Located deep in South Bohemia, Český Krumlov is without doubt one of the most picturesque towns in Europe. With its castle perched on a hill overlooking the town and Vltava River, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is built almost like a miniature Prague. Many visitors go to Český Krumlov only as a day trip but it is certainly worth an overnight stop, with plenty of bars and riverside restaurants.
The town we see today grew up on the gentle slopes that surround its dominant castle. Built in 1240, the fortress’ earliest moniker was Chrumbenowe (‘crooked meadow’) in reference to the bend in the Vlatava river where the town is located.
The original fortress was built by the Vítkovci family. When their lineage ended in 1302, King Wenceslaus II gifted the town and its castle to the Rosenberg family. Later, Peter I of Rosenberg, Lord Chamberlain to King John of Bohemia, resided here and initiated the building of the upper castle. The Rosenbergs actively promoted trade and crafts within the city walls. The following century saw an economic boom as gold was found nearby. Many settlers came to the town, the vast majority being German speakers. This, along with a general movement of people from Austria and Eastern Bavaria, led to the Czechs becoming a minority and German speakers becoming the majority.
The castle received another major makeover in the 16th Century when William of Rosenberg, the High Treasurer of Bohemia, rebuilt it in Renaissance style, the dominant style visible today. 1620 marks the Battle of White Mountain, a religious battle between Catholics and Protestants, which saw the castle again change hands, this time to the Eggenberg family. They eventually fell from grace and from 1719 to 1947 the castle was owned by the House of Schwarzenberg.
WWII saw Český Krumlov annexed by Nazi Germany as it formed part of the Sudetenland, a large piece of Czechoslovakia with a German-speaking majority. Upon the end of the war, all those German speakers were expelled and the town once again became Czech. With the arrival of the Communists in 1947, the castle became state property and as a result it, along with the town, fell into disrepair. The Velvet Revolution in 1989, which saw the end of the Communist Era, started the process of restoration and now much of its former beauty has been revived.
Although the town is quite small, the castle is large. In fact, it is the second largest castle complex in the country after Hradčany, the Castle District of Prague. The complex contains a large Rococo style garden, the Gothic church of St. Vitus and an impressive theatre.
Beer has been brewed in Český Krumlov since 1336. When the Eggenberg family acquired the town in the 17th Century, they rebuilt the brewery that still functions today.
Šumava National Park
The Czech Republic’s largest National Park is located nearby along the border with Austria and Germany.