Welcome to Náchod, a town located in the Hradec Králové Region of the Czech Republic. With a population of approximately 19,000, Náchod is known for its fascinating history, beautiful castle complex, and stunning natural landscapes. Whether you are a history buff, nature lover, or simply looking for a charming European destination off the beaten path, Náchod is sure to captivate you.
Administrative parts of Náchod include the town parts and villages of Babí, Běloves, Bražec, Dobrošov, Jizbice, Lipí, Malé Poříčí, Pavlišov, and Staré Město nad Metují.
Geographically, Náchod is situated about 31 kilometers northeast of Hradec Králové, on the border with Poland. It lies in the northern tip of the Orlické Foothills, with the highest point of the municipal territory being the hill Malinová hora with an altitude of 637 meters. The town is nestled in the valley of the river Metuje, with two ponds in the northwestern part of the territory, Podborný and Odkaliště.
The history of Náchod dates back to the 13th century when Knight Hron of Načeradec founded a castle and town below the castle to protect the territory through which an old trade route from Prague to Kłodzko Land passed. The town was fortified with walls and bastions in the early 14th century and was owned by kings John of Bohemia and George of Poděbrady. During the Hussite Wars, Náchod was conquered and owned by the Hussites, and over time the castle grew into a large fortress. The town flourished under the Smiřický family, who acquired the domain in 1544 and had the castle rebuilt into a comfortable Renaissance château. However, the Thirty Years War put an end to the prosperity of the town, and the properties of the Smiřický family were seized by the imperial treasury after the Battle of the White Mountain in 1623. When Adam Erdman Trčka was assassinated together with his brother-in-law Albrecht von Wallenstein in Cheb in 1634, the domain was seized again and donated by the Emperor to his general Ottavio Piccolomini, later Duke of Amalfi. The town fell into the hands of an Italian family, suffered from military operations and forced re-catholicization, but also enjoyed some development. The château was grandly rebuilt in the Baroque style, and the first street in the town was paved in 1638. After the fire of 1663, a new town hall was built, and the Church of St. Lawrence on the square was rebuilt. The burgesses were also granted some privileges. The Piccolominis became extinct in 1783, the Náchod domain was inherited by the Desfours family and sold in 1792 to Duke Peter von Biron of Courland and Sagan, who established a theatre on the castle and significantly improved overall the level of cultural life in Náchod. When the duke died in 1800, his eldest daughter Katharina Wilhelmine inherited Náchod and the Duchy of Sagan. After her death, the princes of Schaumburg-Lippe bought Náchod and held the castle till 1945, though the domain system was abolished in the reform of 1849 and succeeded by public administration districts.
Today, Náchod is a popular tourist destination with a thriving service sector and revenues from tourism being crucial for the economy of the town and the whole region. The largest industrial employers are ATAS elektromotory Náchod and Ametek elektromotory, both producers of electric motors, and the rubber factory Rubena Náchod. The tradition of textile industry is held by the last surviving cotton-weaving mill Bartoň – textil, founded in 1867. The town is also well-connected with a railway line of regional importance from Hradec Králové to Broumov and the road border crossing Náchod / Kudowa Słone.
When visiting Náchod, be sure to explore its many sights. The main landmark of the town is Náchod Castle, which has been owned by the state since 1945. The interiors are open to the public, and its exhibits include collections from Prince Ottavio Piccolominis time, e.g. tapestries, or phaleristic and numismatic collections. Other sights include Gothic cellars and the observation tower (keep), and a moat with bears, which is the largest bear enclosure in the country. Ecclesiastical buildings include the Church of Saint Lawrence and the Church of Saint Michael the Archangel, both stunning examples of Baroque architecture. For those looking to relax, the village of Běloves was known for its spa, with the first mention of the healing water dating back to 1392. Although the spa complex is in a desolate state, a small colonnade with two mineral springs and a permanent exhibition on the history of the spa was built by the town and opened in December 2019.
Náchod is truly a hidden gem in the heart of Europe, and a must-visit destination for anyone looking to explore the rich history and stunning landscapes of the Czech Republic.