The township of Cesky Krumlov, or at least it’s Old Town, is contained within a wandering wide loop of the Vltava River. The Vltava is the longest river in the Czech Republic, and is also known as the Moldau in German. It rushes by our hotel, with a strong current that attracts canoeists and rafters, and a constant background noise of fast flowing water.
Cesky Krumlov castle watches over us as well as the river. You can see from the photograph on yesterday’s post that we can practically reach out and touch it from our attic window. So after breakfasting at another hotel in the nearby town square, we head up a steep hill towards the castle to start our sightseeing day.
The castle is comprised of a number of connecting courtyards and buildings, so without much investigation, we head to the first ticket counter we find. It transpires that we have bought tickets for the castle museum, rather than the more advertised guided tours. Armed instead with an audio guide each, we set off up the stairs (yes! more stairs), and find ourselves being taken back through history into the times of the noble families who owned this castle complex, starting with the Lords of Krumlov.
This museum was quite a find. Not only did we come to understand the dynasties who lived here, we saw many of their precious artefacts and portraits, and replica documents granting them their lands. Some of the rooms were the offices and flats of the high ranking employees such as the estate manager, and furnished in their time. One of the more unusual displays was the skeleton of a saint. We have come across these relics at various places on our adventure, but not so close up, nor so well explained.
I haven’t found much reference to this museum in the guidebooks, so am attaching a link here for anyone who is interested further. Scroll down past the price and so on for details of the museum exhibits. There is much more than I have described above.
The Czech Republic is famous for beer and breweries, so our next port of call – after checking out the handicraft markets at the castle approach – was a tour of a local ‘micro-brewery’, one of more than one hundred in the country. There was only one other brave soul on this tour. Even our guide was embarrassed and apologetic. “This is as good as it gets,” she remarked, as we looked at the external facade. The subtext was ‘it’s all downhill from here.’ The brewery only operates three days a week, and this was not one of them, so it is perhaps not the best time to judge what the tour has to offer. We tramped through wet and dark passages to the various preparation halls, until we reached the bottling hall. Peeling paint and dirty machinery, empty bottles lying around, waiting to be re-used (as opposed to being crushed for recycling). The Heineken Brewery (a tour I did many years ago) it was not. Nevertheless, it didn’t stop the guys sampling an unfiltered beer at the attached beer hall afterwards. They liked it. I settled for a wine. I am not too fond of beer at the best of times, and after what I had seen in the bottling hall, I was not too sure of the meaning of ‘unfiltered’.
(note: comments on this blog are my personal opinions, however I decided to omit the name of the brewery).
Cesky Krumlov is a compact town, so Bill and I walked back to the castle to try to catch one of the guided tours. I was delighted that we were in time to get an English tour of the castle theatre. The castle had its own theatre, built in ornate baroque (or rococo?) style and lit by candles. Electric ‘candles’ with flickering light recreate the atmosphere for the tourists. Bill and I were lucky enough to have a private tour. The tour goes under the floorboards to demonstrate the rope and pulley system for scenery changes, and how the trapdoors delivered and removed actors from the stage by a counterbalance of their weight. Machinery imitating sound effects of thunder, rain and wind were shown. The theatre is such a unique and interesting site that I am attaching a link to further information.
Many tourists come to Cesky Krumlov as a day tour from Prague, much as we did when we visited Lake Bled. We are glad we allocated two nights to this historic town. It is not just the castle, although it dominates much of the scene. It has a beautiful town square, surrounded by stately buildings and cafes and restaurants. Myriads of small streets lead to it, lined with shops and food outlets. It also offers a music and entertainment festival, which actually begins tonight. As we eat dinner at a restaurant in the square, we admire the well dressed people on their way to the various venues.
For us, we settle on leaving our attic window open and listening to the live music drifting up from the restaurant on the opposite side of the river. Actually, the acoustics are such that it sounds as if the musicians are in the room with us. Much as I enjoy their sound, I am glad when they finish at 11.30pm.
Then in the early hours of the morning, I hear the sound of rhythmic drumming. I suspect the guy with the inverted frypan has taken up a position on the bridge again.
Music festivals come in all forms, and sometimes you only want to hear the performances you paid top money for. I stuff earplugs in my ears and roll over for another hour or two of sleep.
Friday 19th July 2013, Garrulous Gwendoline, Cesky Krumlov