today it is the seat of the District Court.
Infantry barracks also referred to as Žižka’s Barracks have a courtyard stretching over 163x67 m (its overall size is bigger than the area of the Large Square). Down from the Small Square stands a building, which was nicknamed “At General’s”. Originally, this Baroque building was used as the seat of the Corps Headquarters, but it was the commanders of the garrison that would reside there until 1945. There are other remnants preserved in the territory of the city – for example the so-called “flošna” structures, used as advance bastions, and an armoured casemate and postern in Jirásek’s Garden. The southern edge of Šimek’s Garden is bordered with a rampart and a part of the ravelin has also been preserved there. Other rampart ruins can be easily seen in the grounds of today’s open-air cinema. On the bank of the River Orlice not far from the confluence stand some other silent witnesses of the fortified system and up to this day the road to Brno has been bordered by some of the original marker posts.
The former “Salon of the Republic” continues enlarging and new architectural works appear in its territory. Interesting buildings of recent decades were erected, among other places, in the Aldis Zone, such as for example the five-storey building of the GIST Company, completed in 2002, which has leaning facing walls and sandstone cladding. The Teaching Centre of the Faculty of Medicine stands out from the set of buildings of the Teaching Hospital. It attracts the eye with its elliptic frontage and glass façade.
One of the newest buildings in the city is the Study and Research Library with a letter “X” shaped ground plan and circular windows. The whole building is made of cast concrete and matches the requirements placed on a modern library. The Public Transport Terminal was finished in mid 2008 and is situated close to the Main Station of the Czech Railway. Together they form a main public transport node in the city. The grounds attract attention mainly due to their roofing implemented with a suspended membrane structure. Another interesting modern building is the three-storey apartment block at Na Střezině (Silesian Suburb), which has a non-traditional arched ground plan and in 2005 won the award “Grand Prix of Architects’ Community” granted by the Ministry for Local Development. The integration of modern architecture with the historical buildings is demonstrated by the reconstructed grounds of the former brewery, which today is used as the Regional Centre and houses the Regional Authority of the Hradec Králové Region. However, it is not just architecturally interesting buildings that are created in the city, but also modern public outdoor areas, which include for example a playing field called World in Třebechovická Street. Its individual parts represent all 7 continents and each of them targets a different age category. The total area of the field is 3,500 m2.