The Czech Republic isn’t only about  PRAGUE!

Prague and the North and South-East of the country.

day 1

Arrival at Prague airport in the morning, immediate departure towards the town of Jihlava (cca 100 km motorways) and reserved lunch.
After lunch visit of the small museum about Gustav Mahler, situated on the main square of Jihlava (known also by its German name Iglau). This famous composer was born not far from here and grew up in this Czech town. After learning about Mahler in his museum, we get back to the bus and return a short distance on the motorway for a photo stop at his birth house at the village KALISTE near Humpolec. Today this is a privately owned pub and B&B, so we can have a coffee and cake there. Continuation towards the town of Zdar nad Sazavou where one of the most remarkable pilgrim churches in the whole world is to be found, obviously also inscribed on the UNESCO heritage list. The architect Santini Aichel created here a unique complex which simply has to be seen.

Enough visited for a first day, so time to head for the city of HRADEC KRALOVE, capital of the North-East Bohemia province, an interesting town from an architectural and urbanistic point of view due to the works of one of the greatest innovators of architecture in the 20th century, GOCAR.
Dinner and overnight in the hotel

If you’re not too tired, it’s certainly worth the effort to go for a stroll through the town of Hradec Kralove, even more so if you care for some explanations along the way.

Photos for this day:

Jihlava Mahler museum  |   Kaliste birth house  |   Santini Aichel church  |  Hradec Kralove main square 

day 2

In the morning we drive towards the village of Adršpach near the Czech-Polish border. We find here one of the most impressive natural reserves within the Czech Republic as monumental sandstone towers are spread around in a vast forrest. It’s also a world renowned rock climbing area, but we stay with a beautiful light walk on the hiking trails leading through the “rocky cities” and along spectacular viewing points. After the walk we have a reserved lunch and beer before continuing with our afternoon programme.

The North-East of the Czech Republic, as is in fact the whole country, is full of castles and palaces. So to have a variety in our visits, we decided here for an afternoon stop at the astounding “hospital” of the Kuks château. The counts of Sporck had their palace built on the hill on one side of the valley, and opposite on the hill of theother side a hospital/monastery was erected for veterans and sick of the region. The two parts are linked by impressive stairs leading down towards the bridge over the river and up again through the village on the other bank. The Czech sculptor Mathias Braun, also known from statues on the Prague Charles Bridge, used to live here as a hermite in the nearby woods and made all the beautiful figures around and in front of the hospital. However on his way towards his hideway in the forrest, also any larger block of rock was sculpted by him, so to say in his free time…

The visit of the hospital includes an original, century old pharmacy which was entirely preserved.

Return to Hradec Kralove for dinner and overnight.

Photos for this day:

Gate to the “rock town” Adrspach | trails |  Kuks hospital |  work of Braun 

day 3

We leave Hradec Kralove after breakfast and check out and drive towards the town of LITOMYSL, another UNESCO site as we find here one of the most enchanting renaissance châteaux North of the Alps. Even more important though are the castle’s dépendances, to be precise: the old brewery house. Famous Czech composer SMETANA was born here and we of course pay some attention to his small museum. The château itself is certainly also worth the visit including the unique (only 5 in the whole world) preserved baroque theater.

After our reserved lunch we will continue in the afternoon towards Moravia and the archbishops town of Olomouc, where the second most important university of the Czech Republic provides a nice student atmosphere. We’re not arriving very late and therefore we have plenty of time, after checking into the hotel, to go for an exploring walk and to have a look at the UNESCO protected monuments of Olomouc.
Dinner and overnight at the hotel

Photos for this day:

château Litomysl | baroque theater | Smetana museum | Olomouc square with unesco column

day 4

Today a less traveling day. First a visit at the horse carriage museum at Cechy pod Kosirem (15km from Olomouc). About 50 historical carriages and unique sledges are exposed here, including for instance the largest hearse ever built. From there we continue towards Svaty Kopecek, a world famous pilgrim destination just next to Olomouc, where, with just a bit of luck, we will be welcomed by father Ambrose, who’s the only one capable of explaining the local organ in detail and also of treating the group with a small private concert. Reserved lunch at Svaty Kopecek.

In the afternoon we drive for about 45 min to reach Kromeriz, and yes, again this is a UNESCO protected site. It were the archbishops of Olomouc who had there luxurious summer residence built here, surrounded by a beautiful “French” garden. We don’t visit only the interiors, but mainly the art collection. In fact it’s one of the largest collections in Central Europe with works by Titian, Van Dyck, Cranach, …

After this day, dedicated to the region of Moravia and its historical and cultural links with the Church as it was here that the two Greek missionaries Cyril and Method arrived in the 9th century to Christianize the Czech people, we return to Olomouc for dinner and overnight.

We could also try and get some concert tickets for this evening at Olomouc (according to the current programme).

Photos for this day:

 Carriage museum | Sv Kopecek and pilgrim church  |  art collection at Kromeriz | Kromeriz Palace 

day 5

Excursion day towards the largest landscaped park in the world, again of course on the world heritage list of UNESCO, namely Lednice-Valtice. This was formerly the main residence of the Lichtenstein princes at about 1h45min from Olomouc.
Maybe you’re thinking: “another castle”, but this time there’s not only one… there are two large ones and about 10 smaller spread around in a park which is so big, that it includes also two towns and several villages. The construction demand of the Lichtenstein family was so vast that their house architect, a man called Hardtmuth, was almost forced in order to draw more quickly, to invent the graphite filled pencil as we know it today. The place is so big that you can’t see everything in just one day, but so to complete our collection of visited castles and chateaux, we chose for the summer residence of the princes at Lednice, a neo-gothic Tudor style building with astounding wood carved interiors. The palace’s garden is a classic park, but we also have a look in the magnificent green house. After a reserved lunch we are boarding a boat going on artificial channels through at least part of the enormous landscaped area and from where we can admire other garden pavilions, false medieval fortresses (but built as if real ones), Greek temples and even a high, but also false, minaret.

Return to Olomouc for dinner and overnight. Maybe you could decide here for a free dinner? The group is acquainted with the town now:-) or you could prefer a Moravian folklore show and dinner evening?

Photos for this day:

château Lednice | interiors | green house |  the boats in the park | minaret

day 6

We leave Olomouc after breakfast and check out to return to Prague. On the way, we have two more UNESCO sites to be visited. First the small town of Trebic, which is the perfect, but unknown replacement to the famous Jewish quarter and cemetery in Prague, as most people were there already. Not only the old town of Trebic is well preserved, but also its picturesque Jewish quarter across the river, with synagogues and cemetery, which are so authentic that Unesco decided that this should also be on the heritage list. We stay here for lunch and afterwards we drive to Kutna Hora, formerly the equivalent counterpart to Prague. It’s here that about 90% of all silver ore in the Bohemian Kingdom was dug up. Therefore we find here an old mint and royal residence, and up to today remnants of the medieval silver mines can be visited. We also have a look in the splendid gothic cathedral of St Barbara with its rare tent like roofs, and further also at vestiges of the fortifications and the enormous Jesuit college… no surprise that all this is again Unesco protected. As we visited enough castles already, we just take a guided stroll along the monuments and enter the cathedral dedicated to the miners to learn about the hard lives and astounding achievements of these people. Just outside of the city center, we make a last short stop at a real curiosity, namely the bone chapel of SEDLEC. You’ll see: queer but fascinating and certainly not only some stacked bones…

In the evening we finally arrive at Prague. Dinner and overnight.

Photos for this day:

Trebic  |  old synagoge  | Kutna Hora  | bone chapel at Sedlec

day 7

Though many people already visited Prague, we can always in the first place refresh memories about this beautiful city and in the second place show that there are plenty of unknown corners and places to be discovered in the historical center. We recommend to start the day with a transfer to VYSEHRAD, ones this used to be the second castle of Prague, but now the fortress is in ruins and the area remains a bit forgotten. However nowadays you’ll find here a peaceful park, an unusual view over the city center and the neo-gothic church of St Peter and Paul surrounded by the Slavin cemetery, where a large number of the important Czech artists found an honorable resting place: Smetana, Dvorak, Mucha and so forth. After that we walk down towards the river and board a historical tram, which will be reserved privately for the group. This tram takes us along the Moldau river banks towards the city center and during the ride the group is treated to a small drink. At destination we take a reserved lunch and after that we continue on foot. Now we need you to have confidence in your guide, the goal is to discover hidden places and facts in Prague, you’ll hear stories and interesting tidbits about present day life in the city, it’s history and historical characters, artists, etc…

Free dinner or reserved and after sunset, we board a boat for a nightly cruise of about 1 hour on the Moldau, drinks included. This is the best way to admire the fairy tale views of illuminated Prague and also to spend a last evening of the tour together. The boat is of course reserved only for the group.

If you prefer we can however also arrange concert tickets or we can recommend life music jazz club or bar, or also still tickets to the famous Laterna Magica theater performances. All according to the interests and wishes of our guests.
Overnight in Prague

Photos for this day:

Vysehrad  | Slavin | historical tram | Prague

day 8

If departure from Prague is in the afternoon, we can still easily fill a morning with a moment of Art Nouveau. We can visit the interiors of the Municipal House and have some drinks and cakes in it’s art déco coffee house, or we can travel just outside of the city center and have a look at the monumental work of art by MUCHA: THE SLAVONIC EPOS, which is exposed at the National Gallery of Modern Art. The little effort to get there and back is certainly worthwhile as this work of art represents 12 gigantic paintings by this famous Czech artist, which are absolutely unknown as they normally are not to be seen in Prague. The Epos is just now for a period of about 5 years in Prague whilst the remote castle where they are usually exposed is under reconstruction.

A bit of free time and a free or reserved lunch. If for instance the other night the group decided otherwise, the lunch could now be organized on board of a river boat on the Moldau. During a two hours cruise a buffet style lunch is served including drinks and the beautiful views from the river are the perfect way to say farewell or goodbye.

Transfer to the airport – the end

Photos for this day:

Municipal House, detail and interiors | “bateau mouche”  | The Slavonic Epos