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Destinační společnost Východní Čechy
Orlické hory a podorlicko
Sdružení obcí Orlicko
Království Orlice

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Putování po historických městech Čech, Moravy a Slezska

The predecessor to the town, which up to 1950 was named Kyšperk, was the Geiersberg castle (Vulture’s mountain), which stood on a peak known as Hradisko. The first mention of it can be found in the Zbraslav chronicles from 1308. The castle was evidently founded by the Lord of Žampach  in the 13th century. The oldest known occupant of the castle was the bandit knight Jeniš of Kyšperk. The last mention of the castle is from 1419. The first mention of the town itself dates from 1513, but it was probably established earlier as a district beneath the castle. The lack of written records of Kyšperk before 1513 can be explained by the fact that throughout the entire preceding period the town was in the ownership of the house of Žampach of Potštejn, and was neither sold nor pledged. During the course of the 15th century the castle fell into ruin, and the masonry was used for the construction of the chapel of St. John of Nepomuk on the opposite Kopeček hill, on the site originally occupied by the small pilgrimage chapel.
At the end of the 16th century the town had its own brewery with malt house and fermenting room, where beer was brewed for the entire Žampach estate. There was naturally also an inn in the town. Kyšperk had its own reeve and markets could be held here each week and a fair once a year. The town also obtained the right to torture and execute criminals. To this day a range of death sentences have been preserved. The place of execution was by the road to Písečná, by a marl quarry beyond Mechnáč, and the executioner’s house was on the slope beneath Kopeček, at today’s number 104. The last execution by ruling of the capital court in the Kyšperk estate was carried out on 18 February 1766 on Josef Hanik of Klášterec nad Orlicí, for the crime of theft. In 1615 there was the first mention of a school in Kyšperk.
The town enjoyed a rapid development primarily in the 17th century, when the estate was owned by the Vitanovský family of Vlčkovice. Earl Hynek Jetřich Vitanovský exempted the town for monetary compensation of labour and established a hospital for ten poor and aged serfs. He also founded six guilds in the town and had the original renaissance fortress from 1554 reconstructed as an early baroque chateau (1680 - 1685). In close proximity to the chateau he also had a baroque chateau chapel constructed, which in 1726 became the parish church. The exquisite stucco figural decoration of the vaulting of the nave and the presbytery is the work of the Italian master G. Maderna, who is also the author of the stucco decoration of the Černín palace in Prague. The stucco decoration itself apparently cost as much as the entire construction of the church. The portrait of the Earl by Karel Škréta ranks amongst the most valuable works of Czech baroque painting, and is exhibited in the Rychnov chateau.
During the period of the plague epidemic of 1713, the inhabitants of Kyšperk carefully guarded the gates to the city, particularly on market days. The town was not infected by the plague, and the religious burghers, together with the nobility (Earl Harrach) erected a “plague column” as a sign of their gratitude. This was ceremonially consecrated in 1724 and is the work of the sculptor Antonín Appeller of Litomyšl.
The baroque chapel of St. John of Nepomuk, together with its cloisters, was constructed under the reign of the orthodox catholic Earl Jan Václav Breda of Špandava, with a pentagonal ground plan. Inside is the pentagonal altar bearing the legend of St. John of Nepomuk. A natural landscape park spreads out behind the chateau, which was founded between 1820 and 1830 by Earl Marcolini – Feretti, containing numerous species of foreign flowers and trees. The Saxon Earl Peter Marcolini-Feretti married into the Kyšperk estate in 1795 and had the emperor Napoleon’s original sleigh brought here. Later the chateau park was adapted in romantic style, with an imperial fountain, pavilion and artificial cave (grotto).
In 1824 a huge fire destroyed almost all of the buildings on the town square and in today’s Komenského (formerly Lukavská) street, in total 76 addresses. New houses were then built from marl.
In the first half of the 19th century domestic production of phosphorus matches flourished in Kyšperk. The occupation of “matchmaker” is documented here three years before match production commenced in Sušice. As a result Kyšperk was known as “matchville” and match production here provided a living for several hundred people. The work of producing phosphorus matches was very harmful to health, and as a result was prohibited by the government. At the beginning of the ě0th century the individual plants were closed down. Although Reinelt’s match factory in Kunčice adapted to the new prescriptions and transferred to Swedish safety matches, here too stiff competition led to a closure of production.
After the Prussian-Austrian war, in 1886 defeated Austria, in accordance with the peace treaty, had a railway line built from the then Mittelwalde, now the Polish town of Miedzylesie, via Kyšperk to Ústí nad Orlicí. At the same time a decision was taken to construct a line from Chlumec nad Cidlinou via Hradec Králové to Kyšperk. Operation of the line was launched in 1874. Kyšperk also gained a grand station with a steam plant and several job opportunities. In 1893 the Louis-Weis mechanical weaving plant was constructed in Orlice, after nationalisation renamed Hedva and later Primona. Thanks to the farsighted change to silk instead of cotton, the plant was not so heavily affected by the world economic crisis as textile firms in other towns. In 1901 the Fischl-Engel weaving plant commenced operation directly in Kyšperk, after nationalisation renamed Orban and later Perla. This also survived the economic crisis more easily than other textile firms from the surrounding area, because during his experience in the USA the young Fischl established useful contacts, thanks to whom he managed to secure orders even during this difficult time.
The First World War violently interrupted the economic and cultural development of the town. After the ware construction projects were launched. A range of new streets and districts gradually emerged. Electric lighting was introduced in the town, the streets were paved and a modern water conduit was constructed, making use of the source beneath the cliff in Ústecká street, from where water was pumped to the reservoir at Kopeček. A new civic school was annexed to the general school in 1904, with a spacious sports hall, and in 1932 a new vocational further education school was added, today a secondary technical school. Thanks to the dedication of the citizens and the Kolár theatre collective, the “Dvorana” theatre building was constructed. The world economic crisis affected Kyšperk somewhat less than other towns, nevertheless the town experienced the hardships of unemployment and poverty. And the crisis of the 1930s had barely began to ease when the country was occupied by the Nazis and the Second World War began.
After the war Kyšperk enjoyed a new economic boom, and in 1950 the town was renamed Letohrad. In the same year the surrounding districts of Orlice, Kunčice and Rotnek, renamed Červená, were annexed to the town. During that period it was inadmissible for a town to bear any name of German origin, and as a result Kyšperk had to be renamed. The town was officially given the name of Orličné, but this met with opposition from the citizens, and so a new name was sought. A number of proposals were forwarded, including Stalinov or Okurky (based on the initials of the districts – Orlice, Kunčice, Rotnek, Kyšperk). The name of Letohrad was proposed by the then chronicler František Skála as an amalgamation of the beginnings of the words "letovisko" and "hradisko".
Orlice was originally the name of the ancient fortress, which was founded by the Vladyks of Orlice. The village itself was named Louka, in Latin Pratum, and only after 1406 gained the name of Orlice. Under the reign of Charles IV a rectory was already established in the village, which in 1467 became a rectory of the Czech Brethren. During the counter-reformation it was abolished and transferred as a Catholic rectory to Lukavice.
The district of Kunčice also used to belong to the Vladyks of Orlice. A living trade route led through the district. The “royal way” led from Kladsko, via Bystřice and Mezilesí to Mladkov and further through the Tichá Orlice valley. The route wound around the marshlands around Kyšperk, and was abundantly used by the citizens thereof,  because the road to Ústí nad Orlicí was not built until 1820, under the reign of Earl Marcolini. After the construction of the railway this route ceased to be of any significance whatsoever. Two plentiful springs are located in the forest above Kunčice, known as Vaňkovka and Vápenky. The renowned Priessnitz wished to build the hydrotherapy institute, which he later founded in Gräfenberg – Jeseník, in this location.
The district of Červená, formerly Rotnek, is named after its red Permian sandstone.
Above Nový Dvůr the largest factory in the region – OEZ (Orlice plant, formerly MEZ) gradually grew up after the war, producing fuses and belaying appliances. The older plants were progressively modernised and expanded.
The timber mill by the railway station was also renewed and modernized following a fire in 1953. In 1959 Montostav was founded, concentrating on the production of atypical construction prefabricates and bridge constructions. Further job opportunities were provided by Dřevotex, Průmysl mléčné živiny (dairy industry), Jednota – wholesale warehouses, JZD (faming collective) Letohrad and high-density deacons house at Orlice. Since 1969 the House of Culture has served for cultural purposes in the district. The OEZ company is also responsible for the construction of the football stadium. In 1981 a new basic school was opened, with its own sports hall and school canteen. The technical school was extended and in 1984 a boarding house was annexed. The school also has a large canteen and sports hall. The basic school in Komenského street was also extended with a modern annex. A swimming pool was constructed for sports purposes, and the sports hall from the former “Dvorana” and the “Orlovna” at Orlice was reconstructed. Sports facilities were established at Na Sádkách, Orlice and Kunčice, as well as the biathlon complex at Šedivský lom quarry. The complex housing problem was addressed after the war by state and co-operative development and the construction of family houses. New housing estates were established – at Spořilov, Na Sádkách, by Nový Dvůr, at Kolonie and at Kunčice.
After the “Velvet Revolution”, when confiscated property was returned to its original owners, the town square blossomed with a new facelift. The baroque burgher houses were renovated and gained a new façade. In addition a range of private shops, small businesses and restaurants sprang up, and local businesses were privatised, some of which enjoyed an injection of foreign capital.
The following distinguished personages are connected with the history of the town – the painters A. Mucha, H. and J. Umlauf, the dean A. Buchtel, the national revivalist F. V. Hek, and the writer Petr Jilemnický. The writer and diplomat Josef Korbel, the father the former US foreign minister Madeleine Albright was born here.

Kulturní centrum Letohrad

Václavské nám. 77

561 51 Letohrad

IČO: 70964891

tel.: 465 622 092


Jaroslav Moravec
tel.: 465 622 255

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