History

    The earliest settlement, in the first half of the 13th century, was most probably near St Vitus church and in Hrnčiřská street. In 1289 it was raided by Vítek of Hluboká. In 1290 king Wenceslas II granted bishop Tobias of Bechyně a privilege to renew the town and to fortify it with ramparts. Everything seems to indicate that the town was the result of colonization, chiefly by German colonists.
Gradually, Czechs established themselves as a majority. In the Husssite wars Pelhřimov sided with the Hussites and even provided one of their spiritual leaders – Mikuláš – Nicholas - Biskupec of Pelhřimov. The favourable position of the town on the borderline of the domain of the Rožmberks and of the lords of Kunštát was important even later, after the upheavals ended and the reconciliation of the lords began. In 1446-1450 Pelhřimov was chosen as the venue of land diets, attended in person even by the king Jiří of Poděbrady. Silver mining in the vicinity of Křemešník was beneficial for the expansion of Pelhřimov. Many crafts flourished in the town: drapers and clothiers, weavers, dyers, gingerbread makers and brewers.
In 1434 the town passed into the hands of the lords Trček of Lípa, who sold the estate in 1550 to Adam Říčanskký of Říčany, who built a castle in the immediate vicinity of the ramparts. However, the lords of Říčany did not reside at the castle for long. Adam's son Karel systematically interfered with the rights of the burghers and was involved in endless disputes with them - finally, in 1572 the town bought its freedom. In 1596 Emperor Rudolf II raised Pelhřimov to a royal town.
The repressions that followed the Uprising of the Estates interrupted the promising expansion of the town. The disaster was completed by a huge fire in 1646, which laid waste most of the town's buildings. Paradoxically, Pelhřimov should be grateful to the fires because they contributed to the town' homogeneity. Another devastating fire ravaged the town in 1766 – thanks to it the town houses are uniformly Renaissance-Baroque.


Masaryk's square - end of 19th century

19th and 20th century history

The national revival affected Pelhřimov just as it affected all other towns in the country. Some of the patriotic associations founded during that period continue their activities until today. The choir Záboj was founded in 1862, Sokol in 1865, the Readers' circle in 1874 and Rieger, a group of amateur theatricals, in 1894. The salt house built in 1707 was reconstructed as the National House, today the Pelhřimov theatre.
The 19th century brought an expansion of industry – in the first place brush-making, hosiery and the production of agricultural implements. In addition to these industries, some of which exist in Pelhřimov to this day, we should mention brewery. Beer was brewed in Pelhřimov since 1552, when the town was granted the privilege to brew beer. At first the brewery was located in two houses in Růžová street, on the site now occupied by the Secondary industrial school. In the 16th century a new brewery was built in the moat behind the deanery. The third brewery, which until today brews beer aptly called "Poutník", was build at the end of the 19th century in an area called Na Hradišti. This beer, of the lager type, is not pasteurized, does not contain any chemical additives and tastes remarkably well.
In the 19th and above all in the 20th century Pelhřimov was the birthplace of many outstanding personalities, such as the painter and engraver Vojtěch Benedikt Juhn, the sculptor and medallist Josef Šejnost, the historian - professor Josef Dobiáš and the unforgettable dean František Bernard Vaněk. The town also had many enthusiasts working for the protection of historical monuments. The Museum association was set up in 1901 and ten years later a local branch of the Club for old Prague. Thanks to their activities Pelhřimov preserved its exceptional aspect despite the loss of some outstanding landmarks such as the butcher's hall, the synagogue in Rúžová street or a Baroque granary. Pelhřimov preserved, however, some sections of the ramparts, including two huge Gothic gates, which together with the town houses of local burghers, the castle of the lords of Říčany, the theatre and the church form the town's historical reserve.


Pilgrim - symbol of Pelhřimov

Legend of the founding of Pelhřimov
There exist, in fact, several legends about the founding of Pelhřimov. The following legend is one of many, which people passed on from generation to generations. The only fact, backed by written documents, is that in the years 1224 – 1225 the Prague bishop was Pelhřim (Peregrinus) of Wartenberg.
According to one legend bishop Peregrinus his way to Rome in 1225-1226 stopped by the spring Belka and was so captivated by the beautiful country that he founded there a town, to which he gave his name – Pelhřimov. To keep alive his memory local burghers put his silhouette into the town emblem.
Another known version of the legend goes as follows:
" A very long time ago a settlement was established on a hillock in the neighborhood. The view into the countryside was excellent, people in the settlement knew about everybody that travelled on the nearby trade road. Unfortunately, the settlement suffered was pestered by frequent unpleasant winds, and the people had to travel long distances to the plain to fetch building material. And, water was scarce on the hillock. One day people from the settlement descended into the valley of the river Bělá and there, in the shade of a tree, they saw a man. „Who are you, pilgrim?“ they asked him. „I am bishop Peregrinus on my way to Rome. And who are you, what are you doing here?“ he answered. The people from the settlement told him about the construction of the settlement and of the difficulties they were encountering. The bishop retorted: „Why don't you build the settlement right here? There is water, wood and fertile soil.“ Many settlers then began building again in the new place, in the valley. Later, when they talked about the name for their new town, they remembered the pilgrim's wise advice and in his honor called the town Pelhřimov."