I somehow knew that the city like this exists but the only reason it got my interest was the random trip through it some 5 years ago.
The journey took us through the center of Jihlava and I was enchanted how beautiful the city was. Back then I already knew I want to visit the place properly! And I finally did!
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History of Jihlava, Czech Republic
For the city this much unknown Jihlava, Czech Republic has a long and interesting history.
The legend says the silver was mined here already in the year 799 but officially the city was founded around 1240 as the oldest mining community in Czech Republic – some 50 years before much more famous Kutna Hora! At the beginning of the 14th century, when the father of most known Czech king – Charles IV – acquired Jihlava the town gained numerous privileges that later on were even extended by Charles IV himself (you for sure know him from Charles Bridge in Prague or the spa town Karlovy Vary, all named after him). At that time Jihlava was promoted by Emperor to the position of supreme court for all the mining towns in the Bohemia region.
Over the centuries the city developed, not only in the mining field but also in the textile industry, and was always an important center for whoever ruled the place (and at times this was changing rather often). These days Jihlava is a capital of Vysocina region and one of the most underrated tourist attractions of Czech Republic, with over 200 preserved historical buildings.
Did you know that the year 2016 marks 700th anniversary of Charles IV birth? You can follow footsteps of the most notable Czech ruler during your travels around Czech Republic! Just visit Charles IV travel website for more details!
First impressions of Jihlava
When I arrived on Friday evening the city was quiet as in some kind of lethargy (I blame it on the gloomy weather) but I could already notice that Jihlava will be a real gem that not many know about. The closer I was getting to the center the more impressive architecture was but still I wasn’t prepared for what I was about to see on the next day!
I stayed directly at the market square in a cozy guest house and when I looked outside of the window in the morning I was enchanted. Rows of colorful houses and trolleybuses (the core of the public transport in Jihlava) were waiting for me and I couldn’t wait to see all that Jihlava has to offer. At that time I haven’t even thought that November isn’t the best time to travel and my options will be rather limited…
In Jihlava I stayed at Penzion Willa and I can only recommend it! The place has the best possible location, at Masarykovo Namesti (the main square), it’s clean, spacious,cozy and very affordable. In the morning a hearty breakfast is served. I can’t imagine a better accommodation in Jihlava! You can book the place here.
What to do in Jihlava
I started at the main square – Masarykovo namesti. It is large, precipitous and beautiful, the only thing that hurts your eyes is a large modern building right in the middle, a home to some shops and McDonald’s restaurant. In every other surrounding I’d probably appreciate this kind of architecture but not in here, in the heart of the picture perfect old town. But you can try not to look towards that building and pretend it’s not there – I did that and it didn’t bother me at all!
Anyway, houses at Masarykovo namesti are not only very pretty, they also have a big historical value, many of them having foundations back from the medieval times! But the most important place here is the town hall, and that’s not only due to its function. The building, located in the corner next to the distinctive church of St. Ignatus of Loyola, looks impressive from the outside but true wonders hide inside – a large Gothic hall or historic frescoes just to name few.
The best thing you can do in Jihlava, Czech Republic is to wander aimlessly around the old town. All the cobbled streets are just the prettiest and with every step you keep falling more and more for the city. I can’t decide which one was my favorite but judging from the amount of pictures I took I’d vote for Komenskeho, Matky Bozi, Benesova and Palackeho streets.
The rows of colorful houses and the architecture typical for Central Europe makes the city such a pleasant place to visit. One of the houses, at Znojemska street, belonged to the family of Gustav Mahler – a famous Austrian composer.
What surprised and impressed me the most about Jihlava was still very well preserved old urban planning. The medieval old town, with the market in the middle and streets trailing away perpendicularly and parallel towards the city walls. And those are really spectacular, encircling the center of Jihlava.
Close to the walls, at Jakubske namesti, you will see an impressive gothic St. Jacob’s Church with 63 meters high tower. On the opposite site of the center you will find Gate of Holy Mother – the symbol of Jihlava, part of the medieval fortification system, dating back to the 13th century. Those two landmarks serve as watchtowers, open to public, so if you are after some nice views from up high these are your places to go to.
And while you’re at the Gate of Holy Mother stop by at Cukrarna u Brany – probably the best sweet-shop in Jihlava, judging at the never-ending line.
Visiting Jihlava in November
As much as I’d like to say my time in Jihlava was perfect I can’t do that but I’m the only one to blame.
It turned out that traveling off season isn’t the best idea in such undiscovered places. I could only visit all the sights from the outside as they were simply closed for the winter season. I really regret I couldn’t climb up to the watchtowers and admire Jihlava from above but most of all I wish I could have explore the so called catacombs of the city.
Jihlava has second largest underground system in Czech Republic, after Znojmo, with total length of 25 kms. Since most of the silver mines are long gone the catacombs are the last reminder of the mining history of Jihlava. The undergrounds are open to public all year round except of January, in other winter months (November-March) it is possible to visit the place with a group of minimum 10 people and after arranging it beforehand.
Well, at least I have a reason to go back…
Is it worth to visit Jihlava?
Even if the weather was rather unpleasant during my time in Jihlava, Czech Republic and even if I couldn’t explore the city as good as I’d like it I still enjoyed the place big time. The city was so much better than I expected and made a ideal destination in Czech Republic that is still not discovered by many.
Czech Republic is so much more than Prague, you only need to go a little bit off the beaten path and you will be enchanted as much as I was!
What was the overlooked yet interesting place you’ve visited recently? Do you like traveling off the path? Would you like to visit Jihlava?
If you think of visiting Czech Republic or just want to read more about the country take a look what else I wrote about it:
- Jeseniky Mountains: witches, spa towns and other attractions
- Quirky Prague: art by David Cerny
- Olomouc, Czech Republic in pictures
- and more!
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