The last few days in Cesky Krumlov were a refreshing taste of the Czech Republic outside of its capital city, Prague. The simplistic yet majestic nature of the town left me in awe from the moment I stepped off the bus. It’s what I imagined a Central European town to feel and look like: something straight out of a storybook fable. Located in southern Bohemian region of the Czech Republic, Cesky Krumlov has been preserved to maintain its 15th century charm. I feel as though I was able to truly take advantage of my time there and experience the essence of the town.
One of my favorite parts was the tour of the Cesky Krumlov Castle. The exact date that the castle was founded is unclear but it’s believed to date back into the 13th century. It is the second largest castle in the Czech Republic ranking after the Prague Castle. The complex has 40 buildings and palaces and five courts as well as a large garden. Our tour guide, Brice, showed us the mixture of architectural styles that are on the castle grounds including Gothic and Boroque. The castle was founded by Lords of Krumlov and then inherited by the Rosenbergs, who ruled for three centuries. The castle was eventually donated to the Eggenberg family until they died out. The Schwarzenbergs were the new successors until the 20th century. Today the castle is owned by the national government and the gates are open to the public. The inside of the castle is so well preserved the rooms almost replicate how the rulers designed it. Although we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside, the views from outside the castle were all gorgeous.
Another enjoyable activity was river rafting. I am so glad that I didn’t allow my lack of water clothes to prevent me from joining in on the fun. The river we rafted through was the Vltava River, the same 430 km river that flows through Prague. And we definitely weren’t the only people out on the water. People throughout the town were also rafting, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, and playing in the sand near the water. Last summer Cesky Krumlov had some flooding that prevented water activities but paled in comparison to the flooding in 2002. Twelve years ago waters from Lake Lipno rushed through the Vltava. Even the oldest recorded house in the town, from 1320, was washed out. There are still marks on buildings that measure how high the water rose. This time around the water was actually so shallow that our raft got stuck in the rocks multiple times!
Both nights in Cesky Krumlov we enjoyed original Czech meals that included dumplings, sausage, beef, and several other foods I do not know how to properly spell! Similar to Prague, the meal prices ranged between 100 and 150 krowns, equivalent to five to eight dollars. After dinner I enjoyed listening to the Helen and Brice play the guitars in the beer garden out back. It was a great way to end the busy day and something I will always remember. The nightlife in Cesky Krumlov was very calm, especially since we arrived in the middle of the week. A few relaxing bars were open, which stayed true to the pace of the town.
One thing that stood out about the culture in Cesky Krumlov was how early everything closed. By 8:00pm most shops, convenient stores and restaurants were closed or shutting down. A couple of us circled around the entire town for a gelato shop or stand at 8:30pm but everything closed. It was also apparent that the entire town of Cesky Krumlov revolved around tourism. Souvenir shops lined up one after the other and hostiles and hotels in between. Lastly, on the last day I began to realize just how small the town was. It took no time to walk through the entire town and run into the same people. I ran into our tour guide Olie (sp?) six times during our time there.
I enjoyed my time in Cesky Krumlov and have the pictures to prove how beautiful of a place it is. I am happy to see that the locals work so hard to maintain its charm so that if I may return, I will feel the same vibe as before.