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History of the town Písek

The castle and the town of Písek were founded by Czech kings along the banks of the Otava river shortly before the mid 13th century. The town was named ´Písek´ (Sand) because of the gold bearing sand that had been panned from the river by our ancestors to gain the precious and valuable metal. The first record of the town can be found in a decree made by the Czech King Václav I in 1243. Thanks to the gold mining, the growing business and booming industry, the town grew very quickly and it became a favourite with a number of Czech kings such as Přemysl Otakar II., Karel IV. and Václav IV. who came to visit quite frequently.

Towards the end of the Middle Ages, the town was clearly established as the centre of an extensive region, called the Prácheňský Region. The region covered a fairly big part of south western Bohemia. Even before the outbreak of the Hussite Wars, the people in the county were Chalice supporters (the symbol of the Hussites) and during 1419 - 52 the region proclaimed itself a Hussite autonomous republic. The leader of the Hussites, Jan Žižka from Trocnov came to stay here; the Hussite Bishop Mikuláš Biskupec resided in the town, and the barrels containing the wealth of the community were administered by the Hussite captain Matěj Louda from Chlumčany.

The post-Hussite period was also very prosperous as shown by expensive buildings and documented purchases of communal estates. The promising development was first interrupted by the anti-Habsburg revolt in 1546 - 47 and at the beginning of the Thirty Years´ War when the town spoke out against the Habsburg Emperor. During 1619 - 20 the town was besieged three times, and each time it was conquered. The last surrender of 30 September 1620 was an utter disaster for the town. Most of the inhabitants were killed by the Habsburg soldiers and majority of the houses were burnt down.

The town recovered very slowly and the process of recovery was aggravated by numerous fires, epidemics and passing armies. For example in 1741 - 42 the French and Bavarian soldiers stayed in the town for several months. The town started to change from the beginning of the 19th century. It has spread out of the fortification walls, whole streets of houses for rent have been built in the suburbs, Czech has become the official language in the Town Hall, new cultural institutions and associations have come into existence and Písek has become known as the town of schools and students, and as Mecca for violinists. It has also become a popular summer resort and tourist destination. The historical centre of Písek has been proclaimed a conservation zone.


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