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The first written record of Decin was made in the year 993 A.D. Settlement was concentrated around the old Elbe ford, which was an important commercial crossroads. The original Premyslid fortress on the castle bluff was built to establish control of the Elbe waterway. It was later replaced by a stone castle, under which, at the southern side of the bluff, Premysl Otakar II established the royal city of Decin. The local estate switched hands over the years coming under the Markvartic family, the Wartenbergs, the Trckas of Lipa, the Saxon Salhausens, the knights of Bünau, and finally the Thun-Hohensteins, who held the castle until 1932, when the castle become property of the state and went on to barrack a series of armies, as the political system changed over time. In 1991 the castle became municipal property and the city began the process of renovating the castle and grounds.
The modern city of Decin resulted from the fusion of the towns of Decin and Podmokly into a single urban unit in 1942. The town has always relied closely upon the River Elbe. In the past, Decin was a major river harbor and railway hub. The steel Tyrs Bridge that spans the river today was built on the pillars of the original Empress Elisabeth bridge in 1933 by the Skoda works in Pilsen. When it opened, it was the largest of its kind in Czechoslovakia.
The ham-fisted urban projects in the 1960s robbed the city of its original medieval layout. But there are still interesting architectural elements and historical structures to be found here today. In 2006 Decin became a statutory city with jurisdiction to administer smaller municipalities in the area.