République tchèque



Long before any colonists could arrive, there had been an ancient settlement in the region between the Sázava and the Vltava rivers and the mythical Blaník hill. The Benešovic family settled here and St Nicholas's Church and Benešov appeared before the end of the llth century. The Karlov hilltop is said to have been the core site, probably with a castle and the first church, located back to 1070 by some unconfirmed reports. Then a Minorite Monastery was founded not far from here in the l3th century and an ostentatious Gothic monasterial church was planned only a century later, but has never progressed past the stage of a monumental torso. At the beginning of the l4th century, the Benešovics moved to nearby Konopiště, a French-type Gothic castle. With the family's decline, the property, castle and Benešov, were acquired by the lords of Šternberk who held it till 1587. Benešov was heavily stricken by the Hussite warfare. The Hussites plundered and burnt down the unfinished Minorite Monastery and Our Lady's Church thus giving it away to final decay. The most outstanding owners of the period after the battle of White Mountain were the Hodějovskýs of Hodějov who made some Renaissance redevelopments at Konopiště. But their property was confiscated because of their anti-Hapsburg resistance. The Thirty-Year War was a real disaster for the town and demesne. The toll of repeated plundering, marauding and epidemics was so high that it had taken a century before the population reached its pre-war level. The third year of the beginning l8th century brought an important cultural event to Benešov: the new rulers, the Přehořovskýs of Kvasejovice, founded a piarist grammar school with a college house and the St Ann's Church in the main square. Architect of the baroque building was Giovanni Battista Alliprandi, author of the hospital church at Kuks. The college construction had dragged on and had not been completed until the Earls of Vrbta took over the property. The Vrbtas had the mansion redeveloped, too, this time in the baroque style. In 1775, their domain was swept by a peasant uprising which cost 7 lives. At the break of the l9th century, the Vrbtas founded a pottery manufactory at the nearby Tůnec nad Sázavou which produced utilities as well as luxury goods found in some collections now. The manufacturing survived the Vrbta house and continued under the Lobkowiczs who inherited the Vrbtas' property in 1830. The l9th century was a period of national revival and slight economic growth. But the most important event came up in 1887: Konopiště became the property of the archduke Francis Ferdinand d'Este. His controversial nature and turbulent life style are well-known and Konopiště testifies to that. The mansion saw a dramatic redevelopment in the romantic neo-Gothic style; the park grew in area to reach some 225 hectares and was thoroughly redesigned in the same spirit; the now well-known Rose Garden was established, with many minor buildings; the gamekeeper's lodges and yards of the neighbourhood were also included in the redevelopment. The promising dynamic growth of the Konopiště manor ended abruptly by the Francis Ferdinand's assassination at Sarajevo and the World War I that followed. The two post-war decades brought back some growth to Benešov, but many Jews and patriots were persecuted for the resistance against the Nazi rule. The post-war nationalisation meant stagnation of trade and services. The 1970s revived building activities in Benešov, but incurred wide spread demolitions that damaged the town's urban structure. The period produced large housing districts with many households and many problems that accompany this type of development everywhere. Today, Benešov is a district centre of state administration, some industries, trade, health care, education, and culture. The economy is based on a mixture of agriculture and industry with low environmental impact. The area has many attractions for the tourist. Services, accommodation and boarding facilities are already well-developed. Beside the traditional grammar school and school of agriculture, there are several more state-owned and private educational institutions. The Town Gallery and a branch of the District Museum occupy the protected Art- Nouveau house, no. 74, Malé Náměsti. Cultural events usually take place in the Municipal Library or in the theatre accommodated in the Pošta Hotel building. There.is a new annual festival of music called "Josef Suk Spring". Some 300,000 visitors come in from all over Czechia and from abroad to see the Konopiště mansion each year. Fine nature and many cultural sights are worth seeing in the country around if you come for a short trip or a few day's stay.

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