The Real Life Fairy Tale City of Český Krumlov

It's like walking through a fairytale city. When you add snow, you feel like you're in a romantic movie. All this is Český Krumlov, a town in Southern Bohemia where time seems to have stood still.

Summer view of Cesky Krumlov old town. Cesky Krumlov is a small city located in South Bohemia
A summertime view of Cesky Krumlov's old town located in South Bohemia. Photo: Alamy Stock Photo / Be&W

Český Krumlov forms a gorgeous island of medieval times. It embodies the charm of Southern Bohemia and sits on the Vltava River like a crown jewel. Placed in the picturesque landscape, it offers many options for how to enjoy the city and its surrounding region. There are almost unlimited options: from the shadows of the winding streets, you can go straight to the chateau, the beach, or the ski slope. One cannot be surprised by the prestigious National Geographic magazine ranking Český Krumlov as the world’s sixteenth most beautiful historic place in 2008.

From a humble settlement to the tourist center of Bohemia

The banks of the Vltava River offered excellent conditions for settlement in ancient history. However, Krumlov developed significantly at the beginning of the 13th century, when one of the important Czech noble families chose it as their seat. The town itself was founded around 1274.

The golden era came in the 16th century when Český Krumlov became the cultural center of southern Bohemia and the neighboring German-speaking areas in Bavaria and Austria. Merchants, scholars, artists, and alchemists from Europe flocked to the town.

At that time, the essential part of Český Krumlov, its chateau, was built. It was created by modernization and radical transformation of the original castle and became the pearl of the whole town. And it remains a pearl to this day, being visited by 400,000 mostly foreign tourists annually.

Český Krumlov: close to the center of Europe

For its uniqueness, beauty, and historical value, the chateau and the historical center of Český Krumlov were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. And although the town is an important historical treasure of the Czech Republic, it is open to the public.

The scenic houses of Krumlov today shelter a variety of shops and stylish pubs, including medieval taverns and First Republic dens. The current use of the 16th-century townhouses also allows tourists to discover the beauty of their interiors, revealing secrets of Krumlov to the visitor. For example, you can enter and enjoy many buildings with Renaissance or Baroque facades with Gothic paintings from the 14th and 15th centuries inside.

And if you are tired of the city and its beauty, you can visit the surrounding areas. In less than 10 minutes, you can reach the Klet’s Lookout Tower, which offers views of nearby Bavaria and Austria. Moreover, you can be in Bavaria in 40 minutes and in Austria in 30 minutes. If you are a water enthusiast, you can lie on the Lipno Dam’s sandy beaches in less than 20 minutes. And if winter is your season, you will be delighted with the slopes of the Novohrad and Šumava mountains less than 30 minutes away.

Either way, Český Krumlov offers something for everyone, and no one will leave disappointed. And what does the name Český Krumlov means? The Krumlov part comes from German: “Krumme Aue,” meaning “crooked meadow.” And Český means Czech. But the town is open to everyone, regardless of language.

Be sure to also check Polish Łazy radio mast.

Marek Koten

A Ph.D. student in economics, specializing in nuclear energy from the Czech Republic, he also serves as a political consultant to the Czech government and the U.S. Republican Party.

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