Žatec

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Žatec
Municipality
Main square with town hall
Main square with town hall
Coat of arms of Žatec
Coat of arms
Žatec is located in Czech Republic
Žatec
Žatec
Coordinates: 50°19′48″N 13°32′40″E / 50.33000°N 13.54444°E / 50.33000; 13.54444Coordinates: 50°19′48″N 13°32′40″E / 50.33000°N 13.54444°E / 50.33000; 13.54444
Country  Czech Republic
Region Ústí nad Labem
District Louny
Area
 • Total 42.69 km2 (16.48 sq mi)
Elevation 233 m (764 ft)
Population (2006)
 • Total 19,813
 • Density 460/km2 (1,200/sq mi)
Postal code 438 01
Website http://www.mesto-zatec.cz/
The Priests' Gate

Žatec (Czech pronunciation: [ˈʒatɛts]; German: Saaz) is an old town in the Czech Republic, in Louny District, Ústí nad Labem Region. It has a population of 19,813 (2006). The earliest historical reference to Sacz is in the Latin chronicle of Thietmar of Merseburg of 1004. During the 11th century it belonged to the Vršovci - a powerful Czech aristocratic family. A coat-of-arms was given to the inhabitants by Vladislav II for their courage during the storming of Milan, and the place is mentioned as a royal town under Otakar II. From the outbreak of the Hussite Wars 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 Germans were transferred to Germany.

Žatec lies on the Ohře River (Eger), which is spanned here by a suspension bridge, 64 m (210 ft) long, which is the oldest of its kind in Bohemia, having been constructed in 1826. It possesses several ancient churches, of which one is said to date from 1206, and a town hall built in 1559.

Žatec became 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.

During and after the Second World War 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.

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