The historic old town has been inhabited for more than a thousand years. Early in the 11th century a Prince of the Přemyslid dynasty built a fortress and named it Jaroměř. The village was elevated to the status of royal town under King Otakar I of Bohemia.
Over 1780 to 1787, the Emperor Joseph II built on the left bank of the Elbe and Metuje rivers, the imperial fortress Ples. Later this conurbation took the name of Josefstadt (Joseph town). In 1948 the fortress town was renamed Josefov and incorprorated into Jaroměř.
The historic old town with distinct arcades and a Marian column designed by Matthias Braun was constructed over 1723 to 1727. There was only ever a small German-speaking minority and in 1938 the town eluded being incorporated into the Sudetenland. The following year to 1945 it was part of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.
The famous painter Josef Šíma was born here in 1891.