Benešov, Czech Republic
Current Name: Benešov
Region: Central Bohemian
Historic land: Bohemia
Submitted by Carol Claybaker
Benešov is a district town in the Central Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic. It has about 16,000 inhabitants. The Konopiště Castle and Czech national mountain Blaník are near the town.
Benešov lies about 32 kilometres (20 mi) southeast of Prague in the Benešov Uplands on the Benešovský Stream. In the western part of the territory are the ponds Konopišťský and Jarkovický.
The area of Benešov began to be settled in the 11th century. The first settlers are believed to have arrived on Karlov Hill in around 1050 during the Přemyslid dynasty. The first written verified mention of Benešov is from 1219–1222, however there are unverified mentions from 1048 and 1070.
Benešov was the seat of Lords of Benešov until 1317, when they moved to nearby Konopiště Castle. In 1327, it became a market town, and in 1419, Benešov was among the earliest to be established as a seignorial (manorial) town in Bohemia. In 1420, the town was conquered and burned by the Hussites. Benešov recovered and at the end of the 15th century, it was among the most important towns in Bohemia. It was the center of several political negotiations, such as the 1451 and 1473 meetings of the Bohemian Diet. In the 15th and 16th centuries the town experienced an economic boom due to its location on the trade route from Prague to Linz, Austria, on the Danube River, 30 km (19 mi) south of the Czech border. In 1512, Benešov was classified as a town.
After the end of the 16th Century there were several changes in ownership. During the Thirty Years' War, the population suffered because of passing Polish and Swedish troops. To promote the reintroduction of Catholicism and improve the education, a priory college with a high school was founded in 1703. After 1803 the town developed as a center of national rebirth for Slavic Bohemians.
In 1871 the town was connected to Prague by rail and by 1895 it was an important regional hub.
By World War I, Benešov was an important garrison town of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. Because of fears of possible political unrest in 1916 by Czech nationalists, the 2nd Regiment of the Tiroler Kaiserjäger with a reserve unit was stationed there until 1918.
Early during World War II, the town was evacuated temporarily as the SS-Truppenübungsplatz Böhmen of the Waffen SS (the combat branch of the Nazi Party's Schutzstaffel (SS) organization) was stationed there.
A significant measure of industrialization began after 1945 with the establishment of a machinery factory and the food industry.
The most significant monument in Benešov is the Konopiště Castle. It was built in 1294 as a copy of French fortresses. Around 1500, it was modified to the late Gothic style, and in 1605 to the Renaissance style. After 1725, it was rebuilt in the Baroque style.
The Konopiště Castle is a four-winged, three-story castle located in Konopiště, now a part of the town of Benešov in the Central Bohemian Region. It has become famous as the last residence of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, whose assassination in Sarajevo triggered World War I. The bullet that killed him, fired by Gavrilo Princip, is now an exhibit at the castle's remote museum. Founded in 1300, by the Benesovec family, this imposing castle is a magnificent example of the medieval fortification architecture influenced by the French. It has been open to the public since 1971. Since 1921, it has been the property of the Czech state. Maintenance costs are covered by entrance ticket sales and rental fees for occasional special functions.
The Church of Saint Nicholas is the oldest preserved monument in Benešov. It was built in early Gothic style in the second half of the 13th century. After a fire in 1420, it was rebuilt in the Renaissance style in 1583, and later once again in the Baroque style. The church includes a Gothic bell from 1322, one of the oldest preserved bells in the Czech Republic.
Another important religious monument is the former Priory college with the Church of Saint Anne, which was built at the beginning of the 18th century according to plans submitted by the Italian architect Giovanni Battista Alliprandi.
The town center with Masarykovo Square includes Baroque and Art Nouveau houses and the architecturally awarded building of the new town hall.
Five Jewish families were living in Benesov in 1570. A Jewish community is again mentioned in 1845, numbering seven families in 1852. It was officially registered in 1893 with 786 persons (including those living in 27 surrounding villages). Benešov was a center of the Svaz *čechů-židů, Czecho-Jewish movement, and of the struggle against the German-language Jewish school at the end of the 19th century. In 1930 the community numbered 237 (2.8% of the total population), 24 of whom declared their nationality as Jewish. The anti-Jewish laws imposed during the German occupation were sometimes not enforced in Benešov. Most of the community was deported by the Nazis to the Maly Trostinets extermination camp near Minsk in 1942. Only two Jews returned. The synagogue equipment was sent to the Central Jewish Museum in Prague; two cemeteries still remain. No community has been reconstructed. (Minsk, in Belarus north of Ukraine, suffered many disasters; Jewish community was massacred during WW II, but since then has grown faster than comparable cities.)
"The new landmarked cemetery is located 500 meters NE of Masaryk Square. Founded in 1883, it contains about 300 gravestones since its establishment in WWII. At the beginning of the 1990s, the ceremonial hall was remodeled to use as a Holocaust memorial. The exhibition is devoted to the Jewish community Benes.
The older of the two local Jewish cemeteries contains a "house of prayer" with a display documenting the misfortunes of the Jewish Community of Benešov during World War II.
Benešov was the center of the nationalistic Czecho-Jewish League (Svaz čechů-židů), a union established in 1919 to embrace the existing Czecho-Jewish assimilation associations. The Czecho-Jewish resistance movement came into being in the 19th century, when the process of Jewish assimilation in Bohemia and Moravia was complicated by the antagonism between Czechs and Germans due to the predominance of German language and culture imposed by the Hapsburgs. In the German-language Jewish schools established through emperor Joseph II, Jews acquired a German education and became a Germanizing factor. This added fuel to Czech antisemitism, although before emancipation was granted, Bohemian Jewry (Jewish people), mainly living in the Czech countryside, had generally mastered the Czech language. However, it was not until the 1840s that the first attempts were made by Jews to assimilate into the Czech environment.
HEALTHY CITY OF BENEŠOV PROJECT
The Healthy City Benešov project was implemented in 2016, when the city joined the National Network of Healthy Cities of the Czech Republic. The project is built on three basic principles:
- promoting health and quality of life
- sustainable development - connection of areas: social - economic - environment; current activities must not negatively affect the possibilities of achieving the same quality of life for future generations
- public participation - partnership in the community
In accordance with the principles of the project, the Healthy City comprehensively and systematically creates the conditions for a better quality and healthier life of its residents and, in cooperation with them and with other interested parties, develops as a pleasant and quality place to live, thereby among other things, it builds "healthy patriotism", when people consider their community and country as their home and take care of it in this sense.
One or two relatives raised their families here. The granddaughter of one, Zdenka Marie Novakova, is an architect and artist, whose paintings are on display in galleries in Prague. Someone also wrote a book about her works for which I was asked to write her Resume in English. The rest is in Czech.