Cesky Krumlov boasts the second biggest castle in the country, after Prazky Hrad in Prague. Forty buildings make up the bulky, brooding castle complex, which sprawls over two rocky hills at the edge of town. It dates back to the 1200's, with numerous parts added to it over the centuries. The aristocratic Rozmberk, Schwarzenberg, and Habsburg families ruled from here.
I was very disappointed to learn that the castle was closed during the off-season, including October, when we were there. In the summer you can take tours of it. We were able to wander around the grounds, though, including seeing the old moat, which for centuries has housed a few bears.
Look at that evil-looking dark cloud - I still can't believe it didn't rain on us when we were there!
Namesti Svornosti, the town square of Cesky Krumlov, is surrounded by colourful buildings, including the Town Hall. In the middle of the square is an impressive stone fountain, built in 1577, and some benches where you can sit and admire the beautiful architecture.
Inside the Town Hall is the Museum of Torture, with more than a hundred medieval torture instruments!
Seeing a picture of the castle tower is what made me decide for sure to visit here. The pink, sea-green, and yellow colors just seemed so whimsical! It's a six story gothic tower that's had some Rennaisance elements added later on, with the requisite bells inside and a beautiful clock on top. In the summer you can climb up to the top for 30 korunas (about $1 US at the time, probably a bit more now). You'll find it in the first castle courtyard, right by the castle entrance.
These stacked archways bridge the different parts of the castle located on two adjacent hills. It's quite striking, and reminded me a little of an old Roman aqueduct. There are a couple levels of covered corridors for walking across, and one level was designated for riding horses across.
Like Prague, Cesky Krumlov has a church of St. Vitus. It's high up on a hill and is the second most dominant feature of the town, after the castle. It has some interesting architectural features and altars inside, along with two organs, and the tombs of some of the local Rozmberk and Schwarzenberg noblemen. Our guide also told us there have been rumors of a ghost here over the years! The church dates back to the 1400's, but various alterations and additions were made to it over the centuries.
It was really cold inside the church in October!
The walled castle gardens are the biggest part of the castle complex. Fountains with statues of water gods reside among the beautiful foliage. There's also a summer house here, a little rococo music gazebo, and a unique revolving open-air theatre, still in use in the summertime. Our guide told us that part of the gardens used to be used for horse riding in centuries past.
Part of the moat of Cesky Krumlov Castle has been used as a bear pit since 1707. Bears are part of the Rosenburg family crest and a symbol of their power. There are currently two bears in the pit, which you will see if you look down to your left, as you enter the castle.
Personally, I found the spectacle rather sad, but the bears looked healthy enough and they had plenty of fresh food. Realistically, looking at the alternatives for European bears, they probably couldn't do much better anywhere else.
Founded in the early thirteenth century, Cesky Krumlov Castle is one of the biggest and most imposing in Central Europe. With 40 buildings, it is second only in size, in the Czech Republic, to Prague Castle.
It has everything you would expect from a Bohemian castle: a moat, formidable walls and a fairytale tower. The first reference to Cesky Krumlov Castle was in a poem written by Ulrich of Lichtenstein in 1242.
The core city of Cesky Krumlov is old world southern Bohemia at its relatively unspoiled best. Shown in the photo is a winding cobblestoned street that is very typical of the central part of old town Cesky Krumlov. Shown in the background is the majestic and dominating cerkev svaty Vita ( church of St. Vitus ), which was built starting about 700 years ago.
Cesky Krumlov has many small family run shops staffed by friendly and helpful clerks. Although they sell many engraved souveniers, they are great places to buy Bohemian crystal, lace, and other handcrafted items of the region. There is a good selection of restaurants, coffee shops, and pubs. The Roma ( gypsy ) establishments in my opinion have the most inviting atmosphere, and are the most memorable. Live gypsy music and dancing greatly enhance the experience. However, the thick smoke in these establishments discourages many visitors.
The buildings of old town have retained much of their medieval and Renaissance appearance, and many of the elements are original instead of recreations. The inside decor is very pleasing traditional Bohemian. Enjoy the experience.
Most tourists day trip in from Prague, but those that don't spend the night are missing out on much of what this ancient city has to offer.
St. Vitus Church
The St. Vitus Church is built in the form of three parallel arcades merged with a five-sided elongated presbyterium, there are rectangular multistoried sacristies on both sides with the Chapels of Resurrection and the St. John of Nepomuk Chapel, and the antechamber situated on the northern side. The occidental facade of the church incorporates a tower with quadrangular Roman window openings on the landing level changing to eight-sided openings higher up. The uppermost part of the spire is pseudogothic in style, dating to 1893-1894 A.D.
The St. Vitus Church is quite beautiful inside! Outside, the tall Church spire can be seen from most parts of the City, this isn't the original, but a replacement of the Onion shaped Baroque Tower.
This Parish was established in 1317 in a smaller Church, how-ever the congregation grew and the new larger Church was built, financed a large part by public donations, was completed after the Hussite Wars and consecrated in 1439.
The main altar has a painting of St. Vitus and the Virgin Mary dating to 1673-1683, this has been repainted over in 1897.
The side Altars have an interesting story........Each Altar represented individual craft brotherhoods living in the town, so there was an altar of tailors, shoemakers, butchers, bakers of white or dark breads, stone masons, cooks and of course, a brotherhood of brewmasters.
The frescos on the wall next to the St. Jan of Nepomuk chapel, are dated to the first half of the 15th century and depict the scenes of the Crucifixion, St. Veronica, St. Elizabeth, St. Magdalena and St. Catherine.
This is quite an odd museum / art gallery to have in such an antique place as Cesky Krumlov. It's worth spending an hour wandering about inside, if only because the actual exhibition space itself is so good.
This has an informative permanent exhibition about the short life of Egon Schiele who was mentored by Gustav Klimt and whose mother came from this town. He also lived here at one stage but was run out of town for his loose moral standards - he painted nude pictures of local girls.
Also temporary exhibitions of contemporary art of mixed quality.
Worth noting perhaps that this place is a little expensive as Czech museums go at about 180/150 CK. Open 10am to 6pm.
In the Medieval cellars of the Town Hall, directly on the main town square, the Museum of Torture has been newly installed. In these authentic spaces the visitor is pulled into the cruel times of the Middle Ages, when corporal punishment experienced its most horrifying developments and the cruelest methods were used for guilty and innocent alike, resulting in a refined series of instruments of torture.
In an area covering over 400 m2 , over 100 torture instruments are displayed, complete with 10 wax figures and two unique audio-visual effects - a witch burning and sword execution.
Daily 9:00 - 20:00 hrs.
Adults : 80,- Kè
Children, students, pensioners : 40,- Kè
Family admission : 160,- Kè
Don't just rush into the Museum, make sure you take some time in the Park, because from high up on the viewing Terrace, there is an excellent view over the Town.
The Museum was once a girls school, and this park with the vista terrace was used for study, sport, and relaxation.
Thanks for joining me on a tour of Cesky Krumlov.
After locking the car, we are following the pathway that leads towards the Castle.
What a surprise it was to see an enormous Viaduct before my eyes. This Multi-storied viaduct is actually part of the Castle, and the Grey building, an 18th century Rococo Theatre and "Cloak Bridge"
It was 1766, when the Baroque theatre was opened at Krumlov’s chateau. What is unique about this Theatre, is the original state it's still in, including all the backstage machinery, scenery, costumes, props, light bowls used to illuminate the stage, a flying carriage, a water fountain and a piece of equipment that produced the wave, lightning and thunder effects.
It is one of few Theatres that produced a typical comic opera that could have more than 40 scene changes without interrupting the action.
It's worth booking at the ticket office at least one day in advance for a tour.
OPEN....... May– Oct Tues– Sun 45min tours 10am, 11am, 1pm, 2pm & 3pm
Price: 200KR & 350KR for an English tour