Žatec (Czech pronunciation: [ˈʒa.tɛt͡s]; German: Saaz) is a town in Louny District, Ústí nad Labem Region, in the Czech Republic. It has about 19,000 inhabitants.
It is famous for an over-700-year-long tradition of growing Saaz noble hops used by several breweries. Žatec produces its own beer and hosts 'Dočesná', its hops-related harvest festival every year on the town square.
The earliest historical reference to the Bohemian fortress of Sacz is in the Latin chronicle of Thietmar of Merseburg of 1004, when King Henry II of Germany reconquered it from the Polish duke Bolesław I Chrobry. During the 11th century it belonged to the Vršovci – a powerful Czech aristocratic family. It received the privileges of a royal town under King Ottokar II of Bohemia in 1265. A coat-of-arms was given to the citizens by King Vladislaus II for their courage during the storming of Milan.
From the outbreak of the Hussite Wars in 1419 to the Thirty Years' War, the town was Hussite or Protestant, but after the Battle of White Mountain (1620) the greater part of the Czech inhabitants left the town, which remained German and Roman Catholic until 1945, when the German speaking inhabitants were forced to leave their home and expelled to Germany. On June 3, 1945 about 5,000 German inhabitants were gathered on the Market place and marched to Postoloprty, where at least 763 were murdered in the Postoloprty massacre, estimates range up to 2,000 victims killed by Czechoslovak military in Žatec and on the March.
During and after the World War II a Messerschmitt production facility and air base for testing aircraft, including new jet fighters, was located close to the town. In 1948 the production facility continued to produce the Avia S-199, a version of the Messerschmitt Bf 109 aircraft which were sold to Israel, with the initial training for the Israeli pilots provided at the air base. Many other military supplies were flown to Israel from the air base, which helped the new state to secure its independence.
In popular culture
In 2018, Žatec was used as one of the locations for the Oscar-winning film, Jojo Rabbit.
- Johannes von Tepl (c. 1350 – c. 1415), writer
- Eugen Gura (1842–1906), German operatic baritone
- Gabriel Anton (1858–1933), Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist
- Adolf Strauss (1902–1944), pianist and composer
- Maria Treben (1907–1991), Austrian author and herbalist
- Karel Reiner (1910–1979), composer and pianist
- Peter Glaser (1923–2014), Czech-American scientist and aerospace engineer
- Zdeněk Svěrák (born 1936), actor, humorist and scriptwriter
- Petr Kotvald (born 1959), singer
- Miroslav Varga (born 1960), sports shooter, Olympic winner
- Jan Svěrák (born 1965), film director
Twin towns – sister cities
Žatec is twinned with: