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History of the town


The very beginning of the town´s history is set in approximately the third quarter of the 13th century. It was not until the beginning of the 14th century, perhaps between the years 1310-1319, that a medieval town was established in the vicinity of the Lipý castle. Nevertheless, the oldest proof of its existence dates back to 1337. In 1338, the oldest evidence portrayed the town´s seal, which, among other symbols of the fortified establishment, pictured the coat of arms of the founders – a dynasty called Ronovci. The coat of arms includes two crossed branches of trees, commonly known as ostrve[1]. The mentioned symbol, engraved in stone, can also be found in other places, e.g. on the outer walls enclosing a monastery.


The town´s location, being on a trail busy with merchants, gave rise to the development of numerous crafts (including pottery, weaving, making of drapes and tin products, etc.). Therefore, the town, still enclosed by city walls, became also surrounded by exceptionally advanced suburbs. These suburbs also had churches at their own disposal. To date, there are two of those churches preserved, Kostel sv. Kříže (situated in the southern part of the city) and Kostel Panny Marie. The latter had stood in the northern part of Mariánské předměstí (one of the suburbs), until it was replaced by a baroque building. Today it is referred to as Kostel Narození Panny Marie (The Church of Birth of Virgin Mary).


Until the modern times, the city of Česká Lípa was one of the biggest cities with serfs in the Czech Republic. It was also granted rights, which belonged to the royal cities (such rights include autonomy in governing, brewing, trading within a mile of the city´s borders, the right for a free pass through the city and the right to build city walls). In order to get and expand the given rights, the city used the power of the status of the governing nobility – first the lord of Lipé, then the Berk dynasty of Dubá and Lipé. However, the occurrence of the Christian movement Hussites interrupted the swift development of the city. Due to the majority of the city´s nobility being against the movement, the city has been taken over in 1426 by the Hussites. Thus Česká Lípa became a member of the Taborites and the Orphan´s Union. The city then witnessed several war conflicts and suffered damage during the Hussites revolution and later a war conflict, so-called vartenbersko-lužické války. Nevertheless, during the 15th century, these damages were smoothed down. While restoring the buildings, many gothic parts, especially basements, were preserved to this day. Furthermore, the Lipý Castle has been rebuilt into a chateau, Gothic at first, later Renaissance. There was also a summer residence built in the chateau´s vicinity in 1583. This residence became known as Červený Dům (The Red House). However, by the time of its completion, the residence, the castle and the control of the city had to be shared between the Berk and the Vartenberk dynasties.


Upon the defeat of the Czech Estates of the realm, whose rebellion between the years 1618 to 1620 enlisted some of the high nobility, the ownership of the confiscated manor has been granted to Albrecht z Valdštejna. During his short-lived rule he successfully founded an Augustinian monastery along with a Latin school, later developed into a grammar school. Albrecht was blessed with a daughter, who, after her father´s assassination, married into the Kounic family line. Thus the ownership of Albrecht´s estates was transferred to them. They managed to keep it until the abolishment of “slavery” in 1848[2]. The only remaining relic of the presence of Kounic dynasty in the city is the baroque stone emblem on the corner of Berk´s and Zámecká streets.


Following the Thirty Years´ War (the deadliest European religious war between the years 1618-1648), the city has been embellished with many baroque reconstructions, new buildings and sculptures, including morový sloup, which was also constructed on the town´s square. Morový sloup is a huge stone column built to commemorate unfortunate events of the past, in this case a plague, which spread throughout the city in 1680 and the rebellion against the said form of slavery. Several leaders of the rebellion were executed on the town´s square at that time. In the 18th century, Česká Lípa was still one of the most populated cities in the country and also one of the first to be open to manufacturing entrepreneurship. It did not take long until the city´s fame spread within and beyond the borders of the country, especially thanks to kartoun (a term used for printing onto a piece of cloth). Unfortunately, several fires occurred in the city in the years 1787 and especially 1820, when in just under four hours, more than five hundred houses and six manufactures were burnt to the ground. In addition, the majority of the city´s historical architecture (at that time still partly wooden) was destroyed. After such unhappy event, new constructions were made of bricks and concrete in the Empire and classicist style. In the second half of the century, the demand for kartoun manufacture dropped and thus many optional manufactures arose in Česká Lípa, such as leather processing, food industry, distillery, production of “pianinos”, etc.


The second half of the 19th century brought about development of the political, social and cultural thinking in the region. Due to this advancement, the city was enriched with many public buildings in the Art Nouveau style. Simultaneously, an awareness of national identity arose among the Czech minority, resulting in the foundation of first Czech associations. These associations sought to establish Czech schools in the area. The attempts were unsuccessful until the fall of the Habsburg Monarchy. During the First Czechoslovak Republic era (1918-1938), the Czech minority grew in numbers to approximately 3 000 people, especially with the arrival of state employees.


One of the events defining the 20th century was the rise of fascism. Subsequently, Česká Lípa became the place of interest and considerable activity of Henlein´s Sudetendeutsche Partei (Sudeten German Party). It was in Česká Lípa in 1934, where the first Heinlein manifestation took place, summoned by approximately 24 000 Nazis in the whole northern border, which the Czech Republic shares with Germany. Soon, the city was captured and occupied by the German forces. With the year 1938, the promising development of the city has been terminated and local factories were rearranged to serve military purposes.


By the time of the city´s liberation, on 9th May, 1945, many original Czech residents returned to the city, after having fled during the fall of 1938. Architectural results of the city´s bombing have been cleared away and factories returned back to “peaceful” production. The four following decades brought a rapid growth of the city´s population and its expansion as a result of uranium mining. In 1992, the population reached 40 000. Along with it came the blocks of flats, which were built to accommodate the incoming people. Their construction in the 70s and 80s changed the appearance of the city for good.


These blocks of flats were ruthlessly getting closer to the city center, which has been neglected at that time and took a lot of effort to be preserved. Its reconstruction and conservation (since it has been declared a protected area) is underway since the 90s.

[1] Ostrev – a tree trunk disposed of large parts of its branches, used for climbing walls during a siege.

[2] Note: Slavery is in this case an inaccurate term, as the description of nevolnictví (as it is called in modern times) differs from slavery. Unlike slaves, these peoplewere officially free with the obligation to contribute to their superiors with fees and occasional work.



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