Do you love to seek out those picturesque fairy tale towns when in Europe? Well, I’ve found a hidden gem. This one is in the deep south of Czech Republic. The fairy tale town of Český Krumlov. A charming town that makes you feel you have stepped back in time. It’s an UNESCO World Heritage Site. It features a stunning castle above the meandering Vltava River and old cobblestoned town full of renaissance and baroque architecture. Sounds like a wonderful place to visit doesn’t it?
Most of the architecture of the old town dates back to the 14th through 17th centuries. The town’s first mention dates to back to 1253, where Krumlov was called Chrumbonowe. The origins established in 2 stages. The first part was built below the Krumlov castle, called Latrán, which was settled mostly by those who had some administrative connection to the castle. The second part settled across the river and it wasn’t until 1555 where the two towns formed together to be called Krumlov.
The legend is that in the 9th century the area was owned by noble Czech family of Slavníkovci, who were slaughtered by the rival family of Přemyslovci in 995. This area then became their property, and they passed on the rights to the town to their relatives to the Vítkovci family (or the Witigonen in German). It was one of Vítkovci four sons, Rožmberk (or Rosenberg in German), and his generations to come, were responsible for building the growth and prosperity of this small town. In 1602, Emperor Rudolf II bought Krumlov and in 1622 gave Krumlov to the House of Eggenberg who ruled until 1719, when the House of Schwarzenberg took over and remained owners until 1945. By 1919, there were 7,300 Germans and 1,300 Czechs living in the town.
Explore the Castle
A likely starting point is to visit the immense castle. It’s the second largest complex in the Czech Republic, beside the massive Prague Castle. Tours of the inside of the castle provide a glimpse into the life of the Rosenberg family from centuries ago. Including the St. George’s Chapel, a Baroque Theater, and Eggengerg Hall with a golden carriage.
Explore the Old Town
Across the river from the castle is the made for strolling. Get lost in the Old Town where gothic buildings curve with the winding streets and at the heart its main square.
Explore the Vltava River
The Vltava River offers the ability to rent a canoe or kayak, a little too cold for us at that time of year, but maybe an option for you. Rafting companies even offer a 3-hour tour which includes one-way river paddle to a 13th-century abbey and from there provides you with a bicycle to pedal back along a bike path.
Explore the St. Vitus
Another beautiful site is the cathedral of St. Vitus. The cathedral is responsible for the other famous tower in the city with a clock at the top. Both the exterior and interior of St. Vitus is beautiful.
As a holidaymaker…
About two hours south of Prague, you could easily make this a day trip. But the evening here is almost the best part of this fairy tale town. It is so wonderfully atmospheric. With the tourists gone, the streets become quiet. The restaurants become dark, lit only by candles or lanterns. They become more cozy and intimate in the small cave-like rooms. Magical.