In the Footsteps of the Liebieg Family

The story of the Liebig family perfectly exemplifies the industrial boom and its effects on the development of the city, its new lifestyle and culture. The Liebiegs left an indelible mark on the Liberec architecture due to the fact that they were not only skilled entrepreneurs, but also enlightened engineers and generous patrons.INCITY App.

The founder of the dynasty of textile tycoons was Johann Liebieg Sr (1802-1870) who came from Broumov in Eastern Bohemia and settled in Liberec in 1818. His tenacity and hard work made it possible for him to evolve from a simple drapery worker to a small trader and eventually to one of the most successful industrialists in the monarchy. His business activities were not limited to textile production and Liberec. The Liberec factory Johann Liebieg & Co. was closely connected to the creation of settlements for employees known as Liebieg small town (Liebiegovo městečko, No. 13).  The following people were involved in its construction: the founder of the dynasty by managing the construction of the workers’ house, his descendants – daughter Marie Liebiegová (1835-1914), by initiating the construction of the social facilities for the female workers’ children and the church of St.Vincent de Paula, partly his son Johann Liebieg the younger (1836-1917) and especially his grandson Theodor Liebieg Jr (1872-1939).

For their own use, the family built three representative seats: The Villa of Johann Liebieg Jr (No. 4)., the Villa of Theodor Liebieg Jr (No. 11) and the Villa of the founder’s son Heinrich Liebieg  (1839-1904)  (No. 8) , who is known today primarily as an art collector and patron. He was also instrumental in the construction of a tourist restaurant with a lookout tower known as Liberecká výšina (No. 7). The founder’s brother Franz Liebieg (1799-1878) left the company in 1831 because of poor health. After his recovery he established his own company in Vesec. He is also connected with the construction of the tomb (No. 2) at the former civic cemetery. His descendants are known primarily as generous contributors in the construction of the new Liberec town hall (No. 1) in 1893.  In 1881 his son Ludwig Liebieg (1846–1909) bought the house No. 20/V in the present day street 8. března, which was built by the factory owner Adolf Schmidt based on the architectural design of Gustav Sachers on the site of the old post office.

The escutcheon displays the coat of arms of the family, which marked the Liebiegs’ newly acquired noble status. Johann Liebieg Sr. and Franz Liebieg Sr. were ennobled for their achievements in the industry; the first was awarded the hereditary title of Baron and the latter was knighted. The Liebiegs cooperated with a number of architects and engineers from Liberec and abroad. Nevertheless, the most fruitful cooperation the Liebiegs established was with a Nuremberg architect, Jakob Schmeissner, who deserves to be called their chief architect.



Dam Water Reservoir Harcov (under reconstruction)

The Harcov water reservoir, also called the Harcovská Dam or Liberecká Dam, is situated not far from the centre of the city, in the valley of the Harcovský Brook, surrounded with forest from one side and with a peaceful villa quarter from the other side.
Address:460 15 LiberecGPS:50°46'7.6''N; 15°04'12.0''E[Map]

The Liberec dam is undergoing reconstruction. It will remain without water until approximately mid-2025.

The first brick dam in Europe

Did you know that a concrete dam is better than a loose one "because mice and rats can't chew through it"? And that an arched dam is more water-resistant than a straight one? These ideas were shown to work by Europe’s best dam builder, Prof. Otto Intze from Aachen in his project designed to protect Liberec from future devastating floods. Thanks to Prof. Intze, the Harcov Dam, built in 1902–1904, was the first brick dam in Europe, and was reinforced with Liberec granite as well as concrete. 

Protection against floods

One natural catastrophe that has afflicted Liberec in the past has been high flood waters. These were not particularly unusual, but in 1897 the city was hit by a truly devastating flood. Measurements showed the highest amount of rainfall of anywhere in Central Europe (an incredible 345 mm was recorded in the Jizera Mountains), and although the floods affected the whole of north-eastern Bohemia, the Liberec region was hit the worst. Millions of crowns worth of damage were caused in the Nisa floodplain, and some 120 people died in Bohemia alone. As a result, the decision was taken to build 6 dams in the Jizera Mountains (only 5 of them were actually constructed), and these were practically the first heavy-duty brick dams in Europe.

Jizera Mountains full of dams

A total of five of the six planned dams were eventually built. Besides the one in Liberec, these were the Mšeno, Bedřichov, Fojtka and Mlýnice dams. They were built in the wake of the devastating floods in the late 19th century, particularly the one in 1897, which had catastrophic consequences for the people living in the foothill regions. The materials needed to build them were supplied by local entrepreneurs, including the Liebiegs. Johann Liebieg & Co. used water from the Liberec dam for their textile mill, and the water was also piped to the mansion of Theodor Liebieg Junior.