On July 3, 1866, a decisive battle of the Prussian-Austrian war took place in the wide vicinity of the village of Chlum, which went down in history as the Battle of Sadova or Hradec Kralove. The battle gained the status of the 2nd largest battle of the 19th century and at the same time the largest battle that took place on Czech territory. The Museum of War 1866 is all you need to experience such memorable event.
The result of the conflict, in which Austria ended in defeat, was the path to the unification of Germany under the influence of Prussia. At the same time, the foundations of the power blocs (later Triple Alliance and Triple Entente) were laid, which later clashed in the First World War. The War of 1866 is at the root of World War I and represents one of the important milestones in modern European history. The defeat in the war of 1866 brought about the genesis of Austria-Hungary and, in its attachment to Germany, its fall.
AFTER THE WAR
The victims of the war first resembled spontaneously established simple crosses. They were established mainly by the families of the fallen, to a lesser extent by military units that took part in the war of 1866. A significant role fell to the Prussian Knights of St. John, whose commissioners bought land in Chlum, where the shaft graves of Prussian soldiers were located, in order to establish a Prussian military cemetery.
In November 1888, the former battlefield was visited by retired centurion Jan Nepomuk Steinsky, a veteran of the Prussian-Austrian war. On December 2, 1888, Steinsky founded the Committee for the Preservation of Monuments on the Hradec Kralove Battlefield. The growth of interest in the history of the Prussian-Austrian war fueled tourism and the development of tourism helped to improve the battlefield and keep memories of what happened in 1866.
In 1891, when 227 monuments were already standing, the first guide to the battlefield was published. In 1904, the first tourist sign was created. The further development of monument care on the Hradec Kralove battlefield from 1866 was stopped by the First World War. The social position of the association naturally changed after the establishment of the Czechoslovak Republic in 1918. The association for the preservation of monuments on the Hradec Králové battlefield survived difficult times, but even so, the development of the monument zone in terms of the construction of new monuments has ceased. In 1927, Václav Volf published his memoirs on the events of the Prussian-Austrian conflict, the book was published in 1934 in the second edition and in German translation.
HISTORY OF MUSEUM
From 1910, the Committee sought to establish a museum commemorating the Prussian-Austrian war. On July 3, 1936, a new museum dedicated exclusively to the Prussian-Austrian war was ceremoniously opened. Construction costs reached CZK 45,000. The exposition of the War Museum was equipped from the collections of members of the association and donations from its supporters. In 1937, the collection of the War Museum in Chlum numbered 321 items. In 1936, a new tourist signage of the Hradec Kralove battlefield was made.
At the beginning of the 1950s, the Association for the Preservation of Monuments on the Battlefield in Hradec Kralove was dissolved and its property nationalized. The celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Hradec Kralove were banned in 1966. Until 1993, the museum building was managed by the District Office in Hradec Kralove, subsequently the building became part of the Museum of Eastern Bohemia in Hradec Kralove. On July 1, 1996, the battlefield near Hradec Kralove was declared a monument zone. Between 2008 and 2010, the museum underwent extensive reconstruction, while the building from 1936 was preserved.
For more information about the Hradec Kralove Region, from which this museum comes, click here and here.