The town of Slavonice can thank the establishment of a post stage between Prague and Vienna in the 16th century for its grandeur. This asset gave the townsfolk sufficient means to show off their wealth through their dwellings. When the post road lost its importance and the town was decimated by Swedish troops, the plague and the Thirty Years War, it’s as though time stopped here. This means that you can still stroll among wonderfully decorated façades of houses that look as they did minutes after the Renaissance architects laid down their tools.
Houses like wedding cakes
Horní Square is the place to head for some true Renaissance romance. Stop by at house No. 518 and watch a piece of theatre play out before your eyes in sgraffito, oriel windows and other architectural features typical for the period, and resplendent in scenes from the Old Testament such as the Creation of Adam, Expulsion from the Garden of Eden and Cain and Abel. No. 517 next door is like a huge cake and just as tempting. The richly decorated façade fires the imagination as you search for heavenly bodies, royal portraits and scenes from the Apocalypse. In triangular Míru Square there are more townhouses, but you can also admire the Marian Column and test how fit you are with a climb to the top of the tower belonging to the Church of the Virgin. The view from the top is certainly worth the effort.
Slavonice doesn’t keep all its places of interest above ground. There’s also a unique set of underground passageways to explore, so borrow a pair of Wellington boots and a raincoat and head down into this mysterious labyrinth of subterranean corridors, the oldest of which were created 700 years ago. During the tour you can imagine how for centuries the locals stored food, wine and beer down here, or worked away in tiny workshops at trades that required a constantly stable temperature. Slavonice is also very much a living place, proof of which is the annual Summer of Culture. Numerous concerts and theatre performances tale place during the event and you can learn a little about long-lost handicrafts and trades, as well as the story of the local people.
Taken with the Renaissance charm of Slavonice? Then call in at other fairytale towns nearby. Hear the tragic tale of the White Lady, one of the most famous of ghosts in the Czech lands, who haunts the chateau in Jindřichův Hradec. Possibly the most attractive square in the country can be found in romantic Telč, listed as a world cultural heritage site by UNESCO.