The oldest building in the town is the Church of St James the Greater built in 1224-1226.
Originally a parish church, now a cemetery church St James´s belongs to the North-western group of Czech late-Romanesque
churches. A choir tower used to stand above rectangular presbytery. A receding Romanesque portal is set in the main
front facing the original core of the settlement.
By the end of the 13th century a new settlement had developed on a raised ground on the left bank of the Bystřice river,
now location of the historic centre. The town was founded on a regular ground plan featuring an elongated oblong market
place and a regular street system. The Church of Archangel Michael is the most significant
Gothic building in town. The original structure of St Nicholas´s church, later consecrated as Archangel Micheal´s,
was built in the last quarter of the 13th century. The typanum of the entrance portal with blind arches and the cross
vaults under the tower (now vestry) remain from this period. Oblong nave is loosely connected with the tower, which is
quadrilateral in the lower section and octagonal in the upper added section. The three-nave hall with inbuilt galleries
is supported by net vault, the presbytery by star vault. Walls around the town with two tower gates were probably built
in the first half of the 14th century. The last visible sections of the town fortifications are preserved under the
Church of Archangel Michael and by the vicarage.
The core of the Town Hall located in the square is from the second half of the 14th century.
The ground floor of the Town Hall used to be fully open with a system of arches adapted to serve as a market hall.
After a fire in 1567 the Town Hall was rebuilt and a central tower was added. At this stage the ground floor was vaulted w
ith cross vault with prominent arrises. Another important example of Renaissance architecture is a diamond-vaulted
baptismal chapel added to the nave of the parish church of St Archangel Michael. Around the
square, there are various townhouses with Gothic basements and Renaissance arches originally
forming open arcades. Houses Nos 9, 18, 20 and the opposite Nos 42, 44, 45
are the most significant examples. At the turn of the 16th century, possibly Kašpar Šlik had a new residence built on
site of a yet unknown building,. The new Renaissance castle was meant to serve as a
residence of the Ostrov line of the Šlik family.
Baroque is the most prominent architectural style in Ostrov. The new owner of the Ostrov estate, Duke Julius Heinrich
von Sachsen-Lauenburg, had the old Šlik castle rebuilt during the Thirty Years War. Ambitious building activity peaked
when the castle garden was modelled. It was then called the eighth wonder of the world.
On the outskirts of the town, the duke built a family mausoleum where he was buried in 1665. In 1666, his widow Anna
Magdalena founded a Piarist college in Ostrov. The area called "Holy Precinct" was gradually
expanded by a group of chapels. In 1685 – 1690, Duke Julius Franz had a new Lauenburg castle
built in front of the Šlik castle, and a large summer-house in the garden. Baroque architecture boomed at the times of
the new owner of the estate, Margrave Ludwig Wilhelm von Baden, and his wife Sibylla Augusta, née Duchess von
Sachsen-Lauenburg. At that time the third, Baden, castle, so called Princes´ Palace, was
built. The castle garden was remodelled in the style of high Baroque and the entrance was closed by the magnificent
White Gate. From the garden side a so-called View Wall was added
to the front of the castle. Baroque architecture appears in the town proper as well, in examples such as house
No 9 featuring a relief of St Mary from around 1700, and house No 44
with a painting of St Mary. An important example of late/Baroque architecture is house No 53
with trough and barrel vaults.
The prominent examples of classicism in the architecture in Ostrov are the Chapel of St John Nepomuk,
with its portico from 1827; and in the castle garden, the Orangery by the Princes´ Palace.
An exceptionally well/preserved example is house is No 122 featuring a timbered upper floor.
Architecture of romantic historicism
After devastating fires in the second half of the 19th century, the fronts of the houses were given then fashionable
look of historicism. The Town Hall got its neo-Gothic face after a fire in 1866.
Neo-Renaissance was a predominant style for residential and public buildings. The first local school, now Municipal
House for Children and Youth, built in 1897 – 1902; and the house No 10 in Staré náměstí can serve as examples.
Art Nouveau, Heimatstil, Art Deco and Modernism
At the turn of the 20th century the town started spreading eastwards and to the northwest from the railway station. In
these areas, there appeared two self-contained neighbourhoods consisting of individual houses. The most significant
Art-Nouveau houses are Nos 292 and 294 in Jáchymovská ulice. The style of Art Nouveau, simple and modest in general,
appeared on a number of fronts in the historic town centre: Nos 11, 12 and 13 in Staré náměstí, Dlouhá ulice and Žižkova
ulice. House No 18 is an example of Heimatstil, with traditional timbered gable. Art Deco architecture is represented
in Ostrov particularly by house No 15 in Staré náměstí and house No 127, built by local master builder Hugo Schöberl in
Zahradní ulice in 1914, and in Nádražní ulice Dr. Gross´s house No 320, designed by architect Karel Ernstberger in 1925.
In 1928 – 1931 a district old people´s home was built in Hroznětínská ulice on the design of architect Adolf Merretich
from Karlovy Vary. This building with high arched attic gable now houses a policlinic.
Architecture of socialist realism (SORELA)
Due to the development of uranium ore mining a new town appeared in 1946-1960 in the open fields in vicinity of the
old Ostrov. With its monumental columned portico, a particularly dominant feature is the Cultural Institute
(Dům kultury) built in Mírové náměstí in 1954 – 1955. Other notable buildings are department store Brigádník, Post
Office, restaurant Družba, school building - now named J. V. Myslbek´s School – and buildings of nurseries and play
schools. For its comprehensive features, the new town in Ostrov is considered one of the most significant examples of
the architecture of the 50s of the 20th century in the Czech Republic.
Text by Mgr. Lubomír Zeman