Having discovered and fallen in love with Prague so late into our timeline, I had secretly become a little sad that it was to be our only stop in the Czech Republic. It seems Himself might have been thinking along the same lines. No soon than the thought had crystallised in mind, I find him in conversation with a fellow traveler, discussing the merits of Cesky Krumlov. And as coincidence plays out in our world, moments later, a work colleague recommends a stop there as well. It seals the deal, setting it as our destination today.
Cesky Krumlov, we learn, was founded in the 13th century and stands today as a very well preserved example of a mediaeval town. Three separate family dynasties held control across 1302 – 1947, the longest of these being the first, the Rozmberk dynasty, who held control until 1602. In 1992, the town was added to the UNESCO World heritage list.
We arrive by mid afternoon and it’s immediately clear that Cesky Krumlov is a popular destination. Pouring out of town are tour groups, in their dozens. With a bit of luck we might have missed the day trippers, leaving a quieter afternoon’s exploration. Cesky Krumlov is apparently one of the most visited sites in the Czech Republic.
It doesn’t take long to see why. Our entrance is through the magnificent 17th century Budejovice gate, part of an arcaded covered bridge, soaring over the Vltava River.
The Krumlov castle stands nearby, perched impossibly high on a cliff face.
To the right of the castle stands an ornately decorated century tower, built in 1580.
And if all that wasn’t spectacular enough, tucked into sharp curve of the Vltava, surrounded on three sides by water, is a village where time had stood still. It’s the most picturesque setting, made utterly enchanting by the afternoon light.
We cross through to the village and walk the path along the river where canoeists are trying their best not to spill over into the rapids.
The views of the castle are incredible on this side – whoever planned the build certainly was ambitious.
It literally comes up out of sheer rock, with no visible means of support or access.
Inside the village, it’s still busy despite bus loads already having departed.
We find the market square with its Town Hall and Marian plauge column – erected in thanks for sparing the town from the black death in 1682.
There’s a climb up to the Church of St Vitus.
The church dates back to the early 15th century and features one of the oldest examples of ceiling vaulting in Europe.
I’m guessing after building that castle on an inaccessible rock, a little ceiling vaulting was no challenge.
By the time we make it to the Castle end of town, it’s too late to start a tour, but there’s still so much to see. We make the steep climb up through the Red Gate
to find… bears. Two plump brown bears guard the front, one busy digging to China it seems.
Inside we’re free to roam the grounds, passing the castle,
its theatre and tower, through to the covered walkway which offers bird’s eye views of the village below.
It takes a little patience to wait my turn, a steady hand and not looking down at all, to steel myself over a precipice to take the shots below. My little camera phone did that.
Further along we discover the castle gardens, beautifully manicured, in summer flower.
At the very end of our tour is the castle blacksmith, but I’m completely distracted by a wee red squirrel, first spotted up a tree then darting across a path, charming all who see him.
Thus in a squirrel bliss, I skip back down into the village, twittering excitedly to Himself, making him wait until I get the perfect bear shot.
We had planned to stay in tonight, but Cesky Krumlov has charmed us completely, and if possible, the light of early evening is even more beautiful than it was on arrival.
Himself finds a restaurant on the water and we settle in.
A very man sized serve of pork ribs for Himself, meltingly tender and well marinated.
I have oven roasted prawns, finished off in a cognac flambe.
A local speciality, dumplings filled with apricots is dessert. It’s a perfect end to a delightful day.
There’s just a selfie to take
and a last shot of the evening light.
Cesky Krumlov. Put it on your list, a little gift from me to you. And do the castle tour. I wish we had.