Litomyšl – The Renaissance Remains

A Pocketful of Culture 

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Litomyšl’s main attraction: the stunning UNESCO listed Renaissance chateau.

Tucked into the far reaches of Eastern Bohemia, in the Bohemia-Moravia borderlands, is the historic city of Litomyšl.

Owing to the fact that it is home to a UNESCO World Heritage site and is the birthplace of famed composer Bedřich Smetana (1824-1884), Litomyšl is one of the country’s better known tourist destinations and many visitors have read about it before they arrive in the country.

Officially gaining status as a city in the 13th century, Litomyšl has its origins in 11th and 12th century settlement in the area. In its history, the city has served as the seat of nobility and bishops as well as an important centre of education and culture.

Because of Litomyšl’s importance as a centre of education through the 19th century, many notable names in the Czech arts and culture scene were attracted to living there during that period. The influence of many of those people can still be seen and felt in the city today.

The modern city is very aware and in touch with its past and uses it to good advantage in guiding the tourist.

At that, let’s spend some time in Litomyšl:

Show Yourself Around 

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Smetana Square, one of the largest public squares in the country.

Perhaps befitting a place with education and enlightenment playing a major role in its history, Litomyšl invites and encourages visitors to show themselves around and learn about the city via a well prepared self-guided tour map available in city tourism offices or online at the city website. The map covers almost 20 points of interest in the very walkable centre of the city.

The recommended start and finish point for the self-guided tour is the 500 metre long Smetana Square. One of the largest public squares in the Czech lands, it is lined with arcaded facades in Baroque, Classicist and Renaissance styles. Also on the square is the Gothic styled town hall tower.

Leaving the square from the north end will take you past the statue of Bedřich Smetana and put you in the vicinity of the Neo-Renaissance style Smetana Hall and the Pedagogical High School with its sgraffito decorated exteriors.

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Front of the Church of the Discovery of the Holy Cross.

Further along the route, you will find a monument to writer and educator Alois Jirásek (1851-1930). Jirásek spent several years in Litomyšl as a high school history teacher and is considered to be one of the most important Czech authors of his time.

In the same area, you will find the Baroque style Church of the Discovery of the Holy Cross. This church belonged to the Piarist order who were invited to Litomyšl in 1640. Dedicated to education, the Piarists played a major role in the city’s reputation as a learning centre for centuries. The order left the city in 1948, leaving the church behind.

It is worth travelling up the towers of the church as a great view of the chateau can be enjoyed from the balcony between the towers.

Between the Piarist church and the city’s other major holy building, the Presbytery Church of the Raising of the Holy Cross, you’ll find the monastery gardens. For many years after the Piarists left, this area was left untended and blocked off to the public. In the late 1990s, work took place to restore and refresh the gardens to the beautiful and relaxing park that it is today bracketed by the two churches.

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Monastery gardens with the Piarist church in the background.

Contained in the park is a fountain that features a group of statues by contemporary Czech sculptor Olbram Zoubek (1926-2017).

Leaving the park will take you past the Gothic style Presbytery Church of the Raising of the Holy Cross. This church originally belonged to the Augustinian order which had a monastery in the city from 1356 to 1428.

From the Augustinian church, you can go in two directions:

A short walk east of the church will take you to the Portmoneum, a museum dedicated to Josef Váchal (1884-1969). Váchal was a writer, illustrator and printmaker who was a unique character with a rather enigmatic art style. Admittedly, his own connection to Litomyšl is somewhat tenuous as he was there relatively briefly at the invitation of a local art collector and fan of his work, Josef Portman. Portman contracted Váchal to paint two rooms in his house, the resulting work was a sweepingly complex collection of imagery that is very difficult to interpret.

The art in Portmoneum certainly is not everyone’s cup of tea and it is a lot to absorb at once. However, if your tastes include Avant-garde, you may want to pay it a visit.

If you follow the street directly outside the church entrance, you will find the oldest church in the city as well as Váchal street.

Váchal street is a short lane leading back to Smetana Square. It is notable for the arches over it and the walls of the buildings on either side of it covered in sgrafitto images from one of Váchal’s books.

Renaissance Resplendent 

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The impossing and spectacular chateau.

Near the Piarist church, you will find the star attraction of Litomyšl: the Renaissance style UNESCO listed chateau.

The chateau was commissioned by the powerful Pernštejn family and built between the 1560s and 1580s. When finished, it was a rare example of an Italian Renaissance arcaded palace outside of Italy.

In 1649, the chateau and city came into possession of the Trautmannsdorf family and shifted to the Valdštejn-Vartenberk family in 1758. Under Valdštejn-Vartenberk ownership, the chateau underwent extensive alterations that added a number of Baroque features to the structure.

It was during the Valdštejn-Vartenberk ownership period that Bedřich Smetana, son of the chateau brewery’s brewmaster, was born in 1824. It is possible to visit the apartment where the composer was born when you visit the chateau.

The chateau and city would switch hands again in 1855 to the German noble house of Thurn und Taxis. This house would be the last noble owners of the chateau. They held it until the end of the Second World War when all Germanic families were expelled from the Czech lands and their properties seized by the state.

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Looking into the chateau’s arcaded courtyard structures.

The chateau has remained under state ownership since the end of World War II and it was declared a national cultural monument in 1962.

In the 1970s restoration work on the chateau’s extensively sgraffito covered exterior began with the work being overseen by Olbram Zoubek.

In 1999, the chateau and its grounds were inscribed on the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites. The chateau is considered a textbook example of an Italian Renaissance style arcaded castle unique in both the level of preservation and its location outside of Italy.

Honouring the Past 

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The statue of Bedřich Smetana on the square that bears his name.

As mentioned earlier in the article, Litomyšl is a city very much aware and in touch with its past.

Since 1946, the city has hosted an annual classical music and opera festival called “Smetana’s Litomyšl”. It is one of the oldest and biggest music festivals of its sort in the country.

There is also a youth version of the music festival that has been held annually since the early 1970s.

Another historical resident of the city has been commemorated through having a festival bear their name. Magdalena Dobromila Rettigová (1785-1845), wrote what was for many years the only cookbook available in the Czech language. Entitled “A Household Cookery Book or A Treatise on Meat and Fasting Dishes for Bohemian and Moravian Lasses”, the book was first published in 1826 and was a bestseller through much of the 19th century. The book has been republished countless times and modern printings of it can still be found regularly in Czech bookshops.

The city’s annual gastronomy festival, held since 2012, is named after Rettigová.

Paying a visit and Learning More 

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The sgraffito walls of  Váchal street.

Outside of the centre, Litomyšl is a quite normal town with no touristy feeling. as such, it can be done as a day trip from several other places. However, it is not the most direct of places to access if you are travelling by bus or rail.

If you are travelling by train, it’s best to plan Česká Třebová as your end stop and take a bus from there to Litomyšl as there is regular bus service between the two cities. The bus platforms in Česká Třebová are directly outside the train station entrance.

If you want to learn more about the city, it’s attractions and calendar of events; this is a good link to start with:
https://www.litomysl.cz/?lang=en

The tourist portal for East Bohemia also has some good information:
https://www.east-bohemia.info/litomysl/

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Roll on, 2018!

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A Look Back and a Look Forward

After a bit of holiday time spent deleting dead links in articles and finding new links to replace the dead ones or to enhance the reference sections of existing articles, both my blogs are ready to go into 2018.

2017 is now in the past and a fresh year greets us all. The turning of a new year is always a good opportunity for a bit of reflection and a bit of goal setting.

The past year was one of extra reflection for both of my blogs as it marked the fifth anniversary for both. As I’ve seen many blogs come and go and survive a year or less as their respective writers’ priorities or interests dictated, I have to say that the five years I’ve been at my blogs is quite a good run and I’m happy to keep them going.

If I’m to be 100% honest about things, five years is a remarkably good run for a pair of blogs that were started as a sort of challenge from a friend who pestered me for the better part of a year to start a blog despite my scepticism that I had anything worth blogging about. (Thanks, James!) 🙂

I can say, in the case of both blogs, that I largely accomplished my goal of revisiting and updating existing articles while still providing new material. That’s a goal I plan to keep for both through 2018.

For Beyond Prague specifically, one of my goals in 2018 is to possibly give the blog a fresh look. Not that I’m bored with the current appearance, but the theme page I’m using at the moment is a bit limited with regards to menu options and that in turn has made things a bit cumbersome on the administration side of the blog when moving articles from the main page to the permanent menus.

I’ll be on the look out for theme pages that seem to offer more menu flexibility and give fair warning here before trying to switch over.

So, jump in your Velorex and let’s go Beyond Prague in 2018!

Book Review: “Today We Die a Little”

A Good Read About a Great Runner

As Czech athletes go, Emil Zátopek (1922-2000), is certainly among the most legendary. Using what were some very revolutionary training methods for the day, he dominated distance running events from the late 1940s to the early 1950s and became a household name at home and abroad for many more years beyond his competitive ones.

Between the 1948 Olympics in London and the 1952 Olympics in Helsiniki, Zátopek collected a total of four gold medals and one silver. His record as being the only athlete to win gold in the 5,000 and 10,000 metre races as well as the marathon in a single Olympics, which he set in Helsinki, still stands today.

Aside of his gold and silver Olympic medals, he was also awarded the Pierre de Coubertin medal for sportsmanship.

Outside of his Olympic achievments, He won three gold and one bronze medal between the 1950 and 1954 European Athletics Championships which were held in Brussels, Belgium and Bern, Switzerland respectively.

Despite is accomplishments and accolades, life after sporting glory was not clear sailing for Emil and his wife, Dana.

Emil was very much in demand to make appearances at international athletics events throught the 1950s and 1960s. The Communist government of the former Czechoslovakia exptected that he would put forth a good face for the regime through such appearances; as Emil was also an army officer, there was a level of obligation impressed upon him to make such impressions.

Through his consistently friendly and smiling demeanour, Emil was seen as a good vehicle for the nation’s government to push forth their image of “Communism with a human face” to the rest of the world with.

However, Emil became very vocal against the government in the period leading up to the 1968 Prague Spring protests. He became very popular with the public as a famous voice to follow against the system.

Emil’s role as a rallying point was short lived and the public lost much faith in him as he seemed to do a quick about face in his views. No doubt his quick change of stance came from threats brought against him by both the government and the Czechoslovak secret police, the StB.

His apparent change of heart tarnished his public image for a long time. He was relieved of his army post and spent some time in meanial labour work as punishment for speaking out against the Communist government. For a period of his life, he was swept under the carpet and forgotten at home. However, people still spoke highly of him abroad.

With the fall of Socialism in 1989, Emil was “rehabilitated” by then president, Václav Havel, and some of the old tarnish that had plague Emil’s name at home through the 1970s and 1980s came off before his death in 2000.

Getting Into the Book

“Today We Die a Little” was written by British journalist and running enthusiast, Richard Askwith, and published in 2016. The book takes the reader through the whole of Emil’s life and gives a very thorough picture of not only the various stages of the man’s life, but also much about his charismatic personality and easy going demeanour.

The early part of the book focuses on Emil’s early life and Olympic glory. It feels a bit repetative in tone, but it works well to bring across the relentlessness of the training regime that Emil forced upon himself and his refusal to take excuses from himself in the pusuit of bettering his performance. Running trully was everything to him in that time period.

This section also shows the reader the very high value that Emil placed on sportsmanship and friendship. His easy going and friendly personality along with his willingness to encourage his competitors won him many life long friends and admirers in international circles.

Though he retired from competition in 1957, his sense of sportsmanship continued. He is quite famous for his act of gifting one of the gold medals he won in Helsinki in 1952 to Australian distance runner, Ron Clarke, in 1966. Clarke was in Prague for a race and was a guest of the Zátopeks. Despite his own hard training and dedication, a gold medal eluded Clarke in the 10,000 metre race at the 1964 games in Tokyo. Upon leaving Prague, Emil presented him with his own 10,000 metre gold medal from Helsinki and wrote “Because you deserve it” on the inside of the box that contained it.

The second part of the book follows the Zatopeks through the 60s, 70s and 80s. This period was marked a turn in the fortunes of the couple at home in both the eyes of the state and public.

Emil tended to speak his mind rather more than was safe given his position as a celebrity and as a member of the army. While the state and StB were able to scare Emil into keeping his tongue in check and getting him to seemingly switch sides to their favour and lose face in the public eye, it really was a case of him simply going through the motions. He was still quite against the Communist system and this came out when he was drunk. After being seen drunk and singing anti Communist songs, Emil was stripped of his army position and sentenced to hard labour in a remote part of the country.

This was a low point in Emil’s life as he was out of favour with the public and it was relatively easy for the state to sweep him under the carpet at home.

However, the state had to be a good deal more careful with Emil due to his still high status at the international level. With people from outside the country requesting his presence at athletic events and asking of his well being, the state could not overtly abuse him as they might other disidents and had to relent to allowing him to make appearances outside the country so he could be seen to be well.

Despite many attempts by foreign journalists to engage Emil in conversations about politics in such situations, he thoroughly avoided the subject.

The book finishes with Emil’s reputation and national interest in him being restored in the post Communist Czechoslovakia and Czech Republic.

An Author’s Accomplishment

Though I am not a big reader of biographies, I very much enjoyed this book and the well rounded picture it gives of Emil Zátopek.

Mr. Askwith has described this book as his most abitious to date and the extensive reference section at the back of the book bears out his dedication to making sure he had his facts right. Through extensive exploration of historical archives, personal diaries and interviews with Dana and other people who knew Emil best, the author has given us a tremendous portrait of his hero that is down to earth and largely without hyperbole which must have been tempting to include while compiling such a story.

Ultimately, Mr. Askwith has painted for us a picture of Emil Zátopek which shows the reader a gregarious and generous man who placed sportsmanship and friendship most highly among his personal values.

We also are shown a man of strong physical and psychological fortitude who pushed himself for self improvement off the race track as well as on it. Emil was a self taught polyglot who taught himself six languages through the course of his life.

This book is a very satisfying read even if biographies are not to your interests and I thank Mr. Askwith for going to the work of giving us this book.

These links will take you to more information about the book and author at the publisher’s and author’s websites respectively.

https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/1109422/today-we-die-a-little/

Today We Die A Little: Emil Zátopek, Olympic Legend to Cold War Hero (2016)

Beyond Prague Gets an Award!

A Pleasant Surprise from an Unexpected Source 

Some of you may have noticed a new image in the sidebar alongside the links to various expat interviews I’ve given. The new image represents this blog being chosen as the best blog about the Czech Republic in 2017 by a group called Money Transfer Comparison.

Who is Money Transfer Comparison and why would they grant my blog an award? I asked myself exactly those questions. In an email thanking them for the award, I asked them how they had become aware of Beyond Prague and what criteria they used to determine it worthy of the award. They also told me a bit about themselves.

Money Transfer Comparison is an organisation that reviews, compares and rates international money transfer companies and helping expats move money is part of their business.

Here’s an exerpt from their reply to my email:

 

“Thank you for your message!

It’s great to see you have noticed our awards, we were just planning on a massive PR / outreach campaign to get the news out.

I appreciate your message and am very glad to hear you want to incorporate the badge in your site.

MoneyTransferComparison boasts 30,000 visitors a month and helps expats move more than $150m a year!

How did we discover your blog? In fact our writers checked out the competition and decided they think you are the best in this the category.
What we expect of a blog is to be:
– Comprehensive
– Easy to navigate
– Provides good advice (actionable one that is)
– Written in an interesting fashion

Your blog definitely addresses all of the above.”

 

To put the award into some context, the group compiled a list of expat blogs from 40 different countries around the world. As I know that there are several other good expat blogs about the Czech lands out there, I’m very pleased that they chose Beyond Prague for the award.

The timing of the award is also quite good as most of you know, from my recent post, that Beyond Prague will be celebrating its fifth birthday in the very near future.

Here’s a link to Money Transfer Comparison’s website if you’d like to know more about them and their activities:

https://moneytransfercomparison.com/

If you click on the award image in the sidebar, it will take you to the list of expat blogs they gave awards to.

 

 

Kutná Hora Revisited

Yesterday, we took a visit to Kutná Hora, a well known historical town in the central part of the country. The city is typically one of the places visitors to the Czech Republic know about before they even arrive in the country.

Our visit yesterday gave us some beautiful autumn weather to reacquaint ourselves with the city and gave me the opportunity to revisit and refresh my existing articles about the city’s attractions.

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My main article on Kutná Hora was given extensive text revisions and expansion as well as a complete refreshment of the photographs:

https://beyondprague.wordpress.com/bohemian-regions/central-bohemia/kutna-hora-home-of-the-old-money/

My article on the famous ossuary in the Sedlec distric of the city received a less intensive text revision and completely fresh pictures:

https://beyondprague.wordpress.com/bohemian-regions/central-bohemia/kutna-hora-home-of-the-old-money/sedlec-ossuary-macabre-magnificence/

I hope you’ll enjoy the refreshed articles as much as I enjoyed renewing them for you.

Made in the Czech Republic – Zetor

A Smart Tractor, You Say? 

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Variations of this logo have adorned many Zetor products since 1946.

Since 1946, Zetor tractors have represented the Czech lands on the global agricultural market. Over the years, the company’s tractors have been exported to over 130 countries and were produced under license in nine countries from 1964 into the 1990s.

Starting as a division of the manufacturing giant, Zbrojovka Brno, Zetor eventually became a company in its own right in 1976. Right from the start, Zetor tractors were revolutionary in their design and quickly became recognised worldwide for that.

Zetor was the first tractor manufacturer to take driver comfort and safety into account, theirs were the world’s first tractors to incorporate a roll cage and engine noise dampening features into the design of the driver’s cabin as well as ergonomic and practical arrangement of vehicle controls and instrument guages in easily visible places.

They also pioneered the concept of parts unification in tractor design. This meant that a series of tractor models could be designed with a high amount of components common between them, thus simplifying both construction and maintenance processes.

Through radical restructuring and a shift from state to private ownership in the early 1990s, Zetor was bought out of bankruptcy in the early 2000s to still be with us today and have bright plans for the future.

That said, let’s spend some time with this legendary Czech product:

Child of Zbrojovka 

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The model 25, which was prototyped in 1945, was the first of many tractor types to come from Zetor’s production lines.

The genesis of Zetor is to be found in Zbrojovka Brno, a manufacturing company that can trace it’s own lineage to the 1800s and the Austro-Hungarian Empire’s artillery workshops.

Zbrojovka Brno came into existence as a state owned firearms factory in 1918 as the newly established First Republic of Czechoslovakia rose as an independent nation in the wake of the First World War. The factory quickly established itself as a manufacturing giant, producing a wide range products for both military and civilian markets

During the First Republic period, Czechoslovakia’s agriculture sector was served by tractors of both domestic and imported origin. Praga, Škoda, Svoboda and Wikov were the major domestic tractor producers while imported tractors were primarily of American origin with products from US Fordson, International Harvester and John Deere being predominant.

In the same period, Zbrojovka Brno added cars to their growing list of products. As history would show, involving themselves in car design and manufacture would give them valuable experience to draw upon when they started tractor manufacture after the Second World War.

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Historic models of Zetor machines with a model 25 in half-track form in the foreground.

World War Two changed manufacturing prioritites and agricultural equipment became a decidedly low priority for nations involved in the conflict. After the war was finished, around 2,000 tractors were imported to Czechoslovakia through the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) while factories in the country got back on their feet after German occupation.

While the pre-war domestic tractor producers planned to resume the tractor business in the post-war period, Škoda was the only one who managed to do so. It was in this vacuum that Zbrojovka Brno entered the tractor business.

The company established the tractor arm of their business in 1945 and staffed it with many former members of their inter-war automobile operations. The newly formed division was placed under the leadership of František Musil, an automobile and aircraft engine designer who had joined the company in 1935.

The catalyst for Zbrojovka Brno entering the tractor business was a June, 1945 state requisition for domestic companies to design an economical, lightweight tractor suitable for mass production within a time limit of only six months. By November of that year, musil and his team had succeeded in producing their prototype tractor. Škoda was the only other manufacturer to come forth with a prototype in response to the requisition. After a brief competition of prototypes, the Zbrojovka design was declared the winner. The victorious prototype would form the basis of the company’s first tractor, the model 25.

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Built between 1947 and 1949, the model 15 was designed as a lower cost alternative to the model 25.

Spring of 1946 saw the company’s tractor division officially named Zetor and trademark protection extended to it. In the same period, the first model 25 tractors began to roll of the assembly lines. The model 25 would see a production run of 16 years with a total of 158,570 of the type being made and 97,000 of those going to export customers. Such figures place the model 25 amongst the most produced European tractor types.

Before the 1940s were out, Zetor had begun to distinguish themselves as one of the first tractor makers in the world to take operator comfort and safety into consideration. Succesive versions of the model 25 featured a padded driver seat with spring support and a small back rest incorporated into the design. The model 25 also moved away from the traditional cartridge starting system to an electrical starter for the engine. Thought was also given to the visibility and layout of the instruments and guages on the dashboard.

Another Zetor development of the 1940s was the model 30 of 1948. The model 30 was significant in tractor development by being one of the world’s first tractors to feature a fuel injected diesel engine, a feature which reduced fuel consumption considerably.

The company saw the 1940s out by celebrating the construction of their 10,000th tractor in February of 1949.

On an Open Field 

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The model 35 Super P crawler, a Zetor product of the 1950s.

Entering the 1950s, Zetor had very little to compete with at home except their own success. Indeed, they were having some problems satisfying both domestic and export markets for their products at the begining of the decade.

Škoda had remained, to a small degree, in the tractor business until the Communist government that had taken over the country in 1948 dictated that Zetor would be the country’s only tractor producer. Škoda had faded from the tractor business by the mid 1950s and Zetor had the home market to themselves from then on.

1952 saw Zetor moved from the main Zbrojovka Brno factory to a factory site in the Líšeň suburb on the east side of Brno. Here, they would not need to compete for factory floorspace with other Zbrojovka products and could conduct their own research and development on site. The Líšeň location continues to serve as Zetor headquarters today.

1955 saw the debut of the Super 35, a model that brought with it an improved suspension system and a heating system in the driver’s cabin for increased operator comfort.

In 1960, the Super 35 was extensively modernised and renamed the Super 50.

A Revolution on the Farm 

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The model 2011, introduced in 1963, is a member of the UR1 range of tractors.

Zetor introduced a true watershed event to tractor production in the late 1950s with the introduction of their parts unification concept.

Under the parts unification concept, entire ranges of tractors could be created using a system of common parts. This concept captured the manufacturing world’s attention as it meant significant savings in materials, money and time with regards to production and maintenance. It also meant that tractor dealers did not have to give valuable shelf space to components unique to a single model of tractor.

From 1958 into the late 1990s, Zetor created three distinct ranges of tractors under the parts unification system: UR1, UR2 and UR3. Each range featured baseline models and specialised versions.

UR1: The First Unified Range 

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The model 5511 of 1966 represents an early modernisation to the UR1 range.

The UR1 range proved to be a solid start for Zetor’s new system.

While Zetor had designed a completely new transmission for their new range, they had retained the fuel injected diesel engines and associated starting systems. The engines made Zetor tractors very popular on the export market as they could be started and operated reliably in a very wide range of climatic conditions around the world.

Zetor used the UR1 range to introduce their Zetormatic weight transfer system. This system shifted part of the weight of the field implement being pulled to the tractor’s rear axle so it could be used for more traction in the soil.

Inside the UR1 family, there were a number of specialised variants including a half-track version for working in forested areas, a fully tracked version for work on the steep slopes of vineyards as well as a narrower model for working between trees in fruit orchards.

Through the bulk of the 1960s, the UR1 range was very well recieved at home and abroad. However, with a power range covering from 25 to 60 horsepower, it was not powerful or robust enough for the larger farm operations of Central Europe.

While the UR2 range debuted in 1968, the UR1 family has been revisited and modernised several times over the years.

UR2: Redefining the Tractor 

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Introduced in 1968, the Zetor Crystal brought with it an entirely new vision of what a tractor could be.

The UR2 range, collectively nicknamed “Zetor Crystal”, consisted of around 8 versions and was produced between 1968 and 1989.

The Crystal not only answered the call for the increase in power and structural strength that the UR1 range could not provide, it was also heralded by tractor manufacturers worldwide as a true technological leap forward in tractor design from almost every aspect.

The Crystal added to Zetor’s established reputation for operator safety by being the world’s first tractor designed with a safety cage integral to the cabin in order to protect the driver in case of a rollover.

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The roomy and, for the time, quite modern cabin of the Crystal.

The new cabin was mounted on special noise reducing blocks. This, in conjunction with changes to engine mounting systems, made the Crystal the world’s first tractor with a noise level below 85 decibels inside the cabin.

Outside of the inovations to the cabin, the Crystal had a number of features as standard equipment that other manufacturers at the time were offering as options if they were offering them at all.

The Crystal was available with four and six cylinder engines. During the UR2 production run, turbocharged variations of the Crystal were developed. With turbocharging, the four cylinder engine could generate 100 horsepower and the six cylinder could generate 160.

UR3: Keeping it Going

Zetor introduced the third incarnation of their unified range of tractors in 1991.

The primary reasons for the introduction of the UR3 series were to replace the Crystal and to fill a gap that existed in the medium power tractor market in the early 1990s.

The UR3 family was made up of eight models ranging from 70 to to 105 horsepower.

Building Abroad 

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The HMT 6522, an Indian built tractor based on a licensed Zetor design.

With as widely popular as Zetor tractors had become by the mid 1960s, it made sense for the company to grant licenses for production and maintenance of their products overseas.

From 1964 into the 1990s, Zetor tractors were assembled from factory provided components or fully produced under license in Brazil, Burma, Ghana, Greece, India, Iraq, Japan, Mexico and Poland.

Between 1993 and 1996, Zetor entered a contract with John Deere in America to produce a number of tractors under the American company’s name and badging for markets in Latin and South America. The tractors were Zetor designs though finished in the well known John Deere green and yellow paint and assembled in John Deere’s manufacturing facilities in Mexico. These tractors were marketed by John Deere as the 2000 series.

Under the terms of the sort lived contract with John Deere, Zetor was barred from being active in Latin and South American markets. However, in 1997, Zetor moved on those markets through a deal with Brazilian vehicle manufacturer, Agrale. Zetor continues to provide Agrale with components to produce their tractors for the Brazilian market today.

The 1990s and the New Millenium 

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The Forterra: the relaunched and modernised UR3 range which Zetor put on the market in 1998.

As it was with many Czech companies, the early post Socialist period was a tumultuous time in which many legendary firms either adapted well to or died in bankruptcy.

Zetor spent the 1990s going through a number of changes after being privatised in 1993.

In the 1990s, the company relaunched both the UR1 and UR3 ranges in much modernised forms.

The turn of the millenium was a particularly rocky period for the company that saw it change ownership a few times, enter a revitalisation program and go through a bankruptcy before being purchased in 2002 by its current owners.

Under the current ownership, Zetor has flourished and regained its strength as a company. Today, the company manufactures several models of tractor under the Forterra, Major and Proxima names. In 2015, Zetor brought the name “Crystal” back to the tractor world in the form of a fully modern design.

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The Zetor of the future? In 2015, Zetor announced a partnership with Pininfarina of Italy to give Zetor tractors a new look.

Zetor marked their 70th anniversary in 2016. Part of marking that milestone was to develop a new look for future Zetor products. To this end, they partnered with world famous Italian car design firm Pininfarina.

Pininfarina created a new design concept which was unveiled to the world as a full scale mock up in 2015 at the Agritechnica exhibition in Hannover, Germany.

Zetor plans to apply Pininfarina design concepts to all their future models and updates to existing models.

With classic Italian car firms such as Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and Maserati on their client list, Pininfarina is certain to bring a whole new level of excitement to the world of agriculture through their partnership with Zetor.

Learning More 

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The Zetor Gallery is an interactive museum run by Zetor in Brno.

If you like tractors and happen to be passing through Brno, Zetor Gallery really should be on your itinerary.

This small museum was established by Zetor at their Brno headquarters in 2013 and is a fantastic opportunity to get up close to a number of historical and contemporary Zetor models. The museum has a permanent collection of its own plus a rotating selection of historical Zetor tractors loaned by private collectors.

Zetor gallery is quite interactive and visitors are encouraged to examine many of the tractors at close quarters and even sit in them.

The following links will give you more information about much of what’s been covered in this blog entry:

Here, you’ll find a historical timeline of Zetor:
http://www.zetor.com/history

This page gives a good overview of the organisation of Zetor’s unified ranges:
http://www.zetor-dealer.co.uk/zetorhistory.html

These links are to the Zetor Gallery website and my own existing article about the museum respectively:
http://www.zetorgallery.cz/en/

https://beyondprague.wordpress.com/museums/zetor-gallery-tractoring-through-time/

These links will give you information about the partnership between Zetor and Pininfarina:
http://www.zetorbypininfarina.com/

http://www.pininfarina.com/en/zetor_by_pininfarina/