Žatec (German: Saaz) is a town in northwestern Czech Republic, in the Ústí nad Labem Region, in the Louny District. It lies on the river Ohře. Approximately 19,000 inhabitants live here, which makes Žatec the largest city in the district.



Since the foundation
However, Ostrožna nad Ohří was first fortified at the end of the late Hallstatt period. In the eighth and ninth centuries, according to archeological findings, there was an unfortified settlement on it, which was replaced by the Žatec fort in the first half of the tenth century. The first written mention of him in 1004 is contained in the chronicle of Dětmar of Merseburg. In 1265 King Přemysl Otakar II. granted Žatec city privileges. The work The Plowman and Death (Ackermann aus Böhmen) by the Žatec town notary Jan of Žatec from 1400 is very well known, considered to be the pinnacle of late medieval German literature in the Czech lands. In 1404, the Žatec castle is mentioned for the first time.

Žatec played an important role during the Hussite revolution. Initially, at a time of strong influence of Chiliasm, it was even considered one of the five cities (along with the "city of the Sun" of Pilsen, Louny, Klatovy and Slany), which will escape destruction in the coming end of the world. Important Hussite priests Petr Němec and Petr Špička worked in the town. In 1421, the town withstood the attack of the Second Crusade to Bohemia. Together with the towns of Louny and Slaný, the Žatec-Louny association was formed, headed by Jakoubek of Vřesovice.

The Hussite period
In the 16th century, Žatec was one of the largest Czech towns and was the center of the Žatec region. It remained a regional town until 1850.

White mountain
Žatec also joined the estate uprising. His former mayor - Maxmilián Hošťálek of Javořice - was one of 27 Czech insurgents executed on June 21, 1621 in the Old Town Square. The Thirty Years' War meant a significant decline and the gradual Germanization of the hitherto ethnically predominantly Czech city.

From the 18th century to the occupation
The 18th and 19th centuries meant the further development of brewing and hop growing in and around the city. In those days, for example, a new brewery was founded on the site of the former castle on Žižkov Square (where it is to this day), a hop association and a hop market. As far as administrative development is concerned, Žatec remained the seat of the region even after the reform of the regional establishment in 1788, and from 1850 it fell into the status of a district town. In 1930, the city had a population of 18,000, mostly of German nationality, and in October 1938, after the Munich Dictate, it was annexed to the Third Reich as part of the Sudetenland.

World War II
Zatec became the border town of the Third Reich. At the end of World War II, the city served as one large infirmary and hiding place for fleeing Wehrmacht soldiers. A military airport was built near the city, which was used to test new, perhaps even "miraculous" (according to the Reich leader Hitler) weapons and other aircraft. According to eyewitnesses from nearby villages (Vyškov, Blažim, Počerady…), an aircraft with a vertical takeoff and landing, not unlike a circular flying saucer, was probably also tested here, but it was definitely not a helicopter. Such a machine frightened a group of women working in a field not far from Vyškov in the autumn of 1944, when it landed in the field within sight and two pilots got out of it. The military airport with a concrete runway then served the army of the Czechoslovak Republic and the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic long after the war, and the squadron stationed here was primarily tasked with guarding the western border with Germany. In the early 1960s, two MiG-15s took off from there against an intruder, represented by two US Army Typhoon-type machines from a base in Germany. One machine was partially damaged by light shooting of the pilot from the Zatec base. Even so, he managed to return over the territory of Germany, where he made an emergency landing a few km outside the border. This incident is the only documented combat contact between Czechoslovak pilots and NATO pilots.

Oldřich Pelčák, a later member of the planned first non-Russian and non-US space crew, also served among the pilots of the Žatec airport, where the second candidate from the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic was Vladimír Remek, who was eventually selected for this task. In the 1980s and early 1990s, Václav Vašek served here and excellently represented the art of Czech military pilots, who, in addition to Russian and Ukrainian pilots, was the only one to perform an element of high aerial acrobatics, the so-called "Bell", with a top supersonic aircraft.

Shortly before the end of the war, an air raid was carried out on today's western railway station. Zatec was liberated by the Red Army.

From the end of World War II until 1989

After the Second World War, the German population was displaced and settled in Bohemia. At the turn of May and June 1945, there was a wild deportation in Žatec carried out by members of the Revolutionary Guards and the army. These actions culminated in the Postoloprt massacre.

In the summer of 1948, 24 Avia S-199 aircraft (disassembled into individual parts and stored in the bowels of large aircraft) were sent from the Žatec airport as part of Czechoslovakia's military aid to the newly formed state of Israel (the so-called Žatec-Haifa action). In accordance with the same action in support of the new state of Israel from the Žatec airport (codenamed Etzion) also launched fully militarily 3 so-called flying forts with a stopover at the base in Italy and aiming over Egypt, where they bombed Egyptian positions and helped maintain part of the military. forces that could not intervene in the invasion of Israel. The pilots were Americans or English.

During the administrative reform, on June 1, 1960, Žatec did not politically "defend" the title of the district town, which became Louny, 20 km away. In 1961, Žatec was declared a city monument reserve. During the 70's and 80's there was a stormy construction of housing estates, especially in the western and southern part of the city, valuable suburban farms and large neighborhoods from the 19th and early 20th century are liquidated. The historical core of the town is dilapidated, most of the funds, redistributed to the district, belong to the new district town of Louny. District offices, a court, some strategic companies (a dairy, etc.) are gradually being removed from Žatec, and an ice rink has been built in Louny from the cooling facility of the new dairy line. This situation persisted until 1989, when Žatec embarked on the path of his own renewal.

Today, there is a gradual restoration of historical monuments. Some buildings in the city are falling into disrepair, but their restoration is already underway. The eastern part of the city center is very bad (ie the area of ​​Chelčické náměstí), as it was inhabited by inadaptable inhabitants in earlier years. In 2006, the Svobody Square (the area in front of the town hall) was reconstructed.

The city has a hospital, grammar school, 2 business academies, two vocational schools, 4 primary schools, kindergartens and a special primary school and 2 railway stations. Furthermore, a theater with digital cinema and 3D cinema, summer cinema. Žatecké noviny and Žatecký týdeník are published. Security is provided by the Fire and Rescue Service, the city police and the Police of the Czech Republic, the city is home to a military garrison (4th Rapid Deployment Brigade). Work is underway on the major renovation and rebuilding of the barracks in a modern military town in the city.

At the turn of the millennium, unemployment in the Louny district increased to about 15% at the beginning of 2006. In 2008, on the other hand, it dropped significantly to about 7%, which was caused by the massive construction of factories around Žatec, Louny and Podbořany.