One of the most popular destinations for a quick excursion from Usti's city centre is Vetruse. In 1847 the first restaurant was built on the elevated viewing point above the town, named "Ferdinandshöhe" after Czech King and Austrian Emperor Ferdinand. 1895 - 96 a reconstruction resulted in the present building - hotel and restaurant. After a period of decay from the 1960s on the city of Usti bought the property and reconstructed it, even added a new wing with hotel rooms, opening in 2012. In the meantime the cable car was built, making for a convenient access to the place.
Nowadays Vetruse is a 4star hotel with excellent restaurant, providing fantastic panoramic views of the city and the surrounding landscape with the Elbe river and the mountains. There are attractions for families like a labyrinth and a mirror park, tennis courts, and several walking and hiking trails start here.
In originally catholic Bohemia the number of protestants increased throughout the 19th century; in 1861 the numbers were equal. In the 1960s a school and a house of worship were established for the protestants. The church of the Apostle Paul was first protestant church, built 1904 - 06 after plans of B. J. Zeissig from Leipzig.
The building is in Neo-Romanesque style with raw brickstone facades. The curly frieze outside is a typical Romanesque decorative element. The interior has a barrel vault, made of concrete pre-fabricated pieces - one of the earliest projects where concrete was used in Bohemia. The original period interior - the pulpit a donation of the Gustav-Adolf-Society in Leipzig e.g. - is well preserved, the style with a tendency to Secession. Quite impressive is also the statue of the blessing Christ in the choir, made of Carrara marble.
The important entrepreneur Hans Weinmann (coal mines) had this ostentatious villa built for his family at the turn of the 1920s/30s. The villa was built in Neo-Renaissance style, inspired by Italian travels of him and his wife, designed by architect Paul Brockhardt from Aussig/Usti.
The entrance hall, decorated with wainscoting, is dominated by the imposing marble portal leading to further halls on the ground floor (pics 3, 4). The big hall has fascinating inlaid ceiling and doors (pic 2). Pic 5 shows a side room of the large staircase.
Sadly, Weinmann and his family could not enjoy living here for a long time. He managed to sell the property and his plants - under pressure for ridiculously little money - before the Nazis occupied this part of Ceskoslovensko in 1938 and fled with his family first to England, then to the U.S. (Connecticut) where he set up another thrieving business.
The villa was confiscated by the Nazis and used for Police headquarters during WWII. After 1945 the Czech authorities used it as a school for politics and later as home for the "Society for Czech - Soviet Friendship". In the 1990s it was restored and since then is home of the North Bohemian Research Library. I joined a guided tour on European Heritage Day (Note: Extremely friendly and knowledgeable guide; we communicated in a mix of Czech, German, Russian and English first. Then another visitor (local) showed up who spoke excellent German and translated all the stuff for me - big thanks!) but since it is a public library you have access to the reading rooms on the ground floor at least.
The theatre in Usti/Aussig was built 1908/09 according to plans of architect Alexander Graf in Neo-Baroque style with elements of Art Nouveau. The auditorium has a capacity of 878 seats. The theatre was opened on 27 Sept 1909 with a play by Franz Grillparzer, nowadays they are focused on opera/musical theatre and ballet.
It's a typcial theatre building with impressive, ornate rooms, beginning with the nice lobby over festive rooms for intermission (pic 5) to the lavishly decorated auditorium, rich stucco and woodcarving works, caryatids supporting vaults and balconies, gildings and paintings everywhere.
I have not (yet) attended a performance there, only joined a guided tour of the theatre on European Heritage Day. So I cannot comment on the quality of performances, sorry. From VT member Kathrin_E (thanks!) I know that at least in the past good musicians worked at this theatre: Conductor Josef Krips from Vienna, who became a big shot later in Karlsruhe and after WWII Vienna and elsewhere started his career in Usti in the 1920s. He accepted a job in Karlsruhe in 1924, sadly he was fired in 1933 due to his being jewish. Under the Austrian intendant Alfred Hutig the theatre in Aussig/Usti was thrieving in the years 1920-1929 and 1933-1941, when many international stars performed here.
Tickets are inexpensive, in the 100 - 500 Kc (5 - 20 Euro) range.
Documents are evidence that a church existed on this site as early as in 1186, when the daughter of Bohemian prince Bedrich married the son of Otto, Margrave of Meissen. The present building was erected 1704 - 34, together with the construction of the adjoining Dominican monastery, commissioned by catholic, avid counter-reformer Jan Arnost. Architect was Ottavio Broggio from nearby Litomerice.
The monastery was closed in 1785, reopened in the late 19th century and closed for good in 1950. The church was unfortunately redesigned in somewhat modern style and used for exhibits and congresses. Nowadays it is an orthodox church, only open for services - no chance for peeking inside.
The facade is very beautiful and worth a closer look. Typical counter-reformation Baroque, I'd say. Very three-dimensional, especially with the light from the side in the afternoon it is impressive (pic 4). I cannot say I care much for the modern architecture of the neighbouring branch office of the Czech National Bank, though (pic 3).
Gosh, what a name! And then in Czech: Kostel nanebevzeti panny Marie.
This three-nave church reflects the Late Gothic style with Saxon influence. It was mostly built in the late 14th, early 15th century. In the 19th century the church was redesigned in Neo-Gothic style, for example the the main portal in the western facade was built by Viennese architect A. Weber. The church was badly damaged in an Allied air raid in 1945, in particular the steeple which is now another leaning tower, with almost two metres deviation from vertical (see pic 1).
The interior is well worth seeing: Very beautiful is the Gothic wing altar from 1498 from Pirna in neighbouring Saxony, bought for four barrels of wine in 1617. It is a collaboration of carver Peter Breuer and painter Hans Hesse, both excellent artisans. There are several epitaphs, the sandstone font and the pulpit from the 15th - 17th centuries that are worth a look. I also liked the so called "Madonna from Aussig", a painting by Dresden court painter Ismael Mengs, father of famous Anton Raphael Mengs, from the early 18th century.
No photography inside, sorry.
BLANSKO (545 m) on the ruins of a medieval castle a castle tower was adapted to serve as a watchtower. Circular view northwards—Decinsky Sneznik, Ruzak in Labe Sandstones, Studenec in Lusatian Mountains, Jedlova, Klic, Bohemian Highland - Bukova hora, Sedlo, Vysoky Ostry, Milesovka, Boren, Ore mountains in the distance - Stropnik, Bournak. Access from Ryjice by a marked path from the bus station. It is possible to come very close to the castle by car.
VARHOST (640 m) on a woody hill over Sebuzin is a circular metal tower construction, the third in order, the two preceding wooden towers having decayed. From the top of the tower one can have a circular view as far as Rip Hill on one side and over Hasmbug, Lovosice, Milesovka to Kletecna. The view of the Erzgebirge includes Jedlan, Bournak, Naklerov and many other hills and communities. The surface of Labe can be seen in eight different places from Strekov dam to Steti.
The watchtower is accessible from Sebuzin by a marked tourist path with a high elevation difference. Varhost can be reached by car, there is a parking place in the Varhost Gap some 15 minutes of walking to the hill top.
ERBEN'S WATCHTOWER (401 m) was constructed over the village of Stribrniky (a suburb of Usti today) in 1934 on the Brandt’s Height by the German Mountaineers’ Club. Visitors can have a view of nearly the whole of Usti, Bohemian Highland from Bukova hora over Milesovka to Boren near Bilina, as well as the remote Ore mountains from Jedlan to Naklerov. A marked path leads to the stone tower from the suburb Dobetice and a path without marks from Stribrniky.
The stone watchtower in NAKLEROV (701 m) in the Naklerov Gap was opened in 1913. It was called after the Emperor Joseph Franz and later renamed after K. Weiss, a top member of the Mountaineer’s Club. The tower collapsed during a winter storm and was never reconstructed. Still, the ruins offer one of the best views of the Bohemian Highland including Lusatian Mountains and Ore mountains.
Access from Telnice, Kninice by paths without marks. The easiest access from the road in the gap (no public transportation) a 10 minute walk, without elevation difference.
40 meter high waterfall on the Podlesinsky brook issuing from a basalt wall. In winter the waterfall creates ice curtains, laces and stalactites. From the waterfall a marked path leads to the right. Notice the moss-grown stone with a carved inscription from March 19, 1916. We will reach the view point with the remains of benches and handrails. The view of the Strekov castle and the river Labe with its environs is beautiful.
Vrkoc ? a European curiosity
Columniform disintegration of the basalt rock similar to female hair (vrkoc). Its picture can be found in many scientific libraries of the world. While descending the stone path from Vanovsky waterfall you cannot miss this columniform formation.
The St. Jacob?s Church in Svadov was built in the 14th century (see the latest discovery of the Vartenberks? gravestone from 1370), but has attributes of the Saxonin Renaissance architecture (1580-1610). The church belongs to the most valuable landmarks in the region. The Baroque parish house and with the Three Magi column were built by the order of Ann Francisca of Tuscany.
The Museum of Vernacular Architecture in Zubrnice maintains buildings and the equipment documenting the life and housing in the area of the Czech Highland in the past. It is the youngest open-air museum within Bohemia. A complex of timbered farm houses with preserved interior and exterior including a unique hot air fruit drying house are open to the public. Another interesting display is a little village shop and a village school. The village square is decorated with a wooden Baroque fountain from 1695 that was brought to Zubrnice from Strizkovice near Usti nad Labem. The Church of the St. Mary of Magdala is also a part of the open-air museum.
The community of Tisa is a gate to the Romantic area of Elbe Sandstones. The Late Baroque St. Ann?s Church in the centre of the village is the starting point for trips to the Tisa Rocks. The Rocks are a fanciful rock city with bizarre sandstone formations?for instance Napoleon?s Shoe. The name of the rock reminds us of the Napoleonic wars when a treasure was allegedly buried in the rocks. The treasure is thought to be the treasury of the French army defeated on August 30, 1813 in the battle of Chlumec.
Until early 20's of the 20th century entrance without a guide was prohibited. Today the area is a climbers? paradise with 113 registered climbing rocks. Besides the Small and Big Walls north of Tisa there are other two, less frequented rock cities?Ostrov Rocks and Rajec Rocks.
The Protestant church of the St. Barbara in Dubice from 1579 was erected on a high plateau at 340 meters above the sea level. The place has a wonderful view of the Elbe valley and of the Porta Bohemica (Gate of Bohemia).