České Budějovice (Budweis)
České Budějovice (Czech pronunciation: [ˈt͡ʃɛskɛː ˈbuɟɛjovɪt͡sɛ]; German: Budweis or Böhmisch Budweis, English: Budweis) is a statutory city in the Czech Republic. It is the largest city in the South Bohemian Region as well as its political and commercial capital, the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of České Budějovice, the University of South Bohemia, and the Academy of Sciences. It is located in the center of a valley of the Vltava River, at the confluence with the Malše. České Budějovice, which is located in the historical province of Bohemia, is not to be confused with Moravské Budějovice in Moravia.
The city was founded in 1256 by King Ottokar II of Bohemia, who granted its municipal charter in 1265. The siting and planning of the city was carried out by the king's knight Hirzo. The settlers were coming from the Bohemian Forest and Upper Austria. The royal city was created as a platform of the king's power in South Bohemia and to counterbalance the powerful noble House of Rosenberg, which became extinct in 1611.
In 1341 King John of Bohemia allowed Jewish families to reside within the city walls, and the first synagogue was built in 1380; however several pogroms occurred in the late 15th and early 16th century. Since the Hussite Wars, the city was traditionally a bulwark of the Catholic Church during the long-lasting religious conflicts in the Kingdom of Bohemia. A part of the Habsburg Monarchy from 1526, Budejovice remained a loyal supporter of Emperor Ferdinand II in the Thirty Years' War. Budějovice underwent a short occupation by Prussia during the Silesian Wars, and the war between the Habsburgs and the French army in 1742.
In 1762 the Piarists established a gymnasium here and Emperor Joseph II founded the diocese in 1785. In 1847, the production of Koh-i-Noor Hardtmuth pencils was relocated from Vienna to Budějovice.
During the Second World War in March 1945, Budějovice was twice targeted by U.S. Air Force raids that greatly damaged the city and caused great loss of life. At the end of the war, on May 9, 1945, Soviet troops liberated [conquered] the city. On the following day, the Red Army and the American Army met on the main square in a joint celebration of the city's liberation.
The old town preserves interesting architecture from the Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and 19th century periods. This includes buildings around the large Ottokar II Square ("Náměstí Přemysla Otakara II"), the old Town Hall with murals and bronze gargoyles, and the 16th century Black Tower (Černá věž). The most valuable historic building in České Budějovice is the Dominican convent with the Gothic Presentation of the Virgin Mary church from the 13th century, on Piaristic Square.
The Museum of South Bohemia dates to 1877 and holds a large collection of historic books, coins, weapons and other articles. It was closed for reconstruction in 2012-2014.
In the new town, the Belle Époque Austro-Hungarian train station is notable. The horse-drawn railroad line connecting České Budějovice to Linz was the second oldest public line in continental Europe (after the St.Étienne-Andrézieux line in France), constructed from 1824 to 1832; traces of the line can be seen south of the city center.
Nearby České Budějovice lies Hluboká nad Vltavou with one of the most visited Czech castle, Hluboká Castle. The ruins of the home castle of the Czech national hero Jan Žižka, Trocnov (now part of Borovany), are located some ten kilometers (6 miles) southeast of the town. A bit further away (about 30 km), the town of Český Krumlov is another popular tourist destination in South Bohemia. In 1992, it was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
Budějovice has long been well known for the beer brewed there since the 13th century. For a time, the town was the imperial brewery for the Holy Roman Emperor, and Budweiser Bier (i.e. beer from Budweis) became, along with Pilsner from Plzeň, one of the best-known lagers. Brewing remains a major industry. In 1256 the Svitavy brewery was founded there, which was closed in 2002.
The oldest (founded in 1795) and second largest brewery was renamed to "Pivovar Samson", replacing its original German name "Budweiser Bürgerbräu" during the communist period. It also exported, mostly under the "Samson" and "Crystal" labels. Recently, they reacquired naming rights for Budweiser for Europe while offering "B. B. Bürgerbräu" in the US since 2005.