Kolin lies in the fertile Labe valley, spread out on both sides of the river. The large amount of archaelogical finds from the city and its environs show that the site was settled far earlier than the written sources indicate.
In the regional museum there are numerous relics from all the known settlements
in Bohemia. Kolin used to be the ancient crossroads of three important trade routes which were already established under the Roman empire. The presence of Slavs can be shown from the 6th
century AD onwards. In the 9th
centuries the area was already densely settled, as shown by numerous finds from strongholds and cemeteries. The first written document with the name of Kolin is dated September 8th
In 1437 Bedrich of Straznice built a castle on the sight of a demolished monastery. This was later converted into a chateau. The development and wealth of Kolin was supported by many privileges granted it by the Czech rulers Charles IV and Wenceslas IV, and Kolin was at that time one of the leading towns of the kingdom of Bohemia. It suffered its greatest misery and poverty during the Thirty Years' War, which brought the town almost to extinction.
On June 18th
, 1757 on of the bloodiest battles in the seven years' war between Prussia and Austria took place nearby town.
The Battle of Kolin
saw the defeat of Prussian king Friedrich II. by Habsburg empress Marie Theresa's troops, and he was forced to leave Bohemia. Kolin had an upswing during the reign of Joseph II., when its crafts and trade revived. During the National Revival in the first half of the 19th
century Kolin was one of the first places in which the patriotic movement developed.
The town saw a new boom in the 19th
century with the development of industry and trade, greatly assisted by the building of a railway from
Prague to Moravia in 1845, with a north-western line being added in 1872. Only the two world wars interrupted them. the time between them was one of further strengthening of Kolin's industry and also the growth of the town. In 1927 a new bridge across the Labe was finished, and in 1932 a steam electric power station started to operate. It had the highest chimney in Bohemia at the time.
The centre of the town is Charles Square (Karlovo namesti), which has preserved its original form and a number of buildings with fine Baroque gables. In the middle there is a fountain of red sandstone from 1870, and a plague column from 1682. In the corner of the square on the north side is the Town Hall, which Kolin has owned since 1494. Originally a Gothic building, it underwent a Neo-Renaissance conversion at the end of the 19th
century, but Gothic elements still remain. From a distance the city's dominant building is St. Bartholomew's church, with alterations by Peter Parler. It is also worth mentioning the remainder of the Jewish ghetto
, with a synagogue from 1642 and the old Jewish cemetery
from the 15th
A number of notable people were born, lived or worked in Kolin. They include the founder of modern pantomime Jean Gaspard Deburau, the painters Vincenc Morstadt, Rudolf Kremlicka and Vaclav Radimsky, the photographers Jaromir Funke and Josef Sudek, world-famous orientalist Bedrich Hrozny, actor Terezie Brzkova, opera singer Ludmila Dvorakova and bandleader and composer Frantisek Kmoch.
Today Kolin is a district centre and the seat of the District Authority, and has well-developed chemical, foodstuffs, engineering and polygraphic industries. It is also an important railway crossroads and a trading port.