Have you ever dreamed about what it would be like if time stood still?
What if we told you that we know a place where you can make your dreams come true?
Almost anyone who has ever visited Český Krumlov will tell you that in the narrow lanes here you sometimes you feel as if you are in another century. There are few towns which have managed to preserve their medieval and Renaissance character and indescribably tranquil atmosphere. The city, which is dominated by a huge castle and palace, still guards many ancient secrets, and at every step you will find silent witnesses to age-old stories – perhaps ones relating to one of the most powerful noble families long ago, the one with a five-petalled rose on their coat of arms. That family resided in the castle here for three centuries and transformed it into a spectacular Renaissance residence, which was meant to stand as an equal to the royal castle in Prague.
Under the rule of the last of the Rožmberks (Rosenbergs), Vilém of Rožmberk and Petr Vok, Krumlov enjoyed an unprecedented cultural development and also became the home of legendary figures with harsh fates. Edward Kelly, a court alchemist of Emperor Rudolf II at one time, worked here in the service of Vilém or Rožmberk, toiling in a secret laboratory on his Great Work and, with the help of elixirs, trying to transform various substances into gold and silver. The long-ago presence of practitioners of this extinct “craft” is still in evidence today, and not only in the mysterious signs found in the sgraffiti facade of the large palace tower.
Long-past times are evoked by pubs in ancient cellars, where you can enjoy a true medieval feast and taste the best Czech beers. The Renaissance spirit is fully revived every year in June, when for three days the whole town comes alive with knightly tournaments, fencing matches, and lively craft fairs, culminating with a grand procession of historical figures and knights on horseback.
Photos: Celebrations of the Five-Petalled Rose – ceremonial procession (© Český Krumlov, foto Mgr. Lubor Mrázek)
The art of making time stand still
A bit off the beaten path, you will come upon tranquil nooks that also recall the not-so-distant past. One is them is the Seidl Photo Studio. Step inside and you will be transported to the time when acquiring a photographic image amounted to a small adventure. It is as if the master photographer left the studio only moments ago, leaving the enlargers and historical equipment in their original places. The local archive contains some 140,000 glass plates in which the Krumlov of the early 20th comes to life.