Cesky Krumlov – Bohemia, Czech Republic
An Exquisite Medieval Jewel, No Longer Unknown
Cesky Krumlov has an impressive history, but it is a living town, and provides an interesting window on genuine Bohemian village life, particularly in the off-season, when the ever-increasing tourist crowds subside.
Most notable among the impressive amalgam of medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, and rococo buildings is the splendid castle (Krumlov hrad, also called the Schwarzenberg Castle). Czech castles are a dime a dozen, but with 300 rooms, this is the second largest in the Czech Republic after Prague’s.
For some 300 years, it was the official residence of the Rozenberk dynasty, the powerful noble family that ruled southern Bohemia from 1316 to the 16th century. You can also fill your days exploring the countless nooks and crannies of this pristine, fairy-tale river town, meandering through twisting and cobbled alleyways, some so narrow you must walk sideways.
The Czech Republic is famous for its beers (although brewing is a millennium old, lager was invented in the Bohemian town of Pilsen, or Plzen, in 1842) and Cesky Krumlov has its own brewery, the Eggenberg. The cavernous Beer Hall at 27 Latrán is the place to sip its tasty dark beer on tap.
Park your bags at the Hotel Rüze, the city’s most romantic hotel, recently refurbished. A 16th-century Renaissance building used as a Jesuit monastery, it offers lovely rooms (some with gorgeous views of the historical center and the castle) and an excellent restaurant specializing in traditional Czech dishes.