Polná (Czech pronunciation: [ˈpolnaː]) is a town in Jihlava District in the Vysočina Region of the Czech Republic. It has about 5,200 inhabitants. The centre of the town is historically significant and is protected by law as urban monument zone.
Villages of Hrbov, Janovice, Nové Dvory and Skrýšov are administrative parts of Polná.
Founded in the second half of the 12th century, it is first mentioned in a written document in 1242. At that time, there had already been a church in Polná. Originally, Polná was a forest collier settlement, and not far from it there was built a castle called Polná, originally Polmna. The town lies on the line between two historic Czech lands – Bohemia and Moravia, therefore the town became an important mercantil and tactical point.Polná became the centre of Polná (later Polná-Přibyslav) domain. During its existence, Polná was, most of the time, part of significant aristocrat families' property. After the lords of Polná, the lords of Lipá owned the town, from the half of the 14th century Polná was owned by the lords of Pirkenštejn. During the Hussite Wars, Hynek Ptáček of Pirkenštejn, a hussite nobleman, ruled over Polná and bought also the nearby town of Přibyslav. Victor, son of the Czech king George of Poděbrady who bestowed Polná significant town rights and the coat of arms, got Polná by marriage with Žofie Ptáčková (daughter of Hynek Ptáček).
In the 15th century, Trčeks of Lípa owned the town followed by the Wallensteins, lords of Hradec and Žejdlices of Šenfeld. In 1623 Rudolf Žejdlic's property was confiscated because of his revolt against the Emperor. All the domain was bought by cardinal František of Ditrichštejn who changed the town's privileges and the coat of arms. Polná belonged to the Ditrichštejns' property almost 300 years.In the 17th century a Jewish community settled in Polná.In 1794 the castle (rebuilt to a chateau) burned down and was never completely restored again.
In the 19th century Polná was the centre of Czech culture for large locality and formed a counterbalance to the German-speaking city of Jihlava. In the half of the 19th century 6,500 people lived in Polná, which made it the third largest town in the Vysočina Region (after Jihlava and Třebíč).
In August 1863, a tragedy took place in Polná. A giant fire destroyed 189 houses and 456 families lost their homes. Many baroque and renaissance houses were ruined. Many people moved from the town. The fact that the Northwest Railroad were built 6 kilometers far from Polná caused another economical decline of the town. Railroad Dobronín-Polná was built in 1903 but since 1982 the passenger traffic does not carry on.The most significant incident of the 19th century was the murder of 19-year-old Anežka Hrůzová in the Březina forest. A Polná Jew, Leopold Hilsner, was wrongfully accused of the crime. Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, later the first president of Czechoslovakia, engaged himself in this affair.
In 1906, the telephone network were installed in Polná. A power plant was built in 1911. During the World War II most of the Jewish community died in concentration camps. Only three Polná Jews survived the war.
In 1949 Polná became part of the Havlíčkův Brod District. In 1960, after another territorial reorganization it became part of the Jihlava District.
Polná is a town with many medium-sized industries. Most important types of industries are wood-working industry and food industry (especially dairy products). Also textile industry is present in the town.
Every second weekend in September, the so-called "carrot fun fair" or "carrot-bun fun fair" (Czech: mrkvancová pouť) is organized in Polná.
Klešter is a glen where there led an ancient merchant path from Moravia to Bohemia. Klešter is a unique technical landmark of the Middle Ages. It was about 500 m long, partially cut in a rock.
Polná Castle was built approximately in 1320 on a point above the junction of the Šlapanka river and the Ochozský brook. It was rebuilt to a large gothic castle. In the 15th century its rampart was extended (incl. three ponds; one of them, Peklo, meaning Hell, exists to date). After a fire in 1584 the castle was reconstructed to a renaissance chateau. In 1645 and 1647 it was burned down by Swedes. After a vast fire in 1794 it started to wasteaway. In recent days the chateau was repaired and today it serves as a branch of the Vysočina Museum.
Church of Assumption of the Virgin Mary was built between 1700 and 1705, the tower in 1714. Author of the project was Italian builder Domenico D'Angeli. The building is 63 m long, 26 m wide and 22 m high. Inside the church there is a rich stucco decoration, tapestry, 10 altars, a font of tin (1617) and an organ by Jan David Sieberg (it is the biggest organ preserved organ in the Czech lands). The tower was destroyed by the 1863 fire and rebuilt in 1895. It is 64 m high.
Church of Saint Catherine was built in 1378–1389 by Jan Ptáček of Pirkenštejn. In 1906–1910 fragments of wall frescoes from the 15th and 16th centuries were discovered.
Jewish Town is situated south-east from the town's main square (Hus Square). There is a preserved and reconstructed synagoge there. The Jewish cemetery can be found north-west of the town. The oldest gravestones are from the 17th century, the youngest one is from 1940.
Hus Square makes the centre of the town. On the square there are deanery with the "Kaplanka" building (the former seat of the vicariate), Baroque Trinity Column and "Hastrmanka" Fountain, colloquially called "Vodník" (water sprite).
Other sights include Church of Saint Barbara with a cemetery and building of the Old School.
Antonín Pittner (1814–1897), Czech national revival personality, town mayor
Božena Němcová (1820–1862), writer, lived here in 1840–1842
Karel Knittl (1853–1907), composer and conductor
Vlasta Pittnerová (1853–1926), writer
Karel Ludvík Klusáček (1865–1929), painter
Leopold Hilsner (1876–1928), victim of judicial error