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Czech Republic: Cesky Krumlov, Hluboka Castle, Prague
Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic: Pretty, very pretty
by Prakash Bang, Editor in Chief
This small town has a fairy tale setting. Baroque buildings located on banks of River Vltava, cobbled streets, a Town Square and a large castle makes it a must visit place. Cesky Krumlov is about 150 kms from Prague and can be negotiated in a day.
We had 3 days in Prague. A day was reserved for a trip to Cesky Krumlov. Our tour guide Eva Bartuskova picked us up at our hotel at 8:30AM. She had hired Skoda Octavia. Skoda is a Czech car maker and the brand is extremely popular in the country. Wide and roomy, the car made sure the journey would be comfortable one for all the passengers. We were 5 of us including the guide.
Whilst going we used the motorway. For our return journey we had plans to use side roads that would give us the opportunity to view the countryside in its full glory. It was summer. It was hot but picturesque. All along the route I could see many man-made lakes. They were created ages ago for fish farming. In the good old days, in some of the months, folks abstained from eating meat.
In less than 3 hours we were in the parking lot. Vehicles are not allowed in old town. In any case, the best way to explore the pretty village is by foot. Comfortable pair of shoes is an advantage in view of the cobbled streets and the town’s topography. A good 15 minute walk brought us to a bridge. Across was the Old Town.
Construction of the town and castle began in the late 13th century at a ford in the Vltava River, which was important in trade routes in Bohemia. In 1302 the town and castle were owned by the House of Rosenberg. Emperor Rudolf II bought Krumlov in 1602 and gave it to his natural son Julius d’Austria. Emperor Ferdinand II gave Krumlov to the House of Eggenberg. From 1719 until 1945 the castle belonged to the House of Schwarzenberg. Most of the architecture of the old town and castle dates from the 14th through 17th centuries; the town's structures are mostly in Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque styles.
Vltava River snakes through Cesky Krumlov. In fact, it would take any visitor a while to get the bearing right. On both banks of the river are pastel coloured homes, restaurants and bars. And standing proud, overlooking the town’s red roofs is the castle and its majestic tower. The river itself is a major draw for canoeing. In summer months tourists far outnumber the local population that stands at around 15,000.
For the next 2 hours we walked the town finally breaking for lunch at Laibon – a vegetarian restaurant, located right on the river bank. The setting was perfect for an afternoon meal – blue skies, gentle breeze and the river flowing by. The food was good too, albeit a little bland for the Asian palate. Full marks to David, the owner of the restaurant - he spoke good English, had widely travelled in Asia and radiated enthusiasm whilst serving. The restaurant certainly has my recommendation.
When in Cesky Krumlov, a tour of the castle is a must. Guided tours are available. In fact, that’s the only way to get in. You can’t be on your own. We had booked for an English tour that was scheduled for 4PM. We still had about 45 minutes with us. That gave me the opportunity to explore the castle gardens. The massive garden area is divided in 3 layers. The first layer is manicured with flower beds. The second layer is more like a forest with large and tall trees. The third is a lake that was full with lotus plants.
The castle authorities were kind enough to give me a special permission to photograph the castle interiors. The tour lasts for about an hour taking you through various rooms, halls, exhibits and its history. Thick carpets, rich woodwork, embroidered furnishing, gold plated fittings, delicate porcelain and the likes leave no doubt about the lifestyle the residents enjoyed. For an additional fee, visitors can climb up the tower to get a bird’s eye-view of the town below. I avoided the temptation as I wanted to save time and my energy.
By 5:30PM we were back to our car. Our next stop was Hluboka Castle.
Cesky Krumlov Image Gallery Photo viewer
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