Experience time travel through Hradec Králové thanks to virtual reality from FIT CTU

The defunct historic buildings and landscape of the royal town of Hradec Králové come to life thanks to the unique project the Dowry Towns of Bohemian Queens. Historians and IT specialists have managed to virtually reconstruct the town’s history dedicated to the Bohemian queens, create 3D models of historical buildings and objects and make them accessible to the Czech public using augmented virtual reality and a mobile application. The project is realized by the Faculty of Information Technology, CTU in Prague, (FIT CTU) in cooperation with the University of Hradec Králové, the Museum of Eastern Bohemia in Hradec Králové and the Institute of History of the Czech Academy of Sciences.

Towns whose revenues were donated by kings to queens, the so-called royal dowry towns, are a Bohemian phenomenon that cannot be found elsewhere in Europe. They are a living part of historical knowledge, and researchers have now decided to revive them using the tools of historical geography, virtual reality and cyberspace. Among the nine towns, there are, for example, Mělník, Trutnov or Hradec Králové, which belonged to the queens of the House of Přemyslid and Luxembourg. The project’s main outputs are a structured mobile application and a web portal serving as a specialized historical guide to the dowry towns and their urban landscape.

In the case of Hradec Králové, you can go on a 3D journey through time via augmented and virtual reality in the form of 3D glasses, including 3D reconstructions of now-defunct urban areas and examples of period ways of life. In practice, it looks like a visitor of the Museum of Hradec Králové puts on these 3D glasses and can see in detail historical buildings and objects that have long since disappeared.

The virtual reality application and the mobile one for augmented reality were developed by a team of IT experts led by Ing. Jiří Chludil from the Department of Software Engineering, FIT CTU. The scientific reconstructions of historical objects, i.e. the content of the application, were provided by historians, archaeologists and preservationists from other participating institutions. Thus, both teams had to work closely together and understand each other’s way of working.

“We aimed to reconstruct the already defunct urban areas and examples of period ways of life using advanced computer graphics. Not only our experts but also students were involved in developing the applications as part of their final theses,” Ing. Jiří Chludil said about the project.

“The main objective of the applied research and experimental development project was to make this exclusively Bohemian historical phenomenon visible and present it to the general public. The unique thing about this project is the blending of completely different disciplines, namely history and IT,” said doc. Petr Grulich, the project’s principal investigator, director of the Museum of Eastern Bohemia in Hradec Králové and associate professor at the University of Hradec Králové.

Other outputs of the project include volumes of the Historical Atlas of Czech Towns for Dvůr Králové nad Labem, Jaroměř, Polička and Vysoké Mýto, a comprehensive monograph on royal dowry towns, a website and a mobile guide to dowry towns and many others.

The person responsible for the content of this page: Bc. Veronika Dvořáková