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Liberec, Ger. Reichenberg, city (1991 pop. 101,967), N Czech Republic, in Bohemia, on the Lausitzer Neisse (LuŽická Nisa) River and near the German and Polish borders. The city is a textile center known especially for its woolens; textile machinery and glassware are also produced there. Founded c.1350, Liberec has enjoyed prosperity since the 16th cent., when clothmaking was introduced; the first textile factories were built in the 18th cent. German troops occupied the city from 1938 to 1945 and expelled the Czech residents. Under Czech resettlement, Germans were forced out of the city.
Liberec (IPA , Reichenberg, Romany: Libertsis) has been since 1918 a city in Czechoslovakia, since 1993 in the Czech Republic, and the capital and largest city of the Liberec Region. Located on the Lusatian Neisse and by the Jizerské Mountains, it is the sixth-largest city in the Czech Republic.

Settled by German and Flemish migrants since the 14th century, Liberec was once home to a thriving textile industry and hence nicknamed the "Manchester of Bohemia". For many Czechs, Liberec is mostly associated with the huge shopping and entertainment complex, the Babylon Centre.


Liberec was first mentioned in a document from 1348, and from 1622 to 1634 was among the possessions of Albrecht von Wallenstein. After his death it belonged to the Gallas and Clam Gallas families. The cloth-making industry was introduced in 1579. The prosperous local industry was interrupted by the Thirty Years' War and a great plague in the 1680s. The Battle of Reichenberg between Austria and Prussia occurred nearby in 1757 during the Seven Years' War.

At one time the second city of Bohemia, the city developed rapidly at the end of the 19th century and as a result has a spectacular collection of late 19th century buildings; the town hall, the opera house, and the Severočeské Muzeum (North Bohemian Museum) are of significant note. The Opera House has a spectacular main curtain that was designed by the Austrian artist Gustav Klimt. The neighborhoods on the hills above the town center display beautiful homes and streets, laid out in a picturesque Romantic style similar to some central European thermal spas.

After World War I, the ethnic German majority in the Sudetenland refused to be incorporated into Czechoslovakia, citing Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points and the doctrine of Self Determination. An independent Sudeten German state was briefly formed with Reichenberg as the Capital. However, the Czechoslovak Army invaded the area and it was after all integrated into Czechoslovakia.

During the 1930s, the city became the centre of Pan-German movements and later the Nazis. After the Munich Agreement of 1938, it became the capital of the Sudetengau within Nazi Germany. The city's German population was forcibly expelled following World War II through the Beneš decrees. The region was then resettled by the Czechs.

Historical names

  • 1352 Reychinberch
  • 1369 Reychmberg
  • 1385-99 Reichenberg
  • 1410 Rychmberg
  • 1790 Reichenberg (Liber, Habersdorf)
  • 1834 Reichenberg (Liberk)
  • 1945 Reichenberg, Liberec

All forms of its names are derived from the medieval German word meaning "(the village on the) rich/resourceful mountain" (reicher Berg in modern German). The name was sometimes shortened to Richberk and Riberk, which gave rise to the Czech name Liberk. In Czech, words starting with "R" were often dissimilated into "L".

Science and technology

  • Technical University of Liberec (Technická Univerzita v Liberci): Founded in 1953 as a Technical College. In 1995 gained the status of a university. It has about 5000 students in 6 faculties (Mechanical Engineering, Textile Engineering, Architecture, Mechatronics, Teachers' College and Economics). Applied research in mechatronics.
  • Regional Science Library (Krajská vědecká knihovna): A general public science library, aiming at general education in the region. Built on a new site in 2000. It has an exceptional collection of Germano-Slavica and Sudetica (periodicals and books in German language concerning Czech territory, ca. 1848-1946). This building comprises also a modern synagogue.
  • The North Bohemian Museum (Severočeské muzeum): Built in 1873. It ranks among the oldest and most significant museums of nature sciences, arts and crafts in the Czech Republic.

Zoo and botanical garden

The zoo in Liberec was the first to be opened in Czechoslovakia in 1919. The zoo contains a wide variety of fauna (about 143 species on 13 ha), including large mammals like elephants, giraffes, sea lions and white tigers, which are a genetic anomaly and hence very rare. It participates in breeding activities of endangered species to help preserving the gene pool.

The Botanical Garden in Liberec (completely rebuilt from 1995 to 2000) comprises nine glasshouses for visitors (with a total area of 3,000 m² and 13 exhibition themes), nine plantation glasshouses and a large exterior terrain. It continues the legacy of a botanical garden established in 1876 by the Verein der Naturfreunde ("Society of Friends of Nature") on a nearby site and it is therefore considered the oldest one in the Czech Republic.


Liberec's prominent buildings are the town hall (1893), the castle of Count Clam Gallas, built in the 17th century, and the Ještěd Tower (1968) upon the Ještěd Mountain, which became a symbol of the city. Václav Havel held a broadcast from the site of the tower in 1968; a plaque beside the tower marks this event. Contemporary buildings of note are also to be found, primarily the work of the firm SIAL, and include the new Regional Research Library (2000) and the Česká Pojištovna office building (1997).

Liberec Tram System

Liberec shares the tramway line which connects it to its neighboring city, Jablonec nad Nisou which is 12 km away. There is also a city line which connects Horní Hanychov and Lidové Sady via Fügnerova.


Liberec has hosted two European Luge Championships, having done so in 1914 and 1939 when the city was then known as Reichenberg. In 2009, it will host the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships.



Other notable people connected with Liberec:

Sister cities

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