Industrial town has more than autos
Mladá Boleslav offers varied attractions linked to the arts, religion and education
Posted: October 23, 2013
Mladá Boleslav and Škoda Auto are so closely entwined as to almost be the same thing, with the car company's plants and offices, overwhelmingly the largest employer locally, scattered across the town and massive billboards advertising the latest models. But there is much, much more to Mladá Boleslav than cars.
While most tourists who head to the town are probably petrol heads keen to see the carmaker's excellent museum, even those with no interest in motoring heritage will find plenty of interest in Mladá Boleslav. The charming town square is a good place to start. It lacks the grandeur of the central spaces in many other Czech towns, but it has a small-town appeal that makes up for this.
The chief attraction here is the 16th-century Town Hall, richly decorated with sgraffito that shows figures from early Christian history. Nearby, the Assumption Church of the Virgin Mary is notable for its Gothic architecture.
It is worth just spending a few minutes enjoying the varied façades that look onto the square. While there are a few slightly stark modern additions, the older buildings showcase elaborate gables and are decorated in an array of colors.
With its obvious age, the main square is an appropriate spot at which to pause and contemplate the history of the town, which can be traced back to the 10th century, when records indicate the presence of a castle. It then continued to develop on the triangular promontory on which the main square and the streets around it sit.
Just north of the square is a vast-looking church with a three-naved basilica, the Church of Bohemian Brethren that, like the Town Hall, was the work of Matteo Borgorelli, an architect from Milan. Also dating from the 16th century, it is now a concert hall and gallery, although in its time it has been a Catholic church and a military storehouse. It was built by the Unity of the Brethren, the denomination that had an important base in the town for more than a century from the late 1400s onward, but which was later stripped of its property.
Traveling north again brings visitors to the technical school. Dating from the 1920s, it looks a little factory-like, and its industrial charm befits its function. Havlíčkova, a large street nearby, is perhaps the most interesting area of the town. Hidden from the main road through the center, it features numerous buildings, the scale and ambition of which come as something of a surprise.
There is a school that resembles a European palace, a bank fronted by an array of classical columns and several other buildings with similarly supersized proportions and presence.
Even among such exalted company, one building manages to stand out. Constructed between 1906 and 1909, the Municipal Theater is an Art Nouveau masterpiece, decorated with a wealth of faces, ranging from the delighted to the horrified, and topped off with classical statues. This stunning exterior is the work of two Czech architects, Rudolf Kříženecký and Emil Králík, although Viennese designers took care of the interior.
After enjoying all of this, it is worth taking a walk along T.G. Masaryk Street, which runs southeast from the roundabout in the town center. The Čedok Terrace, just off the street, offers a marvelous view of the old town, with multiple church spires rising above the surrounding buildings.
Last but not least, and a good final stop for anyone heading back to the main railway station (there is also a small station northeast of the main center), is the mighty castle, which lies prominently at the end of the town's triangular promontory.
While records show a castle here dates from the mid-1200s, the current building is largely an 18th-century creation. After a two-centuries spell as a garrison, it is now a museum.
Before beginning their sightseeing, visitors can do well to pay a visit to the information center at Železná 107. Here, free maps are available, including one featuring a signposted Metal Trail that takes in many of the key attractions (these maps were the source of some of the factual information in this article). At each attraction, the Metal Trail offers a short audio presentation for visitors who wind up a handle on the information stand a few times. Additional information is available in Czech, English, Esperanto and German at Mb-net.cz.
Daniel Bardsley can be reached at
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