Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Český Krumlov without the Crowds

Český Krumlov, in the Czech Republic, is one of my favorite places to take guests. It’s another UNESCO World Heritage Site, about 3 1/2 hours west, northwest of Vienna by car. This fascinating medieval village is normally packed with tourists. When we visited a few days ago—the first time I had seen it in winter— surprisingly few other visitors were there.

Of the castles I have seen, Český Krumlov is my favorite. I am amazed at the painted exteriors, the colors of some of the interior rooms, and I absolutely love the ballroom, the Masquerade Hall, its walls painted by Joseph Lederer in 1748 with unusual, colorful masked characters attending or viewing a ball. Unfortunately, castle tours are not offered in the winter. And sadly, photos are not allowed inside the castle, so I can only urge you to take my word that a visit to Český Krumlov and its castle will be unforgettable...but go in the summer so you can see the Masquerade Hall. Even better, an annual masquerade ball is held there every summer; maybe you can arrange to attend!

The castle towers over the village and the horseshoe bend of the Vltava River.

Stacked arches provide a dramatic entrance to the village.

I love this passageway that leads to the castle:

Great ceiling, huh?

I saw the artist painting this sundial last year. It provided the accurate time when I took this photo:

One of quite a few sgraffito buildings in the village:

The main market square:

Český Krumlov is in the Bohemian region of the Czech Republic and the creative influences of artists abound in the village. Marionettes are popular here:

The view through our pension's window on a rainy morning:

What a snazzy manhole cover!

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