The South Bohemian town of Písek lies an hour’s drive from Prague on the gold-bearing Otava River, the banks of which are connected by the oldest preserved stone bridge in the Czech Republic. We would like to introduce to you this cultural and historical town, bearer of the title Best Place to Live 2012*, situated in the unique scenery of the Písecké Mountains, a landscape of ponds and river canyons. Thanks to its amiable conditions, the area of present-day Písek has been settled from time immemorial. The exact date of the royal town’s foundation is unknown. However, its name was recorded in 1243 by a scribe of Wenceslas I, King of Bohemia, in a Latin text: “APUD PEZCH”, that is at Písek. The following rulers of the Přemyslid dynasty showed their favour to the town, too, and often stayed overnight there. The driving factor in the town’s development at the beginning of its existence was probably a large boom in gold panning in the Otava River and gold mining in the surrounding hills. Another significant source of income for the town was the so-called Golden Path, along which various goods from Austria were brought to the Czech lands. During the Hussite wars, the town sided with the rebels. In the early 16th century, Písek was one of the wealthiest towns in Bohemia. However, in 1532 the town was almost completely destroyed by a large fire. Another disaster came with the outbreak of the Thirty Years’ War. Písek took the side of the estates in 1618, in consequence of which its suburbs and surrounding villages were burnt down by the imperial army in March, 1619. In September, 1620, Písek experienced the worst looting in its history. In 1741-1742, after Maria Theresa assumed the throne, the town quickly changed owners and was in the possession of Austrians, French and Bavarians. New times and development came in the 19th century. Town walls were pulled down, and moats were filled and planted with vegetation. In 1875, the first train arrived in the town along a newly constructed railway. In 1884, František Křižík installed electrical street lighting with arc lamps. The royal town of Písek’s power plant commenced its operation in 1888 and is functional to this day. On 14 October, 1918, Písek became the first town to proclaim an independent Czechoslovakia. This event meant the beginning of modern history and is connected with two World Wars, the second of which ended for Písek with the arrival of the American army on 6 May, 1945, and the Red Army on 10 May.
* KPMG ČR study, in the category towns with 20,000-50,000 inhabitants