Cesky Krumlov of Czech Republic is an enchanting city in South Bohemia. UNESCO has declared the entire city of Cesky Krumlov as a World Heritage Site. It is so small in size that it is just a miniature of Prague. I am not lying when I say the Cesky Krumlov is just out of a fairy tale. Intimidating architectures, impressive archways, beautiful castle and the tower, River Vltava, riverside walkways and restaurants have all together carved a special place in my heart. It is like travelling back in time as the city looks just like it was in the golden days.
History of Cesky Krumlov
The terrain of Cesky Krumlov is such that there are some tall hills around the Vltava River. These hills were occupied by human civilizations as earlier as the Bronze age. The Lords of Cesky Krumlov later built and established the Gothic Castle and the towers and the Church. The Krumlovs were the high royal family back then. They decided to build this majestic place on the hills. Sometime later this castle was passed on from the Krumlovs to the Rosenberg family. When you explore this castle you will certainly feel that you are born in the wrong era. In no time you will start wondering how the life would have been here in the olden days.
Cesky Krumlov Castle and Tower
The skies of Cesky Krumlov are dominated by Cesky Krumlov Castle. The Cesky Krumlov Castle never faced any natural calamities or fires. The entire area remained untouched in both the World Wars. This is the reason why most of it is preserved today just like it would have been in the olden days. The castle tower and the museum are both popular tourist attractions.
The view from the tower is breathtaking if you are willing to shell out a 100 CZK (INR 300-400) and climb all the way to the top. The Vltava River snakes through red tapering roofs of the houses and the tourists below are just dots. To go into the castle museum, pay another 100 CZK. Inside you get to see how the life would have been at the castle in the olden days.
Guard Changing Ceremony and Bears
The Guards outside of Cesky Krumlov indeed have a great duty. But the thing you must watch is their guard changing ceremony. The new guard salutes, greets and smiles at the old one and then they change places in the most formal manner. If you are early in the morning you will definitely have a good time watching them. A little late and it is going to still be good but extremely crowded with tourists. If you are not at the time of guard changing ceremony, it is still amusing to watch these guards standing like a statue, guarding the castle.
As we go inside the castle, there is a moat or a pit, and a bridge goes over it. All the tourists will be looking deep into these pits. Two brown bears are in captivity here. The bears were the sigil of the Rosenberg family. There is a tradition since then to keep bears at the castle. Today two bears are here as an exhibit. Many people find these depressing, many others find it just a tribute to history.
Vltava River and Lunch
When in Cesky Krumlov, you cannot miss out on the Vltava river. The river forms a nice zigzag pattern around the castle. While exploring the city you will go across various bridges over the river and paths along the river. If you have some more time, you can take a boat or kayak and sail down the waters of Vltava river. I just made a mental note, while walking past the river, to do the sailing part if I ever visit again.
There are numerous restaurants and cafes all along the river. Having a riverside lunch, at one of them called ‘The Laibon’, definitely turned out to be a good idea. By the way, this is the only restaurant that provides vegan food. Except for the honey bees which seemed to enjoy hovering around my food, everything was serene and peaceful. And the food was how can I say, it was very bland. That’s just one of the problems when you are an Indian. Every other cuisine except Chinese or other few is bland. Although I cannot say I didn’t like it.
The Streets and Museums
UNESCO has declared the entire city of Cesky Krumlov as a World Heritage Site. This means even walking through the streets feels like a walk through history. Most of the streets are closed to vehicles. All the roads are covered with pretty cobblestones in different arrangements. Many a time we come to the narrow alleyway where long-forgotten houses stand on both sides.
But if you are still not satisfied and want more of the history, there are 4 museums which can be visited. Although I don’t think you need to, if you want to visit any of the museums, you could choose from the following:
The Vlatavian Moldavite is an otherworldly stone found only in this area. Thousands of years ago, a meteorite crashed over here. While falling through the sky it burned and melted, and this molten glass-like substance fell all over the area. Today a lot of pieces of this substance – Vlatavian Moldavite are scattered here all around the Vltava river. This stone is recommended for it has some miraculous healing powers. Some people even call it a life-changing stone, while others consider it extremely lucky.
I came to know all about this from my tour guide. It is needless to say that I bought a small rough uncut stone as a pendant. If you want to buy some of these lucky stones, there are many shops around the city selling them. They bring these from the local Graphite Mine. Many of the shopkeepers don’t understand English, so you may have to go along with a local who knows Czech. Also make sure to demand a certificate of authenticity, as the market is filled with fakes.
There is a fun underground tour into the graphite mines of Cesky Krumlov. All protective clothes and shoes are provided. Then you get to go around this ancient mines below the city of Cesky Krumlov. The mine train takes you deep below the ground with mining lamps that they provide. Since I already did such type of a tour at Salzwelten Hallein and was short of time, I missed out on this experience.
Tours and Guides
Going from Prague to Cesky Krumlov takes almost 3 hours. There are buses for transport at regular intervals which is the best for transport. Moreover, there are also tours that take you from Prague to Cesky Krumlov. If you reach Cesky Krumlov by bus or any other mode, then you have to take a guided tour of the city. I highly recommend taking the guided tour at Cesky Krumlov, because it has a group of travellers with a guide. This is mainly because the language here is Czech. Most people don’t understand English. Surely, you can use Google translator, but having a guided tour is definitely worth the money. This is also a good opportunity to know the detailed history and the past of the things that you see. Also, a good one to meet other fellow travellers.
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