Elegant townhouses gathered around one of the largest squares in Europe, an idyllic salt store and a brewery cooking up the original Budvar beer – this is České Budějovice, the capital of South Bohemia. This city has preserved its historical character over the centuries but is also a modern regional centre. So come and savour the city’s pleasant atmosphere with a tankard of our world famous beer.
České Budějovice was founded in the mid-13th century as a royal city. Thanks to its strategic position straddling the ancient salt trading route between Prague and Linz, later replaced by Europe’s first horse-drawn railway, the city grew gradually richer and richer and developed into an important settlement. Despite frequent wars and fires in the Middle Ages, a large number of historical sites have survived and these can be admired by today’s visitors.
A textbook square
In the centre of České Budějovice you’ll find the city’s pride and joy – a square piazza named after King Přemysl Otakar II. One of the largest squares in Europe, it’s exactly a hectare in size and has become an integral part of every Czech mathematics textbook. The square is hemmed by exquisite Baroque arcaded houses, and the grand building of the town hall, one of the country’s most attractive, also graces its cobbles. Take a break by the Samson Fountain in the middle which sports some wonderful sculptural decoration. On a walk through the city centre be sure to visit the Cathedral of St. Nicholas and the city’s famous salt store.
Watch out for the skeleton!
If you’re fit enough, be sure to climb to the top of the Black Tower. This symbol of the city was built to show how rich České Budějovice had become, and is steeped in myths and legends. One of these relates how a skeleton would sit astride the Bumerin bell, ringing it to mark deaths as the tower keeper was too lazy to climb the tower when he was supposed to. Today it’s said that only children can see the skeleton.
The real Budvar – only from Budějovice
An integral part of the city is the Budějovický Budvar brewery where beer has been produced using an original recipe for seven centuries. Don’t miss the brewery’s visitor centre where you can learn everything about South Bohemia’s amber nectar. The Budvar brand is known across the globe, but the name has caused a lot of headaches. The city’s German name is Budweis which forms part of the name of the American beer which has nothing at all to do with České Budějovice’s famous brew. Although court proceedings are set to drag on for many more years yet, the real Budějovice Budvar will still taste as good when it’s all done and dusted. You can taste draught Budvar lager at the legendary Masné krámy, founded by King Charles IV.