|Location:||Josefov (former Josefstadt) 36km northeast of Hradec Králové.|
APR Sat-Sun 9-12 and 13-16, last tour 15:15.
MAY to SEP Tue-Sun 9-12 and 13-17, last tour 16:15.
OCT Sat-Sun 9-12 and 13-16, last tour 15:15.
Underground corridors only:
Adults CZK 40, Children (6-18) CZK 20, Children (0-5) free, Students CZK 20, Seniors CZK 20, Soldiers CZK 20.
Underground corridors and townhall museum: Adults CZK 50, Children (6-18) CZK 20, Children (0-5) free, Students CZK 20, Seniors CZK 20, Soldiers CZK 20.
|Guided tours:||L=1,000m, D=45min.|
|Address:||Fortress Josefov, Husova 295, 55101 Jaromer, Bohemia, Tel: +420-491-812731. E-mail:|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|1780-1787||constructed by the French general Duhamel de Querlonde.|
|1888||looses official status as a military fortress.|
|1968||confiscated by by Red Army.|
|1971||declared a historic preservation site.|
|1991||Red Army left.|
|Image: satellite view of Josevof by Google maps.|
The city of Josefov is located close to Jaroměř, but while Jaroměř is a real city, Josefov is different and somewhat artificial. It is actually not a city at all, it is a military fortification. The google earth view makes this absolutely clear.
It was built between 1780 and 1787 under the auspices of Josef II, the emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Josefov was originally named Josefstadt after him. The reason for its construction was the threat of Prussia from the north. Fortresses of this type were common at this time, and played an important role in the military strategies. Josefov was designed by the French general Duhamel de Querlonde.
Completed after only seven years, the fortress soon became one of the most important fortresses in the Empire. Up to 12,000 soldiers could be accommodated. But the theories were obviously wrong, neither during the Napoleonic wars nor during the Prussian-Austrian war in 1866 the fortress was of any use. Prussian troops simply bypassed the fortress at a safe distance, as they did not intend to get delayed. As a result the military strategy was changed and the town lost its status as a fortress in 1888. It was still used as barracks and during both world wars it was used for military purposes. During World War I it was a POW camp, with tens of thousands prisoners from Russia, Ukrainia, Serbia, Italia, and other nationalities. During World War II German Troops were stationed here. During the Soviet Invasion in 1968 it was confiscated by by Red Army, who used it until they left in 1991.
Today the city is renovated and used as a normal town. It was declared a historic preservation site in 1971. There are only a minute number of military personnel left. But the defense system of the old fortress is almost unchanged. There are bastions and ditches, and the underground defense system.
The Underground Defense System was the central design rule of the fortress. The huge maze of underground corridors was originally about 45km long. They are actually not underground, the corridors were built during the construction of the fortress. Coverd by enormous amounts of rocks it actually feels underground, and the thick walls offer a certain amount of protection against artillery fire from the enemy. These corridors were probably the largest underground means of defense in Europe during the 19th century.
About 1km of the old passages are shown to the public on guided tours. Participants get candle lanterns, which are the only source of illumination. The idea is, to give a realistic impression how the corridors were actually used. A part of the underground area is furnished with original military equipment. The guide explains the methods of underground combat.
In the main square of nearby Jaromer is a column monument dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Several statues of saints, which were created by the famous baroque sculptor Mathias Bernard Braun, were removed from the monument and are now stored in the underground passages.