Hradec Králové - Experience

The city of Hradec Králové was in recent years repeatedly evaluated and voted as the best place to live in Czechia. No wonder why. It is all around a pleasant city, architecturally beautiful, clean and safe, with no environmental burdens caused by large industrial zones. A typical resident would be an office worker, student, or employee of the residing top university hospital. Let us take a closer look!

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The city unfolds at the confluence of two marvellous and mighty rivers, the Elbe (Labe) and the Wild Eagle (Divoká Orlice), and it is embraced by a forest-park from the south-east, both contributing to the convenient range of local leisure facilities. When residing in Hradec Králové, you can comfortably travel around Central Europe from the nearby town of Pardubice by a direct trains to Vienna, Berlin, Bratislava and Warsaw, for example.

For a better idea, have a look below at some distances and journey times for traveling abroad from Hradec Králové:
 
Berlin (DE) - 446 km (277 mi) - approx. 4 hours of driving  
Wien (AT) - 291 km (180 mi) - approx. 3.5 hours of driving 
Bratislava (SK) - 289 km (179 mi) - approx. 3 hours of driving 
Wroclaw (PL) - 173 km (107 mi) - approx. 2.75 hours of driving 
Dresden (DE) - 244 km (151 mi) - approx. 2.5 hours of driving 
Munich (DE) - 496 km (308 mi) - approx. 4.5 hours of driving

The whole of Czechia, Hradec Králové included, benefits from a very dense railway network that will allow you to travel practically anywhere, from the busy metropolis to rural settlements. Thanks to comfortable railway service and high accessability of the surrounding landscape you will have decent number of various attractions at hand. Eastern Bohemia combines natural beauty with a rich historical heritage. Only an hour’s drive to the north you will find the Giant Mountains (Krkonoše) with the highest Czech mountain Snowy (Sněžka) at 1602 m (5255 feet) above the sea level, which are renowned for winter sports and summer hiking. Another strip of mountain range called the Eagle Mountains (Orlické hory) are located even closer, ideal for any ski-beginner to gain initial experience in the exciting downhill or the more physically demanding cross-country skiing, with trails heading around gentle slopes, mountain ridges and flat plains. A real gem of natural beauty is the complex of sandstone rock-towns in Adrspach-Teplice Rocks (Ardšpašsko-Teplické Skály). This trip is virtually an obligatory point in the itinerary of every visitor of this region. Even if you are not keen alpinist who regularly climbs up on rock towers, you can enjoy this wonder of nature as well with convenient visitor footpaths leading through darkened gorges and high ravines with bizarre rock formations on every step. Human imagination brought up some original names for many of those natural arrangements, and it is up to you to find what hidden fables the rock formations have up their sleeves for you.
 
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Right from the city centre you can make a short cycling trip to the forest-park with many kilometres of bike trails and a great in-line skating circuit, right in the middle of nature. Hradec Králové is nicknamed as a paradise for cyclists. The rather flat disposition of the surrounding terrain goes hand in hand with decent network of bike-ways, which together, strongly favour the bicycle as the ideal means of transport. From a residence to the school, or to the train station, where you can leave your bike in a secure robotized bike tower, you can travel everywhere just by using your own legs.
 
Some may be tempted to try a golf course either in the city, or in one of the large resorts spreading over the nearby foothills, or maybe the one which has been created in a romantic English park attached to a neo-gothic castle. Hradec Králové also benefits from a beautiful open-air swimming pool, Flošna, a modern indoor swimming pool with sauna, spa and aqua-park fitted with a sophisticated artificial wave system. Followers of winter sports can enjoy the ice-skating ring. Without going into any more detail on this topic, rest assured that in Hradec, everyone can find sport to his, her or its liking. Yes, that includes open-water rowing too.

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On the account of historical sightseeing, we have picked only a small representation linked to the major historical periods. A very impressive witness to the knight's medieval period is the castle Kost (Bone) in the romantic setting of the rocky valleys area in the Český ráj (Bohemian Paradise). The renaissance period is represented, for example, by the UNESCO protected chateau in Litomyšl built in the 16th century with stunning sgraffito decoration on its facades. One can really feel the mystical power of hidden symbols embedded in the work of the dynamic Baroque era when visiting the former 18th century spa in Kuks, or the monumental Benedictine abbey in Broumov. If you are looking for something a bit different, and are also perhaps fan of our ancestor’s craftsmanship, there is a unique wooden, moving Nativity scene (Betlém) in Třebechovice pod Orebem, a technical marvel that received accolades of admiration at the World's Fair EXPO in Montreal, Canada in 1967. In the context of the global world, we must not forget one more memorable event of the past, which is closely associated with Hradec Králové. Not far from the city, on 3rd June 1866 the final battle which ended the war between Prussia, Austria and Saxony took place. Bloodshed - known to the world as the Battle of Königgrätz - which is also the German name for Hradec Králové, was one of the greatest conflicts of the 19th century and caused a completely new arrangement of forces in Central Europe with far-reaching consequences in the 20th century.

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But let us return to the contemporary Hradec Králové, because there is really no need to go anywhere outside the city in order to find amusement. For example, the city's theatre scene is on the top national level. Although the plays are staged in the Czech language, at least once a year at the International Theatre Festival of European Regions, thanks to international staging, performances can be understood by everyone. Thanks to the vast number of diverse theatre companies, the city is during this time nicknamed the Czech Avignon. All the town becomes alive with street performances, concerts, spontaneous improvisations on squares, streets and literally on every corner. If you have not listened to an alternative concert on a hot night in a bar on the square, has really not experienced the uniqueness of the city and its cultural spirit. Try it next time with us! And we must not forget the magnificent, world-renowned puppet theatre Drak (Dragon). Their performances are based on the precise mastering of puppets and their gestures, mime and body language symbolism, thus opening the space for imagination equally to both a local and an international audience.
 
It seems that the city loves festivals. The nearby festival park on the outskirts of the town regularly fill up with tens of thousands fans devoted to rock music, hip-hop and many other genres. Students themselves, always at the turn of April and May, celebrate the arrival of the spring with a traditional feast called Majáles (Rag day). The spontaneity of this feast a few decades earlier, in 1965, impressed the famous American poet of the Beat Generation Allen Ginsberg to the extent that he immortalized his impression in the poem King of a May Day parade, in which he expressed sympathy with Czech students oppressed by the then totalitarian regime. And in the autumn, the streets resonate with music thanks to the Jazz Goes to Town festival.
 
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From the wide array of festivals is obvious that Hradec Králové is a city of young folk. The academic year brings each year to the town thirteen thousand students from three different universities, rejuvenating the population of slightly less than one hundred thousand regular inhabitants. In addition to four faculties of the University of Hradec Králové, the Faculty of Medicine and Faculty of Pharmacy of the Charles University, and Faculty of Military Health Sciences from the University of Defence resides here. Such a large community of youngsters certainly has a beneficial effect upon the atmosphere of the city and – quite frankly – on the number and style of many restaurants, pubs and bars too. For example, on the main square and adjacent streets of the old city, you can choose from dozens of restaurants, all different in style and cuisine. From cosy clubs for intellectuals, such as the stylish Knihomol (Bookworm), through sports, cocktail or retro design bars to fine wine cellars. Let your taste, mood and appetite make a choice! (A traditional Czech beer cost here literally a few coins.) In some pubs and clubs you can find live music played by local bands, art exhibitions, listen to travelogues or lectures and participate in engaging discussions in the student’s AC club, for example. And finally, you can take a picnic basket and go to a large central park named Šimkovy sady (Simek’s orchards) where you can - under the beautiful blue sky - enjoy a merry barbecue with a bunch of your friends. You can easily meet there, maybe on the grassy field while waiting for a beer from the local kiosk, other international visitors, because hundreds of pupils from dozens of countries from all continents live and study in Hradec Králové. So there is no chance that you will lack the opportunity to share joy and views on some aspects of living abroad with other internationals.
 
Well, while we're talking about life in the city, we still did not manage to discuss the setting in which all these happenings takes place. Our wait for the introduction of the town’s architecture does not mean, however, that Hradec Králové lacks something in this regard. There certainly are many beautiful and much more famous European cities, but our Hradec is architecturally clearly unique.

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Originally the royal dowry town, whose former glory resembles a gothic cathedral of the Holy Spirit (Svatý duch) and the renaissance belfry called the White Tower (Bílá věž), which got a completely new look during the 19th and 20th century. The reason for the renovation was closure of the huge military fortress, which in the 18th century gripped the whole city within its massive walls. Their removal gave the city council an opportunity not to leave the expected construction boom to a chance, but to take advantage of the extensive surrounding open areas for organized and thoughtfully planned development. This lucky decision began to unfold a remarkable story of courage and great visions that have become reality. The city commissioned the best architects and urban developers of that time to develop the town’s empty green meadows into a city for the 20th century.
 
In the following decades, a generous city grew around the preserved medieval settlement, with wide boulevards cleverly respecting the ancient city landmarks; new embankments lined with trees, imaginative squares and magnificent public buildings, as well as residential districts. Architecturally, the city has become a storefront of Art Nouveau, Cubism and especially the typical Czech design and art style functionalism and constructivism. The main monuments that reminding the glorious era of the city, praised for its urbanistic value and widely referred to as the Salon of the Republic (Salon republiky), are in particular the buildings of the Museum of East Bohemia (Muzeum východních Čech) created by architect Jan Kotěra, respected founder of Czech modern architecture, and then the purposefully austere building of the priest Ambrose congregation, built by Kotěra’s pupil and successor Josef Gočár. Hradec Králové give thanks to these architectural achievements, characterized by high aesthetics and elegance, and makes a positive imprint on the quality of life; and carrying almost a festive feeling within its streets. We are sure you will agree once you will know the city personally.
 
 
 

Last modified:  Administrator, 3.3.2016 20:24