Liberec is a city in the Czech Republic. Located on the Lusatian Neisse and surrounded by the Jizera Mountains and Ještěd-Kozákov Ridge, it is the fifth-largest city in the Czech Republic.
Settled by German and Flemish migrants from the 14th century until their expulsion after World War II, 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 and the neighboring town of Jablonec nad Nisou. Therefore, the total area with suburbs encompasses 150,000 inhabitants. This makes Liberec the third-largest city (with suburbs) in Bohemia after Prague and Plzeň.
Liberec was first mentioned in a document of 1348 and from 1622 to 1634 was among the possessions of 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 town was part of the 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 town hall, the opera house and the Severočeské Muzeum (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 town 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 joined 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. On 16 December 1918 the Czechoslovak Army occupied Reichenberg and the whole province and both became part of Czechoslovakia.
During the 1920s and 1930s Liberec became the unofficial capital of Germans in Czechoslovakia, a position was underlined by the foundation of important institutions such as Buecherei der Deutschen, a central German library in Czechoslovakia and by failed efforts to relocate the German (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 the Sudetengau region. Most of the city's Jewish and Czech population fled to the rest of Czechoslovakia or were expelled. The important synagogue was burned down. During a rally in December 1938, Hitler laid out the future of the Hitler Youth.
After World War II the town 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. The city continues to have an important German minority, consisting 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.
Transportation - Get In
- Prague: Buses depart from Černý most metro station, the terminus station on the yellow line (B) up to 25 times per day with Student Agency [www]. Dopravní podnik města Liberce also operates a bus service from the same station. As of 2009, adult tickets are 95Kč and journey time is 1 hour 5 minutes.
- Prague: Rail from Prague to Liberec is quite slow and there's no direct train from Prague. With change in Turnov the trip time is two times longer than by bus.
- Dresden: 2h, four regional expresses a day. The Sachsen-Böhmen-Ticket can be useful.
Transportation - Get Around
The train and bus station are next to each other. You can walk about 1 km to the city center or get a tram No 3. From there almost every sight can be reached on foot.
Liberec city transport [www] consists of trams, buses and a inter-city narrow gauge tram line to Jablonec nad Nisou. The central terminal is Fügnerova stop. Single ticket costs 20Kč (24Kč if bought at driver), one-day pass costs 80Kč. See city line map [www] and online timetable [www].
If you travel outside Liberec, a good solution is the Euro-Nisa network ticket [www], available at train stations. It's valid for one day in all trains and most of buses in Liberec region, Upper Lusatia and Zgorzelec region (see map [www]), as well as in cableway to Ještěd. Price is 160Kč for one person or 320Kč for a group of up to 5 people.
- BEST RATED -
- BEST VALUE -
- Duli, Moskevská 4. Pizza and pasta on the 1st floor, more on 2nd.
- Kavárna Pošta, Náměstí Dr. E. Beneše 24. Viennese cafe, dances on Friday nights (with extra admissions)
- Café Praha, Železná 2. Belongs to Hotel Praha, with some veggie dishes.
- Om Restaurant, Husova 23/9, . For Indian and Nepalese & Himalayan foods
Sights & Landmarks
- Tourist information center, Náměstí Dr. E. Beneše 1 (next to the city hall). Mo–Fr 8AM–5PM, Sa–So 9AM–noon.
- Dr. Edvard Benes Square (Náměstí Dr. Edvarda Beneše). Main city square, named after the wartime president, Edvard Beneš.
- City Hall (Radnice), Náměstí Dr. E. Beneše. The pride of the locals, a luxurious neo-Renaissance architecture built in 1888–93.
- Theatre of F.X. Šalda (Šaldovo divadlo), Zhořelecká 5 (behind the city hall). Built in 1883 (same year as the National Theatre of Prague), named after František Xaver Šalda, an avant-garde playwright.
- Church of St. Anthony the Great (Kostel svatého Antonína Velikého), Železná Street (behind Hotel Praha). A neo-Gothic church, no public access to the inside.
- Liberec Castle (Zámek Liberec), Felberova Street. A Renaissance chateau with glass collection, but no public access to the inside.
- North Bohemian museum (Severočeské muzeum), Masarykova 11 (tram stop „Muzeum-výstaviště”). Tu–Su 9AM–5PM. 30Kč.
- Regional Gallery(Oblastní galerie), Masarykova 723/14 (next to the North Bohemian Museum), e-mail: [email protected]. Tu–Wed 10AM–5PM, Thu 10AM–7PM, Fri–Su 10AM–5PM. 80Kč (Admission free on Thursdays).
- Zoo, Masarykova 31 (tram stop „Botanická-Zoo”). 8AM–5PM. The first zoo in former Czechoslovakia, founded in 1919. Kč 90/120 (depend from the month).
- Botanical garden (Botanická zahrada), Purkyňova 1 (next to the main entrance to zoo). daily 8AM–6PM (summer) or 8AM–4PM (winter). 140Kč.
- Bus stop - sculpture Feast of Giants by David Černý. A table set with, among others, a carnivorous plant, knocked over menorah, German and Czech beer mugs and head of Konrad Henlein on a plate (all allusions to Liberec complex history).
Things to do
- Ještěd Mountain. Is a well-known dominant of Liberec city with a famous tower on the top. The tower built in 60's has an unique hyperboloid shape, naturally extending the silhouette of the mountain. It serves as a hotel and TV transmitter. By good weather you can overlook most of northern Bohemia as well as part of Germany and Poland from the summit. Take a tram No 3 to Horní Hanychov and then either by hiking one of the trails or by cableway (60Kč ) to the top.
- Cross-country skiing The city is famous for winter sporting events like FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 2009 [www] or the Jizerské Mountains, where you can enjoy the majestic beauty of the Nordic nature on 115 km of cross-country paths.
- Centrum Babylon, Nitranská 1. Rebuilt from an former textile factory, the Babylon is one of the largest Czech entertainment complexes. It offers aquapark, lunapark, 3D motion simulator, golf simulator, laser game, wellness center an many others.
- Golf at two golf resorts with an unforgettable atmosphere.