Last updated: 09:00 PM ET, Tue January 05 2016

Opinion Home | Far-Sighted Field Notes

  • Rosalind Cummings-Yeates | January 5, 2016 9:00 PM ET

    Castles & Cathedrals: 4 Stunning Czech Sites

    Castles & Cathedrals: 4 Stunning Czech Sites

    PHOTO: Prague Castle. (photos by Rosalind Cummings-Yeates)

    The Czech Republic boasts lovely landscapes and striking architecture at practically every corner of the country. In this magical Central European nation, medieval squares and ancient buildings are as plentiful as the bottles of Czech beer that grace every table.

    There is a lot to see in the Czech Republic, whether you visit Prague for a day or venture out into the small towns. I did both and was amazed at the sheer number of historic attractions. There are 12 UNESCO World Heritage Sites spread throughout the country, in addition to countless historic chateaus, gardens and churches. So how do you decide what to see? Here are my suggestions on standout Czech sites to explore:

    Prague Castle

    Prague ranks high in lists of the most beautiful cities in the world, and one of the many reasons is the grand presence of Prague Castle.

    Listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest ancient castle complex in the world, it is about the size of seven football fields and is the city’s most popular attraction. Dating from the 9th century and filled with artifacts, gardens, museums, galleries and ancient structures, Prague Castle is like a small town.

     I’ve toured many castles during my travels and trust me, Prague Castle is an absolute must. It takes days to see the entire complex but don’t miss the Old Royal Palace, the Picture Gallery of Prague Castle, Franz Kafka’s house in Golden Lane and the collections and concerts at Lobkowicz Palace.

    St. Vitus Cathedral

    Technically, St. Vitus is part of Prague Castle complex but it deserves it own separate category. This jaw-dropping, Gothic cathedral houses saints, noblemen and the Bohemian crown jewels.

    Built in 1344, St. Vitus boasts ancient chapels, stained glass windows, a golden gate and the Royal Mausoleum that reflects the long history of Czech rulers and religious leaders. The interior was expanded with various architectural adaptations over the centuries so the cathedral also displays an eclectic mix of interior design that’s not to be missed.

    Trebic Castle

    Perched on the Jihlava River and surrounded by hills, fields and ponds, the town of Trebic upholds the Czech Republic’s reputation for fairytale prettiness.

    Located on the Southwest tip of Moravia, Trebic’s well-preserved history has garnered a listing as an UNESCO site and the town’s castle is a great place to begin learning about that legacy.

    Originally a Benedictine Monastery constructed in the 12th century, the building was reconstructed into a castle in 1468. The structure unfolds into three wings of halls, arches and courtyards. Check out the Marbled Hall, which is covered with renaissance paintings and stucco carvings.

    And don’t forget the Vysocina Museum of Trebic, also housed in the castle. The museum displays archaeological and ethnographic history but the standout exhibit is the Waldstein Family of Trebic, which traces the background of the original owners of the castle.

    St. Procopius Basilica

    The unusual blend of Romanesque and Gothic architecture makes St. Procopius Basilica a one-of-a-kind historic structure. Dating from the 13th century, the landmark showcases original Gothic paintings, ancient frescos and a Romanesque rose window.

    There are also lots of beautifully crafted portals, naves and chapels but the most well preserved and I have to add, creepy, section of the basilica is the crypt. A dimly lit passage leads to 50 dramatic columns that curve under the ceiling.  A vault with the tombs of the monks that founded the original monastery is the area’s focus. You can almost feel the centuries of history that permeates the whole structure.


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Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Far-Sighted Field Notes

Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Rosalind Cummings-Yeates is a journalist, author and blogger who specializes in travel and culture topics. She loves guiding readers through the richness of various cultures and discovering the essence of a destination. Her travel and culture blog, Farsighted Fly Girl, offers travel insights through the music, food, art and history of various countries and cultures. Join her on the journey at www.Rosalindcummingsyeates.
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