Vysoké Mýto named Historic Town of Year 2022

The small town of Vysoké Mýto, in north-east Bohemia, has been named Czech Historical Town of the year for 2022. The award, which comes with a one-million-crown cheque, honours those towns and cities that have excelled in preserving and renewing their cultural and architectural heritage.

The Historic Town of the Year competition is organised annually by the Association of Historic Settlements in Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia along with the Ministry of Regional Development.

The mayor of Vysoké Mýto, František Jiráský, says the town earned the title thanks to long-term and conceptual care of its historical centre and monuments:

“I think that we have been very successful in using the Ministry of Culture’s regeneration programme fund. In fact, we have been drawing money from the programme since its inception in the 1990s. We have also been successful in cooperating with all the owners of buildings listed in the urban conservation area.”

The small town of Vysoké Mýto, which lies some 27 kilometres southeast of Pardubice, was founded in 1262 by Bohemian King Přemysl Otakar II as one of the trading centres on the route from Bohemia to Moravia.

It is known for having the biggest quadrangle square in Czechia, covering an area of two hectares. There are also medieval towers and gates, the remains of the medieval fortifications, and the Gothic Church of St. Lawrence.

Mr Jiráský says most of the money earmarked for the restoration of urban monument reserves has gone to the Church of Saint Lawrence to finance the renovation of its many glass-stained windows:

“Over the last three years we have also carried out a major restoration of the altarpiece by Peter Brandl, which is one of the largest paintings by the Czech Baroque master. And last year we managed to repair the Prague Tower, one of the symbols of our city and part of its historical fortifications.”

Mr Jiráský plans to use the one-million-crown cheque to complete the renovation of the town’s theatre building. He says that along with the restoration work, it is equally important to keep the historical monuments alive, something that is not always easy at a time when new shopping centres are being built on the outskirts:

“I think that in any city with protected heritage areas it is a difficult task to keep the downtown area alive. We need to motivate people to stay in the city centre so that it doesn’t turn into a ghost town. And I think we are successful in doing that. Every weekend throughout the summer, various public events take place on the main square. There are also car rallies because of the town’s motoring heritage.”

Indeed, Vysoké Mýto is perhaps best known for its automobile construction works, founded by Josef Sodomka after the First World War. Some of the beautiful old cars can still be seen at the local Museum of Czech Car Bodywork.