prague: strahov monastery, the loreta, hradčany square, st. vitus cathedral & prague castle

Wednesday, October 4: Today, our second day in Prague, we begin our adventure by taking the #22 tram uphill past the castle to the Strahov Monastery. We plan to slowly make our way down to Castle Quarter, stopping at the Loreta along the way.

We’re greeted by a statue of Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler.  Tycho Brahe, a Danish nobleman, astronomer, and writer known for his comprehensive astronomical studies, lost part of his nose in duel against his third cousin, a fellow Danish nobleman.  The rest of his life, he wore a prosthetic nose kept in place with glue.  In 2012, two years after his body was exhumed in 2010 due to questions about his death by possible poisoning, Danish and Czech researchers reported that the prosthetic was made of brass (Wikipedia: Tycho Brahe).  Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) was a German mathematician, astronomer and astrologer, best known for his laws of planetary motion (Wikipedia: Johannes Kepler).

Statue on the way to Strahov Monastery

Strahov Monastery was founded for the Premonstratensian Order in 1140. The Premonstratensians are a religious order of Canons Regular of the Catholic Church founded in 1120.  As they are not monks but Canons Regular, their work involves preaching and exercising pastoral ministry.

The present buildings of the monastery were completed in the 17th and 18th centuries. The communist government closed them down and imprisoned most of the Canons; they returned in 1990.

The Church of the Assumption of Our Lady, built in 1143, sits inside the monastery gates.  It was decorated in the baroque style in the 18th century.  Apparently, Mozart played the organ here, according to Lonely Planet: Prague & The Czech Republic.

Strahov Monastery
Strahov Monastery

The highlight of Strahov Monastery is the Strahov Library, the largest monastic library in Czech Republic. The library contains two gorgeous baroque halls dating from the 17th and 18th centuries and houses a collection of some 200,000 volumes.

The two-story high 1794 Philosophical Hall, with its carved and gilded floor-to-ceiling walnut shelving, is topped by a grand ceiling fresco, Mankind’s Quest for True Wisdom.  Divine Providence is enthroned amidst a burst of golden light while figures such as Adam and Eve and Greek philosophers surround her (Lonely Planet).  Visitors are not allowed to go inside the hall, but can stand at the entrance for photographs.

Strahov Library – Philosophical Hall

The lobby connecting the Philosophical Hall and the Theological Hall contains natural and historical curiosities and elaborate manuscripts.

The Theological Hall at Strahov Library was established between 1671-1674.  The Baroque concept of the library is demonstrated by the upright storage of books on the shelves.  Above the shelves are gilded wooden carved decorations with wooden cartouches. This was a rudimentary library aid because the pictures in the wooden cartouches and their titles specified the type of literature stored on the shelves.

Fifty years later, the hall was extended and then decorated with frescoes by the painter Siard Nosecký. Several frescoes symbolize principles based on quotations from the Bible (mainly Proverbs) and from the philosophical tracts of the hall’s founder, Abbot Hirnhaim: “A person enlightened by faith, however, must build on knowledge and education” (Strahovskyklaster: Theological Hall).  This is a stunning hall.

Theology Hall at Strahov Library
Theology Hall at Strahov Library
Theology Hall at Strahov Library

We can’t go into the Church of the Assumption of Our Lady, but we get a glimpse inside through an iron grille.

inside the Church of the Assumption of Our Lady

On the grounds of Strahov Monastery is the Church of St. Rochus which now houses the MIRO Gallery.  Established in Berlin in 1987, MIRO has been based at the Strahov Monastery since 1994, when the gallery relocated to Prague from Berlin.

The green truck in the courtyard, Sv. Norbert ANTIDEPRESSANT Autumn Dark Ale, reminds us that the monks built a brewery here in 1628.  Closed in 1907, after which the buildings were used solely as farm houses, it was restored in 2000.  The current Klasterni pivovar Strahov, or Strahov Monastic Brewery, offers guests 350 seats in three peculiar environments: the brewery itself, St. Norbert Restaurant and Brewery Courtyard.

It’s too early to stop for a beer now, however, so we’re on our way down the hill.  We do however stop for a pastry and coffee at Cafe Melvin.

We continue our downhill stroll toward Prague Castle, enjoying some beautiful views of the Castle Quarter and the Vltava River as well as some vineyards.

view of Prague Castle
vineyards

The Loreta, a baroque pilgrimage destination, was designed as a replica of the Santa Casa, or the “Holy House” of Nazareth, where the archangel Gabriel announced the immaculate conception to the Virgin Mary; it is thought to be her home.  The Loreta was founded in 1626 by Kateřina Benigna, a noblewoman of the Lobkowicz family. The Loreta includes, besides the Santa Casa, a beautiful storied cloister and a Baroque carillon with a famous chime.

The Loreta
The Loreta
The Loreta
door to The Loreta

In the courtyard of the Loreta are a couple of fountains with statues of the Assumption of Virgin Mary and the Resurrection of Christ.

the courtyard of the Loreta

The frescoes decorating the cloister’s arcades at the Loreta depict the lives of the Virgin Mary and Christ.

The Loreta has altars and treasures, such as confessional booths.

The oldest part of the Loreta is the small Santa Casa (the actual Loretto), built in 1626-31. The exteriors of the building were originally decorated by frescoes; stucco reliefs were added in the 1760s and 1770s showing the life of Virgin Mary, focusing on the childhood of Jesus Christ.

Santa Casa Loreta

Inside Santa Casa is a love sculpture of Our Lady Loretto in a silver altar. Most of the shrines, obelisks, candlesticks, lamps and liturgical objects come from the 17th century.

inside Santa Casa Loreta

Inside the Casa are several beams and bricks that come from the original Italian Loretto. Fresco fragments on the walls are artificial. Casa walls are purposely chipped at one spot to imitate the damage done by a lightning strike to the original chapel to punish unbelievers, according to legend (Kralovska Cesta: The Loretto).

Santa Casa Loreta

The Church of the Nativity of Our Lord was built in 1737 and has a magnificent Rococo interior.

Church of the Nativity of Our Lord

In the Chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows stands the patron saint of unhappy marriages, St. Bearded Woman; she was a woman whose family arranged for her to marry a pagan man.  After praying for escape, she grew a beard, which turned the pagan man off.  Her father was so angry at her escape from the marriage that he crucified her.

St. Bearded Woman

The Loreta Treasury houses liturgical treasures from the 16th-18th centuries, including the magnificent Prague Sun, made of solid silver and gold and studded with 6,222 diamonds.

Famous Diamond monstrance – “The Prague Sun”

It is quite cold today, so after leaving the Loreta, we find a warm and cozy cafe where we enjoy a pizza for lunch.

After lunch, we continue our downhill walk to Prague Castle, passing unknown buildings along the way.

We reach the west end of Prague Castle at Hradčany Square, or Castle Square, which was the epitome of medieval power.  Approaching the main entrance, we see the Rococo Archbishop’s Palace on our left. The archbishop still lives here.

Hradčany Square

To our right is the Schwarzenberg Palace, with Renaissance-era envelope-shaped patterns etched into the exterior’s stucco.  These sgraffito decorate buildings throughout Prague (Rick Steves Pocket Prague).

Schwarzenberg Palace
Schwarzenberg Palace

We stop to listen to the lively Prague Funfair Orchestra, tempting us to do a little jig.

musicians at Hradčany Square

Straight ahead is the Main Gate and the first courtyard of the palace. Plečnik  Hall overlooks this courtyard.  The hall is named after Jože Plečnik (1872 – 1957), a Slovene architect who greatly influenced the modern identity of Vienna, Prague (especially Prague Castle) and of Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia.  His style is associated with the Vienna Secession, a type of Art Nouveau.

Hradčany Square

The Main Gate is flanked by statues of battling Titans (1767-70) that loom over the castle guards standing below.  The changing of the guard takes place every hour on the hour, but we don’t wait around for it.

Hradčany Square
Hradčany Square

Before entering the Main Gate, we go to the edge of the square for views of the city sprawling below us.

view of Prague from Hradčany Square
view from Hradčany Square

We pass through the Matthias Gate into the Second Courtyard, noting the Chapel of the Holy Cross (1763) to our right. It houses the St. Vitus Treasury, with a collection of ecclesiastical items.

Chapel of the Holy Cross

Passing into the Third Courtyard, the Gothic St. Vitus Cathedral towers over us.  This Roman Catholic cathedral is the Czech national church.  Since a church has stood in this spot since 930, it marks the origins of the Czech Nation. The tombs of numerous Bohemian kings and Holy Roman Emperors are housed here; it is now owned by the Czech government as part of the Prague Castle complex.

Emperor Charles IV laid the foundation stone of the cathedral in 1344.  Delayed by wars, plagues and reforms of Jan Hus, the church was finally consecrated in 1929, for the 1,000th Jubilee of St. Wenceslas (Rick Steves Pocket Prague).

St. Vitus Cathedral

Inside St. Vitus are beautiful stained glass windows that pour color into the interior.

The 1931 Art Nouveau stained glass window was designed by Czech artist Alfons Mucha to celebrate the birth of the Czech Nation and the life of Wenceslas. According to the Mucha Foundation:

The window portrays the boy St. Wenceslas with his grandmother St. Ludmila in the centre, surrounded by episodes from the lives of Saints Cyril and Methodius, who spread Christianity among the Slavs. The image of Slavia is also included below Christ, and as an emblem of Slavia Bank who funded the stained glass window.

Alfons Mucha window

Inside St. Vitus Cathedral are various treasures, ranging from the 14th century Bohemian crown jewels to chapels and sculptures, as well as the tombs of Bohemian saints and rulers from St. Wenceslas to Charles IV (Lonely Planet: Prague & the Czech Republic). The big silver tomb with the angel-held canopy honors St. John of Nepomuk.  The royal oratory, with its late-Gothic, vine-like ribs, allowed the king to attend mass in his pajamas, as it was attached by corridor to his apartment (Rick Steves Pocket Prague).

The Wenceslas Chapel contains the tomb of the patron saint of the Czech nation.

On the south side of St. Vitus Cathedral, we can see the spires and the bell tower.  Mike decides to climb up the 297 steps while I relax in front of the Basilica of St. George in St. George Square.

St. Vitus Cathedral
St. Vitus Cathedral
St. Vitus Cathedral
St. Vitus Cathedral

The brick-red, early baroque facade of Basilica of St. George has a beautiful Romanesque nave.

Basilica of St. George
Basilica of St. George

Fragments of 12th century frescoes survive in the nave of the basilica.

Nave of Basilica of St. George
Nave of Basilica of St. George

The back of the Basilica has a more Romanesque look than the front baroque facade.

Basilica of St. George – back
Basilica of St. George – back

The Old Royal Palace dates from 1135, and its Vladislav Hall is known for its late-Gothic vaulted ceiling  (1493-1500).  The hall was used for banquets, councils and coronations, as well as for jousting tournaments.

Vladislav Hall
Vladislav Hall
Vladislav Hall
Vladislav Hall

A door from the Old Royal Palace leads to a terrace with a magnificent view of Prague.

Old Royal Palace terrace view of Prague
Old Royal Palace terrace view of Prague
Old Royal Palace terrace view of Prague

Golden Lane is a charming alley full of colorful cottages built in the 16th century.  They originally housed servants and the sharpshooters of the castle guard but were later used by goldsmiths. In the 19th and 20th centuries, they were inhabited by artists, including the writer Franz Kafka, who lived here for a year shortly after publishing The Metamorphosis. The restored cottages showcase their former uses: goldsmith workshop, tavern, fortune-teller’s house, and bookshop; the alley leads to the eastern gate of the castle complex.

Golden Lane
Golden Lane

The most interesting cottage is the cozy home of an amateur film historian.

home of amateur film historian
home of amateur film historian

We continue walking down from Golden Lane, enjoying the views of Prague as we descend.

walking down from Golden Lane
Prague
Prague
Prague
Prague

Near the bottom, we decide we’ll return to our apartment to relax a bit.  We have reservations for tonight at a fancy restaurant, Restaurant Terasa U Zlate studne, at The Golden Well Hotel.  Though the restaurant is near Malá Strana, we would like to be refreshed and to not have to wait around for several hours.

along the way

We hop on the tram at Malostranské náměstí, which takes us back to our apartment.

catching the tram at Malostranské náměstí

Later, we head back out to go to dinner.  We take the tram to the Legion Bridge, where we walk across for views of the Vltava River and Charles Bridge.

tram on the Legion Bridge
view of the Vltava River and Charles Bridge from the Legion Bridge
view of the Vltava River and Charles Bridge from the Legion Bridge
view of the Vltava River and Charles Bridge from the Legion Bridge

We enjoy the views of the Vltava River and Charles Bridge from the Legion Bridge.

view of the Vltava River and Charles Bridge from the Legion Bridge
view of the Vltava River and Charles Bridge from the Legion Bridge

Back in Malá Strana, we climb up and up toward the Golden Well Hotel and Restaurant Terasa U Zlate studne. I didn’t bring any fancy clothes, nor do I have warm enough clothes for this fancy terrace restaurant, so I have to layer the clothes I do have.

Annually voted the best restaurant in the Czech Republic, Terasa U Zlate studne serves Czech and international cuisine on three terraces – two heated and one indoor – all of which boast spectacular views of Prague. Our terrace table is nicely heated and we love the views of the city from here.  Since we made such early reservations, we have the restaurant to ourselves for the first hour. What a wonderful experience!

view from the Golden Well
view from the Golden Well
view from the Golden Well
Mike at the Golden Well

We enjoy the wonderful atmosphere and views, along with wine and a Trio of Tuna appetizer: Tartar with poached Quail Egg, Tataki with White Radish, Pungent Wasabi and Skewer with Authentic Teriyaki Sauce.  This turns out to be the best part of my meal, besides the wine and dessert. 🙂

our table at the Golden Well

Mike enjoys a Bohemian Creamy Soup Kulajda completed by creamy Potato, fresh Mushrooms, and Egg.  I make the mistake of ordering Pan Fried Sea Bass completed by Fennel, Tomatoes, green Celery, Rouille Paste and La Ratte Potatoes in Bouillabaisse Sauce.  The sea bass is very fishy and dry, so for the cost of this meal, I am disappointed. Mike loves his meal of Veal Slices atop Sweet Potato Puree with Porcini Mushrooms and Veal Confit on Zucchini-Potato Pancake with Marjoram Glaze. I’m not much of meat eater, but I’m surprised by how good his meal is.  I’m craving more of his veal, but he’s enjoying it too much to share abundant portions. The dessert is artistically presented, but I don’t remember what it was.

After about an hour on the terrace in peace and quiet, a rather loud and boisterous group of Chinese tourists arrive, and so, enjoying one last view, we leave our heavenly little spot and make our way back to our apartment.

view from the Golden Well

Steps today: 15,399 (6.53 miles).

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prague, czech republic: exploring malá strana

Tuesday, October 3:  This morning, Martina from Comfy Tours picks us up at Penzion U Matesa in Český Krumlov and drives us to our Airbnb apartment, hosted by Kateřina, in an attractive part of Prague -Vinohrady.  The apartment is spacious enough for six, with two rooms (one extra with two beds), a kitchen, dining area, and nice bathroom. It’s a newly renovated apartment, clean and comfortable, located close to Peace Square and public transportation, making it easy to get around the city. It also has a washer and dryer (shared by 3 apartments). We have loved our Airbnb apartments, here and in Budapest, on this trip.

It’s about 12:30 when we arrive in Prague, so we head out to look for a lunch spot.  We find the modern vegetarian restaurant, Etnosvet, at Legrerova 40, on a corner down from our apartment, and here we enjoy a fabulous lunch.

I start with a glass of cactus tea with cranberries.  We share a Chestnut velouté, and I have Celeriac Ravioli with smoked tofu, hazelnuts, walnuts and hazelnut oil.

Today, our focus is on Malá Strana, a district of Prague known officially as the Menší Město pražské, or Lesser Town of Prague.  We get off the tram at Malostranské náměstí, the main square of Malá Strana, which has been the hub of Malá Strana since the 10th century.  The green dome and imposing facade of St. Nicholas church tower over the square. From here, Mostecká ulice leads out to the Charles Bridge, and that’s where we head first.

Church of St. Nicholas
Malostranské náměstí

On our way to Charles Bridge, we pass a colorful Thai Massage place that beckons, and although I’m always a sucker for a massage, we don’t have time to indulge today.

We walk down Mostecká to Charles Bridge, passing the taller of two towers at the western end of Charles Bridge. This Malá Strana Bridge Tower was built in the mid-15th century imitating the Old Town Bridge Tower on the eastern end of the bridge.

Mostecká

I love the fancy wrought iron ornaments on the sides of the buildings.

Mostecká

Charles IV commissioned the architect of St. Vitus Cathedral, Peter Parler, to build Charles Bridge in 1357, replacing the washed away Judith Bridge. Completed in 1390, it was known simply as Kamenny most (Stone Bridge), and wasn’t renamed Charles until the 19th century.  Charles Bridge is decorated with thirty statues.  Below is the 1709 statue of St. Kosma and St. Damian, third century physician brothers (Lonely Planet: Prague & the Czech Republic).

St. Kosma and St. Damian on Charles Bridge

The Malá Strana Bridge Tower sits beside a lower tower originally part of the Judith Bridge, washed away by floods in 1342.

Malá Strana Bridge Tower

Charles Bridge is a favorite place for both locals and tourists to see and be seen.

Charles Bridge
busy Charles Bridge

Another statue on the bridge is St. John of Matha, St. Felix of Valois and St. Ivan, a 1714 statue of the 17th century French founders of the Trinitarian Order.  The original intention for the Order was to provide the ransom for Christians held captive by non-Christians; these Christians were often captured by crusaders and pirates along the Mediterranean coast of Europe.

Statuary of St. John of Matha, St. Felix of Valois and St. Ivan

From Charles Bridge, we can see the canal that separates Kampa Island from the west bank.

Kampa

From Charles Bridge, we have great views of the Vltava River going in every direction.  Looking north, we see the Mánes Bridge, or in Czech, Mánesův most.

the Vltava River

On the west bank, we can see the Franz Kafka Museum and other buildings lining the shore.

the Vltava River

To the south, we see the Legion Bridge and the National Theatre.

view of the eastern shore of the Vltava

At the Malá Strana end of Charles Bridge, we descend steps to Kampa, Prague’s biggest island, and wander through a tree-lined square bordered by outdoor cafes.

Kampa

We make our way to the shore of the Vltava and see Charles Bridge and the Old Town Bridge Tower at its eastern end.

view of Charles Bridge and the Vltava River from Kampa

We pass the John Lennon Pub as we make our way to the John Lennon Wall.

John Lennon Pub

We stroll by some cute cafes, love locks, canals separating Kampa from Malá Strana, gnomes, and interesting graffiti along the way.

restaurant on Kampa
canal on Kampa
locks on Kampa
gnome over canal
Mike and graffiti

Look closely at the middle of the first wall of graffiti and you can see my political sentiments expressed perfectly.

In a leafy secluded square, we find the John Lennon Wall across from the French Embassy.  After Lennon was shot on December 8, 1980, the singer, songwriter, and peace activist who co-founded the Beatles became an inspiration for young pacifist Czechs. Lennon’s image was painted on a wall, along with political graffiti, Beatles lyrics and other song titles. The communists banned most Western pop music and even jailed some Czech musicians for playing it.  Though the secret police whitewashed the wall many times, they could never keep it clean.  After 1989, though Lennon’s image and political messages became chipped away, tourists began to make their own contributions. The Knights of Malta now own the wall.  Early on, they painted over it, but after a while they gave up.  The wall lives today (Lonely Planet: Prague & The Czech Republic).

The John Lennon Wall
The John Lennon Wall
The John Lennon Wall

I’m initially surprised to find “Washington” on the John Lennon Wall, but then again, I’m not. Our government has the wherewithal to do great good for the world, as well as to inflict great evil, and we have done both.

The John Lennon Wall is a work in progress, adjusting its messages to the political times.

The John Lennon Wall

We make our way off the island of Kampa and head back uphill to Malá Strana.

going through Kampa
Kampa

Our next destination is the High Baroque St. Nicholas Church, built from 1703-1760.   We head first for the bell tower and climb its 215 steps for a view of the city.

St. Nicholas Church
view from St. Nicholas Church

Inside the bell tower, we pass some small rooms.  The living room was used as a place to rest, eat and work.  The bed sits in a cut-out niche next to the stove.  The sleeping corner is equipped with a cross of “protection” hung on the wall.  The eating and working corner consists of a wooden bench, a table and a chair.  A small corner cabinet was the only storage space. The remaining storage furniture fits in the opposite niche which features a cupboard-like shelf to store tableware (ceramic plates, a jug for beer/wine, and a serving dish).  Next to it, on the floor, is a chest for books, clothes, and other personal objects.  The simple clock on the wall gives a finishing touch.

From St. Nicholas Church, we can see Petřín Lookout Tower, which we will visit later this afternoon for more fabulous views.

view from St. Nicholas Church
view from St. Nicholas Church
view from St. Nicholas Church

According to Lonely Planet, the tower of St. Nicholas Church was used during the communist era to spy on the nearby American Embassy.

St. Nicholas Church
St. Nicholas Church
building outside St. Nicholas Church

The interior of St. Nicholas Church is an extravaganza of ceiling frescoes, a 2,500-pipe organ and numerous statues.

interior of St. Nicholas Church

On the ceiling of St. Nicholas Church is Johann Kracker’s 1770 Apotheosis of St. Nicholas, Europe’s largest fresco, according to Lonely Planet.

dome of St. Nicholas Church

The Early Baroque Church of Our Lady Victorious, dating back to 1611, was rebuilt from 1634 to 1669 and is administered by the Barefoot Carmelites.

The Church of Our Lady Victorious

The church is famous for its statue of the Infant Jesus of Prague, originally from Spain and donated to the Carmelite friars in 1628 by Polyxena; she was first princess of Lobkowicz, a Bohemian noble family that dates back to the 14th century. The Infant Jesus has two crowns and about forty-six robes. His vestments are traditionally changed about ten times a year according to the liturgical season, according to Prague.eu.

The Infant Jesus of Prague

We continue walking through Malá Strana, heading back to Charles Bridge once more.

The Church of Our Lady Victorious
Prague streets
dolls in shop window
Malostranské náměstí & St. Nicholas Church
on the way to Charles Bridge

It’s a beautiful time of day to walk back over the Charles Bridge and see action on the Vltava River, including boat traffic and swans floating leisurely on the rippling river.

the Vltava River and Charles Bridge
the Vltava River and Charles Bridge
the Vltava River
the Vltava River and Charles Bridge
Gustav Mahler

The Memorial to the Victims of Communism is a series of seven bronze statues descending a flight of stairs at the base of Petřín Hill.  The statues deteriorate as they recede in the distance, their bodies and limbs decaying and disappearing.  It memorializes the victims of the Communist era between 1948 and 1989,   It is the work of Czech sculptor Olbram Zoubek and architects Jan Kerel and Zdeněk Holzel.

There is also a bronze strip that runs along the center of the memorial, showing estimated numbers of those impacted by communism (Wikipedia: Memorial to the Victims of Communism): 205,486 imprisoned; 170,938 forced into exile; 4,500 died in prison; 327 shot trying to escape; 248 executed.

Memorial to the Victims of Communism

We then take the Petřín Funicular Railway up to Petřín Hill, where we plan to go to the top of Petřín Lookout Tower. Built for an exhibition in 1891, the tower is 200 feet tall.

Petřín Lookout Tower
Petřín Lookout Tower

It turns out the elevator to the top is out of service today, so we have to climb up the 400 steps circling the exterior of the tower, making for a cold ascent.  We have amazing views of the city as the sun goes down.

view from Petřín Lookout Tower
view from Petřín Lookout Tower
view from Petřín Lookout Tower
view from Petřín Lookout Tower
view from Petřín Lookout Tower

We have extraordinary views from Petřín Lookout Tower.

view from Petřín Lookout Tower

We find a Mexican restaurant, Restaurace Cantina, on the street near the bottom of Petřín Hill, where we stop for a cozy and delicious meal in a festive atmosphere.

Restaurace Cantina
Restaurace Cantina
Restaurace Cantina

Despite our day being short because we came from Český Krumlov this morning, I think we still managed to squeeze in a lot!

Steps today: 13,778 (5.74 miles).

This walk is inspired in part by Jo’s Monday Walks.

a day of aimless wandering in český krumlov

Monday, October 2:  Today is a bright and cheery day.  Since it’s a Monday and all museums are closed, we have nothing to do but wander around Český Krumlov.  Mike has a hankering to go on a raft ride down the Vltava River, but after he tries several times to call the outfitter and gets no answer, he wants to walk down to the river to try to find the office.  We take off after a decent breakfast at Penzion U Matesa, walking through the cobbled streets.

streets of Český Krumlov
Český Krumlov
Vltava River in Český Krumlov
St. Vitus Church in Český Krumlov
wandering through town

We’re delighted to find a small church in a leafy park setting.

a shaded church
hidden church

We continue following the river in search of the rafting outfitter.

the Vltava

We find the address, but the office door is closed, so we descend steps down to the river.  There is no one to be found, so they must be closed on Mondays along with the closed museums. Mike is disappointed and wonders what we’ll do all day. I’m always happy to linger and meander and drop into shops as the urge strikes, so I don’t share his concerns.

a derelict building near the boat dock

We cross one of the bridges and continue walking through the town, admiring the red roofs, the whimsically shaped stucco buildings, and the castle tower and church steeples.

We find a map of Český Krumlov at the top of a hill.  I wish I could do aerial photography because I’d love to capture this view with my camera.

Map of Český Krumlov

We come upon the looming St. Vitus Church in Český Krumlov, and this time we decide to go inside.  If you’d like to read more about the church, click on the link.

St. Vitus Church
St. Vitus Church
St. Vitus Church
interior of St. Vitus Church

We make our way to the town center, known as náměstí Svornosti, with its 16th century Town Hall and 1716 Marian Plague Column. Several buildings on the square feature valuable stucco and painted decorations (Lonely Planet).

náměstí Svornosti
náměstí Svornosti & the Marian Plague Column
náměstí Svornosti

We find an exhibit of candy-colored Porsches in the square. They entice like shiny Matchbox cars.

Porsche display at náměstí Svornosti

We continue our walk through the swirls of the town, poking our heads into shops now and then, much to Mike’s dismay.  I love the round-top facades and pastel colors of the buildings.  The streets are packed with tourists, especially Chinese.

Český Krumlov
Český Krumlov

Walking through town, we see views of St. Jošt Church and Český Krumlov State Castle and Tower.

St. Jošt Church
Český Krumlov State Castle
St. Jošt Church

We stop at an outdoor cafe along the Vltava River for a lunchtime cheese sampler and coffee. It’s a perfect day, crisp, sunny and full of possibilities.

me with a cheese plate

We decide to split up for an hour and half and go our separate ways.  I want to take a photo walk around the town, dipping into shops when the urge hits me.  Mike decides to walk around the perimeter of the town, on the outer edges of the Vltava.  Following are the photos I took during my meanderings.

streets of Český Krumlov
Český Krumlov
Český Krumlov
Český Krumlov

I love some of the delightful little details I find on the streets of the town.

I love this box of fun signs, especially this: TEENAGERS: TIRED OF BEING HARASSED BY YOUR PARENTS?  ACT NOW!  MOVE OUT, GET A JOB, PAY YOUR OWN WAY WHILE YOU STILL KNOW EVERYTHING.  (Sounds like something I’d like to say to someone I know, except he’s not a teenager!)

fun signs
colorful Český Krumlov
pretty in pink

I get to a bridge at the far end where I see a park behind the castle.  Later Mike tells me he walked in this park. If it weren’t for the dog with the fellow seen below, I’d have sworn he was Mike.

a park
Český Krumlov
St. Jošt Church
Český Krumlov State Castle
vintage signs

Even though we arranged to meet at our hotel at a specific time, Český Krumlov is so small that we run into each other near this cute little cafe.

a cute coffee shop

Mike shares some of the pictures he took on his walk:

Together again, we climb above the town on the perimeter, where we find some different views.

St. Vitus Church
Český Krumlov
Český Krumlov
Český Krumlov
Český Krumlov
Český Krumlov
Český Krumlov
fall colors

After meandering on the outskirts of the town, we find ourselves back at the center again.

We get another view of Český Krumlov Tower, difficult to avoid in this town!

Český Krumlov Tower

We pause for a few shots on the Horni Bridge, with St. Vitus in the background.

We continue our stroll.

After we’ve seen every nook and cranny of Český Krumlov, we stop once more at the same restaurant where we stopped earlier, this time for a piece of blueberry cake.  Tired from a few beers and all our walking , we return to our room for a little rest before dinner.

After our rest, we walk back into Český Krumlov to find a vegetarian restaurant we checked out earlier – Laibon.

walking back to town for dinner
Český Krumlov State Castle

When we stumbled upon Laibon earlier today, we made reservations for this evening.  Below is the restaurant in the daytime, cheery and inviting.

Laibon

Whimsical cave paintings of animals romp on the rough cave-like walls.

cave paintings in Laibon
cave paintings in Laibon

When we return to Laibon in the evening, the weather has become colder and grayer.  We sit outside on a picnic table beside the Vltava River and order dinner, accompanied by cold beers.  The owner is welcoming and a little silly, making for a fun evening despite the chill in the air.  He gives us light blankets to put over our legs, but sadly they aren’t warm enough.  We enjoy our meal, but we’re shivering the entire time!

Our our way back to our room, we find a few metal signs and license plates along the way. I’m surprised to find U.S. state license plates in Czech Republic!

license plates
pig sign

Tomorrow, we’ll be heading to Prague, where we have four days to explore.  I wish I’d brought warmer clothes! It’s getting colder now that October is upon us.

Total steps today: 15,645 (6.63 miles).