Thursday, 31 January 2008

Art on the streets

Many of Cesky Krumlov’s house facades are so highly decorated that they form a wonderful free outdoor art gallery. Wandering the streets and looking at the pictures and designs on the houses is one of the greatest pleasures of the place. And, unlike in a big city like Prague, you can take in all the highlights without walking for miles. In the Renaissance period a lot of the houses were covered with a striking black-and-white decoration called sgraffito – a technique in which you scratch away one colour to reveal a different contrasting colour underneath. There are still quite a lot of sgraffito-decorated house fronts left in the town. Some are covered in designs imitating big stone blocks (like Italian buildings of the time), others have delightful cartoon-like pictures that take you back in time four hundred years. There are colourful painted building-fronts too – portraits, religious subjects, and other scenes adorn a number of the houses. Look up as you walk around, and you'll see how the streets glow with life.

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