Liberec is a city in the Czech Republic. Located on the Lusatian Neisse and surrounded by the Jizera Mountains and Ještěd-Kozákov Ridge, it is the fifth-largest city in the Czech Republic.
Settled by German and Flemish migrants from the 14th century until their expulsion after World War II, Liberec was once home to a thriving textile industry and hence nicknamed the "Manchester of Bohemia". For many Czechs, Liberec is mostly associated with the city's dominant Ještěd Tower. Since the end of the 19th century, the city has been a conurbation with the suburb of Vratislavice and the neighboring town of Jablonec nad Nisou. Therefore, the total area with suburbs encompasses 150,000 inhabitants. This makes Liberec the third-largest city (with suburbs) in Bohemia after Prague and Plzeň.
Liberec's prominent buildings are the Town Hall (1893), the Liberec Castle (Liberecký zámek), built in the 16th century, and the Ještěd Tower (1968) upon the Ještěd Mountain, build by architect Karel Hubáček, which became a symbol of the city. Václav Havel held a broadcast from the site of the tower in 1968; a plaque beside the tower marks this event. Contemporary buildings of note are also to be found, primarily the work of the firm SIAL, and include the new Regional Research Library (2000) and the Česká Pojišťovna office building (1997). Neo-Renaissance F. X. Šalda theatre was built in 1871-1872. Centrum Babylon Liberec include a large water park, an amusement park, a casino, shopping court and hotel.
The zoo in Liberec was the first to be opened in Czechoslovakia in 1919. The zoo contains a wide variety of fauna (about 143 species on 13 ha), including large mammals like elephants, giraffes, sea lions and white tigers, which are a genetic anomaly and hence very rare. It participates in breeding activities of endangered species to help preserve the gene pool.
The Botanical Garden in Liberec (completely rebuilt from Kučera 1995 to 2000) comprises nine glasshouses for visitors (with a total area of 3,000 m2 (32,291.73 sq ft) and 13 exhibition themes), nine plantation glasshouses and a large exterior terrain. It continues the legacy of a botanical garden established in 1876 by the Verein der Naturfreunde ("Society of Friends of Nature") on a nearby site and it is therefore considered the oldest one in the Czech Republic.