Beauty and contrast: Český Krumlov in the Czech Republic

Guest post by writer and Prague resident Julia Grewe.

The advantage of living in a foreign country is that you never cease being a tourist. We have been living in Prague, Czech Republic, for one and a half years now and I still discover places and buildings that make me pause in awe and constantly renew my love for this city.

However, limiting my discovery tours to Prague would mean neglecting parts of this country that are equally worth visiting. Recently, we decided to take a weekend off from the capital and take a trip to Southern Bohemia. Our goal was the medieval town of Český Krumlov, which is UNESCO listed as a World Heritage site.

Picturesque Český Krumlov hugging one bend of the Vltava River.

And it is obvious why. The little town of 15,000 inhabitants huddles against several turns of the Vltava River and its buildings are an indescribable wealth of Renaissance, Gothic and Baroque architecture. You can easily get confused by its numerous narrow alleys, little galleries, restaurants, and monuments. Every cobblestone tells of this picturesque town’s history, which dates back to the 13th century. But there is also evidence of decades of neglect during the communist regime as the occasional dilapidated structure contrasts with lovingly renovated buildings.

Past and present meld together on the streets of Český Krumlov.The main attraction is the omnipresent Renaissance castle with its five courtyards, 300 rooms, a spectacular view across the town and a cool and rather unusual location for exhibiting modern art: the basement. If you want to explore the whole castle area and need to stop occasionally to admire the fascinating sgraffiti (sgraffito is a technique of wall-painting used in Renaissance times, involving a design scratched into layers of plaster) on the walls , you’ll need ample time. You also might want to take a stroll through the vast French-style gardens with their man-made pond and dignified mature trees. The gardens make for a recreative escape from the masses of tourists that invade the town every year (around 1.2 million).

Český Krumlov Castle as seen from Radnicni ulice.If you are driving to Český Krumlov by car, coming from Prague, make sure to have a blanket and some food in your trunk. And don’t become irritated by possible detours due to construction on the route, which is very likely to happen. They will probably lead you through some of the most memorable landscape you will ever see. There are ponds and lakes lined with trees behind every corner. Rolling hills are covered with dandelion fields or oilseed rape stretching as far as you can see. Natural forests and meadows line your way. Thus, do as we did on our three-hour journey: take a time-out from feeling hasty and hurried, sit back in your car, and enjoy.

A native of Germany, Julia Grewe lives and writes in Prague, Czech Republic.


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