Merklín near Přeštice

At a distance of about 10 kilometres from Přeštice, in predominantly agricultural region, lies a town of Merklín (385 metres above sea level, approx. 1,000 inhabitants). Not far from here we will find Merklín lake, a small river Merklínka flows through the municipality.

Already in 1356 a small town with a church and a fortress was mentioned. Negative events of the Thirty Years’ War caused its desolation. The owners of the domain were also changing. Let us remember the Morzin family; at that time the small town began to flourish again. The Pálfy family lived in a castle, a typical feudal residence (firstly mentioned probably as early as in the 17th century) until the year 1945. A Roman Catholic Church of St. Nicholas comes from the 14th century, it was rebuilt in the 17th century. In the year 1685 a Jewish cemetery was founded here.

So called conversion movement which was rather strong in the Pilsen Region after the First World War enabled a foundation of a congregation of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren (ECCB) in Přeštice and Merklín became its preaching station. In the year 1931 a seat of the congregation was however transferred to Merklín. Already in 1930 a foundation stone of a very modern church at that time was laid. The church had a spacious room for Divine service and other rooms for gatherings and a flat for a preacher. The church started to serve its purpose in June 1931. The original church tower was partly wooden and the bells were hanged inside. The combination of wood and masonry was also used for the interior adjustments. In the 50s of the last century a new brick tower was built. The church is surrounded by a nice garden.

Congregations in Merklín and Přeštice creates a union. Therefore it is also good to mention at least briefly the congregation in Přeštice. It was founded already in the year 1923, during the years it was a preaching station of Merklín and in the year 1946 it became an independent congregation again. It was not possible to think of a construction of a new church at that time; therefore the congregation members bought and adjusted a former synagogue and a congregation house. In the year 1974 both buildings were however demolished, they had to make a place for other constructions. These days, the activity of the congregation is concentrated in the congregation house which was built from a family house. Nevertheless, the Protestants of Přeštice did not fully give up the idea of building their own church.

One of the most valuable monuments of Přeštice is a Baroque pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, built in the years 1750–1775. Its builder was Kilián Ignác Dienzenhofer. The author of the altar painting of the Assumption is J. J. Redlmayer. The oldest bell comes from the year 1468. It is interesting that both towers of the church were definitely finished as late as in the 90s of the 20th century during the reconstruction of the church.

Near the church there is a memorial of a musical composer J. J. Ryba who was born in Přeštice on the 16th of October 1765. It is probably not even necessary to mention his famous Christmas mass “Hey, Master”. Another prominent native is Josef Hlávka who was born here on the 15th of February 1831 and who was an architect and a significant patron.