Pardubice is a city in eastern Bohemia and the capital of the region of the same name. It is located approx. 96 km east of Prague, 50 km east of Kutná Hora and only 24 km south of Hradec Králové. The correct pronunciation of the city’s name is more or less: “pardubitse” and not “pardubeek” or “pardubayk”.
Industry plays an important role in the city and Pardubice may not belong to the top tourist destinations in Czechia. Nevertheless, it has a very impressive central square, a beautiful chateau and is internationally famous for its gingerbread and the Grand Pardubice Steeplechase.
Pernštejn Square (Perštýnské náměstí) belongs to the most beautiful central squares in the whole of Czechia. The square is named after the Lords of Pernštejn, who played a key role in the history of the city.
The highlight of the square is the Neo-Renaissance city hall from the late 19th century. On all sides of the square you will see well-preserved patrician houses. The dominant architectural style in the square is the Renaissance.
As many other central squares in Czech cities and towns, Pernštejn Square features a Marian plague column (Mariánský sloup). It was erected in the late 17th century as thanks for surviving a plague outbreak.
Pardubice Chateau (Pardubický zámek) is a superb example of Renaissance architecture. It is located just a short walk away from Pernštejn Square. Vilém of Pernštejn bought the town in the late 15th century and converted an existing castle into a late Gothic residence.
The next generations of the Pernštejn family continued to reconstruct their seat. The Renaissance reconstruction was led by the Italian architect Ulrico Aostalli de Sala in the second half of the 16th century. Baroque features were added in the 18th century by the Czech architect František Maxmilián Kaňka.
Nowadays, the chateau houses the East Bohemian Museum and the East Bohemian Gallery. You may also find there something that you would probably never expect there: a nuclear fallout shelter. It was built in the chateau’s rampart in the 1950s. The shelter has space for 120 people. If you’re in Pardubice with a group, visiting the shelter can be arranged with the East Bohemian Museum (visiting is possible only on Saturdays).
The Green Gate (Zelená brána) is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the city. It is located between Pernštejn Square (Perštýnské náměstí) and the Republic Square (Náměstí Republiky). Next to the gate, you will see a Tourist Information Center of the Pardubice Region.
The Green Gate consists actually of two structures: the Renaissance front gate itself and the Gothic main gate with a clock tower. The tower is approx. 60 m tall. It is not really green; the name is derived from the colour of the pigment covering the copper roof of the tower.
The Green Gate is open to the public. Visitors can see exhibitions related to the history of the city and the region and also see a beautiful panorama of Pardubice from the tower’s top. The opening times and entrance fees can be found here.
Fans of horse racing will certainly associate the city with the Grand Pardubice Steeplechase (Velká pardubická). The race has been organised in the city since 1874. It is held annually, on the second Sunday in October.
This famous steeplechase has astonishingly high viewership on the Czech TV. In 2017, it was watched by approx. 3,000,000 people in Czechia only, which is nearly 30% of the country’s population! The event is also broadcast in other countries where horse racing is popular.
The most successful horse of all-time was Železník from Czechoslovakia, who won the competition four times. The most successful jockey is Josef Váňa from Czechia with eight wins.
The Golden Helmet of Pardubice (Zlatá přilba) is the oldest motorcycle speedway competition in the world. The first race was held in 1929. Until 1963, the venue was the racetrack of the Grand Pardubice Steeplechase. After that, the competition moved to the speedway stadion in Pardubice-Svítkov. It is held annually, in September or October. More information can be found on the official website.
The city is very famous for its gingerbread (Pardubický perník), which has been produced there for centuries. The European Union granted gingerbread from Pardubice Protected Geographical Indication status (PGI) in 2008. The city even boasts a gingerbread museum.
How to Get to Pardubice
The city is served by an international airport. However, it is a very small one and the number of offered connections is very limited. As a matter of fact, most of these few connections are to holiday destinations in Southern Europe. Therefore, flying to Pardubice won’t be a practical option for most visitors. But this is not an issue, because the airport in Prague is relatively near and it has lots of direct connections with major cities in Europe and on other continents.
Getting to Pardubice from Prague is simple and fast, so you can easily visit the city and return to Prague on the same day. There are very frequent direct trains from Praha hl. n. and typical journey times are between 50 and 60 minutes. Useful websites for checking your connections are listed in this article.
The train station Pardubice-Pardubičky is a little closer to the historic center than the main station (Pardubice hl. n.). However, trains from Prague don’t stop there, so you would need to change at the main station to a local train.
A faster option will be taking a bus or a trolleybus (lines: 2, 6, 8, 9, 12, 13) and getting off e.g. at Náměstí Republiky. The ride will take only a couple of minutes and the connections are very frequent. After you get off at Náměstí Republiky, you will be very close to the Green Gate and the Pernštejn Square. You can also walk from the train station to the center, it is not very far.
A very convenient alternative is private transportation. Obviously, private transportation costs more than public transportation, but it costs less than you might think. If you travel in a group of several people, private transportation can be very attractive and the cost per person will not be so high at all.
The Czech market leader in this field is Prague Airport Transfers. They can drive you from Prague Airport or from any hotel in Prague to Pardubice or another place in Czechia or elsewhere in Central Europe. You have a choice between a sedan car or a minibus. It is a much better option than a taxi, because their rates are much lower than regular taxis and you know the fare in advance.
If your plan is to return on the same day to Prague, you pay only a one-way fare and a very reasonable hourly waiting fee. That is very fair for both sides, because the driver would have to return to Prague anyway. You can find their fares and conditions here.
Interesting Places Nearby
Kutná Hora is a beautiful small town, which competed for importance with Prague centuries ago. Nowadays, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Hradec Králové is one of the oldest Czech cities and boasts a pretty central square.
Kladruby nad Labem is a nearby village famous for the state-owned National Stud and the Kladruber horse breed. The stud farm offers guided tours, which may interest all horse lovers. More info can be found here.
Litomyšl Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Kunětická Hora Castle is a medieval fortress situated on a hill north-east of the city. It belonged to the aforementioned Pernštejn family. The castle appeared in the Czechoslovak TV-series for children Arabela. The series was very popular in some of the former Eastern Bloc countries. This is the castle where the wizard Rumburak lived.
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