The city was founded ca. 1340 but there had already been a monastery since the early 13th century.
Pardubice is an important industrial city: there is Synthesia, a chemical factory (manufacturer of Semtex, a plastic explosive), an oil refinery Paramo, a heavy machinery factory and an electronic equipment plant. There is also a Taiwanese-owned factory established in June 2000(Foxconn) which produces computer parts for major computer manufacturers such as Compaq and Apple. This factory has used free labour resources left after the collapse of a former electronics manufacturer, Tesla (which in the past produced the Tamara passive sensor, followed by VERA passive sensor). Pardubice is also home to one of the greatest NHL goaltenders of all time, Dominik Hasek.
Since 1874, a famous horse race, Great Pardubice Steeplechase (Velká Pardubická) has taken place every fall (second Sunday in October). It is said to be the toughest horse race on the continent. The Czech Open Chess Tournament is the biggest in Europe, with roughly 1200 players from all over the world competing in the main groups, and many side-events such as a team championship and Go-tournament. Pardubice is home to one of the top hockey teams in the Czech Extraliga, HC Pardubice. The local hockey club has bred international stars such as Dominik Hašek, Otakar Janecký, Aleš Hemský, Jan Bulis (all natives of Pardubice) and Milan Hejduk. Former NBA player Jiří Welsch is also a native of the city.
Pardubice has an antique centre square and old town, with many restaurants that stay open until late in the evening. There is an old Tower and a recently renovated Castle.
There is a growing Jewish community in the area.