A Castle in Bohemia (The Czech Republic)
Cesky (meaning Bohemian) Krumlov is a small city in the southern Bohemian region of the Czech Republic, best known for the fine architecture and art of the historic old town and Cesky Krumlov Castle. Old Cesky Krumlov is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Construction of the town and castle began in the late 13th century at a ford in the Vltava River, which was an important trade route in Bohemia. The town and castle were owned by the House of Rosenberg. During the rule of the Rosenberg family, the town as well as the castle flourished. Crafts and trade developed, elaborate homes were built, and the town was endowed with various privileges such as the right to mill, brew beer and hold markets. Meat shops and breweries were built, and twice a year there was a fair. In 1376 there were 96 houses in the town.
In the 16th century the town was ruled by the last Rosenbergs who considerably influenced the present appearance of the town and its surroundings. The Renaissance magnate Wilhelm von Rosenberg, the most aristocratic personality of politics and culture of that time, initiated reconstruction of townhouses as well as the castle into Renaissance style. The market square is shown to the right.
On August 14, 1555 Wilhelm joined the two parts of town Latran (the Castle environs) and the Old town, to prevent litigations concerning particular privileges. Before the town´s unification, Latran had been an individual administrative unit and its dwellers often disputed with those living in the other parts, especially for the privilege to brew white wheat beer, a very popular and profitable product. Further problems had been caused by support payments for parish, the church, bridges, the local shepherd and the messenger. Latran is to the left of the Vltava River; Old Town to the right.
Emperor Rudolf II Hapsburg bought Krumlov in 1602 and gave it to his illegimate son Julius d'Austria. Emperor Ferdinand II gave Krumlov to the House of Eggenberg. From 1719 until 1945 the castle belonged to the House of Schwarzenberg. Most of the architecture of the old town and castle dates from the 14th through 17th centuries; the town's structures are mostly in Gothis, Renaissance and Baroque styles. The core of the old town is within a horseshoe bend of the river, with the castle on the other side of the Vltava.
If the castle tower (left) symbolizes the secular ruling power and the region of its influence; the church tower of St. Vitus (right) then personifies the might of the holy Christendom which from medieval times functioned both as a counterpart and complement of the worldly powers. The church shares with the castle the promontory created by the river Vltava, thus creating an impressive architectural feature that characterizes the town.
Cesky Krumlov Castle is protected by its hilltop location. But it also is protedted by a moat which is inhabited by bears. No wonder the castle was never conqured!
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