Written by Praskipark on 16 Jul, 2009
To continue my journey through the Czech Republic I am going to leave Prague and travel to Ceskomoravska Vrchovina which is the area known as the Bohemian-Moravian Mountains. I have already mentioned in a previous review what a beautiful city Prague is but if you…Read More
To continue my journey through the Czech Republic I am going to leave Prague and travel to Ceskomoravska Vrchovina which is the area known as the Bohemian-Moravian Mountains. I have already mentioned in a previous review what a beautiful city Prague is but if you are in the Czech Republic and have some spare time, step outside the city and look further beyond. You won't be disappointed as their is a wealth of treasures to be seen; accommodation, food and drink prices are much cheaper once outside the capital and the pace of life is a lot slower. It was late February when I visited the mountains and the winter still lingered. The buds were appearing in the Sazava valley but the hillside meadows were still covered with a thin layer of snow. Even in spring, the morning mist does not lift until late morning but then the hills and plains reveal their contours. The greyness gives way to the bright green and yellow of the rape filelds with the red sheen of the corn poppy always in evidence. The villages remain grey, however: the people in these parts have never enjoyed great prosperity. On the plains, there was a great deal of wealth in such towns as Kutna Hora and Jihlava. Silver ore was mined here during the Middle Ages and huge Gothic churches testify to the economic signifigance of these towns. Nowadays, however, many places are having difficulty adapting to the new economic order. Food production is the commercial mainstay in Kolin and Kutna Hora but, since the end of the Communist regime, foreign imports have taken their toll. This area may not have the beauty of Bavaria or Austria and even though a little grey in parts it is still very charming in a Czech way. There are many fascinating buildings along this route, mainly religious houses but not all. I found it interesting to find out the history of the silver mines and to see how the people outside of Prague live. I found most of the people I met on the way very calm, quiet and friendly. Most of all I loved the Gothic churches and Baroque houses in Telc. It is well worth the 220 kilometres drive from Bohemia's Prague to Moravia. If you are in a hurry and want to cover the 200 kilometres from Prague to Brno without visiting this area then you can take the motorway but if you have the time available, I suggest you allow two days for this journey and take the time out to really look at the Czech Republic in a different light.If you wish to travel by bus then buses can be caught from Prague main bus station but always check details as times change and connections to some of the towns are not always frequent. Close
Written by kjlouden on 07 Oct, 2004
I don’t use words loosely.
So, when I say that Luhacovice is a colorful mountain retreat, believe it!
Well, Dusan Jurkovic House, home to the newer Luhacovice Spa program, may be the greatest brightness in these mountains, but there’s plenty more. Meissen and Czech porcelain in…Read More
I don’t use words loosely.
So, when I say that Luhacovice is a colorful mountain retreat, believe it!
Well, Dusan Jurkovic House, home to the newer Luhacovice Spa program, may be the greatest brightness in these mountains, but there’s plenty more. Meissen and Czech porcelain in shops along the arcade, ice cream parlors, and bakeries (and their pastries - ye gads, what pastries!), and flower gardens compete for the local color award. There’s no fantasy here and no Disney, just serious (kind of) architecture and artisan creativity to make this mountain retreat a feast for your adult eyes.
Deep in southeastern Moravia in the foothills of the White Carpathians, the spa village used to be a part of Lukov Castle, now a protected property in partial ruin. (Other castles and chateaus can be visited nearby.) The castle town was in existence in the 14th century. Saltwater springs were discovered in 1668, and the spa, the largest in Moravia, was founded in 1789. Luhacovice was frequented by famous persons, including composer Leos Janacek, and the musical heritage continues with summer festivals and, surprisingly, violin lessons at the new spa. You don’t have to be seeking a treatment to find a reason to visit.
That other word: retreat
What is there to get away from? How about the black-and-white world of dos and do nots. Here, you don’t have to be shut up in a museum. You don’t even have to get a massage, though you can if you want. When too many travels fail to lift the spirit and you think you’ve seen everything, head for a mountain retreat. Look up, and you’ll see a tall green horizon enclosing lush hills, shutting out the world of endeavor. Look down, and Slovakian folk/nouveau artistry is at hand.
Do next to nothing.
Sit by the fountain, feed the ducks, mosey over to the bandstand (Sundays), shop the arcade, or stroll the promenade along the water. If you feel like exploring further, a plethora of mountain towns (like Zlin) are only 10km or so.
Look for a stand with spa wafers.
These traditional spa treats are like pizelles, but with a creamy filling squeezed into that tiny space - try chocolate or hazelnut. I don’t know if you can buy a whole box of them here on spa property, but supermarkets all over Czech Republic have them. I got some in Prague, and they make nice inexpensive food gifts for those who are hard to buy for. Don’t forget to get some for yourself so you can re-create an extravagant Czech dessert when you get home. Meanwhile, get one of those on the hill - well, you’ll
need a model!
Visit a hill full of food vices
Up the lane from the spa building, two establishments have descriptions of desserts mounted outside.
They have meals, too, but jumbo banana and other wafer/ice cream delights sound spectacular, and decor is pleasant.
Our driver was waiting by himself for the others to finish their effervescent baths, so I bought everything left in one pastry display and took bags back to the van. We binged and voted for best pastry. And the winner was . . . a layered bobble with golden crust, raspberry filling, and nutty paste that tasted like it had liquor in it. Second place was a ladyfinger with pudding, chocolate icing, and meringue. Again, it tasted of liquor. This spa town strives for the ultimate in all delights, and I do believe both pastries topped the pistachio mousse pie I had in France, which I had heretofore considered best-ever bakery treat. A spa town doesn’t have to be for health! Luhacovice is also a retreat - back to childhood! You can’t help it!
Choice: to spa or not to spa
You can be bad or good, adult or child. Eat your way to a vivid memory or spend your money on a lasting treasure.
However you decide to spend your time or money, you’ll enjoy cozy surroundings all around town. A walk with shopping and dining takes a few hours, and a good idea is to go into the newer spa’s reception room at Jurkovic House when you first arrive in Luhacovice to see if you can take a tour of the building and get a listing of procedures. You may have to wait for a group to form, but you can find plenty to see in the meanwhile. At least see as much as you can of the building, which the Slovakian architect Dusan Jurkovic reconstructed from Jan House in 1902. It established his fame (and a new Slovakian Folk school of art nouveau) and became the most notable building in town. Other spa hotels representing different styles, such as Smetana House, are worth seeing, too, and the primary ones can be viewed here. You may want to plan a stay at Jurkovic House. Do that here.
A Lesson in Architecture
Anyone who has seen the Municipal Building in Prague knows "The Palace of Art Nouveau." I was glad that I also saw Jurkovic House, which I could label "The Palace of Folk-nouveau." Several buildings by Jurkovic grace the spa village, including at least one other hotel and a bathhouse, and my trip to Luhacovice was worth the effort just to see his folk design, the prevailing style of the mountains along the Czech/Slovak border.
Written by captain oddsocks on 21 Oct, 2006
Anybody over the age of about thirty will be familiar with the idea of the Iron Curtain. Usually it remains just that, an idea: an abstraction representing the division of communism and capitalism in Europe, east and west, us and them.I was a little surprised…Read More
Anybody over the age of about thirty will be familiar with the idea of the Iron Curtain. Usually it remains just that, an idea: an abstraction representing the division of communism and capitalism in Europe, east and west, us and them.I was a little surprised when I first thought about the Iron Curtain as an actual physical structure. Something made of concrete, wood, steel, and wire. Something put together not just by politicians and lawmakers with maps and red pencils, but also by engineers and carpenters and labourers. Something built by human hands.When I heard about a section of the old Cold War fortifications that had been preserved as a memorial, I was fascinated and had to go and see it for myself. Just a few minute walk outside Čížov village the first sign of the Iron Curtain is a row of heavy concrete barriers. Several feet high and pyramid-shaped to stop any motor vehicle that might try to force its way through. Behind the barriers stretching off into the distance is a nasty-looking barbed wire fence in the shape of a ‘T’. An upright post taller than a man with a short horizontal cross bar at right angles to the fence line, all stretched with heavy-gauge barbed wire every three or four inches, with more strands on the diagonal for good measure.‘Inside’ the fence is a narrow paved track, just wide enough for a jeep and on the other side is a cleared strip of ploughed land. Cleared to allow unobstructed vision for the border guards and ploughed to show up the footprints of anybody who managed somehow to escape their attention. The cleared land is several hundred metres wide.On rough ground, at least sixty seconds’ run even for the best athletes. And if you somehow survived that undetected it’s still another four kilometres through thick and heavily patrolled forest, probably in darkness, to the Austrian border.On a rise some distance along the fence a guard tower waits and watches like some spindly-legged, box-headed predator that jumped from a Pink Floyd film clip. A native vine growing around the fenceposts was beginning to turn deep red in the crispness of the early autumn, and like the scarlet poppies on WWI battlefields it was a graphic and chilling reminder of the blood shed by the countless souls who perished in their quest to escape the oppression of the communist regime. Countless, because the actual number of shootings has never been revealed.Some people might visit this place and think “Well, it’s just a bit of old wire and some concrete, why don’t we push off to the pub?’ But if you give yourself the chance you may find it quite a thought provoking experience. A question that’s been nagging me for some time is what kind of person would I have become if I’d been born on this side of the Iron Curtain? Would I have found life so unbearable that I would attempt an escape to the greener capitalist grass on the other side or would I have been a believer and possibly a protector of the great socialist paradise under construction?Would I have shed blood at the base of the iron curtain? And would it have been my blood or would I have been watching from high in the guard tower, telescopic rifle in hand?I have no idea. What about you?Close