Litomyšl is a cultural and historical center which lies on the River Loučná. The earliest known record of the town is towards the turn of the tenth and eleventh centuries. In 1259 the settlement received town privileges. From the 14th century on, the town was built up around the monastery hill and also below the hill. After the arrival of the Piarist Order in 1641 the chateau hillock was built up with schools, dormitories and a Piarist church.
The dominant building of Litomyšl is the renaissance chateau built in the period between 1568 and 1581, with more than 8,000 pieces of original sgraffito decoration. It also has a 200-year-old baroque theater with a set of well-preserved wings. In the grounds of the chateau, which was inscribed into the UNESCO list in 1999, there is the chateau brewery, where the Czech national composer Bedřich Smetana was born in 1824.
The rich cultural tradition of the past serves as a basis for the vibrant cultural life of today, among the highlights of which are the International Opera Festival Smetana’s Litomyšl (the first annual festival took place more than 50 years ago).
In recent history Litomyšl has become well known in the political arena: in 1994 seven Central European presidents met here, and in 1995 the Spanish royal couple visited the city. The attention of the visitors is also drawn by the museum exposition, the house where Smetana was born, the Portmoneum, with its exhibition of works by the painter J. Váchal, J. Váchal Street (the walls of the house on this street are decorated with sgrafitti created on the basis of graphics from J. Váchal’s Bloody Romance – Krvavý román), the museum of ancient sculptures and architecture and the newly reconstructed monastery gardens.
In the square, which is almost 500 meters long and lined with arcades, one can find the Gothic city hall and numerous Renaissance and Baroque houses. Among the most important is the renaissance Dům U Rytířů (Knight’s House) from the 16th century, which is now a gallery. Because of its outstanding care of its monuments Litomyšl was designated a historical town for the year 2000.
But Litomyšl is not only about history; one can also find numerous examples of modern architecture. This town of 10,000 wants to be an example of a so-called modern historical town.
One example of such construction is the Hotel Aplaus. With its services the hotel ranks among the most modern hotels in the world, even though it is located in a building which, even before the beginning of the last century, served as a pub named “Na sklípku”.