Prague is known to be the city of a hundred spires, as it’s filled with gothic churches and castles – fit for a fairy tale. But just 2.5 hours away from the capital city sits a magical and miniature version, Cesky Krumlov. In the words of Ed Sheeran there’s a very dramatic ‘Castle on the Hill’, although the castle may seem like a ‘Tiny Dancer’ in comparison to its bigger brother, Prague (larger than 7 football pitches), it packs a punch of tales and mysterious history. So what is there to do in this bohemian city?
Wander the castle grounds
It’s rumoured that the castle is haunted by the Rosenberg lady, otherwise known as the White Lady, a member of Rosenberg family who ruled from the heights in the 1300’s to the 1600’s. Her father married her off to a villain and cruel lord against her will – I can imagine her singing the lyrics ‘you need me, man, I don’t need you’, as she did not love the lord at all. As you can imagine it was an unsuccessful marriage, but upon her husband’s deathbed, the lord begged for her forgiveness. He couldn’t ‘sweep her off of her feet’ as the lady refused his request, which made the lord angry – as a stereotypical villain, he cursed her. Since then, the soul of the White Lady von Rosenberg has roamed the castle and tends to appear before significant events. Look out for her hands and the colour of her gloves, white brings good tidings, black are a sign of impending disaster.
Don’t believe in ghosts? Are you more of a Disney fan rather than a Grimm’s Brothers? If so, seek out other characters who roam the castle – the grizzly bears. Since 1707 bears have lived in the moat of the castle and currently you’ll meet the bear couple Vok and Kateřina with their two cubs, born in 1994. Where’s Goldie locks?
The main highlight within the castle grounds is the stunning Baroque Theatre, which would have been used to entertain noble families. It is one of the only standing Baroque Theatres in the world (another in Stockholm), as hundreds were destroyed in the war or burnt down due to bad use of candles and pyrotechnics. Legend has it that a beautiful virgin (hello Goldie Locks!), played in a visiting drama group and fell in love with the leading man but unfortunately the love was unrequited. With ‘the colour crimson in her eyes’, during her last act, the poor virgin girl stabbed herself in the chest and died on stage. You could say the ‘chemical of love was burning in her bloodstream’ and her unhappiness remained a symbol on the blood stained floors.
You can enter the castle and tower for 260czk, but I highly recommend paying 350czk for a 45 minute theatre tour.
Explore the Old Town Square
Within the quaint and cobbled streets of the old town, you’ll notice a monument dedicated to those who fell during the plague, it’s located right opposite the torture museum. If you’re a bit squeamish then I wouldn’t recommend this museum, otherwise it’s an interesting visit to see what once happened to criminals within this town. Once upon a time the locals may have said ‘And I see fire, hollowing souls’, as this is the spot of the horrendous witch burnings that once gripped Europe.
Hike Mount Klet
This spot is a little out of town, but getting there is half the fun. Reaching the summit can be done on foot by following the well-marked trails, or aboard a fast chairlift – no surrenders here, the trail is worth it! Not far from the top of the mountain is the Klet’ Observatory, while at the summit itself is Josef’s Tower, an excellent observation and on a clear day you can even seen the Alps!
Float Down The River Vltava in Style
The best way to spend your summer’s day is within a raft, splashing about with countryside and city views. You’ll see plenty of locals swimming and dozens if not hundreds of people in canoes and inflatable rafts – don’t worry, there’s plenty room for you! Many companies offer kayaks or canoes, but note that you’ll most likely have to navigate the river yourself, but that’s all part of the fun!
Eat Veggie Goodness at Laibon
After all that exercise you’ll need refuelling and Laibon is the perfect spot to relax and enjoy real good food. Situated along the river, with impressive views of the castle, indulge in guilt free dishes such as pita and hummus or guacamole for just 100 czk. My top tip is to order the Chai Tea, it’s delicious! You’ll easily find yourself sat here for hours, but don’t forget to say hello to the cheerful owner, David.
Soak Up The Gypsy Jazz Culture
By day the streets of Cesky Krumlov can be packed with enthusiastic tourists, but by night the enthusiasm slows down and soothes away, and this is when you’ll find the real soul of the city. Scrub up and head to one of many bars for some live gypsy jazz. My suggestion would be ‘Gypsy Bar’, which is just a stone throw away from the castle. Make sure you try the local Eggenberg beer.
How to get there: Quickest way is to take a local bus or a Flixbus (4 hours). You can also get the train from Prague to Cesky Krumlov. Prices are roughly 15 euros.
How long should you stay? I’d recommend a 2 night stay. It’s a small place and easily walked.
Where to stay? Krumlov House is a cute house on the outskirts of town, situated above