Friday (day 21) in Cesky Krumlov
Cesky Krumlov Travel Blog› entry 22 of 30 › view all entries
I havenâ€™t mentioned the personal tour of the town we had yesterday. Our host at our apartment is also a guide for Cesky Krumlov and walked us through the town for 2 hours. I was thrilled - a beautiful town to see, great light for photography, a very knowledgeable guide and the time to stop and examine anything that interested me. If you ever go to Cesky Krumlov, try to get Jiri Vaclavicek as your guide (he is recommended by Rick Steves).
The castle overlooks the town and today we went on two of the castle tours (4 or 5 are offered). First we went through a Baroque Theater and then through the Renaissance rooms. Photography was not allowed on either tour so I canâ€™t share my mental images with you but both tours were well worth the time and money. The theater tour not only shows the appearance of an 18th century theater, which is amazing enough, you also go under the stage to see the stage machinery. You see how sets were changed in 10 seconds by means of pulleys linked to a giant axle. The curtain was never lowered to change scenes. The audience was temporarily blinded by fireworks (thatâ€™s why so few of these theaters remain - they burned down) and the pulleys changed the set while the audience was still blinking. The Renaissance rooms where the ruling family of the castle lived were equally impressive but harder to describe. Just imagine dark carved wooden furniture, walls with tapestries and silver tableware. The best room was the ballroom which had wonderful comic frescos of ballroom dancers, including one of a woman giving the â€ścome to my room tonightâ€ť signal with her fan. These frescos were painted in 1746 (well before the American Revolution) but remain fresh and humorous even today.
The castle itself was founded first and the town below it existed by 1253. The section weâ€™re staying in was built by 1274 . . . all of which is so early I canâ€™t begin to relate to it. My main points of measuring history are: Troy, Homer, Christ, Charlemagne, Chaucer, Shakespeare, the English Restoration, the American Revolution, the Civil War, WWI and II and my lifetime. The castle began between Charlemagne and Chaucer. The ruling families were Rosenberk 1302-1602; Habsburkove 1602-1622; Eggenberg 1622-1719; Schwarzenberg 1719-1947. Incidentally, the area originally had a large number of Germans living here with the Czechs. This was one of the main towns of the Sudetenland that Hitler overtook in 1938 in the Munich Accord. This was Hitlerâ€™s first move toward taking over Europe in WWII and the Germans kicked the Czechs out of Cesky Krumlov. After WWII the Czechs evened the score by kicking the Germans out. After all this kicking out, the town was pretty much depopulated and desolate until 1990 when the Czech Republic was formed. All of this may be more than you ever wanted to know about Cesky Krumlov but, to me, it gives the town a deeper significance to realize the layers upon layers of lives lived here.
Okay, but what about the bagpipe rock band? To my surprise, they were quite talented and I really liked them. Tomorrow Iâ€™m going to try to get their CD so I can share it with my grandson James.
Note added later: I knew I'd heard bagpipes in a rock band before and have been trying to remember where. It's finally come to me after 3 weeks of thinking about it. Listen to Metallica on Reload - in "Low Man's Lyrics" Metallica used a minor key and bagpipes for the same sound I heard in Cesky Krumlov. It's really a nice combination with the minor key and the bagpipe wail. (So glad I figured that out - now I can go obsess about something else.)