Aerial view
Location in the Czech Republic
Coordinates: 48°54′32″N 13°53′12″E / 48.90889°N 13.88667°E / 48.90889; 13.88667Coordinates: 48°54′32″N 13°53′12″E / 48.90889°N 13.88667°E / 48.90889; 13.88667
Country Czech Republic
RegionSouth Bohemian
First mentioned1359
 • MayorVít Pavlík
 • Total107.51 km2 (41.51 sq mi)
760 m (2,490 ft)
 • Total3,738
 • Density35/km2 (90/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
384 51

Volary (Czech pronunciation: [ˈvolarɪ]; German: Wallern) is a town in the South Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic. It has about 3,700 inhabitants. It is located in the Bohemian Forest, close to the border with Germany. An area in the northern part of the town with timber-framed Alpine-type buildings is well preserved and is protected by law as a village monument reservation.

Administrative parts

Villages of Chlum and Mlynářovice are administrative parts of Volary.


Volary is located within the southern part of the Bohemian Forest. It is located southeast of Bobík (1,266 metres (4,154 ft) above sea level), which is separated from the south by a ridge from the Vltavická furrow. The town is crossed by the Volarský creek. Other high mountains in the municipal territory include Jedlová (1,089 metres (3,573 ft)), Křemenná (1,085 metres (3,560 ft)), Doupná (1,052 metres (3,451 ft)), Větrný (1,051 metres (3,448 ft)), Mechový vrch (1,012 metres (3,320 ft)), and Na Skále (1,011 metres (3,317 ft)).


The first mention of Volary is from 1359 whe the Prachatice councillor Ondřej from Volary (in Latin Andreas de Wallerii) was listed. The foundation of Volary was connected with the overall colonization of Bohemian Forest in the 13th and 14th centuries. The inhabitants were predominantly ethnic Germans from Bavaria.[2]

Town square with Church of Saint Catherine
Town square with Church of Saint Catherine
Houses on the square with the town hall in the middle
Houses on the square with the town hall in the middle

Until the beginning of the 18th century, the main source of income was the trade on the Golden Trail. Volary was the largest settlement of the carriers on the Czech part of the Prachatice Golden Trail and rapidly grew. They served as a place of rest and overnight stays for carriers, who imported salt and other goods on horses along an important medieval road from Passau to Prachatice. The shape of the square has also been adapted to the route of the trail. In the 16th century, during the heyday of the trail, there were 13 pubs and four blacksmiths in Volary. In 1596, Peter Vok of Rosenberg extended the Volary privileges for the right to seize horses and charge of merchants who deviated from the prescribed direction of the trail and avoided Volary.[2]

Until the Hussite Wars, Volary was among the possessions of the Vyšehrad Chapter. After the Hussite Wars, several Czech families settled here. From 1503, the Rosenberg family became the owners of the settlement, and in 1600, it was acquired by Emperor Rudolf II. After 1719, it became a property of the Schwarzenberg family, who owned it until the revolution in 1848.[2]

The Thirty Years' War led to the decline of the salt trade on the Golden Trail, instead it served the imperial army as a supply route. The area was several times a place of battles and Volary was the target of attacks by troops of both sides. After the war, trading on the Golden Trail never returned to its previous level. In the 18th century, following the abolition of the salt trade, the Golden Trail sank into insignificance; this also led to the demise of Volary. It became a stagnant and insignificant settlement.[3]

19th–20th centuries

In the late 19th century the market town of Volary consisted of 224 houses with 2,069 German speaking inhabitants. Under the patronage of the authorities, the parish Church of Saint Catherine and the school were built and maintained. There was also in a public chapel of St. Florian and a town hall. The main sources of income were agriculture, cattle breeding and cattle fattening, linen weaving and the production of yarns. Every year Volary sold about 400 steers to Prague. The deposited borough was surrounded by agriculturally used meadows with numerous wooden houses, hay barns and traditional alpine architecture which gave the area along with the special construction of the houses an alpine character. The mostly wooden houses of Volary were built on flat land, close to each other, combined with large stones, gabled roofs and gabled fronts.

On 22 July 1863, a major fire destroyed 59 houses, the church and the school; the next day Volary was hit by a storm, in which the long-Wiesenbach burst its banks. During the reconstruction after the fire of 1863, the typical Volary houses were not built entirely of wood, but partly with walls of stone and brick. Overall between 1856–1882 in the town there were eight major fires mostly consisting of wooden houses. In 1865 a post office was opened in Volary, and in 1869 there was a telegraph office. From 1868, the municipality belonged to the district Prachatice.[citation needed]

In 1871 Volary was promoted by Emperor Franz Joseph I to a town and its coat of arms was confirmed.[2] In 1873 a state vocational school for woodworking was opened. On 3 November 1874, Judicial District Volary was formed and brought the town to the seat of a district court. In 1879 a brewery was built, as well as numerous wood processing companies and sawmills and a bicycle chain factory were in the second half of the 19th century in the town founded. The State College for woodworking moved in 1894 a newly constructed school building. 1899 Volary received a rail connection in the course of the extension of the railway line Číčenice-Prachatice. In the same year the railway Lenora-Volary went into operation, the section between Lenora and Vimperk was inaugurated in 1900. Ten years later, the rail link was extended to the Bavarian Haidmühle. Until the founding of Czechoslovakia, the town was part of Austria-Hungary. During the First Republic an increasing influx of Czechs took place. In 1923 Volary was connected to the electricity grid. In 1924 was a new dairy in operation.[citation needed]

In pre-World War II there was a Czech school and a Czech kindergarten as well as several Czech clubs. During World War II in 1941, the owner of Metallwarenfabrik Knäbel and Co. OHG, Oskar Knäbel, took over the management of the former paper mill Franzensthal in the valley of the Teplá Vltava under the code name "Möbelwerke Franzensthal AG" and built an underground production plant of the Messerschmitt AG.[citation needed]

Volary Death March

11 May 1945, US troops force Sudeten Germans in Volary to walk past corpses of Jewish women who died in th death march
11 May 1945, US troops force Sudeten Germans in Volary to walk past corpses of Jewish women who died in th death march

The "Volary Death March" involved more than 1,300 Jewish women over the course of over 550 miles and 106 days and nights. On 20 January 1945, around 1,000 female Jewish prisoners were evacuated from a camp at Schlesiersee in Western Poland. The women and girls had been sent there from Auschwitz-Birkenau a few months earlier, in order to dig anti-tank trenches to slow the Red Army's advance. More than a thousand others had to march southwest toward Germany. As they passed more camps, such the one at Grünberg, more women had to join the death march.[4]

After the addition of about 300 inmates from Grünberg, on 29 January 1945 approximately 1,350 women set off for a 106-day-long march. By 6 March 1945, the 1,350 women had been reduced to 621. The remaining prisoners arrived at the Helmbrechts camp in Germany. The women received almost no food, and no medical treatment.[4]

The women were forced onwards, until those who were still standing made it to Volary in Czechoslovakia on 5 May 1945. There, American forces liberated the women. Of the 1,350 forced on the death march, only 118 were still living. Those who were alive were in terrible condition; although the Americans took them to an improvised hospital, twenty-six died within days. 17 victims of the death march were buried in a mass grave near Volary, another eight women died in a nearby military hospital.[4]

Post-war events

Following the end of World War II, the town was returned to Czechoslovakia. As of March 1946, the German population were expelled due to the Beneš decrees.

In 1961, the municipalities of Chlum and Mlynářovice were incorporated into Volary.[5]


Historical population
Source: Historical lexicon of municipalities of the Czech Republic[6]


Through Volary the state road I/39 leads between Vimperk and Horni Planá, which branches off to Prachatice from the centre in the road II/141. The town lies on the railway lines ČíčeniceHaidmühle and Strakonice–Volary.


Church of Saint Catherine
Church of Saint Catherine
A house built in the Volary Alpine style
A house built in the Volary Alpine style

The main landmark of the town is the Church of Saint Catherine. It was built in 1669–1690 on the site of a late Gothic church. From the previous church remained a small portal under the tower. During the 18th century, the church was repeatedly severely damaged by fires caused by lightning strikes. Today's appearance of the building is a result of the reconstructions in 1757 and 1863.[2]

The most valuable buildings of the town include preserved unique old wooden houses of the Alpine style. They are timbered or half-timbered houses with an attic room, a carved porch in a suspended gable and a gabled roof. There is also the Volary Museum in one of these timbered houses. The area is protected as a village monument reservation.[2]

On the special cemetery of victims of the death march there is the Memorial of Victims of the Death March.[2]

Notable people

Twin towns – sister cities

See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in the Czech Republic

Volary is twinned with:[7]


  1. ^ "Population of Municipalities – 1 January 2021". Czech Statistical Office. 2021-04-30.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Historie města" (in Czech). Město Volary. Retrieved 2021-08-25.
  3. ^ "O Zlaté stezce" (in Czech). Město Prachatice. Retrieved 2021-08-25.
  4. ^ a b c http://www.jspacenews.com/death-march-volary-goal-everyone-die-along-way/
  5. ^ "Historický lexikon obcí České republiky 1869–2011" (in Czech). Czech Statistical Office. 2015-12-21. pp. 185, 340.
  6. ^ "Historický lexikon obcí České republiky 1869–2011 – Okres Prachatice" (in Czech). Czech Statistical Office. 2015-12-21. pp. 19–20.
  7. ^ "Partnerská města" (in Czech). Město Volary. Retrieved 2021-08-25.