Přibyslav systematically takes care of its historical monuments. The oldest building, which is the characteristic dominant of the town, is its gothic tower, constructed in 1497. Next to it is a baroque church of St. John the Baptist, consecrated on July 24, 1753. Close to it is also former women’s hospital dating from 1692, now housing an exhibition hall, where also cultural and social events take place.
The Přibylav Chateau was constructed in 1560 by Zachariáš of Hradec in a place of a former farm which belonging to the Přibyslav Castle and was burnt down during the siege of the town in 1424. The older part of the Chateau is in the style of Italian Renaissance. The compound now houses a unique fire-fighters’ museum and Centre of the fire-fighters’ organization.
Close to the town is situated the ruin of the Ronov castle, built in the 13th century by the lords of Ronov and destroyed by Žižka’s army in 1424.
The legendary Hussite commander Jan Žižka is commemorated by the memorial, which was built at the place of his demise in 1874 according to the plans architect Weihl by builder Josef Šupich. The memorial was renovated in 2003 by Petr Máša and Jaroslav Máša with the financial support of the Czech Ministry of Culture.
Equestrian statue of Jan Žižka by Bohumil Kafka placed in the chateau park is another important monument in the town.
History of Přibyslav
Přibyslav is situated in the west of Czech-Moravian Highlands in 483m above the sea level. The bedrock of the region is formed by gneiss, transformed from original alluviums. In the early Middle Ages the region was covered with a wildwood where prevailed mostly beech, yew, pine, aspen, spruce and birch. This time fauna was formed by wolves, bears, lynxes, badgers, deer and boars. First credible records of the town originate from the 13th century. Existence of earlier settlement is feasible, but it hasn’t been confirmed by written documents.
In the first half of the 13th century the king Wenceslas I granted the town juridical authority of the first level (horní právo), so that the town could adjudicate less important arguments between owners of mining fields, metallurgists, and other craftsmen, who were at the time mining galena with high percentage of silver. Until this time the settlement had a character of agricultural, craft and the settlement below local castle – now it also had town rights. During the Hussite Wars (1420-1434) the mining of silver was suppressed and later completely interrupted for decades. Later attempts to renew the mining in the 16th and 18th centuries and also later failed.
Jan Žižka of Trocnov, who led the Hussite forces against the catholic noblemen in Moravia at this time, died near Schönfeld (now Žižkovo Pole) on the October 11, 1424. After his death, his army seized the Přibyslav castle and town. Since then until the battle at Lipany (May 30, 1434), Přibyslav served as their military outpost for their assaults to Moravia and elsewhere. Přibyslav had been damaged several times not only by wars but also by frequent fires that destroyed many valuable historical buildings.
In 1767 a fire destroyed almost the whole town including the tower, vicarage, school, hospital and the roof of the church. Untouched remained only several houses in the upper part of the town square and thirteen houses in the outlying suburbs.
After the end of the silver mining, the citizens made their living from agriculture, home weaving flex linen, craft and trade.
Minor craft workshops, appearing in the second half of the 19th century were mainly processing the agricultural products – mainly potatoes – and later also milk, and they also produced agricultural machinery and tools. At this time minor industry also develops: in 1854 Liquor and Vinegar Factory of Adolf Böhm, in 1862 Agricultural Machinery Pohořelý (today’s ACO k.s., in 1863 Weaver factory Černý & Půža, in 1912 Amylon ltd., in 1922 Sativa Keřkov and in 1923 Milk and Pasture cooperative society (today’s Pribina ltd.).
Probably the most important native of the town is the renowned Czech publisher Jan Otto (1841 – 1916). He published books from various domains – simple public reading (editions Public Edition and Cheap National Library), travel books, scientific books from different domains (philosophy, mathematics, and linguistics), dictionaries but also magazines Zlatá Praha, Lumír, Ilustrovaný svět, Světozor and humoristic Paleček). Brehm’s Life of animals is also one of his important works. However, none of his works can be compared to his greatest, most famous and so far unequalled publication, which is Ottův slovník naučný (Otto’s Encyclopedia), which was published between 1888 and 1908. The small Encyclopaedia and Pocket Encyclopaedia were also published beside the regular version. Jan Otto was also very active in the social life of his time. He was member of several cultural committees, and in 1912 he was even promoted to a member of the Lord’s Parliament. He was a friend of important personages of this time (T. G. Masaryk, E. Beneš) and he was a bearer of several decorations such as Knight of Franz Josef Order (1891) or Iron Crown Order III. Degree (1898). He didn’t forget his native region. He supported local educational associations and he played an important role in financing and realizing Jan Žižka’s memorial near Přibyslav.
Another important native is sculptor Roman Podrázský (February 24, 1943 – April 2nd, 2001), whose works can be found all around the Czech Republic – in Prague, Plzeň, Liberec, Jihlava, Sokolov, Jáchymov, Zlín, Lipnice nad Sázavou, Krucemburk or in Havlíčkův Brod. The largest collection of his works can be found in Přibyslav. Most of them are made of sandstone, but there is also a tinted concrete monolith, patina wood or a marble tombstone. His greatest sculpture is a sandstone Marian column, which is standing next to the church. The column evokes a tree trunk with Holy Virgin and the Saviour and prayer beads on its top. The column was created in 1998 and was the only Marian column to be sanctified, in our country in the 20th century. Near the tower, visitors can admire a Pieta made of sandstone, and little futher there is the Triad – Dragon, Town Shield and Town Gate Key. His other works include Landmark Stone in front of the Old Hospital, Leda With a Swan in the town park, Tripletsin the park near the townhall, Friendship Stone in the Bechyně Square, Jan Otto’s bust at the Kurfürst House, the bust of Karel Havlíček Borovský and the Shackles – the unfinished memorial to the victims of communism, which is now placed at the local cemetery as the sculptor’s tomb stone.
Ing. Stanislav Bechyně, DrSc. was born in Přibyslav in July 20, 1887. After his studies in the secondary school in Nové Město na Moravě he studied civil engineering at the Technical University in Prague, where he graduated in 1910 and where he was promoted to professor of statics and dynamics of reinforced concrete in 1920. He taught at the Faculty of Civil Engineering until 1958. He was awarded many awards for his scientific and professional work. He was a member of Czechoslovak academy of Science since 1953, in 1955 he was awarded the Award of Klement Gottwald – first class, in 1972 he obtained a doctorate honoris causa. Stanislav Bechyně passed away in 1973 in Prague, but according to his wish he was buried in his native Přibyslav, where the town square was named after him.
His most famous work is undoubtedly the Lucerna Palace in Prague, but he also designed functionalistic industrial buildings that are typical for faultless mastery of construction material. However, his project of the Nusle bridge hadn’t been finally carried out.
The nephew of Stanislav Bechyně was a prominent Czech entomologist RNDr. Jan Bechyně (1920 – 1973). After graduating the secondary school, under the Protectorate he worked in a local amyloid factory, but even then he secretly worked as assistant to the Department of Etomology of the National Museum in Prague. In 1948 he was invited to study in München but after the February 1948 he stayed abroad for the rest of his life. He left for Southern and Central America, where worked and where he became a member of enmologist institutes. His main area of interest was the family Chrysomelidae, on which he published a lot of mimportant works. Unfortunately none of them was translated into Czech. At the year of his 85 birthday a memorial plaque was revealed on his native house.
Writer prof. Františka Kolářová-Vlčková, the author of the Přibyslav Chronicle MUDr. František Půža, sculptor František Němec, writer prof. ThDr. Jan Filip.
Less known, but no less important persons include prof. J. Reinsberg, the chancellor of the Charles University, prof. V. Vrtiš, dean of the Medical Faculty of the Charles University, violin player T. Pařík, writer F. Pilař, scientist RNDr. K. Pátek, and army general A. Rada.
Photographs in our small gallery come from the workshop of Přibyslav photographer Stanislav Hutař (1895 – 1974) and made part of the exhibition held in Přibyslav in 2001.