History of the town

The town of Krnov lies at the confluence of the rivers Opava and Opavice. According to the archaeological discoveries, this place has been settled since the Earlier Stone Age. As a town then it was constituted of around half of the 13th century. It was a fairly highly developed municipality, as evidenced by the large number (162) of private households with the brew right and the right to sell wine on tap.

Despite of these privileges, Krnov was becoming a civilized municipality very slowly. Town walls were built in the 2nd half of 13th century. It consisted of walls with a moat, three main gates and a wicket for pedestrians. It included also a wooden castle and a garden wall of the Franciscan monastery. This friary is settled in Krnov relatively soon after receiving of its town rights; the report mentions the arrival of the Franciscan to Krnov in 1273.

Until the beginning of the last quarter of the 14th century Krnov developed as one of the four major urban centres of the Province Opava and then Opavian Duchy, ruled by the Dukes from the side of Přemyslids' family branch.

At that time there could be found several churches, the Parish Church of St. Martin's documented in the thirties of the 14th century, and the Church of the Holy Spirit first mentioned in the eighties of the 13th century, which sided with the hospital building and the Church of the Friars Minor.

After the Duchy of Opava was divided into four parts in 1377, two of them have continued to develop separately, whereas Krnov became the centre of one of them. An independent Duchy of Krnov was claimed by the Czech King Wenceslas IV in 1411.

Economic prosperity and population growth of the municipality peaked in the 16th and early 17th century during the reign of Hohenzollern, bought Krnov principality in 1523.

The suburbs expanded dynamically and burghers’ houses within the town were rebuilt in stone. On place of a wooden castle Hohenzollerns had been built the stone castle to become the administrative centre of the principality Krnov, the Cvilín castle instead.

The number of guilds and specialized trades increased. Krnov also changed in terms of confession; the new rulers radically enforced the Reformation.

At that time Europe was tossed around in unkind embraces of the Thirty Years' War and the principality of Krnov was sequentially plundered by the Danish and emperor troops and the Swedes set seal on the work of devastation. The following century brought to the principality of Krnov a blow which contributed to the destabilization of economy, decline and subsequent stagnation - built and strengthened for centuries - and which doomed this important town to the loss of its strength and prestige. It was given a new owner – the Catholic family of Liechtenstein, who started recatholicization of the entire principality, the town of Krnov including.

Although in the Baroque era originated a lot of significant artworks in Krnov, the town remained in decline. The Pilgrimage Church at Cvilín is one of the most important baroque monuments of the Moravian-Silesian region.

The War of the Austrian succession, during which Maria Theresa had lost almost all of Silesian territory, have made Krnov to border town. The division of Silesia brought to the end the political importance of Krnov, even the county office was moved to Opava in 1793.

As the last big blow in the 18th century it became in 1779 the worst fire in the city's history, destroying almost the entire town.

Krnov waited for its revival till the break of the 19th and 20th century when it ranged with the foremost industrial places in Austria-Hungary due to its intense development of the textile industry. At the very beginning of the 19th century worked in Krnov a large number of drapers, only to the young master draper Alois Larisch occurred in the forties of the 19th century to build a small textile factory in Kostelec.

It was sold later and in 1861 built a new factory situated in the south of castle, on the site of demolished walls and buried moats. However, his dealing was already followed by others drapers, who also began to establish their factories.

Within a few decades its population more than doubled and began to expand. This process speeded up the railway coming to Krnov 1872, and in 1873 was established by Brothers Rieger a factory producing pipe organs. Furthermore, new housing quarters, schools, office buildings etc. were built and Krnov changed into a modern city.

Development continued during the First Republic, although the Great Depression in the late twenties and in the thirties of the 20th century caused the bankrupts of more than half textile mills in Krnov.

The subsequent rise of Nazism radicalized not a few of the German population. According to the Munich Agreement, Krnov found in a zone that should be annexed to Germany. On 6th of October 1938 German troops invaded the town and occupied it till the Second World War was terminated on 6th May 1945. After the war the population of Krnov completely exchanged. The German inhabitants were interned in the concentration camps and then transported to Germany, in its place came gradually Czech population, later smaller numbers of Slovaks, Roma and also civil war refugees from Greece, however, most of them has gone back to its Mediterranean homeland in the eighties.

Significant changes also affected the buildings; entire blocks of historic town houses were taken down and the appearance of the town, as has been known for centuries, has been irretrievably changed.

In 1960 Krnov district was abolished and its territory attached to the Bruntál, which again plunged the region back to some stagnation. The Velvet Revolution of autumn 1989 brought a freedom in Czechoslovakia, however, with its considerable problems. The vast majority of companies in Krnov was not able to transform into a new market and turned bankrupt, the textile factories except one, whereas the centuries-old tradition of textile production in Krnov was abolished. On the contrary, an organs factory, now bearing the name of the Rieger Kloss, continues the tradition begun in 1873 and still produces the organ for the entire world.

In July 1997 were many parts of the town damaged by a disastrous flood.

Nowadays Krnov is considered to be a clean, quiet and beautiful place, offering a lot of cultural and sporting opportunities and happy life in a clean and healthy environment.


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