It’s been almost 4 weeks since I came back from a trip to Cesky Krumlov and Ceske Budejovice. Until now I couldn’t find time to sit down and write.
First of all November or December is not the best time for sightseeing. Obviously the biggest advantage is the lack of crowd, however the huge disadvantage is that most of the tourist attractions are already closed. The peak season for tourism is until October 31st.
Even though Cesky Krumlov is far from Brno, the trip is worth your while. A 3 hour road trip may be diversified. If you choose not to go by highway, you can visit staggering Telc, Trebon or Jindrichuv Hradec.
Similarly to Prague, there’re several parking places dotted around the city. Unfortunately parking is charged 20 kc per hour, there’s no “cheaper” 24-hour ticket. One of the parking places is close to the castle, the other one is at the very end of the castle’s gardens and I noticed one more, which was located really close to the Synagogue.
The city itself is not big, all tourists attractions are within walking distance. If you really insist you can visit Cesky Krumlov within a day, but I suggest staying longer and taking your time. You’ll then get the chance to get to know the unique atmosphere of one of the most romantic cities in the Czech Republic.
Before we even got to the city centre, on our first day in Cesky Krumlov we head toward the cross hill in order to see the city from a different angle. From a P3 car parking it was about 20 minutes marching uphill. We crossed the river, followed Po Vode street and went upstairs to Krizova street, then we followed blue trail. Also, another option: if you’re in the city centre, there’s a red trail leading to Cross Hill from the Cesky Krumlov Castle. It seemed like we went off the beaten track, as we were the only one climbing up the hill. It was a pity a cloister was closed, but I took a quick glance at the yard through its big window shutter. Although you might find the march quite demanding, the view speak for itself.
On our way back we head straight over to the Tourist Information Centre to get the Cesky Krumlov card, which allowed us to visit Castles’ museum and tower, Regional Museum, Siedel’s Fotoatelier Museum and Egon Shiele Art Centrum for a song. All of which, are open all year round. The ticket, which is valid 6 month, cost 200kc, while normally we would pay more than 500 kc to enter to all those places.
Our first point in the city was the castle. Enormous building, it’s visible almost from every place in the city. I overheard quite an interesting conversation about it. Most people probably know that Cesky Krumlov castle is the second biggest castle in the Czech Republic, but not everybody knows that it’s called Cesky Krumlov castle-chateaux. It looks like a castle from the exterior, almost like made of rock, but the interiors are held in baroque style, which makes it a chateaux. What’s even more interesting is the fact that bears are kept at the castle’s entrance. In fact, there’s a long tradition connected with that. No sooner than in the second half of 16th century William of Rosenberg started to keep bears in the castle. From that point we headed to the castle tower, where we could see the whole city. If not strong and cold wind I could’ve stayed there forever. Afterward, we moved quickly to the castles’ museum. We’re running out of time as the castle’s museum is open only till 4 p.m. If you’re not an avid reader(There’re A4 sized full of text informative brochures about each room), the museum can be viewed within 15 minutes. For us it was a quick run from a bedroom to a dining room and so forth. The good news was that taking pictures inside was not forbidden, therefore I could read all the essential info at home, not rushed by time.
I really wished I could see famous castle theatre, but unluckily at this time of the year it is closed. It was after 4 p.m. when we got out of the castle. It wouldn’t make sense to go to the castle garden as it was already getting dark and besides we were so hungry that we started to look around for a possible source of food.
On the second day we got up quite early in order to see what’ left: Fotoatelier, Egon Schiele museum and Regional Museum in that particular order.
The tour at the Seidel fotoatelier starts every full hour, it’s necessary to come at least 5 minutes before that time. If you’re not a Czech speaker you may get an audio tour that’s included in the ticket price. The tour takes approximately an hour. First you’ll hear a short story about the origin of the building, it was quite interesting that the first atelier was in the garden, and the only building there was the one, where ticket office is located right now. Only after two years Seidel, who in fact wasn’t the founder, but just started working there was able to rebuild it, he built a completely new studio, which also served as the apartment for the Seidel family. Photography was a very lucrative business back then. We learnt that the studio thrived during the WW2, as soldier staying in Cesky Krumlov wanted to have a picture, which they could send to family.
Seidel was not only a photographer and traveler, he also had his own stationery shop. Some of the original items are still there. There’re loads of photos made by Seidel, mainly photos of Sumava mountain range and Alps. All the equipment we can admire today was originally used by Seidel. Even some original outfits stayed there. It’s amazing, when we compare present-day mini cameras with big and heavy cameras Seidel used. Imagine how heavy his backpack must have been…and he travelled by bike. Nowadays “Fotoatelier” is not a museum only, it still serves as atelier. You can dress up in some of the early 20th century outfits and have a session taken by a professional photographer. Arrange your casting at the ticket office.
Reserve at least 2 hours at the Egon Schiele gallery. It’s huge and spacious, located on several floors.
In a Renaissance building, which used to be the brewery, there’s exhibition of other artist as well.
The history likes to repeat itself, like it was with Van Gogh, Egon’s art was also not appreciated during his life. Even worse, his works were strongly criticized. He began his adventure with art by drawing idyllic landscapes and townscapes filled with angular shapes. In 1910 Egon settled down in Cesky Krumlov, then he was exiled. He was then coming back once in a while and stayed at Golden Angel Hotel, which still stands on the main square. He used to go to caffe Fink, however it does no longer exist. His stay in prison in 1912 made a huge impact on Egon and his style of painting. It is said that he suffered from depression back then, it is reflected in his dark paintings. While being imprisoned for child pornography, Egon draw 13 paintings. When he was imprisoned in 1916 in Austria he was force to draw Russian’s officers portraits. He died on October 31st 1918 from Spanish flu leaving 300 paintings and around 3000 drawing/sketches. During his short life, Egon was also designing clothes for Helena Fejkova’s studio.
I wish there were more paintings of Schiele, frankly I felt insatiable.
Another artist I noticed was Roman Tyc whose sand portraits made an impression on me.Unfortunately I didn’t feel the same for the artist Miriam Schwack, whose pictures was shocking for me.
Regional museum is mainly known for its ceramic model of the historic centre of Cesky Krumlov in scale 1:2000 made by Mr. Peter Pesek and his wife Mrs. Jana Peskova. It shows the town as it looked like more than 200 hundred years ago, in 1800. The model covers an area of 26 ha, 800 buildings, meander of Vltava river and fortification. I personally think it’s a masterpiece, with all little details on it, every narrow street, every chimney and every window is visible there. We tried to compare the city as we see it today with the ceramic model, one conclusion came to mind, 200 years made a significant difference in the town’s structure.
I was also astonished by the baroque costumes that were a part of the Museum’s exhibition. Men’s outfits were decorated by the same amount of gold as women’s heavy dresses. I can’t imagine myself dressed up like that, but I admire women at that times.
Another interesting stop at the museum was the original interior of a Baroque Jesuit Pharmacy.
Besides all mentioned, I didn’t like the fact that there’re huge posters full with text presenting a story of the city’s origin. I didn’t see anyone standing there and reading the full content. There’re too much information to grasp at once.
Before we moved further to Ceske Budejovice we’d devoted our last few hours in Cesky Krumlov to go and see the castle’s garden. Direction to P4 car park will lead you at the gate to the castle’s garden. Here you can admire the breathtaking view on the castle, take a glance at the centre, get lost in the huge park, listen to the gurgling water in the fountain or simply go for a walk at the pond.
What’s however the most interesting in the garden is a circular theatre. I didn’t notice at the beginning that it can move, but soon after I read the announcement of upcoming events I noticed the marks on the floor. Performances will take place during summer, price ticket ranges from 300 kc to 700 kc, but I think it must be superb. You can’t really foresee what’ll happen in the act, where the actor is, where you’ll look in few moments… I just can’t imagine. I want to go for something like that during summer.
If you still have some time in Cesky Krumlov I suggest visiting the surrounding. There’s an observation tower Klet, remote about 7 kilometers from the city centre. Green path from the Red Gate at the castle will lead you directly to the highest mountain of Blansky forest. You can also visit the village of Holasovice, consisting of 17 original farmhouses built in a South-Bohemian peasant baroque style which was listed by UNESCO in 1998. I found it enthralling that it was restored and repopulated in 1990, while after the WW2 it had been completely deserted. Every July a Traditional Peasant Festival is held there. Only 8 kilometers north east there’s a former monastery Zlata Koruna or 24 kilometers south from Cesky Krumlov, there’s Rozmberk Castle. So as you can see there’re plenty places to visit round Cesky Krumlov. Plan you holidays wisely so that you won’t miss anything.
There is a wide range of choice, restaurant at every corner, vegetarian, grilled meat- you’ll get everything you wish for. After long quest we stayed at Rozmberska Basta, which is not only a restaurant but it also provides accommodation. They have a summer garden, where you can sit at the river and maybe even catch your own fish. Here’s the restaurants’ official website. By the way food was of a good quality, served quickly by a smiling waiter. Another place worth considering is “Krcma vsatlavske ulici” Food indescribably delicious, mellow meat, fresh vegetables, cold beer… I didn’t want to leave, but if I stayed any longer I could have spent all my savings there.
I’m pretty sure you would find a place to stay without prior reservation, but just to be sure do you reservation if you’re planning to visit Cesky Krumlov during summer. To tell the truth, some of them have no websites, so surfing the internet for a proper accommodation might be aimless. Cesky Krumlov is full of hotels, hostels or rooms to rent. Almost every restaurant owner possesses as well some kind of accommodation. Unfortunately it’s not cheap. You should expect approximately 1000 kc per night. We stayed in Renaissance Hotel Leonardo. Very cosy and comfortable with huge corner bath. We booked the hotel at the slevomat.cz, so maybe you can also find such a bargain.
Tourist information centre offers a variety of guided tours such as daily tours, night tours, individual or group tours. It’s also possible to borrow the audio guide, which will lead you through the Renaissance centre.
All I can say is enjoy the beautiful city as Cesky krumlov is.
I will continue to describe others spots from our 4-day trip such as Maiden stone castle, Ceske Budejovice and Hluboka castle soon.