Hradec Králové: city where history meets modernity

Photo: Klára Stejskalová, Radio Prague International

Hradec Králové, which lies on the confluence of the Labe (Elbe) and Orlice rivers in north-east Bohemia, is one of the oldest and historically most significant Czech cities. For centuries, it was one of the dowry towns of Czech queens. At the turn of the 20th century, Hradec Králové was remodelled by the pioneering Czechoslovak architects Jan Kotěra and Josef Gočár, who turned it into a modern and progressive city, which became known as the Salon of the Republic.

The first written evidence of Hradec Hrálové comes from 1225, when the settlement of Hradec was mentioned in the deed of the Bohemian King Přemysl Otakar I. In 1306, Hradec became a dowry town ruled by Bohemian queens. Hence its name Hradec Králové, which literally means “the castle of the queen”, explains local tourist guide Lucie Nováková:

“The local royal castle was therefore home to queens, namely Elizabeth Richeza of Poland and later Elizabeth of Pomerania, the last wife of Charles IV. During the reign of George of Poděbrady, the town was one of the most important and beautiful Renaissance seats, but this happy period was brought to an end by frequent fires, plague epidemics and the Thirty Years’ War.”

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Authors: Ruth Fraňková, Zdeňka Kuchyňová