View from the city hall tower
|• Mayor||Jaroslav Zámečník (SLK)|
|• Total||106.09 km2 (40.96 sq mi)|
|Elevation||374 m (1,227 ft)|
|• Density||980/km2 (2,500/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+2 (CEST)|
Liberec (Czech: [ˈlɪbɛrɛts] ( listen ); German : Reichenberg [ˈʁaɪçn̩bɛʁk] ) is a city in the Czech Republic. It is on the Lusatian Neisse and surrounded by the Jizera Mountains and Ještěd–Kozákov Ridge. It is the fifth-largest city in the Czech Republic.
Liberec was once home to a thriving textile industry and hence nicknamed the "Manchester of Bohemia". For many Czechs, Liberec is mostly associated with the city's dominant Ještěd Tower. Since the end of the 19th century, the city has been a conurbation with the suburb of Vratislavice nad Nisou and the neighboring city of Jablonec nad Nisou. Therefore, the total area with suburbs encompasses 150,000 inhabitants. Liberec itself has about 105,000 inhabitants. That makes Liberec the third-largest city in Bohemia after Prague and Plzeň.
Liberec is made up of 32 city parts and one self-governing borough (Vratislavice nad Nisou).
In the early 1990s, some of parts became independent municipalities: Stráž nad Nisou (formerly Liberec XXVI-Stráž nad Nisou and Liberec XXVII-Svárov), Dlouhý Most (formerly Liberec XXXVI-Dlouhý Most), Jeřmanice (formerly Liberec XXXVII-Jeřmanice) and Šimonovice (formerly Liberec XXXVIII-Minkovice and Liberec XXXIX-Šimonovice).
Probably at the end of the 13th century, a settlement was established on the trade route from Bohemia to Lusatia. Liberec first belonged to the Bieberstein and Redern families and was first mentioned in a document of 1348. When Redern family after the Battle of White Mountain was forced to leave Liberec, it was acquired by Albrecht von Wallenstein. After his death it belonged to the Gallas and Clam Gallas families. The cloth-making industry was introduced in 1579. The prosperous local industry was interrupted by the Thirty Years' War and a great plague in the 1680s. The Battle of Reichenberg between Austria and Prussia occurred nearby in 1757 during the Seven Years' War.
Until 1918 the city was part of the Kingdom of Bohemia, Austrian monarchy (Austrian side after the compromise of 1867), seat of the Reichenberg district, one of the 94 Bezirkshauptmannschaften in Bohemia.
At one time the second city of Bohemia,the city developed rapidly at the end of the 19th century and as a result has a spectacular collection of late-19th-century buildings; the city hall, the opera house and the North Bohemian Museum are of note. The Opera House has a spectacular main curtain designed by the Austrian artist Gustav Klimt. The neighbourhoods on the hills above the city centre display beautiful homes and streets, laid out in a picturesque Romantic style similar to some central European thermal spas.
After the end of World War I Austria-Hungary fell apart. The Czechs of Bohemia joined newly established Czechoslovakia on 29 October 1918 whilst the Germans wanted to stay with Austria to form reduced German Austria on 12 November 1918, both citing Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points and the doctrine of self-determination. Reichenberg was declared the capital of the German-Austrian province of German Bohemia. Czechs however argued that these lands, though German-settled since the Middle Ages, were historically an integral part of the Duchy and Kingdom of Bohemia. On 16 December 1918 the Czechoslovak Army entered Reichenberg and the whole province remained part of Bohemia.
In the 1920s and the 1930s, Liberec became the unofficial capital of Germans in Czechoslovakia, a position was underlined by the foundation of important institutions such as Bücherei der Deutschen, a central German library in Czechoslovakia, and by failed efforts to relocate the German section of the Charles University there from Prague.
The Great Depression devastated the economy of the area with its textile, carpet, glass and other light industry. The high number of unemployed people, hunger, fear of the future and dissatisfaction with the Prague government led to the flash rise of the populist Sudeten German Party (SdP), founded by Konrad Henlein, born in the suburbs of Liberec. Whilst he declared fidelity to the Republic, he secretly negotiated with Adolf Hitler. In 1937 he radicalized his views and became Hitler's puppet in order to incorporate the Sudetenland into Germany and destabilize Czechoslovakia, which was an ally of France and one of the leading arms producers in Europe.
The city became the centre of Pan-German movements and later of the Nazis, especially after the 1935 election, despite its important democratic mayor, Karl Kostka (German Democratic Freedom Party). The final change came in Summer 1938, after the radicalization of the terror of the SdP, whose death threats forced Kostka and his family to flee to Prague.
In September 1938, after two unsuccessful attempts by the SdP to stage a pro-Nazi coup in Czechoslovakia, which were stopped by police and the army, the Munich Agreement awarded the city to Nazi Germany and it became the capital of Reichsgau Sudetenland. Until 1945, the city was administered as a part of the Regierungsbezirk Aussig of Reichsgau Sudetenland. Most of the city's Jewish and Czech population fled to the rest of Czechoslovakia or were expelled. The important synagogue was burned down. Henlein himself confiscated a villa in Liberec that had belonged to a Jewish businessman, which remained Henlein's home until 1945.During a rally in December 1938, Hitler laid out the future of the Hitler Youth.
After World War II the city again became a part of Czechoslovakia and nearly all of the city's German population was expelled following the Beneš decrees. The region was then resettled with Czechs, completely altering the traditional language and culture of the city and its region. The city continues to have an important German minority, consisting of descendants of anti-Nazi Germans who were active in the struggle against Hitler, as well as Germans from Czech–German families and their descendants. Liberec also has a Jewish minority with a newly built synagogue and a Greek minority, originating from Communist refugees who settled there after the Greek Civil War in 1949.
The origin of the city name was the subject of many discussions, often nationally influenced, because it was a bilingual settlement.
The oldest known names of the city are German, Reychinberch (1352) and Raichmberg (1369), meaning "rich/resourceful mountain" (reicher Berg in modern German). It was also named Reichenberg (1385) and Rychmberg (1410).
The Czech equivalent originated as a distortion: Rychberk (1545), Lychberk (1592), Libercum (1634), Liberk (1790), and finally Liberec (1845). In Czech, words starting with "R" were often dissimilated into "L". Since then, the city was known as Liberec in Czech and as Reichenberg in German.
Hablau, the name of the old street near city centre, is considered to be a trace of the old village possibly founded by Havel of Lemberk, husband of Saint Zdislava Berka.
|Source: Historical lexicon of municipalities of the Czech Republic|
Liberec's prominent buildings are the City Hall (1893), the Liberec Castle (Liberecký zámek), built in the 16th century, and the Ještěd Tower (1968) upon the Ještěd Mountain, build by architect Karel Hubáček, which became a symbol of the city. Václav Havel held a broadcast from the site of the tower in 1968; a plaque beside the tower marks this event. Contemporary buildings of note are also to be found, primarily the work of the firm SIAL, and include the new Regional Research Library (2000) and the Česká Pojišťovna office building (1997). Neo-Renaissance F. X. Šalda theatre was built in 1871–1872. Centrum Babylon Liberec include a large water park, an amusement park, a casino, shopping court and hotel.
The Liberec Zoo was the first to be opened in Czechoslovakia in 1904. The zoo contains a wide variety of fauna (about 143 species on 13 ha), including large mammals like elephants, giraffes, sea lions and white tigers, which are a genetic anomaly and hence very rare. It participates in breeding activities of endangered species to help preserve the gene pool.
The Botanical Garden in Liberec (completely rebuilt from Kučera 1995 to 2000) comprises nine glasshouses for visitors (with a total area of 3,000 m2 (32,291.73 sq ft) and 13 exhibition themes), nine plantation glasshouses and a large exterior terrain. It continues the legacy of a botanical garden established in 1876 by the Verein der Naturfreunde ("Society of Friends of Nature") on a nearby site and it is therefore considered the oldest one in the Czech Republic.
Liberec city transport provides bus and tram lines. The first tram was used in Liberec in 1897. Liberec shares the 1,000 mm (3 ft 3+3⁄8 in) metre gauge tramway line which connects it to its neighboring city, Jablonec nad Nisou which is 12 km away. There are also two city lines with 1,435 mm (4 ft 8+1⁄2 in) standard gauge : The first connects Horní Hanychov (not far to the cable car to Ještěd) and Lidové Sady via Fügnerova. The second connects Dolní Hanychov and Lidové Sady via Fügnerova (only during workdays). There also four historical trams. In the city centre there are two tracks as a memorial, in the past trams were used also on the central place in front of the city hall. A private international airport is located 2,5 km from Liberec, at the nearby village of Ostašov.
The city is home to FC Slovan Liberec, a football club founded in Liberec and currently playing the Gambrinus liga, the highest division of Czech football. Slovan Liberec is one of the most successful clubs in the Czech Republic, having won three league titles. There is also SK VTJ Rapid Liberec. It is playing one of the lowest division. The ice hockey team HC Bílí Tygři Liberec play in the Czech Extraliga, the national top tier. In the 2015–16 season the team won the league.
Liberec has hosted two European Luge Championships, having done so in 1914 and 1939. In 2009, it hosted the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships. The Ski Jumping World Cup always comes to Liberec in January. The World Karate Championships took place in May 2011.
In 2015, from 15 to 23 August, Liberec plays host to the 2015 World Mountain Bike Orienteering Championships (WMTBOC).
Liberec is twinned with:
The Sudetenland is the historical German name for the northern, southern, and western areas of former Czechoslovakia which were inhabited primarily by Sudeten Germans. These German speakers had predominated in the border districts of Bohemia, Moravia, and Czech Silesia from the time of the Austrian Empire.
Vratislavice nad Nisou is a district of the city of Liberec, in the north of the Czech Republic. As of 2021, it has about 8,800 inhabitants. and straddles the Nisa river between Liberec and Jablonec, around 3.5 km south-east of Liberec city centre.
Ústí nad Labem is a city in the Czech Republic. It has about 92,000 inhabitants. It is the capital of its eponymous region and district. It is a major industrial centre and, besides being an active river port, is an important railway junction.
Konrad Ernst Eduard Henlein was a leading Sudeten German politician in Czechoslovakia. Upon the German occupation in October 1938 he joined the Nazi Party as well as the SS and was appointed Gauleiter of the Sudetenland. He was appointed Reichsstatthalter of the Reichsgau Sudetenland upon its formation on 1 May 1939.
The Sudeten German Party was created by Konrad Henlein under the name Sudetendeutsche Heimatfront on 1 October 1933, some months after the First Czechoslovak Republic had outlawed the German National Socialist Workers' Party. In April 1935, the party was renamed Sudetendeutsche Partei following a mandatory demand of the Czechoslovak government. The name was officially changed to Sudeten German and Carpathian German Party in November 1935.
Jablonec nad Nisou is a city in the Liberec Region of the Czech Republic. It has about 45,000 inhabitants. It is the second-largest city in the region. It is a mountain resort in the Jizera Mountains, and also a local centre for education, and is known for its glass and jewelry production.
Tanvald is a town in Jablonec nad Nisou District in the Liberec Region of the Czech Republic. It has about 6,200 inhabitants.
German Bohemians, later known as Sudeten Germans, were ethnic Germans living in the Czech lands of the Bohemian Crown, which later became an integral part of Czechoslovakia in which before 1945 over three million German Bohemians inhabited, about 23% of the population of the whole country and about 29.5% of the population of Bohemia and Moravia. Ethnic Germans migrated into the Kingdom of Bohemia, an electoral territory of the Holy Roman Empire, from the 11th century, mostly in the border regions of what was later called the "Sudetenland", which was named after the Sudeten Mountains. The process of German expansion was known as Ostsiedlung. The name "Sudeten Germans" was adopted during rising nationalism after the fall of Austria-Hungary after the First World War. After the Munich Agreement, the so-called Sudetenland became part of Germany.
Šluknov is the northernmost town of the Czech Republic in its Ústí nad Labem Region. It has a population of about 5,700. It lies in the geographic region that shares its name, the Šluknov Hook, a small portion of Bohemia which lies between Saxon Switzerland and the Zittau Mountains. The administrative part of Rožany has a border crossing to Sohland an der Spree.
Frýdlant is a town in the Liberec District in the Liberec Region of the Czech Republic. It has about 7,500 inhabitants.
Kořenov is a municipality and village in Jablonec nad Nisou District in the Liberec Region of the Czech Republic. It has about 900 inhabitants. It is a mountain municipality close to the border with Poland.
Chrastava is a town in Liberec District in the Liberec Region of the Czech Republic. It has about 6,300 inhabitants.
Jirkov is a town in Chomutov District in the Ústí nad Labem Region of the Czech Republic. It has about 19,000 inhabitants.
The Province of German Bohemia was a province in Bohemia, now the Czech Republic, established for a short period of time after the First World War, as part of the Republic of German-Austria.
Hrádek nad Nisou is a town in the Czech Republic. It has a population of about 7,700.
Mimoň is a town in Česká Lípa District in the Liberec Region of the Czech Republic. It has about 6,400 inhabitants.
Josefův Důl is a municipality and village in Jablonec nad Nisou District in the Liberec Region of the Czech Republic. It has about 900 inhabitants.
Rýnovice is part of the town of Jablonec nad Nisou in the district of Jablonec nad Nisou, in the Liberec region, in the Czech Republic. Today nearly 2200 people live in Rýnovice.
North Bohemia, is a region in the north of the Czech Republic.
The Reichsgau Sudetenland was an administrative division of Nazi Germany from 1939 to 1945. It comprised the northern part of the Sudetenland territory, which was annexed from Czechoslovakia according to the 30 September 1938 Munich Agreement. The Reichsgau was headed by the former Sudeten German Party leader, now Nazi Party functionary Konrad Henlein as Gauleiter and Reichsstatthalter. From October 1938 to May 1939, it was the regional subdivision of the Nazi Party in that area, also under Henlein's leadership. The administrative capital was Reichenberg (Liberec).
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