Jihlava is known as the oldest upper town of the Czech lands. At the end of the 12th century, a Slavic village with a church of St. John the Baptist became the starting point for colonization of the region, extremely accelerated by the discovery of silver ores at the end of the 1940s. The Silver fever brought miners, craftsmen and traders from all over Europe. The small village could not satisfy their needs and so a new city was built on the opposite bank of the river.
Almost simultaneously, three main church buildings were erected - the parish church of St. James and the Minorite and Dominican Monastery Complexes. Royal privileges guaranteed its prosperity and Jihlava soon became one of the most powerful cities of the kingdom. It was protected by a massive fortification, the square was lined with stone houses with arcades, coins were minted in the city.
The importance of silver mining declined at the end of the 14th century, when the richest veins of pure silver were exploited and mines were affected by earthquakes and floods. However, the economic development of the city was already ensured by trade and craft production (especially drapery), which became an important economic sector for the next three centuries. The great fire in 1523 ended the medieval stage of the construction of the town, later to be restored in the Renaissance style.
The city suffered greatly during the Swedish occupation in the Thirty Years War. The suburbs were burned down, most of the houses were destroyed, and only one eighth of the population remained in the city. It took more than a hundred years before the Jihlava regained material force and cultural spirit. Then, the city was restored in the Baroque style. The most important Baroque building is the Jesuit Church of St. Ignác built together with the dormitory and grammar school in the last quarter of the 17th century.
Another stage of development took place again thanks to clothing. Maria Theresa's draftswoman invited Dutch drapers to the city, whose experience improved production. Thousands of people in the town and its surroundings made their living by clothing; in the second half of the 18th century, Jihlava was the second largest producer of cloth in the monarchy.
The entire urban conservation area declared in 1951 is a unique combination of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture. It will delight every admirer of art monuments and ancient history. There are 213 listed buildings in the historic centre, including 70 monuments.
Source: City of Jihlava