Cesky Krumlov is a small town in the south of the Czech Republic, which is known for its engaging combination of history, culture, and beautiful nature. It is located south of the capital Prague and stands in the picturesque valley of the Vltava River. With a rich history, eye-catching architectural gems, and a captivating charm that attracts visitors from all over the world.
In the very south of the Czech Republic, there is a region that is an ideal place to experience the most interesting experiences. Its center is the city of Cesky Krumlov, which, although not large, attracts all the more with the magical atmosphere of the olden days. Thanks to its unique medieval architecture, it has been protected by UNESCO since 1992.
As a natural center, however, it lives not only on history, which is present at every step in the form of ancient monuments, but over time it has become a city of culture, art, and extraordinary experiences. Every season, it offers the best pieces from various cultural events: from visits to museums and galleries to concerts at one of the seven music festivals or performances as part of traditional festivities to special night tours or sitting in stylish pubs – choose and taste. Surrounded by unspoiled, beautiful nature, Cesky Krumlov and the entire region attract all those who want to experience something unforgettable, unusual, and exciting.
History of Cesky Krumlov
The first written documents about Cesky Krumlov date back to 1253. The place is called Chrumbenove in Latin, and later Castrum Crummau. The name itself probably originally comes from Old German: Krumben Ouwe, i.e. crooked meadow, crooked meadow. The flow of the Vltava River brought the Iron Celts to the area in the younger age. Traces of Slavic settlement date back to the 6th century AD. The modern history of the city is connected with the foundation of the castle around 1250. One of the branches of the noble family of Vitkovec, later known as the lords of Krumlov, settled here. Both the castle and the coat of arms with a five-leaf rose were then inherited by the Rosenberg relatives, whose name is associated with the greatest flourishing of the castle and the development and prosperity of the city.
The Rosenbergs, in their time after the king the most powerful noble family in Bohemia (part of today’s Czech Republic), resided in Cesky Krumlov for three centuries (1302 – 1602). During their years of rule over the city, crafts and trade developed significantly here, and magnificent townhouses were built. Meat shops and breweries were built.
In 1602, Emperor Rudolf II of Habsburg bought the Cesko Krumlov estate. The German-speaking community in the city is also starting to gain importance. Soon in 1622, Rudolph’s follower Ferdinand II dedicated Cesky Krumlov to the Styrian Eggenberg family. Three generations of the princely family resided here until 1719, when the family died out without direct descendants, so after 1719 the family of princes from Schwarzenberg took over the inheritance. Excellent landlords and politicians, close to the imperial court in Vienna, were inspired to modify and rebuild the interiors and exteriors of the castle and castle garden.
However, the economic and cultural stagnation during almost the entire two following centuries made it possible to preserve the vast castle complex together with the historical core of the city in its historically original form and undamaged by period reconstructions. The current large-scale reconstruction and modern flourishing of the city aim to sensitively preserve the distinctive character and genius of local architecture. This is also why Cesky Krumlov has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1992.
What to visit in Cesky Krumlov today?
Medieval streets, a beautiful castle, the romantic Vltava… You have a lot to look forward to in Cesky Krumlov. And you can find many excursion destinations in the surrounding area.
Cesky Krumlov Castle
To visit Cesky Krumlov and not stop at the castle? As if you missed the Colosseum in Rome! The state castle and chateau of Cesky Krumlov is the dominant feature of the city. After Prague Castle, it is the second largest castle and chateau complex in the Czech Republic. The area of the Cesky Krumlov Castle was declared a national cultural monument in 1989, and three years later the entire historical complex was included in the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage List.
Set aside a good part of the day for a tour – the complex consists of 46 buildings around five courtyards. The castle gardens and other areas cover more than 12 hectares. You can choose from five different sightseeing circuits. Visiting times for individual circuits vary during the season and on individual days.
The Bear Yard (Medvědárium)
Do you like animals? Definitely don’t forget to visit the Bear Yard, which is part of the castle grounds. The tradition of bear behavior has existed at the castle in Český Krumlov since the time of the Rosenbergs. Enjoy the sight of brown bears running around in an enclosure with ponds and an artificial waterfall.
The historic center of the city
A walk through the picturesque streets of the historic center of Cesky Krumlov is like traveling back in time to the Middle Ages. Many buildings and houses are preserved in their original form, including traditional masonry and historic features.
The city is beautiful during the day, but it’s best enjoyed at night when you walk home from one of the many cozy bars here. Everything is beautifully lit and romantic and there is no one around.
You can start your tour of the city at the Jelení Zahrada parking lot. From there, follow the footbridge over the Vltava to Široká Street to the Egon Schiele Art Center building and then to Kájovská Street to the Museum of Wax Figures and the E. Beneš Bridge. You can continue past the Růže Hotel to Kostelní Street and Horní Street past the music school to the Český Krumlov Regional Museum. From here there is a beautiful view of the medieval core of the city. You will return to Náměstí Svornosti square with the Renaissance town hall, the Marian Plague Column, and the fountain via Upper Street. You will walk through Radniční Street to the Lazebnický bridge and Latrán Street with its picturesque medieval houses and you will reach the Red Gate, the first castle courtyard, and the bear yard. From there you can either go on a tour of the castle or go back to the city.
Church of St. Vitus
This magnificent Gothic church is one of the most prominent sacred buildings in the city. It was built in the 15th century and completes the well-known panorama of the city. Its towers offer a breathtaking view of the city and the surrounding countryside. A pleasant walk from it will take you to a nicely renovated synagogue, which tells the history of the local Jewish community.
Museum of Cesky Krumlov
Rich archaeological, artistic, craft, ethnographic, and artistic-industrial collections document the history of the city of Cesky Krumlov. Gothic sculptures, ethnographic exhibits or the interior of a baroque Jesuit pharmacy, as well as a unique ceramic model of the city, representing the historic city center around 1800 on a scale of 1:200, are just a small part of the museum’s exposition, which manages almost 34,000 collection items.
The permanent museum exhibition Historical image of Cesky Krumlov from prehistoric times to the end of the 19th century brings visitors closer to the rich historical development of the region and the city. The Cesky Krumlov region was already inhabited by prehistoric people in the Stone Age, as evidenced by the archaeological site near the town, in the village of Dobrkovice.
The mirror labyrinth can be found in Široká street number 52. The maze is one of the largest in Europe. The Hall of Mirrors boasts 90 mirrors and a smaller crystal maze with clear glass.
The labyrinth also features the popular curved mirrors that deform your figure in different ways. In one, you are as thin as a twig, and in the other, on the contrary, as wide as an almara. In any case, the whole family will have fun here.
Accommodation in Cesky Krumlov
Cesky Krumlov offers various accommodation options for visitors with different budgets. You can choose between a hotel, guesthouse, or apartment. Here are some of the options:
Hotel Ruze – A luxury hotel located in the historic center of the city, not far from the castle. It offers comfortable rooms, a wellness center, and an excellent restaurant. More info >>
Pension Vltavín – This cozy pension offers affordable accommodation and an excellent location in the center of the city. More info >>
Latrán apartments – For those who prefer more space and independence, Latrán apartments are a great choice. They are located in the historic center of the city. More info >>
Cesky Krumlov is a unique city that combines history, culture, and beautiful nature. Its charm and hospitality will enchant you and leave you with unforgettable memories. Whether you are a lover of history, culture, adventure, or simply beautiful landscapes, Cesky Krumlov has something to offer everyone. Be sure to plan enough time to explore this fascinating place, as you will want to return again and again.CityCzech republicUNESCO