On the banks of the river Otava
Bohemian kings founded the castle and town of Pisek in the mid 13th century.
Thanks to gold mining and industrious trade and production activities the
town rapidly developed and enjoyed benevolent Lords such as Premysl Otakar
II., Charles IV. and Wenceslas IV., who were frequent guests. As of the 14th
century it was the centre of an expansive region, called the Lands of Prachen
(a region covering at its height a large part of South Bohemia west of the
Vltava river). In the first half of the 15th century it played an important
role for the defenders of the chalice (a branch of the hussite movement). The
beginning of the Thirty Year War signified a catastrophe for the town of
Pisek. Three times it was besieged and as many times conquered, for the last
time on September 30th 1620 when it was completely destroyed by the imperial
army and the majority of its inhabitants were killed. The sight of the town
started changing in the 19th century - it outgrew its walls, suburbs
developed whole streets of tenement houses, the Czech language conquered the
town hall, institutions and societies of culture arose and Pisek was called
the town of schools and students and the violinist's Mecca. As a town in a
sea of forests, it has become a fashionable holiday resort and favourite aim
for tourists. The old town centre of Pisek has been declared a historic site.
A significant example of Bohemian castle architecture. It was constructed in
the mid 13th century by the Pisek-Zvikov builders for Premysl Otakar II, king
of Bohemia. Over the centuries the castle lost all of its three towers and
the only remaining of the four original wings is part of the west wing above
the river Otava, where a large Gothic hall, decorated with copies of frescos
from 1479, is opened to the public. The castle, part of which was rebuilt as
a brewery and also as an army barracks in the past, now houses the Prachen
museum with comprehensive regional collections.
The town hall
A two-storey building with a Baroque facade and two towers, erected between
1740 and 1767. The town emblem is inside the triangular tympanum and above it
there are statues of Justice, Power and Patience and decorative vases. On the
front there is a commemorative plate dedicated to two local compatriots - the
humanist scholars Jan Kocin of Kocinet and Vaclav Hladic of Pisek. Upon
entering the building you can see a plate commemorating the town workers who
fell victim to the Nazi regime. Like most of the buildings on the square,
also the town hall originally had arcades. They were removed in the middle of
the last century.
The monastery church of the
Exaltation of the Holy Cross
The church recalls the former Dominican monastery that stood south from the
church in the mid 13th century until August 20th, 1419, when it was destroyed
by the devotees of the chalice. After the Battle on the White Mountain the
monastery was renewed, but again abolished by emperor Josef II. The monastery
church has a remarkable Renaissance facade with graffito, left from the time
it served as the town salt-house. Above the left portal you can see the
emblem of the Dominican order. The tower has two bells from 1575 and 1673.
The church is inversely orientated, its ground plan is cross-shaped. The main
altar is from the 17th century, the chapel altars from the following century.
Beneath the church you can find the crypt of Svamberk from the 17th century.
The house "U kouli" (the
Once part of one of three medieval gates - the Putim Gate. When it was
demolished in 1836, canon balls found near the gate were set into the facade
of the house, whence its name. The front of the building also preserved some
Renaissance graffito. The house boasts a rich culture history - the writer
Josef Holecek as well as the poets Adolf Heyduk and Frana Sramek lodged
The deanery church of the Virgin
A three-nave building from the mid 13th century, originally with twin towers.
One of the towers was raised in 1489 and now reaches a height of 70 metres.
The similarity of architectural elements reveals that the same builders also
worked on Pisek castle and the Zvikov castle. Inside the church you can find
mural paintings depicting: "Descent from the Cross",
"Suffering Christ", "Crucifixion" and "Madonna with
Jesus". The northern nave's Renaissance walls come from the 16th
century. The present interior is almost exclusively neo-Gothic. In the
extended Baroque chapel of Saint John of Nepomuk there is a colour vista of
the town from the mid 18th century. The big tower houses four bells from the
workshop of Marie Tomaskova-Dytrychova of Brodek near Prerov. They were cast
in 1991 and 1992.
The building is situated on the site of the former Budweis Gate. The local
pharmacist, Dvoracek, had it built into one of the most luxurious hotels in
South Bohemia in 1899. Its facade is decorated with eleven graffito from the
history of Pisek and its vicinity according to Mikolas Ales designs. The
southern front from left to right: "Gold-panning on the Otava",
"Captain of the Tabor Hussites, Matthew Louda of Chlumcany, on the Stone
Bridge", "Tournament of Knights", "Conquest of the Town
in the Thirty-Year War" and "Allegory of the Hunt". The
eastern front form left to right: "Apotheosis of the Town Emblem",
"the Battle at Cizov", "the Town Festival",
"Countryfolk from the Pisek area", "Pisek students at
Zvikov" and "Rafts on the Otava". In the early 20th century
professor Otakar Sevcik's renowned international violin school resided in the
The plague column
The plague column of the Virgin Mary on Ales Square commemorates the great
plague of 1713. The column with the figure of the Immaculate Virgin Mary on
top stands in the middle of a group of statues. Sculptures decorate the
surrounding square balustrade, depicting the following saints: Joseph,
Sebastian, Rochus, Wenceslas, Lawrence, Barbara, Franciscus Xavier, Mary
Magdalene and Pius V. Beneath the town emblem and the date 1715 engraved on
the column lies the figure of Saint Rosalie. The statue was made by Ch.
Widemann, a sculptor from Pilsen in co-operation with Fr. Zeber, a stonemason
from Horazdovice. In the past an annual procession used to come to the plague
column on the first Sunday after June 8th - in memory of the liberation of
the town from French occupants in 1742. It was so called Town Festival.
The gardens were laid out on the filled-in moats in front of the town walls
in the 1840's. In the gardens we find Schrenk pavilion from 1841 in Empire
style with a cryptogram of the architect's name inside. Next to it there is a
monument of the historian Frantisek Palacky, a monument of the poet Adolf
Heyduk and a Baroque statue of Neptune, which originally decorated no longer
existing fountain on the main square.
The home of Adolf Heyduk
The house was built in 1900 according to the design of the architect Jan
Koula in neo-Renaissance style for the well-known poet (1835 - 1923(, a
member of the May society (a Czech writers and poets society of the second
half of the 19th century, publishing the May almanac(. Some of Heyduk's rooms
- his study, dining-room and sitting-room - have been arranged in their
original design and are open to the public.
The power station
Pisek was one of the first towns in the country, where engineer Frantisek
Krizik installed street lights run by electricity. This happened on June
23rd, 1887 and a year later a water power station was built to supply the
extended light system. The dynamos were initially driven by a water wheel,
which was replaced by two Francis turbines in 1901. After a long time of
inactivity the town had the old system reconstructed, thus enabling
electricity supply again. The power station was put back into service in
The stone bridge
The oldest remaining bridge in the country, it was evidently built before the
end of the 13th century. It is 111 metres long and had defence towers on both
banks, which have not been preserved. The bridge is decorated with statues of
St. John of Nepomuk, St. Anne, St. Anthony of Padua and the Christ
crucifixion. The bridge is part of the national heritage.
The former cemetery and the Holy
The cemetery was founded in 1549, the church built in its centre in 1576. The
south Renaissance portal depicts events from the town history. After the
establishing of a new Forest cemetery in the 1920's the complex gradually
stopped being used and was changed into a piety park. Architecturally
interesting tombstones have been preserved and the resting-places of
important local personalities are marked, among others: the historian August
Sedlacek and the pedagogue Otakar Sevcik. Inside the church we can still find
a wooden carved pulpit from the late Renaissance. The church belongs to the
Prachen museum (exhibitions, concerts and festive events take place there.