The Czech town of Český Krumlov is one of the few hidden gems in Europe that’s spectacular, but is not overrun with tourists.
The town — which sits along the banks of the Vltava river — dates back to the Middle Ages, and much of its original architecture still stands intact today.
According to UNESCO, Český Krumlov was built around a castle whose existence was first documented in 1253.
The castle is open to visitors today year round, and is a must see.
The best way to see the castle is to book a guided tour, which will grant you access to more parts of the castle than if you were exploring on your own.
And be prepared to set aside some time for the tour; it has courtyards, fountains, painted frescoes, a stone bridge, the castle tower, stunning views of the town, and ornate rooms filled with old artifacts.
The Ballroom of the Rosenbergs has some of the best and most well-preserved frescoes in the castle. The walls are covered in mirrors and detailed paintings that depict characters from centuries ago dressed in colourful clothing.
Soon after the castle was built in Český Krumlov, settlements sprung up to the east in a part of the town that’s known as Latrán, and across the river around a central square.
These two parts of town are now UNESCO Heritage Sites.
Wandering through the Latrán Houses is often described as taking a step back in time. Built along cobblestone streets, the homes are ideal examples of high Gothic architecture which was prevalent in Europe during the 13th century. More than just homes, these structures are works of art with coloured facades and carved wooden ceilings.
Český Krumlov also has plenty of museums. Three of the town’s most popular museums are the Museum Fotoatelier Seidel, the Egon Schiele Art Center
, and the Regional Museum. The Museum Fotoatelier is the former studio of photographers Josef and Frantisek Seidel, which now houses their work, and the Egon Schiele Art Center is home to many of Egon Schiele’s paintings — a painter who worked under Gustav Klimt. The Regional Museum is better for history buffs as it tells the story of Český Krumlov throughout the years.
History buffs will also enjoy the Church of St. Vitus. The church’s tower rivals that of the castle’s, and the intricate alters and towering arched ceilings are both impressive and stunning. Like much of the rest of the town, the church dates back to the early 1300s.
Český Krumlov doesn’t leave much to be desired, but nature lovers may want to consider the approximately 10 mile hike up to Klet as a day trip. There’s both a trail and a chair lift (so you don’t have to hike there and back), along with a restaurant at the top and rewarding views of the town below.
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