East Bohemian Kuks is one of the most beautiful Baroque complexes in the Czech Republic. Set out to discover the story of a place which in its heyday easily equalled the largest spa towns in Bohemia and whose architectural value amazes visitors from all over the world to this very day. Walk through the gallery of beautiful statues by the “Czech Michelangelo” or view the Nativity Scene hewn directly from the rocks, the only one of its kind in the world.
This beautiful little village with its many log buildings is dominated on the opposite bank of the river by a monumental Baroque complex, which was once one of the most important spa locations in the Czech lands. Count Špork decided to establish a spa sanatorium at the end of the 17th century after a healing spring was found here. The rich cultural life of the spa in the form of sumptuous balls, plays and hunts became legendary. Even though this fame has passed with time, you will to this very day be overwhelmed by the magnificence and beauty of the Baroque in its purest of forms.
A pharmacy full of treasures
The most important part of Kuks is without a doubt its monumental hospital with the stone Church of the Most Holy Trinity and its mysterious crypt. Inside, you can see an exhibition devoted to the life of its founder and also to medicine in general. The Czech Pharmaceutical Museum is based here to this very day. Under no circumstances must you fail to visit the local Baroque pharmacy, which is the second oldest in Europe. If however you expect only regular medicines, you will be surprised. This is to say that some of the pharmaceutical containers even hold such potions as dragon’s blood, powder of hanged man’s head or wolf liver. If you like glass and modern art, have a look at the permanent exhibition by one of the most famous contemporary Czech sculptors, Bořek Šípek.
Pass by Love all the way to Sloth
In front of the hospital, your attention will be drawn to the monumental statues of the twelve human Virtues and Vices. Their author is none other than the ingenious sculptor Matyáš Bernard Braun. Depicted here are for example Faith, Love, Hope, Wisdom and Justice, but also Pride, Avarice, Greed, Wrath, Sloth and Despair.
A monument in the middle of the forest – the only one of its kind in the world
You can take a pleasant walk to a monument which is the only one of its kind in the world, located in the forest not far from Kuks. Here you will find a unique collection of Baroque sculptures hewn right into the rock, depicting a nativity scene. The idea behind this was to create a place to contemplate and pray “in the inhospitable countryside”. Make sure you above all view the relief work of the Adoration of the Shepherds, Arrival of the Three Kings and the wonderful Jacob’s Well.