Europe‚Äôs latest ‘in’ spot: Cesky Krumlov

By Bob Schulman

Chances are you don't know much about Cesky Krumlov. Probably nothing. So you might be surprised to learn this tiny town in the South Bohemian region of the Czech Republic is fast becoming a huge draw for tourists from all over Europe. 

What's there? First, Cesky Krumlov is a wonderful example of a small medieval town that hasn't changed much over the centuries. Second, on a continent loaded with classy castles, Cesky Krumlov has a real eye-popper. No wonder it made the prestigious list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Cesky's castle is a jump back in time to the middle ages.The town –  Cesky means “Czech” and Krumlov translates to something like “crooked meadow,” perhaps because the city is nestled in a meander of the nearby Vlatava River – has roots going back to the 13th century when the castle was built by the Lords of Krumlov. The town sprung up around the castle.

Looking much like something out of a Gothic-Renaissance-Baroque fairy tale, the town (population: about 14,000) is packed with colorful squares, old-world homes and shops along its cobbled lanes. What's more, it's got dozens of museums and galleries and lots and lots of cafes and bars. All told, visitors are welcome to mosey around some 300 medieval buildings in downtown Cesky and 40 more in the castle complex.

Tours of the castle wind through gardens, chapels, courtyards and palaces once home to noble families with names like Witigonen, Rosenberg, von Habsburg, Eggenberg and Schwarzenberg. Among features of the immense castle is a Baroque theater dating back to the 1400s and a 180-foot-high tower offering a fantastic view of the surrounding town.

Cesky edges the banks of the Vlatava River.The Czech tourism folks offer a free mobile guide to the city and pointers on what to see and do there, where to stay, schedules of upcoming festivals and much more. Click www.ckrumlov.info/docs/en/Mobilnipruvodce_20120126090728.xml

Vacationing in Prague? Think about rounding out your experience in the Czech Republic by zipping down to Cesky Krumlov for a few days. Travel times from Prague run from three to four hours by train, bus or rental car. Drives take about the same time from Munich and Vienna.

Lodging lists show over a hundred hotels, inns and b&bs around town including a dozen or so tourist-class hotels.

Images courtesy of Czech Tourism.

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