The landscape of Svitavsko and the city itself is shrouded in many myths and legends. On the site of the Marian church on the square Soluň brother St. Cyril and Methodius served mass in 891. The truth remains though that both were already deceased in the given year, but it is an ancient legend. All you have to do is mix the numbers of the year up and chronicler Kosmas mentioned the river Svitavy to the year 981. This almost one-hundred kilometre long river gave the city its name. Its name means pure and clear water.

The first real mention of the city dates to the middle of the 12th century, when the Litomyšl premonstrates arrived and established the Church of St. Giles on the left bank of the river. Thus they laid the foundation for the settlement that they named “Old Svitava”.

The so-called “New Svitava” originated in the middle of the 8th century with the second colonization, whose bearers were predominantly German-speaking settlers. Borderland colonization activities mainly took place during the rule of Bishop Bruno of Schauenburk (1245-1281), who also commissioned his close colleague, Westphalian nobleman Helembert von Thurm, with the founding of the city Svitav.

Founding Charter of the City

The interests of the Olomouc diocese and Premonstratensian Convent of Litomyšl led to a dispute that was resolved with the conciliation agreement of 6 November 1256. The Charter with which the dispute was resolved is considered to be the “Founding Charter of the City of Svitav ”.

Svitavy thus became a city subordinated to the Olomouc bishop. The town, sometimes referred to as the oppidum in documents, obtained an important privilege in 1330, which confirmed the magistrate’s office of Svitavy, which included the villages Čtyřicet Lánů and Moravský Lačnov. Later on, other villages were added to the Svitavy estate: Hradec nad Svitavou, Vendolí, Sklené, Javorník, Ostrý Kámen, Horní Hynčina, Kamenná Horka and Chrastová Lhota.

The urban core was formed by 83 brewing burgher houses, which were built along the medieval road, i.e. the merchant’s trail. The almost half-kilometre long square was lined by walls and interrupted by gates here and there in 1389. There were three gates and each named according to the direction from which they were exited. The Prague, Brno and youngest Lanškroun Gates are documented. At the beginning of the 19th century, they were torn down along with the walls.

 Preserved fortification bastion

The walls protected the city during the Hussite wars in the 15th century, even though they were severely damaged by numerous sieges. Perhaps the legend about the city’s coat of arms comes from this time. At that time, the Svitavy estate was often imparted, sold and pawned. In 1484, Svitavy was bought by the administrator of the Olomouc diocese Jan Filipec of Ješka Svojanovsky of Boskovice. Svitavy once again became a city that belonged to the Olomouc bishop and lost its statue of an administrative centre of the bishop’s estate. It was added to the Mírov estate.

This administrative division lasted until 1775, when the office for Svitavsko was renewed based in Čtyřicet Lánů. Even in spite of the changing owners, the city began toflourish in the 16th century, which was the “golden age” of Svitav. The political power of the bourgeoisie grew and economic prosperity came along with it.

 Arrival of Wehrmacht to Svitavy in October 1938

The sad aspects of the chronicle open in 1945. There was no space for the coexistence of Czechs and Germans in one city. The displaced Svitavy was soon inhabited by Czech families from various corners of the country.

Svitavy has been a district city since 1949, then as a part of the Brno region. In 1960, it found itself in the East Bohemia region and the seven-hundred year affiliation with Moravia came to an end. Today, Svitavy is a part of the Pardubice region. The city is proud of its past, which can also serve as a key to the discovery of the future.