Welcome to the Town of Rakovník
Dear Friends, I would like to introduce you to the royal town of Rakovník set in picturesque scenery at the edge of the largest expanse of woodland to be found in Central Bohemia. The name of the location is recorded in texts dating from 1252. There are several cultural monuments alluding to the eventful history of Rakovník - the town hall, St Bartholomew's Church with a bell tower, the surviving patrician houses in Husovo Square, the remains of the original town fortification system with two well-preserved gates and the unique synagogue. In view of its ancient character the historical centre of Rakovník was designated an urban monument zone in 1992. Rakovník has been a focal point of hops growing ever since the Middle Ages. With a history traced back to 1454, the local brewery continues to brew beer of the Bakalář brand. Apart from this, the town has been known for its glorious industrial traditions. In the 1800s small coal mines began to originate in Rakovník, and the area around it, heralding its forthcoming rapid industrial development. In the subsequent period ceramic clays were extracted here, triggering the manufacturing of ceramic goods. In the same period mechanical engineering and the manufacturing of soap began to flourish here. This period also saw the advancement of social and cultural life in the town. The writer Zikmund Winter pursued a career as a teacher at the Rakovník secondary school, which was founded in 1833. The ranks of prominent personalities who studied at this school included the painter Václav Rabas, a native son of nearby Krušovice, and the actor Zdeněk Štěpánek. Rakovník prides itself on its splendid theatre, which also serves as a venue for regional and nation-wide theatre festivals. The local Tyl Theatre Company boasts a tradition spanning more than one hundred years. The Rabas Art Gallery is one of the leading centres of cultural life in the Central Bohemian Region. With 17,000 inhabitants, Rakovník is a modern town and the economic, trade, cultural and social centre of the region. Apart from a wealth of historical monuments, the town offers plentiful opportunities for cultural and sports activities to visitors. The surrounding area is ideal for hiking and cycling trips in picturesque scenery. I firmly hope that you will warm to Rakovník and that you will want to return. The town will always have its gates open for you.
Zdeněk Nejdl, Mayor of Rakovník
The Royal Town Rakovnik
The main feature of Rakovník's urban monument zone, located in the centre of the town, is the 400 metre-long Husovo Square, where you will find a 16th century town hall with a late Baroque façade. Inside, you will discover a ceiling fresco depicting the town of Rakovník as it looked 250 years ago. The eastern part of the square is dominated by the high Gothic Decanal Church of St Bartholomew, a 14th-century structure with a splendidly decorated interior. The church was built on the site of an older church dedicated to St Nicholas. Adjacent to the church stands a bell tower dating from 1495. With a diameter of 1.6 metres its main bell is one of the largest in the Czech Lands. The square itself is adorned with a Marian column with statues of the patron saints of the Czech Lands St Wenceslas, St Vitus, St Procopius and St Adalbert, the only sculptural monument of the town's historical core.
The picturesque Prague Gate, dating from 1516-17, is the oldest surviving part of the former medieval fortification system. Built between 1518 and 1524, the High Gate, once part of the system of town walls, now serves as a lookout tower (46 metre-high). The south-western part of the town contains the Gothic Church of St Giles featuring a painting depicting a saint of the same name. The church was built on a site associated in legends with the earliest stage of the colonization of the Rakovník valley. A unique structure in terms of its importance for Europe, the wooden belfry of the cemetery Church of the Holy Trinity dates from the late 1500s.
The Nation-wide Festival of Amateur Theatre Ensembles for Childeren
Over the past 25 years this annual festival of Czech drama companies specializing in productions for children and teenagers, has strove to revive the tradition of theatre performances attended by children together with their parents and thus make small spectators warm to theatrical art. Held in November, the festival includes a competition to enable theatre troupes to qualify for the Jiráskův Hronov Festival and at the same time to enhance the artistic quality of productions designed for the youngest audiences. An expert jury meets in the spaces of the Tyl Theatre and the Cultural Centre of the Town of Rakovník to assess the productions and individual performances of actors.
Museum T. G. M.
In 1781 a house was builtto accommodate Cistercian monks travelling from Plasy do Prague. Today it is home to a museum sheltering permanent exhibitions illustrating the history and geography of the Rakovník area. In the past the building served for a variety of purposes – as a small textile factory, an inn, a printing shop, a post office and a savings bank. The museum also administers, among other facilities, the Vysoká (Tall) Gate, the Prague Gate and the Samson Cafeé Gallery, which serves as a venue for cultural events. The gallery is situated in one of the oldest buildings in the town. The house is graced with sgraffiti depicting scenes from the life of the Biblical figure Samson.
Gallery of Rabas
This gallery, one of the region‘s leading institutions of its kind, houses predominantly paintings, drawings, graphic art and statues created by 20th-century Czech artists. Located in the Rakovník synagogue, the gallery runs a permanent display providing an outline of the work of the painter Václav Rabas, a native son of nearby Krušovice. Other exhibition spaces serve as venues for short-term exhibitions. Apart from this, concerts are staged in the former house of prayer. Every year the gallery organises the Džbán international sculptors‘ symposium and the Heroldův Rakovník music festival.