Litomyšl - undiscovered jewel of UNESCO (Bohemia, CZ)

06/06/2017

Litomyšl is a kind of hidden jewel among Czech towns, delighting its visitors not only by a castle and a museum of the famous native - the composer Bedřich Smetana but also by a nice town square, a convent with opulent dome and gardens filled with art.

The two-hour drive from the hustle bustle of Prague city is worth. At the end of this journey to the east, you will find yourself in a quiet but beautifuly romantic medieval town Litomyšl. Take a walk through the narrow twisted streets and look for magical hidden spots with original restaurants and cafes.  

While wandering through the town, you will admire the facades of historic houses and in the street of Josef Váchal, you´ll find a wall covered with interesting decorations and unusual inscriptions. Josef Váchal was a writer, publisher, painter and print-maker who wrote and self-published a popular book in the 1920´s called a Bloody Novel describing the times of Jesuits, Freemasons and other controversial historical events in Bohemia. Motives from this piece of literature are decorating the wall in the street called in his honor but if you´d like to learn more about him, visit Portmoneum museum to discover the artist's colorful paintings covering the entire interior of the building.

We came here to explore the town during the festival Smetanova Litomyšl, which takes place here every year in June and lasts almost the whole month. The tradition of one of the biggest classical music and opera festivals goes back to 1949. The festival features besides music also art exhibits. We wanted to see the sculptures created by Olbram Zoubek, well known Czech artist.

Our special music experience was the chamber concert by Ensemble Berlin-Prague, which took place in a charming Piarist church. This building, a Dome of Finding the Holy Cross was created by Giovanni Battista Aliprandi, a well-known baroque architect, who built a lot of churches and palaces for noble families in Prague and around Bohemia.

A crystal hung from the ceiling of the main nave instead of a chandelier it is reflected with the musicians on a black marble slab. They are together with a modern footbridge in the side abside the new features added to the church after a long lasting, great and a successful reconstruction.

Finally, we are going to explore the main town´s dominant - the 16th-century Chateau. This jewel is supposed to be the most beautiful European Renaissance palace in the north of Alps and you definitely cannot miss the tour through the Chateau´s interiors!

Vratislav from Pernštejn built for his new young Spanish wife Marie Manrique de Lara y Mendoza, at the place of the former Gothic castle, such a grand residence. Maybe you already heard the name of this noble and Maria Theresa´s lady-in-waiting in Prague. She is the one who brought to Prague the famous Infant Jesus (a wax statue). Unfortunately, the patron didn´t bring good luck and health to her offsprings. She gave birth to 21 children, but many of them died. There is a legend about the chateau being hunted saying that Maria walks around in a black dress and mourns until today.

Just the first step into the chateau hall will take you back to the 16th. Century. Imagine the time of the charming renaissance music, balls, and opulent dinners.

You will be surprised by the unique baroque theater, painted by the same author who used to decorate the scenes for the Mozart´s operas in Vienna.

Look carefully to find many interesting details.

Extended Castle tour includes the visit of the St. Monica´s Chapel, a popular wedding venue.

During the festival appears at the chateau courtyard giant auditorium and a stage for theater and music performances. 

Don´t forget to visit the birth house of Bedřich Smetana, who´s most popular symphony My Country can be heard in the video bellow. The composer was born in a former chateau brewery. His father was the brewery master and wanted to pass the family business to the son. Unluckily for him he had to wait for the 12th child to be the first son, who instead of following his footsteps played at the chateau for aristocrats and later became a world-known music composer.

An interesting highlight and a relaxation zone of Litomyšl are the convent gardens, belonging to the former Piarist college and featuring amazing fountain. In a hot summer, you can dip your feet and listen to the classical music played from the loudspeakers. Take your time and admire the nice view of the town and garden and the statues surrounding this little but very interesting and refreshing pool. 

There are only a few pieces of modern art that evoke in people romantic ideas, sadness, and happiness at the same time. There are only a few contemporary visual artists who can provoke and at the same time keep a certain level of traditionalism and continue the legacy of the old sculpture masters. For me, one of those artists is, now 90 years old, sculptor Olbram Zoubek.

The author is also a very skillful restorer of historic properties and thanks to him regained the Litomyšl Chateau its renaissance appearance back. This might be also the reason why it became listed as one of the Unesco Heritage sites.

The town is charming also at night and that is why I suggest spending in Litomyšl at least 2 days to discover the town´s quiet but interesting nightlife. You will not feel like going to sleep after discovering the local cozy bars, therefore choose your accommodation near the main square.

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