Ceský Krumlov lies in a protected curve on the banks of the Vlatava in Bohemia, close to the Austrian border. It is a magical place and UNESCO heritage-listed. It was seriously neglected under communist rule and while it is currently being renovated, it is still a beautiful place to visit. The city conforms to the hills and river's bends giving an irregular shape and steep, winding streets. It can be confusing to navigate but the chateau tower and Church of St Vitus are good landmarks.
The Old Town is almost encircled by the river and the first written reference to the town dates to 1253.
1302 was a major turning point for the town when the noble Rosenberg family gained possession of it and bestowed upon it the benefits only a powerful family could. Building, commerce and culture flourished and the town became important. The architecture still reflects the affluence of the period, particularly its Renaissance buildings. The town was granted royal status in 1494.
The castle is decorated with Rosenberg coats-of-arms that feature a five-petalled rose in a silver field with bears holding a shield. The Rosenberg family was related to the noble Italian Orsini family. The word orsa means she-bear in Italian, which explains the prominence of the bear. There are four wild bears living in the castle's moat and they have a full-time keeper. While they are well cared for, their living conditions need to be modernised and the administration of the castle is renovating the ursinarium.
The Castle Krumlov complex has forty buildings and palaces and 11 hectares of garden. It looms high on a hill above the old town, and when floodlit at night looks spectacular. It is on one side of the river and the ancient town centre is on the other. The castle has been expanded several times and was rebuilt in the 16th century as a Renaissance castle.
The Eggenberg and Schwarzenberk families made Baroque modifications, the chapel was rebuilt, masquerade hall decorated and a manor theatre constructed, making the castle the second most outstanding in the Czech Republic after Prague. The magnificent interiors, exhibition rooms, viewing tower and gardens are open to the public.
14th century cellars under the castle courts are now used for art exhibitions and displays. Works by Melbourne artist Zen Parry are there and he loves being involved in the dungeon-like atmosphere.
Hostel Merlin is a cosy place to stay, located in a romantic building in the historic town centre. It is close to the municipal park and on the bank of the Vlatava River. Comfortable rooms and a relaxed, friendly atmosphere have been beckoning backpackers for many years. There are three kitchens, five bathrooms, central heating and constant hot water.
Three historic houses have been beautifully restored to create The Old Inn, a comfortable, modern hotel in Ceský Krumlov's Central Square. The buildings are amongst the city's finest and are UNESCO registered as world heritage.
There are 52 rooms and suites, a large open air garden restaurant in the Square, patisserie and pilsner beer cellar in the recently discovered 13th century vaults where meals, cooked on an open fire, are served with fine beer.
Brewing goes back to 1336 when citizens were granted a charter to make malt and sell beer. The Eggenberg family gained control of Krumlov in 1622 and in 1625 relocated it to the building that houses it today. They brewed high-quality beer for nobility and thin, watery beer for servants, monks and harvesters.
These days, they brew five types of beer, of palatable quality to all, as well as soft drinks. All may be tasted on a tour. There is a restaurant with an enormous menu of local and international meals.
The south-west of the Czech Republic.
Castle Krumlov is open every day except Monday. There are four tours to choose from, the most expensive being $10. Garden tours are free.
Eggenberg Brewery tours run from the brewery gates at 11am each day. Tour costs range between $5.50 and $21. Choice of brewing menu and any amount of beer you like costs $6.50
Explore Holidays has five-night packages, including return flights to Prague, two nights' accommodation in Ceský Krumlov at the Old Inn and breakfast each day. Prices are per person twin share. Valid for sale until October 31, 2006, for travel October 4-31, 2006.
- Melbourne, $2111
- Sydney, $2130
- Brisbane, $2376
- Adelaide, $2369
Please note that the prices listed are valid at the time of filming.
For further information
9/234 Sussex Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: 1300 731 012, (02) 9423 8004
38101 Ceský Krumlov
Ph: 420 380 704 721
Fax: 420 380 704 710
Hostel Merlin Kajovska 59
Ph: 420 606 256 145
381 01 Ceský Krumlov
Ph: 420 380 711 761
Hotel Old Inn
Namesti Svornosti 12
Ph: 420 226 201 910 13