Chotěboř is a typical Czech town located in the western part of the Czech-Moravian Highlands at an elevation of 515 m above sea level. This region in the foothills of the Železné (Iron) Mountains is known for its unspoiled environment and is suitable for hiking, bicycling and other forms of recreation. A section of the Doubrava river valley between Chotěboř and Bílek featuring precipitous river canyons is particularly attractive to tourists.
History of the Town
The oldest written record noting the existence of Chotěboř dates from the year 1265. The region’s silver mines led to the settlement’s purchase by King John of Luxembourg, who granted its status as a town in 1331. And so it remained until the end of the 15th century, when it passed to the powerful noble family the Trčeks of Lípa. During the 17th and 18th centuries the town changed hands very frequently. Count Vilém Leopold Kinský acquired the domain in 1683, and in 1701-1702 he constructed a new Baroque palace in Chotěboř with a Chapel of the Holy Trinity and surrounded it with an English-style park. The castle’s most eminent owners between 1836 and its confiscation in 1948 were members of the noble Dobřenský family of Dobřenice, to whom the castle and estate were returned in 1992.
Today Chotěboř has a population of nearly 10,000. Its city hall is what is known as a government department of the third degree, performing administrative functions for 31 municipalities.
The northern side of town contains a large protected historical zone comprised of the Old Town, including the palace and its English park, as well as agricultural facilities and some light industry. The eastern side is the location of numerous sporting facilities, which gradually give way to the wilderness of the Železné Mountains Protected Landscape Area and the nearby Doubrava river valley. Larger industrial grounds are concentrated on the southern side of town. The western side is dominated by spacious neighborhoods of family homes. Chotěboř is characterized by vast tracts of greenery, gardens and residential areas that lend the town a tranquil rustic quality. Not far from town are three large community gardens with numerous cabins; nearby are also several ponds, and the Břevnice reservoir offers opportunities for swimming.
The predominant industry in Chotěboř is machine manufacturing with a focus on producing devices for the food industry (equipment for dairies, breweries, etc.) and industrial robots. The wood-processing industry is also represented in Chotěboř, as are a number of construction and retail firms and numerous other businesses.
The town offers many options for accommodation and dining.
Among the town’s more important historical buildings are the Church of St. James the Elder and the early Baroque Dobřenský palace, which is on the grounds of the English park and which houses the Municipal Museum with its national historical exhibition. A picture gallery features works by local painters of significance to the region, such as Rykr, Průcha, Horník and Opatrný.
The palace is also the location of the Chapel of the Most Holy Trinity, which has been preserved in its original form with rich stucco ornamentation dating from the middle of the 18th century.
Another historical monument in the vicinity of the palace is the “Podzámčí,” a grouping of small houses from the turn of the 19th century representing one of the oldest workers’ districts in the region.
Facing the tree-lined main square, which contains a fountain, is the Old Town Hall with its tower clock, across from which is a Marian column dating from 1890. A second Marian column dating from 1700 is located on Trčků z Lípy Street. Other monuments in town include the Chapel of the Raising of the Holy Cross, the Chapel of St. Anne and the Statue of Writer Ignát Herrmann, a Chotěboř native.
The Doubrava River Valley wilderness area is something wholly unique. The valley was formed by the activity of the Doubrava and it is no exaggeration to call it a miniature Grand Canyon. Not far from here is the small nature reserve Písník u Sokolovce. Many interesting features are readily visible and known to locals by intriguing names like Giant’s Pot, the Trough, and the Spiral Eddy. The valley’s beauty has inspired many legends and today it is a popular destination for photographers. It is also the site of a 4.5 km-long educational trail. In all protected areas visitors are required to obey strict rules for the preservation of natural beauty. Only in the Doubrava Valley is rock climbing permitted, and only on select rock faces. Here visitors may spot rare animals and discover equally interesting plants.
From the Chapel of St. Anne there is a gorgeous view of the ridge of the Železné Mountains, including its highest peaks Spálava and Vestec.
Chotěboř is popular with tourists for its beautiful natural scenery and its peaceful and healthy environment.
Chotěboř beer is a local attraction that draws men and women alike, who may visit the new and modern Chotěboř Brewery. Production began here in 2009 and, in spite of its short history, the brewery relies on traditional methods while taking advantage of modern technologies.
Chotěboř is the birthplace of a number of important figures, including Ignát Herrmann (to whom a local monument is dedicated), the journalist Karel Ninger (the house where he was born is marked with a commemorative plaque), the Silesian patriot František Sláma and the painter Zdeněk Rykr.
It is also worth mentioning that the Panský dům (the “Manorial House,” now containing a restaurant, café and billiard club) on the square was briefly occupied by Jaroslav Hašek, who wrote the short story “Traitor to the Nation in Chotěboř” while staying here.