Rakovník is a town in the western part of the Central Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic located between the cities of Prague and Plzeň. It is located in varying landscape and the huge forest of Křivoklát. The location of the town influenced and still influences the way of life of the inhabitants.
The first evidence of the settlement of the town is known from 1252. Křivoklát was the administrative centre at this time. Rakovník was a market village which together with other villages lies in and adds to the beautiful surroundings of Křivoklát castle.
During the Hussite riots Křivoklát castle was destroyed and Rakovník was captured. The first town fortification dates back to this time along with the building of the town gates. The coat-of-arms was given to Rakovník in 1482.
In 1588 Rakovník received the privileges of a royal town form Rudolf II. Rakovník was well-known throughout the whole of Bohemia because of its brewery.
A great development of the town was fulfilled in the 19th century. It was the beginning of independent offices, new houses and a time when new streets were built. Some new roads were built and old roads repaired and Rakovník was connected to the surroundings towns. A grammar school was opened in 1833, where Zikmund Winter, a well-known writer used to teach in 1874 – 1884. In 1875 Otta´s soap factory was opened. It was later called “Rakona” and today it is “Procter & Gamble.” In 1883 a ceramic factory was established, now it is “Rakovník´s ceramic establishment.”
With the 20th century the development of social and cultural life increased dramatically. Masaryk´s Business Academy, gymnasium and hospital were also built. The two world wars did change life in Rakovník at all. There were no actual fights in Rakovník itself but a lot of people died in concentration camps. The most affected were Jewish families. In 1950 Rakovník became a district town. Today’s borders of our district are from 1960. When Rakovník got over the crises of the wars a lot of people came to the town. Rakovník now has 18000 inhabitants and it is the only big town in the district.
The main feature of Rakovník’s urban monument zone, located in the centre of the town, is the 400 metre-long Husovo Square, where you will find a 16th century town hall with a late Baroque façade. Inside, you will discover a ceiling fresco depicting the town of Rakovník as it looked 250 years ago.The eastern part of the square is dominated by the high Gothic Decanal Church of St Bartholomew, a 14th-century structure with a splendidly decorated interior. The church was built on the site of an older church dedicated to St Nicholas. Adjacent to the church stands a bell tower dating from 1495. With a diameter of 1.6 metres its main bell is one of the largest in the Czech Lands.