I’m back just outside Prague this morning with my friends Helena and Zdenek.
I’ve also taken a lovely, slow zig-zaggy miander thru Southern Bohemia, following the Vltava river all the way back here, stopping at various places I felt like stopping at.
My first place was Cesky Krumlov.
This is an amazing 13C castle and town and a UNESCO world heritage site, but it’s also an amazing summer playground for all the folks because of how the Vltava wraps around the town. The river is slow and gentle and so shallow that people can walk right thru it and, on a hot day like today, they do!
Here is a giant bridge built between two cliffs to connect the castle to the garden.
Underneath the castle is a beautiful Medieval town,
I walked thru the town looking into doorways and exploring the streets.
Then I stopped to have a little lunch by the river and had a visitor; a hawk moth.
Then I walked out of the town…
…while the happy people enjoyed their summer day.
My next stop was the Trebon pond system.
This is more like a lake system…lol
But it originates from the 14C when this method of farming carp was invented.
Each pond is capable of draining in to the next, and, over the course of the year, the ponds were drained, fish harvested and the ponds were filled up again.
Carp are a very important food source here, and, as much as I SUFFER thru the horrible, bony, muddy tasting meal at Christmas time, I do have a certain affection for the slimy creature.
Then out of Trebon and no end of trouble navigating around road closures and finding one of my favourite castles Hluboka.
The castle name translates as Deep, but it isn’t deep, it’s HIGH! So up the hill we go again!
Around the armaments and walls,
And there it is!
Isn’t it glorious?
Now, today is Monday and Monday all the castles in the Czech Republic are closed, and so Hluboka was sleeping away with the shutters down,
but the gardens are open and I’ve seen the interior so many times, that I don;t really mind.
Actually, there was a film being shot on location and some photos of the castle were tricky because of filming vans and people milling around,
but I did spy a princess walking about in her tiara and shades.
I always wonder what life was like here for the kings and princely people.
This started out in the 13C as a Gothic hunting lodge and then was rebuilt into this Baroque beauty.
This is the back patio,
And a view down to the Vltava below.
A few more looks,
And down I go.
So how’s this for bizarre?
I’m driving thru the beautiful Bohemian countryside of ancient villages and red roofs…
…and suddenly the road turns and I drive right underneath a nuclear reactor!!!
I mean right under it, under those towers. This is the first safe place I could pull off the road to take a photo.
Yikes. Felt very uneasy, and maybe because Vancouver is a nuclear free zone…not sure…but yikes!
Anyway, drove far enough away…actually, in a country with a nuclear reactor you can never be far enough away…and got to the little town of Tabor.
The word tabor means camp, and this is where a movement of Protestantism and reformation began way before Henry the 8th decided he wanted a new wife.
There was a clergyman named Jan Hus who led the revolt for reformation against the Catholic clergy under the Austrian Empire.
I walked into the town square and into the museum to learn more.
Here is Jan Hus on the right and Jan Zizka on the left.
I’m afraid it didn’t end well for poor old Hus who was eventually burned at the stake for heresy, but his death in 1415 led to a partial overthrow of power in a way that his idealisms became the new order of the day. The partial overthrow of power was accomplished by Jan Zizka who led the battle of Kutna Hora and defeated the army of the Holy Roman Empire and of Hungary.
One more treasure to discover: cellars!
Under the whole town are cool, stone cellars, many of which connect to each other and some of which are three, very generous, stories deep!.
These cellars were used as safe storage places and even as a small prison.
In the Middle Ages, it was possible for a man to lock his wife in one of the cellar rooms for a 24 hour period if she were being disobedient. This apparently backfired quite often because suddenly there was no wife to cook, take care of the children and warm the bed!
But the most important function of the cellars for this town was as a safeguard against fire.
In those days, the buildings were made of wood, and high up on hills towns were particularly susceptible.
This town was built here because of mining. Garnets, opals and other semi-precious stones came out of these hills, so lots of employment for folks. however, a particularly brutal fire, which burned 2/3 of the town to the ground, started the trend to build these cellars.
So there you go guys, a slow meander up here to the outskirts of Prague. I’ll hang here for a few days and possibly go for a swim. It’s hot here, perfect swimming weather, and I need a break.