Kutna Hora is an interesting town and a stark contrast from Prague. Home to several World Heritage Sites, Kutna Hora features beautiful cathedrals, fine architecture and an old Silver mine.
For a pleasant day trip from Prague that combines Nature and history, try a visit to Krivoklat Castle. Founded in 1109 and set in the pleasant Krivoklatsko Nature Reserve, the castle was originally designed as a hunting lodge for Premyslid kings. Throughout the years the castle has been damaged heavily by fires and at its lowest point, was used as a prison.The castle has had several owners throughout its history, but the Furstenburg Family were the most important in the castle's history due to the massive reconstruction they undertook which reshaped the castle.The Furstenburg's spent lavishly on the castle during the Romantic époque of the 19th Century and brought the castle back to its original condition. One of the highlights is the beautiful Gothic Chapel, but not to be missed are the exhibition of gothic paintings and sculptures in the Great Royal and Chivalric Halls.For those interested in ancient libraries, the library of Krivoklat Castle contains over 52,000 volumes and documents. An eighty minute tour of the castle is available.
The massive Nelahozeves Castle is located near the village of Nelahozeves and to those interested in Classical music this town name may sound familiar. It is the birthplace of Antonin Dvorak. The building of Nelahozeves castle by Florian Griespek was started in 1572 and continued into the 17th Century. The castle is done in the neo Renaissance style and and has some very interesting 16th Century sgraffiti on several of the walls, fascinating woodcuts in the ceilings, and notable stonework on the portals.Nelahozeves castle has a permanent exhibit entitled Six Centuries of European Art Patronage. This exhibit showcases paintings, decorative arts, musical instruments, and manuscripts. Some of the items are quite rare and many had never been seen prior to the exhibits opening in 1997. There are two tours of the castle available, one covering the 2nd floor and lasting 1 hour and another covering the 1st floor and lasting half an hour. The town of Nelahozeves is located 27km / 16mi north of Prague.
If you are interested in hunting trophies, Konopiste Chateau is the place to visit. Containing over 300,000 stuffed animal trophies, the chateau is an unusual place to say the least. The chateau's previous owner was the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose main claim to fame was being the man whose assassination started WWII.Apart from that dubious honor, the Archduke had a serious hunting obsession. He kept a tally of everything he killed over 25 years, all 300,000 of them. The sheer volume of hunting trophies overwhelms the Konopiste Chateau and the visitors. Almost every animal a visitor can imagine can be found stuffed and on display.The chateau was renovated several times, the most recent leaving it done up in a combination of Baroque and medieval styles. Konopiste Chateau is a very tourist oriented place and can be busy at times. Three tours highlighting separate areas of the chateau are available.
Lidice, Czech Republic
Lidice commemorates the victims of the Nazi horrors of World War II. Fourteen days following the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich on May 27th, 1942, the town of Lidice was completely razed by the Nazi's. Lidice was completely surrounded and all its male inhabitants were shot, while the women were rounded up and sent to concentration camps. Of the 500 inhabitants, 192 men, 60 women, and 88 children eventually died.The events of this horrific date are marked by a series of stone reliefs beneath concrete arcades. The original site of the town is a peaceful green field. The foundations of the barn where the murders of the men took place have been reconstructed.There is a museum nearby that has an exhibit showing the original village. For those with a macabre curiosity, the museum also shows the film the SS created as they destroyed the village.
Kolin, Czech Republic
This industrial town is not on the regular tourist track so for visitors interested in a slice of real Czech life with some stunning late Gothic architecture, Kolin is a must see.The Church of St Bartholomew is the main attraction in Kolin. Designed by the renown architect Peter Parler, the church is an excellent example of the Late Gothic style. Started in 1360 and finished 18 years later in 1378, the church was commissioned by King Charles IV.Other buildings of note are the gabled town hall, which was richly decorated in 1887, a rare Baroque Synagogue, and the burghers homes in the old town built in the High Baroque style. An interesting Marian Column from 1682 and a fountain from 1780 are located in the main square (Karlovo Namesti) across from the town hall.
Podebrady, Czech Republic
Podebrady, located 45km / 27mi east of Prague, is noted for its fine cut glass and healing mineral waters. Known world wide as a center for fine cut glass products, visitors come from far and wide to view and purchase items directly from the factory. Tours are available and it is interesting to see the artisans hard at work.The town claims that the waters of Podebrady are a cure for all that ails you. Apparently the bicarbonate, chloride, and sodium calcium in the water are the key to curing diseases of the cardiovascular system, diseases of the nervous system, and diseases of the metabolism.The history of the town is notable because the first Hussite king, George of Podebrady was born here in 1420. There is a fine statue of him on his horse in front of Charles University.
Located near the town of Veltrussy is the impressive chateau, which is worth a visit for those interested in architecture and history. The chateau was originally built in 1716 and expanded in 1764 and 1804. The large chateau was designed in an unusual star shape and russet color. The main focal point of Veltrussy Chateau is the huge dome at the center.Many of the rooms in the chateau are decorated in the rococo style and have period pieces of furniture and porcelain. Priceless chandeliers and collections of china round out the impressive décor. Although the chatau itself is interesting, the grounds are not to be missed. Pack yourself a lunch and enjoy this English style park. The vast grounds have water fountains and channels along with many little pavilions perfect for passing a pleasant afternoon.
Cesky Sternberk, Czech Republic
Located near the town of Benesov U Prahy, Cesky Sternberk commands a foreboding presence over the rolling countryside. Located high up on a crag, the castle is done up in a unique style of Renaissance. Founded in 1240 by Zdeslav from Divisov the castle is unique in that it has been almost continuously owned by the same family, the only exceptions being brief periods in the 13th Century and from 1948 to 1990, during the Communist Regime.The castle is most impressive from outside, but for those interested in the interior, tours are available. The highlights of the tour include a graphic art collection from the time of the Thirty Years War, the views from the Yellow Room, and the St Sebastian Chapel.
Kokorin, Czech Republic
This town located within easy day trip distance from Prague makes an interesting change from the usual tourist sights. The town itself contains an impressive 14th Century structure called the Kokorin Stronghold. The building has impressive grounds and a tower that can be climbed for wonderful views.Just outside town are hiking and horseback trails. The trails take visitors through pleasant valleys and past the interesting rock formations of Jestrebicke and Msenske pokliky. Another trail leads to the caves of Klemperka, for those travelers with an interest in spelunking.An interesting accommodation option for visitors to Kokorin is a former castle remodeled in 1800.
The Troja Castle (Trojsky Zámek) was built in the late 17th Century for Count Vaclav Vojtech of Sternberk and designed by G. D. Orsi. This beautiful baroque castle, intended originally as a summer residence, contains an extraordinary interior, particularly the banqueting hall with murals depicting scenes of the Habsburgs accomplishments. Outside, the double staircase adorned with statues of deities, leads to the main entrance. The nicely laid out grounds, particularly the terrace gardens, were designed in the 19th Century. On display at the Troja Castle is a permanent exhibit of Czech art, primarily from the 19th Century.Next to the castle is recently renovated Prague Zoo.
Chateau, Lany, Czech Republic
For visitors interested in beautiful gardens and a little history on Czech presidents, the Chateau at Lany is a great option. Although the Chateau itself is not open to the public, the gardens are.The Chateau itself has served as the summer residence of the Czech presidents for many years. The Chateau was originally a wooden keep in 1392, but reconstruction throughout the years has brought it to its present form. Done up in the baroque style, the chateau was significantly renovated by Josip Plecnik from 1921 through 1924.The grounds and small lake make for a pleasant escape from the urban confines of Prague.
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