Being in Český Krumlov was as close as I have come to feeling like I was warped through a painting into a land that could only exist in one’s mind.
Quaint and colorful 16th-century homes are trimmed with lush flower boxes. Restaurant patrons reassure themselves that they are not dreaming as they dine on pork knees and hearty bread bowl soups overlooking the glassy Vltava River. Looking up, a 13th-century castle, complete with bear moat, sits graciously on the hill.
The only crashing reality to this fairytale is that we couldn’t have it all to ourselves. Busloads of camera crazy tourists pour in each day, up to one million a year. Prague, Munich, Nuremberg, Linz, Vienna, and Bratislava are all within a four-hour drive.
A Sunday morning walking tour summarized centuries of history and was coupled with some humorous antidotes had me Googling ‘drunk Czech president’ when I went home. The skies were gray and drizzling at times, but that didn’t take away from the beauty of this town.
Český Krumlov may sound like an obscure place but it has cameoed in a few Hollywood movies: The Illusionist, Hostel and soon to be released movie, Emperor.
The town was a relative ghost town after World War II and fell into disrepair during the Communist era. In 1992, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and homes were restored to their full 16th-century glory in the early 2000’s.
The town library used to be a brewery which burned down 6 times in 10 years leading to the development of smoked beer. To try some, you can visit Eggenberg brewery in town which traces back to the 16th century.
The castle garden has an open air revolving auditorium whereby instead of changing sets, the audience is turned around to see another scene. The gardens are free to enter and are beautifully manicured as you can see below.
The paintings on the facade of Cesky Krumlov tower date back to the 16th century. A Czech writer once characterized it as “the towerest of all towers”. It certainly is unique!
Below are more pictures from around town.
If You Go
Český Krumlov can easily be done in a day. If you can, try to avoid the mass of tourists during summer which is high season. The town is best seen early morning before the buses arrive in town.
Restaurants fill up quickly for lunch and dinner so if you have a special place in mind it’s best to make a reservation. If you don’t have a reservation, try to dine outside of traditional meal times so you get a table, especially if you wish to eat along the riverside.
The free walking tour is highly recommended. We’ve done many and this was one of the most entertaining. There is a surprising amount of things to learn about this small town and it will add to your appreciation of what you are seeing.
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