Excursions outside Prague

Excursions outside Prague (15)

Český Krumlov, a medieval town in the south of Bohemia, has retained its fairytale charm to this day and is deservedly listed as a UNESCO heritage site.

The Southern Bohemian district town of Český Krumlov is beautifully situated on both banks of the upper Vltava, which here follows a winding course under the south side of Blanský Les, an outlier of the Bohemian Forest. Like Kutná Hora, Český Krumlov has preserved an unusually complete medieval townscape, with winding lanes and many old buildings. The silver-mining industry which flourished in the 14th century is now extinct and the modern town´s economy depends on the light industry. 

From its foundation in the mid 13th century until 1302 Český Krumlov, with its castle commandingly situated above the town, was held by the noble family of Vítkovci; thereafter it passed to the Rožmberks, under whom the old fortified castle became a magnificent Renaissance palace; from 1622 it belonged to a German noble family, the Eggenbergs; and after their line became extinct it passed to the Princes Schwarzenberg.

In the centre of the Old Town, which is enclosed within a loop on the Vltava, is the main square , surrounded by handsome Renaissance houses, with a tall Plague Column (by Mathias Jäckel, 1716).

On the north side of the square stands the Town Hall (Radnice), with Gothic arcades, a rich Renaissance frieze and large coats of arms of Bohemia, the town and the noble families of Eggenberg and Schwarzenberg.

From the square Horní Ulice (Upper Lane) runs east, passing on the right the oriel-windowed Chaplaincy (1514-20). Beyond this is the Prelature, which has an arcaded Rococo staircase in the courtyard. Farther along is the former Jesuit College (by Baltasar Maio da Vomio, 1586-88), which in 1773 became a barracks and in 1878 a hotel.

Beyond the Jesuite College is the Theatre, built in 1613 as a Jesuit theatre. On the opposite side of the street the former Jesuit Seminary (1650-62) now contains the District Archives and an interesting local museum (fine collection of Gothic art).

To the south of the Chaplaincy, rising above the Vltava, stands the Late Gothic church of St Vitus, founded in 1309 and completely rebuilt between 1407 and 1439. It has a 16th century high altar, frescoes of 1420 (in north aisle) and a Late  Gothic crypt. On the south side of the church is the old Latin School (1554), now a school of traditional crafts.

To the west of the main square, running roughly parallel to the Vltava, is Široká Ulice (Broad Street), with a number of particularly fine Renaissance houses, some of them with fresco decoration.

From the square Radniční Ulice (Town Hall Street) leads north to a bridge over the Vltava.

On the far side of the river, in what was originally the lower ward of the castle, lies the Latrán district, the oldest part of the town. Immediately to the right is St Jost´s Church, which was renovated in the 16th century and closed at the end of the 18th. Beyond it, on the right, a street called Nové Město (New Town) leads to the Brewhouse (originally 16th c.), formerly the arsenal of the Rožmberk family. A little to the north of St Jost´s Church can be seen the old Latrán Town Hall, with sgraffito decoration. 

To the east of the Latrán Town Hall are the former Minorite Friary, founded in 1350 , and the Convent of Poor Clares, with a Late Gothic  cloister (1491). Here too can be found the Corpus Christi Church (1357; remodelled in Baroque style in 17th century), which belonged to both houses; it has a 14th century Pietà.

Beyond the east end of the church is a bastion with a round tower.

To the north of the Latrán Town Hall is the Budějovice Gate (Budějovická Brána; 1598).

From St Jost´s Church the Castle Steps (Zámecké Schody) lead up the Castle (Zámek; the largest in Bohemia after Prague Castle), high above the Vltava. It originally dated from the 13th and 14th centuries but was mostly rebuilt in Renaissance style by William of Rožmberk in the 16th century. At the lower gate, the Latrán Gate, is a moat in which live bears are kept. In the lower courtyard (cannon) are the entrances to the massice Keep (by B. Maio  da Vomio, 1580; wide view from top), the rich Library and the State Archives.

The Castle, with some 300 rooms laid out round four courtyards, is lavishly furnished with furniture, tapestries, pictures and porcelain. Particularly notable are the Picture Gallery; the Hall of Masks (1748), with lively trompel´oeil paintings; the Chinese Cabinet; the Great Chapel (15th c.); and the Little Chapel (18th c.). The high Plášťový Most, a bridge with three tiers of arches, leads to the Rococo Theatre (1765-66), with rich painted decoration, which still preserves the original stage machinery (in course of restoration).

The uppermost corridor of the bridge leads to the Castle Gardens. Immediately on the right can be seen the Winter Riding School (1745). In the centre of the gardens is the little Bellaria Palace (1706-08). Here too is an open-air theatre (1958), with a rotating auditorium seating 500. At the south-west end of the gardens is a fish-pond formed in 1686.

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CZK 1 890        CZK 1 890               CZK 1 590

The historical city of Český Krumlov is a renaissance jewel of South Bohemia and is worth exploring on your own. Allow yourself to wander the labyrinth of winding, narrow streets and discover the hidden corners of the historical city in the veil of darkness.

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CZK 3 850        CZK 3 850         CZK 2 850

Come with us and visit Karlovy Vary, the best known spa town in the Czech Republic.

Karlovy Vary/Karlsbad

Karlovy Vary (more familiar in the past in its German form, Karlsbad), the leading Czech spa, straggles along the beautiful narrow valley of the Teplá at its junction with the Ohře. (The main spa area is closed to traffic.)

Karlovy Vary was probably founded in 1348 by the Emperor Charles IV, who is said to have  discovered the hot springs while hunting in the area; in fact, however, there is evidence that the springs were already known. Until the early 16th century the water was used only for bathing; there-after it was also used for drinking. The first bath-house of some size was built in 1762. Karlsbad became, particularly during the 19th century, a fashionable resort frequented by an international clientele, including many famous figures.

Karlovy Vary owes its international fame to its mineral springs. Altogether there are about 60 springs, but only twelve of them (with a daily flow of 6 million litres/1.3 million gallons of alkaline water containing Glauber salt) are used. The springs differ only in temperature (ranging from 42° C/180° F to 73° C to/163° F) and in their greater or lesser content (depending on temperature) of free carbonic acid. The powerful healing effect of the water is the result of the high concentration (7 grams per litre/491 grains per gallon) of 32-35 different minerals in solution. The water is drunk in association with diet and exercise regimes and is used for bathing. It is particularly effective in the treatment of disorders of the liver and gall bladder and disease of the stomach and intestines. 

The springs emerge from the ancient granite rocks of the Teplá valley; the Sprudel spring comes from a layer of sinter, into which several bore-holes (which must be re-bored every year because of incrustations deposited by the water) reach down to a depth of only a few metres.

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CZK 1 590         CZK 1 490               CZK 1 290

Karlštejn Castle is one of the most visited castles in the Czech Republic. It was built by Charles IV between 1348 and 1355. It originally served to safeguard the imperial and royal treasure and the Crown Jewels and to store state documents.

Karlštejn Castle

The castle is entered through two through two gateways 100 metres apart. The second gateway leads into the Burgrave´s Court (Purkrabský Dvůr), which is now fitted out as an open-air theatre. Conducted tours of the castle also start here.

On the south side of the court stands the four-storey Burgrave´s House (Purkrabství), the lower parts of which date from the 15th century.  At the western tip of the castle are domestic offices and the Well Tower, with 90m/300ft deep well and a large wheel for drawing water.

From the Burgrave´s Court a large gateway leads into the narrow Main Court (Hradní Nádvoří).

To the right is the Imperial Palace (Císařský Palác); a staircase (far right) leads up to the first floor. Documents, pictures and models illustrating the history of the castle are displayed in two rooms of the palace. At the east end is St Nicholas´s Chapel (not open to the public).

Of the imperial apartments on the second floor only the Emperor´s study, with fine panelling, is preserved. The original half-timbered top storey, in which were the women´s apartments, was replaced during the 19th century restoration by a wooden wall-walk. 

To the north of the palace is St Mary´s Tower (Mariánská věž). On the second floor (reached by a staircase within the walls) can be found St Mary´s Church, with a painted beamed ceiling and partly preserved 14th century wall paintings (themes from the Apocalypse, representations of Charles IV, etc.). At the south-west corner of St Mary´s Tower is the vaulted St Catherine´s Chapel. It was originally decorated with wall paintings , but Charles IV had these replaced by large plaques of semi-precious stones let into the walls.

On the highest part of the site is the mighty Great Tower  (Velká Věž), 37m/121ft high, which is linked with St Mary´s Tower by a wooden bridge. On the second floor is the Chapel of the Holy Rood (Kaple Sv. Kříže), which was consecrated about 1360. It is divided into two by a gilded iron screen which closes the sanctuary to the public. The vaulting, which comes down low on the walls, is completely gilded and studded with glass stars. On the walls, above the candle stands (for 1330 candles), are more than 2200 precious stones set in gilded plaster and 127 painted panels by  Master Theodoric (1348-67), behind which there were originally relics. Behind the altar is a recess in which the Imperial crown jewels (now in the Hofburg in Vienna) and the Bohemian royal insignia (now in St Vitu´s Cathedral in Prague) were formerly kept.

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CZK 890          CZK 850               CZK 750

Come with us and visit the beautiful Konopiště Chateau, the former seat of the successor to the Habsburg throne, Franz Ferdinand d´Este.


From the car park below the castle is a 10-minute walk to the entrance in the East Tower. The first courtyard is entered through a Baroque doorway by F. M. Kaňka with sculpture by M. B. Braun von Braun (1725). 

The original Gothic castle (13th-14th c.), a square structure on the French model with four towers, was rebuilt in Late Gothic style in the early 16th century and enlarged at the beginning of the 17th century by the building of a Renaissance palace; some Baroque features were added in the 18th century.

In 1887 Konopiště passed into the hands of Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Este, the heir of the Austrian throne whose assassination in Sarajevo in 1914 sparked off the First World War. He had the castle remodelled by Josef Mocker between 1889 and 1894 as a splendidly appointed palace.

The sumptuous interior of the castle, including the works of art in the museum devoted to St George (paintings, figures and other representations of the saint), dates from the time of Archduke Francis Ferdinand. The large collection of arms and armour (most of it from the Este family´s collections in Mondena) is one of the finest in Europe, with almost 5000 exhibits (including 15th and 16th century tournament armour and valuable swords and guns). There are also great numbers of hunting trophies and other mementoes (pictures, porcelain, tapestries, etc.) brought back by the Archduke from his world travels.

Near the castle is an English-style park with a rose-garden containing statuary brought from Italy.


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CZK 950                CZK 850                    CZK 750

The world-renowned Škoda automobile factory, founded in Mladá Boleslav in 1895, is one of the most modern car factories in the world and one of the few that allows the general public to visit its production plant.

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CZK 1 100        CZK 950                CZK 950

Are you interested in the history of the Second World War and the Holocaust? Come with us to Terezín, a town that served as a collection camp for Jews from all over Europe.


The fortified town of Terezín (German Theresienstadt), built by the Empress Maia Theresa, from whom it takes its name, and Joseph II, lies on the lower course of the Ohře a few kilometres above its junction with the Labe (Elbe) in Litoměřice. The town, built within a period of less than ten years (1780-87), is a textbook example of a planned town in the Empire and neo-classical manner of the late 18th century. The massive fortifications designed by General Pellegrini were abandoned in 1887, and Terezín remained merely a garrison town. It now has some industry (canning, plants, pharmaceuticals).

The Little Fort (Malá Pevnost) to the east of the town was used from the mid 19th century as a state prison; among those confined here by the Austro-Hungarian authorities were the Greek freedom fighter Alexander Ypsilanti (d. 1828) and Gavrilo Princip (d. 1918, who assassinated Archduke Francis Ferdinand at Sarajevo in 1914. During the Second World War Theresienstadt gained tragic celebrity when the town became a ghetto into which Czech Jaws were herded and the Little Fort, at first used as a police prison by the Prague Gestapo, became one of the most ill-famed of the German concentration camps.

From 1940 onwards an estimated total of over 150.000 Jews from all over Europe were sent to this camp, from which regular convoys went to the extermination camps, mainly to Auschwitz (Oświęcim in Poland).

Theresienstadt Memorial/Památník Terezín

Since the end of the Second World War the Little Fort has an antifascist memorial, a concentration camp museum (conducted tours, with English-speaking guides). Outside the entrance to the Little Fort is a large cemetery with the graves of some 26.000 victims of the Nazis. On the southern outskirts of the town, near the old municipal cemetery, is the former crematorium (open to the public).

Here too are Jewish and Russian cemeteries of the First World War. On the spot where the ashes of over 20.000 cremated Jews were scattered in 1944 is the conspicuous Menorah Memorial (in the form of a Jewish seven-branched candlestick).

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CZK 1 190       CZK 1 050             CZK 900

Are you fascinated by the beauty of Bohemian crystal? Would you like to learn more about how it is made and buy the work of skilled glassmakers?

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CZK 950           CZK 800              CZK 700

Kutná Hora, a medieval silver mining centre, was once the second richest city in the Kingdom of Bohemia. The former wealth of the town can be seen today in the variety of architectural monuments and preserved structure of the town centre.

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CZK 990         CZK 940               CZK 800

Come with us and discover the history of medieval silver mining and minting. Visit not only the Italian Court (Vlašský dvůr), St. Barbara’s Church and the Ossuary in Sedlec, but also a medieval silver mine.

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CZK 1 850        CZK 1 750           CZK 1 550

Anyone who is interested in seeing the gorgeous scenery of České Středohoří (Central Bohemian Uplands) and visiting a neighbouring country can join us on a trip to the German city of Dresden.

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CZK 1 990     CZK 1 990         CZK 1 550

Mělník is a town in the Central Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic. Among other things, Charles IV merits credit for bringing vineyards to the Czech Lands. He had the lands cultivated according to the French model just to grow grapes. Mělník has become famous mainly for its Ludmila wine named after the saint. A culinary trip to these parts should never leave out a trip to the chateau belonging to the Lobkowicz family. The tour of the chateau ends in a wine cellar. A drop of wine will hopefully help you to wash away your impressions of the ossuary which reminds you of the horrors of the Thirty Years´War.

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CZK 950                CZK 850                    CZK 750

The surroundings of Prague are over-flowing with castles, among them Křivoklát Castle stands out. This 12th century royal castle guarded the trade route that went to Pilsen and to Bavaria and was used last by the Premyslids for short stays during hunts. Charles IV occasionally stayed here with his mother and later accommodated his first wife Blanca of Valois here.

After 1424, during the Hussite Wars, the caste was quite heavily damaged. It was repaired under the rule of Vladislav Jagellon. Rudolf II changed the castle into a highly secure prison that would withstand anything. Among the prison´s clientele was the famous alchemist and charlatan Edward Kelley. When taking your tour of the castle , don´t miss out on the jewel of Czech Gothic – the hradní kaple (the royal chapel). Valuable exhibits can be viewed in the obrazová galerie (Picture Gallery) here. Special care has been given to the collection of old musical instruments, the sound of which you can appreciate during the castle´ s summer concert.

This trip can easily be combined with a small detour to Lány. The first Czechoslovak President T. G. Masaryk chose Lány as a summer seat of the Head of state because of the beautiful countryside where the excellent horse-back rider could go for daily excursions.

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CZK 890          CZK 850               CZK 750

Enchanted by the lovely charming countryside, you will certainly want to go a bit further to the north of the castle of Kokořín. It was founded in the 14th century but its current appearance was created by renovations done at the beginning of the 20th century. The repairs did save the castle from complete ruin but they were so influenced by romanticism that the result is a castle that would be better found in a Hollywood film.

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CZK 890          CZK 850               CZK 750

The caves are situated in Central Bohemia, 7 km South of Beroun, in the middle of the nature reserve of Czech Karst, not far from the castles of Křivoklát and Karlštejn. The caves were discovered in 1950 and made accessible for the public in 1959. The caves originate in 400-million-year-old Devon calcite rocks, consist of three levels to be found 70 m under the ground-level, and over 2 km long. The accessible part is 620 m long and the sightseeing tour lasts 1 hour.The top level housed a 15th century secret workshop of money forgers. The caves can boast of unique opal-bearing decorations, as well as numerous paleonthological excavations, documenting the history of Earth Nature of the past 1.5 million years.


Contact information
+420 224 239 515    
Mob. tel.:
+420 725 712 655    

E-mail address:

Pasáž Charitas
Karlovo nám. 317/5, Praha 2

Opening hours:
Mon-Fri: 9.00 a.m.- 5.00 p.m

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