In the Heart of the Heart of Europe
Located 96 kilometres east of Prague and 66 kilometres north east of the geographic centre of the Czech lands, Pardubice is a city of both historical and modern importance in the country. A city of nobility in the past and a city of industry and commerce in the modern era, Pardubice has much to offer year round to visitors with both historical and contemporary tastes. Whether you like sightseeing, taking in festivals or active holidays; there is something for you here.
Mentioned by name as early as the 1290s, Pardubice received official status as a town in 1340. It became a city of nobility in 1491 when it was purchased by Vilém II of Pernštejn, the most powerful Czech nobleman of the period. Under his ownership, the city flourished and was given a grand appearance reflecting his own high status. The legacy of Pernštejn family influence can be seen in the present day in the city’s preserved centre, which has been listed as a protected urban conservation area since the mid 1960s, and the adjoining chateau.
The city’s fortunes and status stayed strong and were further enhanced by the arrival of the first train in 1845. It was the beginning of Pardubice’s rise as an important transportation hub in the country, a status it still holds to the present day as a key stop on many passenger and freight train lines running across the country. Consequently, it is a very accessible city for visitors travelling by rail.
Pardubice is well prepared for visitors and a visit to the tourist information office in the centre will provide you with an array of maps and brochures detailing self-guided historical walking tours among other activities to indulge in during your stay.
If you’re drawn to architecture, Pardubice will certainly not dissapoint you. There is a range of buildings on view representing several styles from the medieval to the modern. You’ll see Gothic and Baroque intermingling seemlessly with Art Nouveau and Functionalist styles among others. If you arrive by rail, you’ll be immersed in the architecture immediately as the city’s main rail station is listed on the country’s register of protected historic sites and is considered a masterpiece of Modernist architecture.
Other architectural high points of the city include the landmark Renaissance style Green Gate tower which serves as the main point of entry to Pernstynske Square where a mix of well preserved Baroque, Classicist and Renaissance facades await you. Directly north of the square, you can find the city’s Renaissance style chateau.
Adjacent to Pernstynske Square, you’ll find Republic Square and the 20th century architecture it showcases. Here, the Art Nouveau style of the East bohemian Theatre sits in the company of the Functionalist facades of the Grand Shopping Centre and Food Technical School among others.
A particularly good way to see the architecture of the centre is via a pair of self guided walking tours the city has designed and provides maps to at the tourist information office.
The first of these trails is the “Vilém of Pernštéjn Trail” which guides you though the city’s Old Town district and shows you the pre 20th century architecture.
The second trail is called “Pardubice in the Footsteps of Silver A” and guides you through the 2oth century architecture of the centre with special emphasis on the events leading up to and following Operation Anthropoid in which Reinhard Heydrich, the high ranking Nazi overseer of German operations in the Czech lands during the early part of the Second World War, was attacked and mortally wounded by the Czechoslovak resistance cell “Silver A” in 1942.
Horsing Around in the Heartland
If you’re at all a lover of horses, Pardubice should certainly go on your itinerary when you visit the Czech Republic. The horse which graces the city’s coat of arms is more than a historical relic, it has kept a place of prominence for the city into the modern era.
On the south west corner of the city, a large purpose made arena plays host to a number of international horse related events and exhibitions through spring, summer and autumn. These events culminate in the Velká Pardubická, one of Europe’s most prestigious and demanding steeplechases. Pardubice has been host to this event since 1874.
The horse is such a large part of the city’s history that Pardubice is a member of Euro Equus, a network of five European cities with similarly deep historical and modern ties to horses.
A short distance from Pardubice, you will find Kladruby nad Labem and Slatiňany. Both localities are breeding centres for the Old Kladruby horse, a protected Czech breed of coach horse.
A Feel for the Place
There’s more to Pardubice than Architecture and horses. It has been a university city since just after the Second World War and is very active in the chemical, electrical and mechanical engineering industries.
The city also offers a number of ways to spend free time including a network of cycling and in-line skating trails, a variety of sports facilities, a respectable range of dining and drinking establishments as well as theatre, cinema and other cultural pursuits.
Pardubice brands itself as a city of festivals and a quick look at the calendar of events on the city’s tourism website presents an array of events to satisfy a range of tastes. A number of festivals spotlighting theatre, music and visual arts take place throughout the year. Other festivals highlight food and drink, folklore, wine and games of skill.
Two larger events on the calendar are the city’s Christmas market in december and a well organized annual air show in early summer.
Paying a Visit and Learning More
Pardubice boasts accomodation options to suit a range of tastes and price ranges, so you should have no problem finding good lodgings if you visit.
The city itself will certainly keep you busy for a long weekend trip. If you factor in trips into the surrounding area, which Pardubice has good transport connections to much of, you could easily extend your visit to a full week.
The following links will provide you with more information about the city and events happening there to help you plan and time your visit to this city.
The first two links are the city’s tourism and city websites respectively:
This is a link to the Euro Equus website which contains calendars of events for all five cities in that network:
This is the website for the city’s annual air show, it contains a running newsfeed on scheduled performers to the show as they are confirmed and photogalleries of shows past: