Hradec Králové isn’t only for visiting the Čapeks

A tip for spending a day in Hradec Králové.

1.st Day

Hradec Králové

How to get there Where to stay

If you leave Prague at 8 o’clock in the morning, you have to be there at 10 o‘clock for sure. It doesn‘t matter if you travel by train, by bus or by car.  

First, check out the Big Square and Small Square. From the railway station or the main public transport terminal, you can get there by links provided by City Public Transportation (MHD) – ideally, get off at the Adalbertinium stop, which is considered to be the meeting point of Hradec. From there follow the street V Kopečku, which will take you to the Big Square. The gothic cathedral of St. Spirit, the renaissance White Tower (Bílá věž) and the baroque chapel of St. Kliment stand at the front of the square. All three sights are available for a visit – yet it is necessary to check the opening hours.

Nearby is an information center where you can find collectible touristic stamps, souvenirs and information about the city.

If you look from the information center to the right, you will see the baroque Chapel of the Assumption of Virgin Mary (Kostel Nanebevzetí Panny Marie) which is connected to a former Jesuit dormitory – but also the grammar school where young Karel Čapek attended. The hotel New Adalbertinium (Nové Adalbertinum), partially the Univeristy of Hradec Králové and the Episcopal Library are currently located there.  

Almost exactly opposite the baroque chapel you can visit some exhibitions located in the newly renovated Gallery of Modern Art (Galerie moderního umění). The gallery is open daily, except for Mondays. If you decide to visit the gallery, you should reserve at least two, but easily even three hours of your time. The gallery boasts a permanent collection of modern art, and other exhibitions alternate on the lower floors.

If you walk around the gallery following the street behind, you will get to Klicper’s Theater (Klicperovo divadlo) where Čapek‘s ”R.U.R.“ debuted for the first time in 1921. However, the theater is divided into buildings – this one, located on Dlouhá Street and then the other, the chamber scene Studio Chat (Studio Beseda). You can get there by going through the Small Square (Malé náměstí), where you should stop by at the hotel Elizabeth (Eliška). This is precisely the house where Karel used to live during his studies. His roommate and guardian there was his grandma from Hronov. At present, we don’t know exactly which windows belonged to the Čapeks, but the grandma supposedly had windows facing the square while Karel had his windows facing the park.  

If you wish to see the aforementioned Studio Chat (Studio Beseda), continue down the square. Studio Chat can be found on the left. Previously the tavern called By the Golden Eagle (U zlatého orla) and a theater hall where amateurs from the Hradec area used to play was located in its place. Today there is a theater rehearsal room and a scene which, by the way, even hosts the festival called ”Waiting for Václav“ (Čekání na Václava).

If you travel with children, continue down the hill, take the turn at Hradební Street and you will come to  the Dragon Theatre and its new building, the Labyrinth, where you can enjoy amazing moments at the puppet showcase and by visiting the interactive exhibition. Right there you will be able to experience exactly what and how the theater itself actually works – acoustic and light effects, work with puppets and many other entertaining activities.  

Karel Čapek didn’t stay in Hradec for a long time, but if you would like to enjoy some time there yourself, you should take a walk downtown. Walk along the streets around the Big and Small Squares in the historical city center. Somewhere there is the house where all the young students used to meet, including Karel who was, due to his ”rebellious“ poems, expelled from the former grammar school.  

Many of the houses located in the square have very old foundations and cellars. The oldest ones can be found on Rokitanský Street (Rokitanského ulice) behind the cathedral. If you will pay attention, you surely will be able to find a house sign.

Once again follow the street V Kopečku in the direction down from the Big Square (Velké náměstí) and continue towards the river. The museum is worthy to see. This magnificent building offers a look at a permanent exhibition about the city and also organizes special exhibitions for its visitors. The most beautiful building in the Hradec area, constructed from red bricks and decorated with two sculptures situated in front, was designed by architect Kotěra, and it is surely worth stopping by (It is currently being prepared for reconstruction and will be temporarily closed).

From there set off for a walk along the river waterfront, along Elizabeth’s Enbankment (Eliščino nábřeží), cross the bridge and continue on the other side of the river. If you turn left, you will go past two buildings of the University of Hradec Králové, and then behind them you will continue along the river towards the water power plant - also known as “Hummer.“ From there you will be able to see the school complex designed by architect Josef Gočár. You will be able to find rest in the area of Jirásek’s Orchards (Jiráskovy sady) located at the point where the rivers Elbe (Labe) and Orlice meet.

If you continue from the bridge towards the city, you will get to Masaryk’s Square (Masarykovo náměstí) where you can admire houses that were built at the beginning of the 20th Century , including the housing unit block, again, designed by architect Josef Gočár. 

Hradec Králové offers a rich cultural program. If you decide to stay overnight, you might feel enticed by programs from the Hradec Králové Philharmony, Klicper’s Theater (Klicperovo divadlo), the Dragon Theater (Divadlo Drak), the Bio Central Cinema or from some concert. If you are more sport oriented, you can go watch water polo, football or hockey or you can come to support the local basketball team – known as the Hradec Lionesses (Hradecké lvice).