Several visitors will certainly be interested by the elongated form of the main square in Litomysl - it is, in fact, a long and wide street. The square was originally formed alongside a trading route (in ancient times this led through today's "Špitalek", along the river, and was later diverted nearer to Louèna) and the marketplace. The buildings were originally wooden, later (mainly because of fire) they were rebuilt in stone.
It was because of the numerous fires that today's facades mainly date from the 18th and 19th centuries, although many buildings have far older foundations. The square has a large number of baroque, classical and Empire style façades with gables or attics. A majority of the original arcades have been preserved, which were built under the Kostek of Postupice reign in order that people could keep their feet dry when they were walking around the square in the rain.
The Litomysl square is to this day a centre of city life, as in the days when the city consisted purely of the square and several small streets surrounding it. To this day there are many interesting buildings, not only because of their architecture, but also because interesting and famous people once inhabited them.
Let us walk around the square looking at the order in which the houses were built, along the right hand side of the Lower Square towards the Town Hall tower, around the column of Our Lady, to the Upper Square and the site of the former Upper Gate. We then walk through the arcades to the other side and back again.
The Lower City Gate of 1536, which guarded the entrance to the city from Vysoke Myto, stood here until 1835.
The corner of the square and Jiraskova ulice/Jirasek Street, from where there is a view of the castle, is made up of a modern three-storey post office that stands on the site of an older post office, well-known from the novels of Alois Jirasek. We then go out into the square and immediately we have the opportunity to remember that most famous son of Litomysl, the composer Bedrich Smetana - since 1924 a bronze statue, the last completed work of the leading Czech sculptor Jan Štursa, has stood here. Smetana's name was given to the square in 1989.
Behind the monument to Smetana there is a neo-gothic building, in which Alois Jirasek lived following his arrival in Litomysl as a teacher in the grammar school from 1874-1876. On the site of house no. 27 there once stood a house in which Božena Nemcova once lived with her family. Whilst she was living here her son, Karel, was born here. On the house there is a plaque and a bust of the writer, the work of Ladislav Faltejsek from 1971. House no. 45 has a simple façade, and is the house where the writer Èestmir Jerabek was born.
The old town hall and its tower were built in 1418. Today it has a baroque facade dating from the 18th century, when the building was still joined to number 53. Under the modern astrological clock from 1907, there is a measure built into the wall - the Litomysl cubit (about 59 cm), which was once used by merchants as a measuring device for material at the marketplace. A sign with an explanatory notice shows the water level at the catastrophic flood of 1781, which devastated a large part of the square.
The street that leads from the town hall tower out of the square was constructed in the mid-nineteenth century, when the state administration offices were moved here, and the new building became the town court. The Town Hall was then moved to Toulovcovo namesti/Toulovec Square.
Another interesting house is no. 61, the former Lords' House, the facade of which dates from the end of the 18th century. In 1825 the castle brewery maltster, Frantisek Smetana, bought the building from Count von Wallenstein, and during the First Republic it was the city town hall. In 1816 the democrat and patriot Frantisek Emanuel Velc, secretary of the Prague National Committee in the revolutionary year of 1848, was born in house no. 67.
The city Information Centre is in house no. 71, and in the next building there is the Regional European Information Centre. In front of these buildings stands a column dating from 1716 with statues of Our Lady, St. Wenceslas and St. Jan Nepomuk, which was probably built to the plans of Giovanni Battista Alliprandi, and is over 11 metres tall. A fountain (1740) stood nearby until 1894, which was decorated in 1767 by a statue of St. Florian, the work of the local artist Vaclav Hendrych. After the removal of the fountain the statue was re-erected on the road under the deaconry, where it stands to this day.
On the modern building, no. 81/82, there is a stucco relief with the picture of a bear - this reminds us that in the 19th century this was the site of the traveller's inn The Black Bear. The new building from the 1930's is the Zlata hvezda (Golden Star) Hotel, where in the 19th century stood the smaller Modra hvezda (Blue Star) hotel. Božena Nemcova stayed here during her second period of stay in Litomysl. This is commemorated by a plaque from 1932, the work of Frantisek Kysela.
At the entrance to the city from Svitavy there once stood the Upper (German) Gate, which was demolished in 1822.
On the second side of the square we first notice the house where the Czech 19th century liberal politician Dr. Frantisek Augustin Brauner was born. Between buildings 97 and 98 there is a narrow street which was known as the "weavers' street" in the 14th and 15th centuries. Today it is known as "Dead Man's Walk", because funerals once led down this street from the city to the old cemetery by the deaconry church.
In the next building, no. 99, once lived Frantisek Jelinek, a master butcher from Hrochuv Tynec, an enthusiastic self-taught historian, who from 1838-1845 wrote the three-part History of Litomysl. Another house, no. 100, was the home of yet another famous native of Litomysl, the Czech landscape painter Julius Marak.
The dum U Rytiru/Knights' House at no. 110, is a jewel of renaissance urban architecture, and today holds an exhibition hall of the Museum and Gallery.
On the site of the savings bank on the corner (no. 112), there used to be a building with a massive corner pillar and bay window. Alois Jirasek lived in this building from 1876-1879 when he was a young bachelor teacher. From 1885 Tereza Novakova lived here, and from 1895-1909 it was the home of the literary historian Jan Vobornik.
On house no. 117 there is a relief showing the coat of arms of the Pernstejns from 1548.
The Veselik bookshop has been in building no. 123 since 1835, and is a place where Litomysl supporters of the National Revival used to meet. No. 127 is noteworthy, as its facade facing Vachalova ulice/Vachal Street is decorated with sgraffitto from 1998 based on excerpts from woodcuts from Vachal's Bloody Novel.
Our walk around Smetanovo namesti finishes at house no. 139. During the Pernstejn period the city brewery stood her from 1587-1629. When the burghers stopped brewing beer and the building passed into private hands, it kept the name "stavuòk". On the facade facing the post office, a stone Trautmannsdorf symbol from the demolished gateway from the Perstyn by Nedosin courtyard was placed in the wall in 1978.
In 1998 a large-scale reconstruction of Smetanovo namesti took place. The paving as replaced, new street furniture was provided, including the lampposts, and a car-free zone was created in the centre. Bronze information boards are situated not only on Smetanovo namesti, but throughout the historical centre of the city.