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There’s much more to the Czech Republic
than its bustling capital and I wanted to see what else the country had to
My early morning flight from Heathrow
was made easier by the efficient meet and greet parking organised by Holiday
Extras and I was soon on my way to Prague. The early flight meant I had a few
hours to look around the capital. Its centre is easily managed on foot so I was
able to see the main tourist attractions such as the Astronomical Clock, Tyn
Church, colourful Old Town Square and Charles Bridge, all within a few minutes’
walk of each other.
However, next morning I headed out of Prague.
The busy highways, filled with Czech-made Skodas, soon gave way to deserted
country roads and miles of green fields. My first destination was Chateau Jemniste, one of many buildings in
the Baroque style that has given the country a rich cultural heritage, largely
due to the influential architect Santini. Jemniste boasts a formal front
garden, lovely rooms with painted walls and ceilings, and a fine chapel. If you
want to live like a Count then there are a couple of self-contained suites
where visitors can stay. There’s also a great restaurant and tea room that
serves amazing puddings for which the country is rightly famous.
in the day I visited Sedlec and Kutna Hora with its restored high-vaulted
church and nearby crypt. This is not to everyone’s taste as it contains an ossuary
with decorations make from the skulls and bones of the victims of plagues and
lighter note, Kutna Hora’s Italian Court was where locally-mined silver was
turned into coins from the early 1300s to 1740. I was given a demonstration of
the process and a souvenir coin, sadly only made of aluminium. The nearby
chocolate museum, surely one of the world’s smallest, contains many items from
bygone days. It also treats visitors to samples
of the various chocolate types that it currently makes. Go prepared for
a bright and early start the following morning I visited the Kladruby nad Labem
stud, home to the Kladruber Old White, a cousin of the
Lippizaner horses used in the Spanish Riding School in Vienna. A phone call
confirmed the arrival time and two carriages pulled by these lovely animals
were harnessed ready to take a group of us on a carriage drive. Apparently once
harnessed they don’t like to be kept waiting! We clip clopped through the
village and out into the countryside for exhilarating lungs-full of fresh air.
The stud is one of the world’s oldest,
dating back to the mid 14th century. From 1579–1918 it served the imperial court and its horses are still
used for ceremonial occasions. A tour of the stables resulted in much nose
rubbing and patting of these lovely animals. One was offered as a wedding gift
to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Unfortunately protocol decreed they could
not accept but asked that the Cambridge name be added.
visited the carriage room which has a great selection of carriages, some with
wheels and others with slides for use in snow.
lunch I moved on to Zdar nad Sazavou, one feature being the nearby hilltop
ten-pointed star shaped structure surrounding the five-pointed Pilgrimage
Church of St. John of Nepomuk at Zelena Hora, another of Santini’s designs and
a UNESCO World Heritage monument.
castle and its grounds which, after wars and communism has now been restored to
the Kinsky family, includes a small monastery of just five monks. The monastery
is relatively plain but the chapel is very ornate. The monastery also has a
small brewery - now that’s my type of religion - and I sampled some excellent
light and dark beers. The brewery sells bottles of beer to local hotels and
shown round the castle by the current Count Kinsky who is rightly proud of what
he has achieved, even though it is still work in progress. The castle is now
home to a school where his wife teaches children with special needs, and the
impressive Baroque tower includes three bedrooms in which visitors can book
accommodation. The nearby lake is stocked with trout which supplies many
restaurants, and the castle’s halls are used for concerts, weddings and business
events. This historic structure is full of life and activity and very much part
of the community.
final day was spent in Telc. The entire town of 5,500 inhabitants is a lovely
UNESCO heritage site with building surrounding the town square painted in
various pastel shades. Its Chateau contains numerous attractive paintings and
furniture as well as an impressive armoury. At the end of the Chateau tour
there was a demonstration of Baroque-style dancing by the ladies (and one man)
of Alla Danza Brno. At the end of their performance we were all lined up and taught
how to perform one of the simpler dances, resulting in much amusement and a few
a final group photograph of the skilled dancers it was time to head back to
Prague and the flight home, with memories of just how different the rest of the
Czech Republic is from its tourist-thronged capital.
For visitor information and advice go to
www.czechtourism.com You can travel
around by hire car or use the excellent public transport network. For more
information on public transport visit www.idos.cz
Holiday Extras offers trusted parking
services at all major UK airports. To book UK Airport Meet and Greet parking
visit www.holidayextras.com or call
0800 1313 777.
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