Introduction to Český Krumlov
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Český Krumlov is famous for its Old Town with 300 well-preserved medieval buildings, and its castle complex, the second largest in the Czech Republic. The architecture of the Castle and the town is a mix of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque styles. The town was first built around the castle in the 13th century. In 1302 the Rosenbergs inherited the castle, and the town prospered greatly, grew economically and physically, and expanded its trade in the area. At the height of its fame, Český Krumlov could compete with the most important European royal courts. The Rosenbergs gradually came to rule a large part of South Bohemia. Enchanted by the Italian Renaissance, they built a town and a residence, thus contributing to the prosperity of the entire region. In 1622 the town was transferred to the Eggenberg family. In the 1680's, under their rule, farming, construction, and the arts flourished. In 1719, a new dynasty, the Schwarzenbergs, inherited Český Krumlov. Early 18th and late 19th centuries marked another period of stagnation – on the bright side, lack of further development helped the town save its historical look much admired by visitors today.
The castle complex with its tower on a cliff offers spectacular views of the Old Town below. It dates back to 1240 when the first castle was built by the Witigonens, the main branch of the powerful Rosenberg family. Later Joseph Adam Schwarzenberg played an important role in the extensive reconstruction of the castle in the middle of the 18th century. During this time, the castle developed a Baroque character.
Stylistic influence of the imperial Vienna left its mark on the architecture and the cultural life of those days. In late 18th century the castle was no longer the main residence of the Schwarzenbergs and hasn’t been regularly inhabited ever since.
The Castle tower is the symbol of Český Krumlov, of its history and beauty. It is „the towerest of all towers”, as once described by Karel Čapek. Having climbed 162 stairs, visitors enjoy a beautiful view of the city and its vicinity. Afterwards, a relaxing cruise awaits you – follow the Vltava River on an old-fashioned wooden raft or a kayak to explore the breathtaking views all around.
The Castle Theatre
One of Český Krumlov’s attractions is its Baroque theatre. Situated in the fifth courtyard of Český Krumlov Castle, it is listed among the oldest preserved chateau theatres in Central Europe. First mentions of theatre culture in the castle come from late 15th century, but its the real blossoming started during the reign of Wilhelm and Peter Wok of Rosenberg a century later. Besides the theatre building itself, visitors can admire hundreds of decorations, costumes, the orchestra pit, theatre machinery and an extensive collection of original scripts. The theatre serves as a museum today but a unique revolving auditorium set against the natural backdrop of the Castle Park offers unforgettable play performances under the night sky.
First mentions of theatre culture in the castle come from late 15th century, but its the real blossoming started during the reign of Wilhelm and Peter Wok of Rosenberg a century later. Besides the theatre building itself, visitors can admire hundreds of decorations, costumes, the orchestra pit, theatre machinery and an extensive collection of original scripts.
The theatre serves as a museum today but a unique revolving auditorium set against the natural backdrop of the Castle Park offers unforgettable play performances under the night sky.
The Castle Park
Don’t miss the chateau’s Baroque park with ornate statuary decorating its 18th century, four-tiered, cascade fountain, with Neptune at the top. Twenty decorated vases also adorn the park.
The Old Town
Across the river from the castle stands the Old Town, with its Gothic buildings curving alongside the winding streets.
Many precious Gothic and Renaissance frescoes whitewashed in Baroque times have been rediscovered and restored.
The main square is the heart of the Old Town, lined with a mix of Renaissance and Baroque homes of burghers.
A pharmacy Lékárna with a fine red Baroque facade has been there since 1620.
Festivals and events in Český Krumlov
Český Krumlov offers many cultural events, such as FIDELIO classical music concerts, the Five-Petalled Rose Celebrations, an International Music Festival and a festival of Baroque art.
The three-day mid-June festival called the 5-Petalled Rose Celebrations transforms Český Krumlov into a Renaissance town once again. Day and night, visitors are treated to concerts, dances, daredevil performances, duels, theatre plays, arts and crafts, parades of noble ladies, gentlemen, knights, and jugglers, a Medieval Fest, and much more. The festival is concluded by a fireworks show above the castle.
The International Music Festival in Český Krumlov begins in July and ends in August, and features international music of various musical genres. Summer music events in Český Krumlov also include a modern blues, rock, and soul festival Open Air Krumlov, held annually in late June at Eggenberg Brewery Garden in Český Krumlov.
Shopping and food
In Český Krumlov you can find many interesting shopping items for tourists, including Bohemian glass and crystal, and jewellery made from semi-precious gemstone Moldavite found in this area.
There is also a museum dedicated to Moldavite in the city centre.
There are about 80 restaurants and cafes in town. Many restaurants are located alongside the river and near the castle. They match the historical environment of the town and have an attractive design.
Why not drink a cup of coffee offered by Two Widows, for example?
Český Krumlov is situated in the southern part of the Czech Republic, near the Austrian border, 180 kilometres from Prague. There’s no direct train connection so the easiest way to reach the town from there is by LEO Express Easy buses. The trip takes three hours. The historical town centre is a car-free zone. Buses and taxis are available from the train station and areas outside the Old Town.
Author: Anita Sāne
About the author
Anita is a part time traveler, passionate photographer and a mature career woman
from Latvia, traveling mostly solo for more than 10 years. She is a skilled travel planner
planning and executing her travels by herself. Follow Anita also on Instagram.