History and Present

Aerial view of Vrchlabí

The town of Vrchlabi is situated below the middle of the Krkonose mountain range, and is the gateway to the entire range and an intersection of important roadways. It has a population of some 13 thousand and covers an area of 2,766 ha, or some 28 sq.km, at an altitude of 477 m a.s.l. The town mayor is Jan Sobotka. The prominent landmark above Vrchlabi is Zaly Mountain, 1019 m a.s.l., with a viewing tower at the top, offering great views of Snezka – the highest peak in the Czech Republic, as well as the typical landmark of Jested Mountain in the distance and, in good conditions, around one-third of Bohemia.

Thousands of years ago the Vrchlabi region was covered in thick primeval forest with many wild animals. The arrival of Czech and German colonists was linked primarily with the extraction and processing of precious ores. Vrchlabi had its heyday when it was promoted to town status, and its coat-of-arms was approved by Emperor Ferdinand I. in 1533. A major contribution to achieving that was from landlord Krystof of Gendorf, then the highest Mining Marshal of the Czech Kingdom. During the Thirty Years’ War, Vrchlabi was the property of Albrecht of Waldstein, also known as Wallenstein, then Head Commander of the Imperial Army. The rifles and other weaponry produced in Vrchlabi workshops from local materials found their way to nearly all European battlefields.

Vrchlabi has been a tourist centre since the end of the 19th century. Each year the town is visited by many domestic and foreign guests, who enjoy the dozens of local restaurants, hotels, guest houses, shops, rentals and many other services, as well as the extensive range of culture and sports. The importance of Vrchlabi for tourism in the Krkonose is emphasised by its three cable cars and chair lifts with several downhill courses of varied difficulty, and the many well-groomed cross-country tracks, as well as cycle tracks in summers. The beginnings of the industrial era turned Vrchlabi into one of the most important centres of textile production in all of Bohemia. The engineering tradition was also reflected in the production of automobiles much later on. It’s been more than 100 years now since the first car was produced in the factory in Vrchlabi. The local branch of Skoda Mlada Boleslav is an important contributor to the Czech automotive industry, and now specialises in the production and assembly of gearboxes.

Vrchlabi is also the seat of the Administration of the Krkonossky National Park and the Union of Krkonose Towns and Boroughs. You can visit the Krkonose Regional Tourist Information Office on Vrchlabi’s main square, where you will be provided with detailed information all year round.