The courtyards of the palace can be entered for free while you need a guided tour to see the interior. They got their shape when the formerly gothic castle was remodeled into a renaissance palace under Zacharias of Hradec in the 1550s.
The main courtyard has arcades and galleries on three sides. The style tells of the Italan origins of this architecture.I am not sure, however, if the master builders understood the order of columns and the proportions right, the arches seem too high and the columns and entablature too thin. The second courtyard is plain and has a less official character.
A formal garden, surrounded by arcades, is attached to the first courtyard. Usually the garden can be entered but that day it had been rented out for a wedding reception and was hence closed. Ah the weekends in summer. A chance, however, to take note of the beautiful wrought-iron gates.
Telc's history as seat of a noble family begins with the construction of a gothic castle in the 14th century. In 1550 Zacharias of Hradec (Neuhaus) inherited the castle and town and started modernizing it. He employed Italian master builders to transform the medieval castle into a renaissance palace. The courtyards can be entered for free, to see the interior you have to join a guided tour.
Zacharias and his wife are buried in the chapel by the entrance into the courtyard (photo 3) , which can be seen for free. Note the elaborate stucco decorations in the vaoults and on the upper part of the walls.
Due to the tight schedule of our tour we had no time to see the interior. I hope to visit Telc again in the future and then see the historical rooms in the palace. There are two different guided tours. Please consult their website for more details.
Nepomuk statues are usually placed on bridges. This one is standing on the shore of Ulicky rybnik on the edge of Na Hrázi street. He is turning his back on the beautiful view of the old town panorama across the pond, but this makes him a great addition to photos.
The two ponds along the old town are connected by a small canal that runs around the palace. This area northwest of the old town is covered in a fine park, the former palace gardens. They offer a good view of the back facade of the palace.
The orangerie building is worth a look - I have no date for it but it appears like a typical example of the "round arch" style around 1840/50.
The shortest walk from the main parking lot off Slavatovská street to the old town leads past the orangerie building and through the park.
Ulicky rybnik is the pond along the southwestern side of the old town. Photographers, do not miss the walk down to its shores. The water is calm and provides wonderful reflexions. Geography is in your favour, due to the location in the Southwest you will have the sunlight on the town panorama during most of the day. There is no path along the whole lake shore, a short detour through Hradecká street has to be taken.
There are two spots for great photos:
1. My favourite is the walkway along Na Hrázi at the far end of thempond, to be reached through the "upper" town gate. From there you have the panorama of the entire old town with all the steeples from the Jesuit church and St Jacobus to Holy Spirit.
2. The wooden bridge that leads halfway across the pond. To reach it from the main square, take the side street next to the renaissance house Nr 15. It is closer to the castle and Jesuit convent, so you have a closer view, but you can't catch the panorama in total. The pedestrian bridge was, by the way, a gift from Telc's twin town Belp in Switzerland. A lot more useful than the gifts state visitors usually tend to bring...
The prettiest house in the whole main square is this one. The entire facade is covered in elaborate black and white sgraffiti. The craftwork has probably been created by the same artists who were working in the palace in those years. The owner was clearly ambitious and the best was just good enough. He was originally a baker who started a second career in municipal politics and became mayor of the town.
The renaissance facade is dated 1555. The sgraffiti portray 11 characters from the Old Testament, most of them military commanders.
The iron water pump is a relic of the late 19th century. Many people did not have running water in their hoses then, so they had to take a bucket and come here to get fresh water, or send their servants to do so if they had any.
The pump is located in the middle of the main square between the Margareta fountain and the plague column. I am not sure if it still works. We did not try. But a photo in my guidebook suggests that it does.
The town hall is twice as wide as the usual houses in the square because it unites the sites of two
gothic houses. Already in the middle ages this was the location of the town hall. It has been destroyed two to three times by fire and rebuilt. The present building was shaped in the paroque era. Its facade is a high wall with a horizontal top, crowned by a little spire with an onion-shaped roof. The facade is ornated with sgraffito. The interior has been adapted to the needs of modern offices but preserves a couple of original art works.
The plague column in the upper part of the main square was erected in 1716-1720, paid for by a private donation from a local citizen. It is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, with the statue of the madonna standing on the globe at the top. The shaft of the column is formed from clouds (the way the baroque era used to shape clouds, to us they look rather like icecream scoops or fresh cream). The clouds are populated by lots of little angels.
The column is accompanied by lifesize statues of saints: Johannes Nepomuk, Jacobus, Franciscus Xaverius, Rochus, Sebastian, the guardian angel, Rosalia and Maria Magdalena. Most of them are the typical "plague saints" who were invoked for help in times of epidemies. The surrounding stone fence carries statues of angels.
Plague columns were erected all over the Habsburg territories in the 17th and 18th century. They are tokens of gratefulness after the end of a plague epidemy, and at the same time symbols of the counter-reformation and the affiliation to the Habsburg dynasty.
For reasons alien to me, photo 5 is displayed with a 90° turn. I tried uploading several versions of this photo in correct direction but it always comes out like this. Apologies. Please turn your computer screen in counter-clockwise direction;-)
The houses around the main square have arcades along the ground floor which form a covered passage. These vaulted arcades were planned in the late middle ages and stayed after the refurbishment of the facades in later centuries. They cover shops, restaurants and cafes. It is worth walking underneath and see what is hidden there. Telc has many small shops, most are touristy but not over-tacky. I wish I had had more time to browse through them, there are many nice souvenirs and craftworks to find.
Photographers: The views through the arches add a lot of photo options.
Have a careful look at those gables. They are higher than the rooftops behind them, many of them notably higher. A simple flat closed wall would not have been to the liking of baroque master builders, though. The architects' rules of ornament, symmetry and proportions required some structure, which involved the placing of windows. What to do if there is no room in the house but just thin air behind the part of the wall concerned? Design a fake window...
Two examples are here in the photos.
Actually, the main square is Telc and Telc is the main square, or hardly more than that. A few narrow side streets around, the castle and two churches at the far end, and the town's ground plan is full. But the square alone is already reason enough to visit Telc (with hacek on the c), or Teltsch as it was called in the German-speaking era - same pronunciation.
The square is huge, though. I have no idea of its dimensions in square metres but it forms a wide open space. Cars are not banned, they have a driveway across the middle and parkings on both sides but they do not really disturb because there is so much space. The two baroque fountains and the plague column seem lost in this vastness. The upper part even has room for a tiny park around the plague column.
Around the square the citizens have built their houses, all with the gables facing the square. Looks as if everyone was ambitious to have a prettier and more fashionable facade than their neighbours. Most houses have arcades that cover shops, restaurants, or just the entrances of residential houses. The houses date from the renaissance and baroque era - you can study the various styles. They look like little toy houses that you'll want to pick up, sort and rearrange to your liking.
More about the details in the following tips.
Enjoy the variations of a simple theme: the triangle gable in front of a roof. About any shape that early modern architects could invent has been used. There are not two alike.
The owners of the houses were clearly showing off. All the gables are a lot higher than the rooftop behind them.
Renaissance houses have either walls with a horizontal top and pinnacles, or stepped gables in several storeys with curved ornaments. Sgraffito ornaments on the facade were common.
The baroque era built either curved shapes with convex and concave outlines, or almost neoclassical shapes with pilasters and low triangular gables on top. Some are decorated with sculptures, reliefs or murals.
Try a collection of gables for your photo series...
The baroque fountain in the middle of the main square has an octogonal stone basin. The stairs around it seem to be a popular spot to sit on, at least among young people. The first photo made me thing at first that they were doing drawings, but no, they are eating pizza;-)
They are carefully observed by the statue of St Margareta in the middle of the fountain. Note the dragon that she steps on with her foot (photo 3). . According to the official legend she was imprisoned and tortured for her faith, and in prison the devil appeared, taking the form of a dragon, but she overpowered him with the sign of the cross. So the dragon became her attribute.
Dating back to the 13th century, this Church with its high tower, stands on the highest piece of ground in Telc. No wonder it can be seen from all around town!
It began as Romanesque church, and now is Gothic! The Church was later used as a Hospital Chapel, and now days is the Evangelic Church of the Czech Unity of Bethren.
The Tower was a part of an original Church, and is believed to be higher than it is today. It was restored and opened to the public in 1993, providing views of the Town and Countryside.
The Church can be viewed from the outside, but the Tower is open as below............
May.......Saturday and Sunday 10 - 12 & 1 - 4PM
June - September..........Monday - Saturday 10- 12 & 1-5PM
Sunday – closed
ADMISSION.....Adults 15czk..... Children 10czk