The history of the town
The rich history of the royal town of Uherské Hradiště reaches back to distant past. Long before the place was settled, favorable climatic conditions along with fertile soil had made it predestined for settlement. The archeological finds suggest that the primeval people had been living here since the early stone age. On the crossing of trade routes leading from the North to South and from the West to East, an ingenuous system of island fortifications was constructed in the 8th and 9th centuries. Three originally uninhabited islands in the Morava river were settled. The main one was called St. George Island, after the chapel consecrated to St. George, which was situated there. The settlement area of the time spread over the grounds of today’s Uherské Hradiště, Staré Město and Sady, making it undoubtedly one of the centers of the Great Moravian Empire. Relatively small in area, this settlement integrated the administration of power, crafts production as well as the religious and cultural sphere. After the decline of the Great Moravian Empire, the importance of this center diminished for a long time.
During the 13th century, southeastern Moravia became a target of frequent enemy raids. The border crossings, passes and fords were used by the enemy troops to invade and plunder the fertile Moravian land. It was in this time that the strategic importance of the island near a Morava ford grew again. The enemy raiders vexed not only the villagers, but also the monastery in Velehrad. A deed by King Přemysl Otakar II. from October 15, 1257 testifies that the town of Uherské Hradiště was founded on an island owned by the monastery not only to protect the monastery itself, but mainly the borderland. The town’s first inhabitants came from near market villages, royal Kunovice and monasterial Veligrad (today’s Staré Město). The double settlement determined the town’s appearance – two market villages were founded in close proximity to each other, each with its own square – hence the two squares of today’s town. The basic ground plan probably reflected the original Slavic settlement. The center of the town shows signs of typical medieval geometrism, while the shape of outer streets was somehow adapted to the neighboring municipal fortification.
The town’s history and development through the centuries was a long and complicated one, frequently marked with incessant raids and brawls with the adversaries of the Czech state. For this reason, the town had been gradually fortified by various systems of fortification since its founding. These systems were constantly improved and upgraded. The town reached its high point in the 15th and 16th centuries, when it was granted numerous privileges and liberties. In the course of the following centuries, Hradiště became a target of frequent enemy raids. In the 16th century, it was attacked by Cuman hordes, while in the 17th, it was vexed by military clashes of the Thirty Years’ War. The turn of the 17th and 18th centuries saw frequent Turkish raids and the early 18th century saw the suffering of the Prussian Campaign. In the course of its whole history, the town was captured just once – by Prussian army in 1742. Forty years later, it ceased to function as a fortress, however, it did continue to be constrained to the area within the fortifications. The area outside the fortification had been gradually settled only since as late as the 1840’s. By this time, the town fulfilled the functions of trade, administration and judicial center of the region. In the second half of the 19th century, nationalist turmoil and struggle for national character spawned many different nation-oriented societies and corporations. In 1884, a new grammar school was founded in Uherské Hradiště, to be the first Czech-language secondary school in Moravian Slovakia. During this period, many important buildings were being built and the town continued to grow.
Even after 1918, the town of Uherské Hradiště remains mainly a center of administration with slow industrial development. The Second World War damaged the town to a large extent. The post-war renewal brought large industry to the town, namely canning and machine engineering. The influx of population caused, along with the annexation of the neighboring villages, a bustling growth and a significant change of the town’s appearance.
After 1989, the town became more beautiful than ever, namely its historical center. Most of sights and historical monuments were reconstructed and sensibly adapted to fit the needs of our time.