The town of Ostrov (literally meaning "Island") lies at the foot of Krušné hory (Ore Mountains) between the spa towns of Karlovy Vary and Jáchymov. The historical centre of the town is 700 years old as evidenced by the town's oldest monument – the Church of St. Jacob built in 1224. A small settlement grew around the church in the early 13th century, the foundation of which historians attribute to Slávek of the Hrabišic family. The original German name Zlaukowerde later changed to Schlackenwerth, which means Slávek's Island. In those times, it was the only solid piece of land amidst swamps bypassed by the creeks of Bystřice and Veseřice. The settlement was first denoted as a town by King Jan of Luxembourg (also denoted as John of Bohemia) in his privilegium of 1331. An ancient trading route passed through the settlement then.
The present-day appearance of old Ostrov was determined by reconstructions following major fires, with the last taking place in 1866. King Přemysl Otakar II (also denoted as Ottokar II of Bohemia) included the town among royal chamber towns and it belonged to the dominion of Counts Šlik from the 15th century. In 1625, the town was acquired by Julius Heinrich, Duke of Saxe-Lauenburg, who commanded the imperial army. The reconstruction of the Šlik castle, the foundation of a vast chateau park, a family burial chapel, and a Piarist monastery bespeak of the duke's broad-minded development concept. His son, Julius Franz, completed the grand-scale composition of the chateau park denoted as the Eighth Wonder of the World by building a summerhouse in its centre.
The town of Ostrov was a part of the dominion of the imperial House of Habsburg, namely of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany, throughout the 19th century up to 1918. The 20th century brought the beginning of the industrial development of the town – smelting works, a cardboard factory, and a porcelain factory producing luxurious chinaware under the Puls brand were operating in the town. The town was electrified and a road and a railway track were constructed. Following the forced displacement of Czech inhabitants in 1939, the Ostrov Chateau changed into a concentration camp.
After the war had ended in 1945, new Czech settlers returned in large numbers, and uranium ore mining in nearby Jáchymov triggered the construction of many residential houses, day nurseries, kindergartens, schools, etc. The House of Culture, one of the typical SORELA structures – a unique architectural style also known as Socialist Realism in Practice – was built in the early 1950’s.
Due to the age composition of its population, Ostrov was the second youngest town in the country for many years. The House of Culture is the venue of Ota Hofman's Children's Film Festival, which is held every autumn, it is also the venue of numerous folk and rock music festivals, untraditional theatre festivals, cultural competitions, and many other events. The House of Culture also houses the local Information Centre, which has another branch office at the Old Town Hall and offers a large variety of services for locals and visitors.
Interesting tidbit: The Black Madonna of Ostrov