It is situated in the centre of a very fertile region called the Golden Road on the confluence of Elbe and Orlice and contains many buildings of historical and architectural interest. The cathedral was founded in 1303 by Elizabeth, wife of Wenceslaus II, and the church of St. John, built in 1710, stands on the ruins of the old castle. During 1920s and 1930s the city grew rapidly and due to many buildings of modern architecture Hradec Králové became known as the Salon of the Republic.
The original name of Hradec Králové, one of the oldest settlements in the Czech Republic, was Hradec (the Castle) only, and Králové (of the queen), was prefixed when it became one of the dower towns of the queen of Wenceslaus II, Elizabeth of Poland, who lived here for thirty years. It remained a dower town till 1620. Hradec Králové was the first of the towns to declare for the national cause during the Hussite Wars. After the Battle of White Mountain (1620) a large part of the Protestant population left the place. In 1639 the town was occupied for eight months by the Swedes. Several churches and convents were pulled down to make way for the fortifications erected under Joseph II. The fortress was finally dismantled in 1884. Near Hradec Králové took place, on July 3, 1866, the decisive battle of the Austro-Prussian War.