‘The Crown jewel of Bohemia’ – that’s how people in the know describe Cesky Krumlov, a tiny mediaeval town close to the Austrian border. We love being here, and this non-commercial blog is just to record our thoughts and feelings about the town, and the area, and to give you an idea about life here should you ever come to visit.
The town sits in the foothills of Sumava, a region of National Parks and protected Areas of Natural Beauty. It nestles in the crook of the river Vltava, and its narrow, cobbled, higgledy-piggledy streets are overlooked by a huge castle that towers on the rocks above. My English friends fondly describe the castle’s older parts as ‘Gormenghast’, while the Czechs are more prone to sing praises to its richly painted Renaissance buildings and the mystical tower bearing Alchemical symbols that tie it to the times when South Bohemia was a place of John Dee’s retreat.
In fact, the adjectives ‘magical’, or ‘fairytale’ are the ones most frequently heard from the lips of visitors who gaze at Krumlov for the first time, while its Czech residents nod their heads sagely, and say quite seriously that indeed there is deep magic under these rocks – healing springs issuing from silver and graphite veins below, and ley-line crossroads that later materialised in the many Celtic roads and settlements, marked to this day by standing rocks and little chapels dotted around the town, or hidden in the forests nearby.
But the romantic description doesn’t end here: every house has a story to tell, their painted facades often hide clues to their former occupants, and walking around the town is like a journey through a historic puzzle that is still waiting to be deciphered.
And for those who like to immerse themselves in this old-world atmosphere, the town offers wonderful restaurants serving mediaeval style meals, crafts markets, gypsy bands, even festivals where the residents dress up to parade around the town, and perform Summer solstice or Christmas traditional plays, or passion plays for Easter.