Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Cesky Krumlov

 Ann took this photo of the beautiful tower of the Cesky Krumlov castle... we never did find out what exactly what the tower was for, but it sits atop a rocky bluff over the Vltava River overlooking this medieval fortified village. Japanese tourists with cameras threatened to collapse a small wooden bridge at the base of the tower.  

This gorgeous town and the castle -- the second biggest in Europe after Prague Castle -- is on the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites. It feels like the late 13th century walking around in the town, which is what you have to do if you can find one of the periphery parking lots that ring the old town. Cesky Krumlov was a site on trade routes in Bohemia.

The Nazis held it as part of the Sudentenland and during Communism it was badly neglected, but a full restoration has made it a vacation destination again. A flood in 2002 was the last disaster, and clean up from that is still visible.

The Czechs have some experience with enduring hardship and then reemerging. They were sold out, remember, before World War II then spent the whole war occupied by Germans. At the end as it became clear the allies were going to prevail, Czech youth rose up to drive out the Nazis in the country. Thousands died in what, at base, was a symbolic gesture. Little wreaths are visible on buildings throughout Prague inscribed with the names of these young martyrs. Communism was another long period of occupation almost. The Czech rose up rebelliously several times -- to disaster. Then when the Iron Curtain finally came down they began cleaning, repainting and rebuilding. Czech writing, music and art are revered. You gotta admire the spirit of the place. 

Cesky Krumlov Castle was the setting for the move the Illusionists. It is set atop a rocky cliff -- at one point braces over cracks in the rock held support the huge structure. Outside the main castle grounds is a pit of bears.

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