The Czech Republic has become a favorite tourist destination for many travelers who crave something off of the traditional European tour path. It is a favorite destination for those who like older architecture, partially because this small landlocked country went mostly untouched during the world wars, and partially because the area has been owned by many different nations with different architectural influences throughout the last millennium. Prices are lower for those who like to find the best deal, and the culture is more “authentic”, or unspoiled by tourist demands. The result is a charming step back into a fairytale world of “Real Europe.” Here are some of the best places to visit in the Czech Republic:
This western Bohemian city is the fourth largest in the Czech Republic, and is known worldwide as the home and the namesake of Pilsner beer. For those looking for great architecture, St Bartholemew’s Cathedral, the Great Synagogue, and the Renaissance style Town Hall are must-sees. The town is a vibrant economic center, home of breweries like Pilsner Urquell, and the well-known University of West Bohemia, the nation’s premiere college of
9. Moravian Karst
This geologic phenomenon is in a naturally protected region of the Czech Republic, just north of Brno. This is a giant series of underground limestone caverns and gorges that stretch for thousands of square kilometers. The region includes such highlights as the Macocha Abyss, a gorge 138 meter (453 foot) deep, which formed during a collapse of one of the underground cavern ceilings. In addition to caverns, Moravian Karst also contains well-marked bicycle trails and hiking paths to explore.
This eastern town on the once border between Bohemia and Moravia sat on an important trade route called the Tristenice Path. In the late sixteenth century, the most notable building in the town was created, a renaissance-style castle. This palace is the birthplace of noted classical music composer Bedrich Smetana. Another highlight in the town is the Portmoneum, the former home of art lover Josef Portmon, and a tribute to graphic art that covers walls, floors, ceilings and furniture in a completely immersive style.
Olomouc was originally created as a Roman fort during the imperial period. The name is a corrupted version of its Roman name, Mount Julius. It later became the residence of the Moravian governor. There is much to see here, as the town was considered important during almost every century of the last millennium. Olomouc Castle dates back to the twelfth century, and has in it the beautiful Saint Wencelas Cathedral. The town is populated with more than a dozen lovely religious buildings from progressive architectural styles, six notable baroque fountains that are a point of pride, a notable art museum, and the spectacular astronomical clock.
This town in the Moravia region of the South was created as a port town in the 14th Century to facilitate trade between Bohemia, Moravia, and Austria. The town’s historic center boasts easter-egg colors and renaissance architecture, which make it a picturesque place to visit. The local Gothic palace was redone in the 17th century to remake it in Renaissance style. Beautiful churches like the church of the Holy Ghost and the local Jesuit Church make this a lovely place for photographers, architectural and history buffs.
5. Castle Karlstejn
This 14th Century Gothic Castle was the home of Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV. It is located about 30 km (18 miles) from Prague, and makes a nice day trip for tourists staying in the city. The castle has served as a war fortress, a storehouse for treasure, and a royal home at different points. The building is designed with three terraced levels, each standing for different levels of importance. From lowest to highest, the sections are called the Imperial Palace, the Marian Tower, and the Big Tower. The Knights and the Emperor inhabited the imperial palace, the Marian Tower was reserved for the Empress, and the Big Tower was left for God, and has a chapel inside.
4. Karlovy Vary
This hot spring town has been believed for hundreds of years to have healing waters that can clear anything from poor digestion to brain tumors. Like many hot spring regions, the waters were developed into a large spa region. In this case, the transformation happened in the 13th Century, and was commissioned by Charles IV. As spas were the place of nobles, the architecture has always been opulent. However, a series of natural disasters have destroyed most of the buildings that existed before the heyday of Karlovy Vary in the 18th and 19th centuries. The town is still quite grand and picturesque however, and the spa is still open over six centuries later, and still claims miracle cures for dozens to hundreds of ailments.
3. Kutna Hora Where to Stay
Kutna Hora began as the first Bohemian monastery in 1142. It began to boom and prosper as the town’s mountains were shown to have a large silver deposit in the 12th century. The town was under German control when much of this boom happened, and has created a number of spectacular Gothic buildings. Included in the list of must-see places is the five-naved Cathedral, St Barbaras Church. Also, the royal residence and mint now called the Italian Court, the current museum called the Stone Haus, the Ossuary (bone house), and two more lovely Gothic Churches. For Gothic Architecture lovers, there are few places with as many preserved buildings dating back to the 1300’s.
2. Cesky Krumlov
Cesky Krumlov, a town featuring a large “Bohemian Castle” resides in the region of Krumlov. It was created in the late thirteenth century, when the region was owned by the Bohemians, as a trade stronghold. The location along a natural crossing of the Vltava river made it a perfect place to build. The town’s appearance is little changed since the 18th century and the buildings have been well maintained and restored. It is a lovely castle city that still has the look and feel of a Medieval town. Crooked cobblestone streets and brightly-colored stucco facades make Cesky Krumlov beautiful and unique. The streets are full of interesting shops, succulent food, and timeless charm.
This gem of the Vltava river has an 1100 year history of being culturally grand and important. Prague has been the capital of Bohemia and of the Roman Empire. It flourished during both the Gothic and Renaissance eras. It is still the largest city in the Czech Republic and one of the most culturally rich and diverse, and has architectural and artistic highlights from many different centuries and architectural aesthetics. Prague is one of the top ten most visited European cities, with a good look at the tapestry of a millennium of architecture. Top sites include architecture like castles and cathedrals, the picturesque Charles Bridge. Lovers of Kafka can see his home and the cemetery where he was buried. More modern art lovers can see the Giant Metronome, or the Fred and Ginger Dancing House.