Turnov ( German: ) is a town on the Jizera river in the northern Czech Republic. It has about 14,500 inhabitants and lies in the southern part of Liberec Region. It is a traditional center for gemstone polishing, glass craftsmanship and arts. Turnov lies in the heart of the Bohemian Paradise (Cesky raj) nature reserve which makes it a place for tourists and summer residents. The town is also an important traffic crossroads of three railways and the Prague–Liberec highway. Turnov has a large museum (finalist in European museums competition), three galleries, six churches and a synagogue. The small old town of Middle Ages urbanism is surrounded by modern garden neighbourhoods and large parks representing an organic connection between urban areas and nature. The region is well known for many castles, chateaux and excellent rural architecture.
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Turnov was founded as a Bohemian town in 1272 by Jaroslav and Havel of Markvartice on a spur of rock overlooking the Jizera River. A Dominican cloister was founded by Saint Zdislava, wife of Sir Havel. During the Middle Ages, Turnov came into the possession of the Wartenberg and Smiricky noble houses. The medieval town was frequently vulnerable to fires—it was burnt by Lusatian crusaders in 1468 and during the Thirty Years War by Swedes in 1643, as well as a conflagration in 1707. The first European technical school for the processing of gemstones, metals, and jewelry was founded in Turnov in 1882 and still exists as one of the best schools of this type in the world.
Its Renaissance town hall dates from 1562, while its three historical churches date from throughout the 14th-19th centuries. In a suburb lies the Hruby Rohozec castle, built in 1250 and later reconstructed into a chateau; today it is admissible to the public. The municipality itself is now the owner of the Valdstejn Castle, the cradle of the famous Wallenstein family, which is also open for tourists.
Turnov has long been known for its expertise with gemstones. It attracted many medieval craftsmen and artisans who produced jewelry out the local Bohemian garnet. Its Museum of the Bohemian Paradise has a significant collection of gemstones and jewelry, as well as exhibits on geology, archaeology, and folklore.
Turnov is surrounded by many historical and natural monuments in the Bohemian Paradise, such as the ruins of the Trosky castle, the Hruba Skala castle, the Sedmihorky spa, and many forests with rock formations and hiking paths, making it a popular base for tourism.
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