Saturday
July
12th
2008
12:02 am

Visit to Cesky Krumlov

I finally visited Český Krumlov after putting it off several times. While it’s possible to visit as a day trip out of Prague, it takes about three hours to get there, and the prospect of spending a total of six hours in one day sitting on a bus was not appealing. So instead, I took the Student Agency bus down for an overnight trip.

The seal of Český Krumlov:

And the sight for which it is perhaps best known, the Little Castle and Tower:

Touring the Castle and Grounds

The castle complex is the second largest in the Czech Republic, Prague Castle being the largest. It has some 40 buildings spread out over a kilometer of a hillside overlooking the Vltava River. Just crossing from the Red Gate, the main entrance near the town, up to the gardens took about half an hour.

The former Mint is now the ticket office and main gift shop:

Across the second courtyard from the Mint is the New Burgrave:

Those aren’t really stones joined with mortar, nor are there niches with statuary. That trompe-l’œil effect is created with sgraffito. There’s a lot of sgraffito and frescos decorating the castle exteriors.

Looking back to the Little Castle and Tower from the path to the gardens:

The Gardens

The gardens alone cover 11 hectares (ca. 27 acres). There’s a fountain, of course:

And looking at the fountain from behind:

I think it very thoughtful of them to provide a little step ladder, the better to get a good view of the garden:

Although, even with the stepladder’s help, I couldn’t get a really good perspective of the garden:

The gardens are also home to a Revolving Theater. While the theater itself didn’t yield any interesting shots, I liked seeing these set bits lying on the grass:

The Castle Bears

According to the castle website, bears have been kept in the moat of the castle since the 16th century, during the era of the Rožmberk family. The family claimed descent from the Italian Orsini family, whose emblem was the bear, and so the Rožmberks kept bears to emphasize the relationship.

The moat is divided in two by the bridge, with Kateřina and Vok to the left and their daughter Marie Terezie to the right.

Marie Terezie takes her duties as guard bear seriously:

I can’t tell if this is Kateřina or Vok, but it appears that Marie Terezie’s parents are less serious about protecting the castle:

I like the way in which they politely discourage people from feeding the bears:

And keeping watch over the bears, we have St. Joseph (on Marie Terezie’s side):

While Our Lady keeps watch on Kateřina and Vok’s side:

The Tours

There are three guided tours of the castle, of which I managed to complete only two (leaving a tour of the theater for another visit, I guess). We heard the stories of the various families who owned the castle, starting with the Rožmbrks (1302-1602), followed by the Eggenbergs (1622-1719), until it was passed on to the Schwarzenbergs (1719-1947). It was nationalized in 1950 by the Communists. Following the Velvet Revolution, it was offered back to the Schwarzenbergs, but conditional upon their assuming responsibility for restoring it. They declined the offer.

As do so many castles, this one has a “White Lady”. Here, it’s Perchta of Rožmberk. Perchta was unhappily married to a much older, abusive husband, Jan of Lichtenstein. On his deathbed, Jan repented of his many cruelties and asked Perchta’s forgiveness. When Perchta refused, he cursed her instead. As a result, she now haunts the former Rožmbrk residences, especially this one. If she appears wearing white gloves, good news is in the offing. However, if she’s wearing black gloves, it’s a death omen. The tour guide claimed that one of her colleagues had recently reported a sighting of the White Lady. However, she went on to say, he was drunk that night, so no one believes.

There are lots of bearskins rugs in the castle: while I vaguely noticed this, I didn’t really pay it any mind until the tour guide brought it to our attention. “These are the bears from the moat”, she told us. For some reason, that really creeps me out.

Besides the Castle, There’s the Town…

In addition to visiting the castle, I took the audio guided self-tour of the town.

The Marian Plague Column in the Main Town Square is under renovation:

Krčín House is notable mainly for its sgrafitto and frescos:

And round the corner…

If I remember correctly, this was the house of Sheriff Slatinský:

Farewell

And a last look on my way back to the bus stop:

I’ve put some additional photos into this slideshow.

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