Welcome in a town lying less than 60 km west of the capital Prague. Visit a town, the history, life and customs of whose inhabitants were so beautifully described by the writer and historian Zikmund Winter. Drop in a town where history speaks to you from original buildings in the neighbourhood of the modern and present. Get to know a town, which, with its 17,000 inhabitants, is the biggest in the region, which is known by its current industry, and which lives a rich cultural, social and sports life.
Welcome in Rakovník!
A LOOK INTO HISTORY
The name of the town is connected with a story about crayfish, in Czech rak, that used to live in the clean water of the local stream. The surroundings of the stream attracted people, too, and they settled here calling their village in honor of the crayfish Raková. The actual town was later founded eastwards of the original settlement, in a more suitable place. Rakovník was first mentioned in 1252, already as a court seat and an administrative centre of the region. The town was allowed to build its fortification in the 15th century, received its own coat-of-arms with a red crayfish in the middle in 1482, and was promoted among royal towns by the Emperor Rudolf II. in 1588. The 16th century became a time of building, economic, and cultural bloom of Rakovník, above all thank to the renowned local hop growing and the production of its unique beer. The following decades brought wars, floods and plagues, which, together with poor crop, caused general economic decline. Nevertheless, newly built roads and railways helped Rakovník recover slowly, integrating the town with the region and encouraging foundation of new industrial businesses followed by a regeneration of cultural and social life of its inhabitants. The beginning of the 20th century saw advancing construction of new housing areas and public buildings as well as growth of industrial businesses and plants.
There are many attractive historical monuments in our royal town. Most of them are to be found in the historic town centre of Rakovník, which was declared a National Trust Zone in 1992. This markedly oblong town square with a baroque Town Hall and a baroque Marian column in the middle is dominated by a group of buildings in its east part: the gothic Church of St. Bartholomew, the Belfry, the Prague Gate and the former Cistercian Palace, today the seat of the Museum of T.G.M. Another remarkable building here is the oldest technical secondary school in Bohemia, where Zikmund Winter was employed as a teacher for several years. A former Synagogue, housing the Rabas’ Galery today, and a graffito house called U Samsona remind us that there used to be a Jewish ghetto north of the square. Next to them, there are a baroque inn with a truly Czech name Česká chalupa, and, towering above, the High Gate, a remains of the town fortification, which opens a view of the whole town from its battlement. Other remarkable buildings stand at the cemetery just off the centre: Holy Trinity Church, a unique belfry, and St. Roch’s Chapel, remarkable by its triangle ground plan. In the west suburb of Rakovník, where the beginnings of the settlement in the valley are supposed to lie, there are the late gothic St.Giles’ Church, and, in the east suburb, a Jewish cemetery with preserved tombstones.
RAKOVNÍK – A MODERN TOWN
The historic town centre got surrounded by houses, brickwork and later prefabricated blocks of flats throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, the town furthers construction of modern blocks of flats in the south part of the town as well as individual building activities in selected residential localities. We do not forget our senior citizens either, for whom several residential and nursing homes have been built.
RAKOVNÍK – A GREEN TOWN
To relax, we subconsciously set out for the green. In Rakovník, you do not have to walk far. The town square is lined by hawthorns with benches underneath, poplars strive high in front of the Church of St. Bartolomew. Behind the church, a beautiful park with a lake in the middle opens up, and spreads further over the main road, merging with the old lime alley along the stream running through the whole town just off the centre and on and on. You can stroll here or just sit down on one of the many benches and watch the blossoming bushes or children playing at well-equipped playgrounds.
RAKOVNÍK – A TOWN OF EDUCATION
Rakovník focuses on education in its whole scale. There are a nursery, seven kindergartens, three basic schools and an arts school. Good name and tradition of the local secondary schools and training institutions, providing accommodation, attract the youth from various areas of the region. All schools are well equipped to enable best preparation for future carrier of their students. Not even children who, for whatever reasons, cannot visit normal kindergartens or schools, have to travel far to get educated. A modern block of buildings housing the so-called Special Schools of Rakovník has been built for them.
RAKOVNÍK – A TOWN OF LEISURE
Rakovník offers many leisure opportunities to its inhabitants as well as to its visitors. Ensembles from all over the country as well as the local amateur scene can be seen in the renovated Tyl’s Theatre, serving also as a cinema. The Cultural Centre prepares concerts, balls, festivals, and other cultural events. The Puppet Theatre stages tales for its little audience. Art lovers can visit several exhibition halls of the Rabas’ Gallery and the Museum of T.G.M., chamber music sounds regularly in the Herold’s Hall. Who prefers to relax with a nice book or film, can pick his or her choice in the Town and Children’s Library.
Who prefers to relax more actively, can do so in a group or individually at some of the sports grounds: play football or ice hockey at the particular stadiums, go for a swim in an indoor or outdoor swimming pool or at a lido, play tennis, squash, bowling or mini golf, go to a fitness centre or just use some of the public indoor or outdoor grounds. Tourists and cyclists can set off on some of the instructive or marked paths that will lead them through a beautiful landscape to many places of interest.