The Hradec Králové region lies in eastern Bohemia and is very diverse, both geographically as well as culturally. The northwest consists of the Silesian and Sudeten borderlands, while the west includes the more rural Polabí regions. The north contains the Krkonoše (Giant) Mountains, with the country’s highest peak, Sněžka, split by the Polish border. The Orlické Hory mountain range runs through the northwest. Hradec Králové is a large cultural center boasting fantastic modernist architecture (most importantly designed by architects Jan Kotěra and Josef Gočár who significantly defined the city’s character), as well as a long tradition of drama — Klicperovo divadlo, Divadlo Drak, and the festival Divadlo evropských regionů. The most important funded regional organization in the sphere of fine art is the Gallery of Modern Art in Hradec Králové. The MENU Music initiative runs many alternative music projects, recently also adopting the spaces of the former silo near the main train station, which they have since revitalized. The showcase WTG Gallery v Podchodu can be found downtown, and the city’s overall graphic environment is cultivated by the duo Upupaepop. Other centers in the region include Náchod which boasts its Gallery of Fine Arts, Jaroměř (a city gallery, the Bastion IV artist colony), Hořice (a city museum with a sculpture gallery and a tradition of sculpture-related symposia stretching back to the 1960s), nad Rychnov nad Kněžnou’s Orlická galerie. The private non-profit gallery Luxfer in Česká Skalice is also very active, as is the UFFO gallery in Trutnov. Barchov is home to the CHOV gallery, run by Kristýna Pozlerová in the space of a local bus stop.
Broumov is an especially culturally rich county. Currently, the wide range of local cultural activities is supported by the organization Agentura pro rozvoj Broumovska. Its primary objective was to save the Broumov monastery and its garden, which has since largely been restored, also with the aid of donations. The monastery is used by the Vzdělávací a kulturní centrum Broumov, which offers many events, including educational courses as part of their University of the Third Age, operating the Galerie Dům and the Dětská galerie Lapidárium, and organizing residencies in the Literární domek. Broumov also has a unique set of Baroque churches designed by Kryštof Dientzenhofer and his son Killian Ignác, which nowadays provide the setting for the festival of classical music Za poklady Broumovska. Petr Bergmann was once a key person in Broumov’s indie culture, and he now operates the Institut regionální paměti which focuses on the study of local histories. And in the sphere of independent music, there is the Soulkostel in Vernéřovice, also located in Broumov county.
The Hradec Králové region is home to a number of theater and literary festivals (Jiráskův Hronov, Šrámkova Sobotka, and author Jaromír Typlt is active in the Nová Paka area). Kopidlno features the Arboretum and some beautiful art-nouveau greenhouses. Furthermore, the region includes the Baroque compound of the Kuks chateau, including the series of sculptures of the Nativity by Braun, scattered throughout the surrounding landscape. Říčky in the Orlické Hory mountains is home to a traditional and still partly functional artist colony. Artist Miloš Šejn is active in the Jičín area, and he often works in the surroundings of the Zebín hill and Krkonoše. There is also the cultural center Balbineum in the Jesuit college, which focuses on the overlaps between ecology, craft and art, and which also collaborates with the Regional Museum and Gallery Jičín. The Baroque Valdštějnská lodžie offers space for the non-profit organization Valdštejnské imaginárium, which connects live art performance with alternative culture while remaining very oriented towards community building.
The region is home to a high percentage of people over eighty years of age who mostly live in Hradec Králové county and has one of the oldest populations in the CR. There is also a great discrepancy between Hradec Králové and other (mountainous) regions in terms of the levels of education and development achieved. The mountainous regions of Krkonoše have seen a great increase in tourists over the past few years, and this trend has been accelerating during the coronavirus epidemic. The undisciplined tourists pose a threat to the endangered black grouse population, and the keepers of the KRNAP national park use volunteers in an attempt to preserve its habitat. Broumov county is also part of the former Sudetenland, and the history of the post-war expulsion of the Germans remains an important topic to this day. There have been problems in the borderlands, which are struggling with an exodus of residents while facing problems of social ostracization and being home to many people implicated in repossession proceedings. The construction of the D11 highway is a continuing problem, and is supposed to eventually lead through the Krkonoše foothills towards Poland.
Kristýna Pozlerová, Lenka Dolanová