The royal town of Pisek is known by many names - the metropolis of Prachensko, the Athens of the South Bohemia, the Mecca of Violinists, the town where music has its home, etc. The charming town rests on the Otava river, and in each of its known names it maintains some of the significant features of its historical, social, and cultural importance.
The origin of the city can not be reliably traced. It was established sometime in the middle of the thirteenth century with the only clear reference being the Charter of King Wenceslas I. from 1243. Construction of the town complex took many years, and was only a result of the completion efforts of Premysl Otakar II.
A unique discovery of relics of the gold ore mill in Pisek in 1967 highlights the importance of the town in the early period of Czech mining. The discovery indicates interestingly that the production and use of coins existed in the city before the year 1300.
In the following centuries the town gained in importance, but was cruelly damaged during the 30 year war, and at the fatal Battle of White Mountain the originally blossoming town became a sight of ruins. Pisek also endured the war for the Habsburg Heritage, between 1741 and 1742, while the so called Chapel of Budejovice also bears reminders of the battles between the French soldiers and the
imperial army, which banished the French from the city in June 1742.
The development of factory production continued slowly in the 19th
century, even though the town had been connected to rail lines since 1875. The symbol of future progress came on 23 June 1887, when Frantisek Krizik
lit the cities first five electrical arc lamps. On this occasion Pisek became the first city after Jindrichuv Hradec to have such lighting.
In comparison with other cities of Southern Bohemia, a visitor to Pisek will find less architectural testament to the past. The originally large Early-Gothic castle
, which was an artistic sibling to the Zvikov castle from the 2nd
half of the 13th
century, remains today only as a palace in the western section of the town hall courtyard. The Gothic arcade of the palace originally had more levels and enclosed the castle yard on all four sides. Knight Hall still remains within the castle with frescoes dating as far back as 1479. The hall and the spaces connected to it now serve as a museum.
The charm of the historic town and its surroundings is not the only thing to attract visitors. Many traditional cultural events are also held - The Pisek Nocturnes (a cycle of concerts in the St. Trinity Church
between May and September), Sramek's Pisek (a May exhibition of small stage theaters), Pisek's Cultural Summer (performances in Palackeho Sady between June and September), Zvikov's Cultural Summer (theater performances at the castle in July and August), in July there is also the Music Festival of South Bohemia, and there is a gold sifting event on the Otava, organized in August in Stare Kestrany.