Náměšť Chateau – Musical Mansion

Mansion on the Hill

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Looking toward the chateau’s entrance.

Náměšť nad Oslavou is a town in the Vysočina highlands surrounded by atmospheric and idylic woodlands that are very popular with hikers and other outdoors enthusiasts.  The town can trace its history to the early 1200s, when the first record of a settlement on the banks of the Oslava river in the area can be found.

Today, the town’s main tourist draw is the Renaissance style chateau perched on a hill overlooking the townsite and the Oslava river below.  Near the bottom of the hill where the chateau stands is a small Baroque style bridge modelled after Prague’s historic Charles bridge, with statues of saints lining its edges. From this bridge, one can get an unobstructed view up the hill towards the chateau.

Historically, the spot where the chateau stands was once occupied by a Gothic castle. The Renaissance chateau dates to a reconstruction of the castle which took place in the late 1500s and early 1600s. The present face of the chateau dates to repair work that took place in 2016 to restore the building’s Renaissance facades and other structures.

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Part of the chateau gardens.

The chateau grounds contain gardens of English and French design that contain a number of rare species of flora.

From its position at the top of a hill, the chateau provides visitors with some truly stunning views of the surrounding woodlands, the Náměšť nad Oslavou townsite and the Oslava river which flows near the foot of the hill the chateau is situated on.

As it is with so many old noble homes, this chateau has passed through a number of owners in its history. Of the owners that Náměšť chateau has known, the Žerotín and Haugwitz families were the most influential and significant to its history.

The Žerotín Era 

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The Renaissance style courtyard of the chateau is part of the Žerotín legacy.

The Žerotín family was one of the oldest of Czech noble houses and they owned the chateau and surrounding area from the 1460s to the 1620s.

Under their ownership, the chateau was remodelled in Renaissance style, this is particularly visible in the arcaded courtyard.

With the presence of the Žerotíns came an increase in the quality of life in the area through economic growth as well as an elevated cultural life.

During their time as lords in the area, the House of Žerotín supported the publication of the Kralice Bible in the 1600s. Printed in the nearby town of Kralice, the Kralice Bible was the first translation of the Bible into the Czech language. A copy of the book is on display in the chateau library.

The Žerotíns sold the chateau in the 1620s and it experienced more changes of ownership until the Haugwitz family purchased it in 1752.

The Haugwitz Era 

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The chateau library, a venue for musical performances in the chateau that hark back to musical performances hosted by the Haugwitz family.

The Haugwitz family was a noble line of Silesian origins who owned the chateau from the 1750s until the end of the Second World War, when it was seized by the state.

The enriched cultural and economic life of the region that was brought by the Žerotíns was continued and built upon by the House of Haugwitz.

Under the Haugwitz watch, the chateau became a centre of musical culture. The chateau had its own orchestra and choir which performed frequent concerts of very high quality. The chateau also saw famous musical guests visit such as the composers Christoph Willibald Gluck and Antonio Salieri.

Beyond the musical legacy that the Haugwitz family left the chateau, they are also notable for being a noble family who was openly opposed to Fascism during Hitler’s rise to power and the Second World War. While that did not save them from having their properties in Czechoslovakia seized by the state following the war and being expelled from the country along with many others of Germanic descent, it has ensured that the descendants of the family have been welcome and regular guests at the chateau since the fall of Socialism.

Paying a Visit and Learning More 

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The chateau’s game room.

The chateau offers three different tours. It is possible to have tours in English or German, but they require reservations. You can also join a Czech language tour and ask for a text transcript in English or possibly other languages. Czech language tours are more frequent and typically cheaper.

Náměšť nad Oslavou is not difficult to reach by rail from Brno. However, to reach the chateau on foot from the town’s train station involves a walk of around 20 to 30 minutes that ends with a climb up the hill that the chateau sits on. As such, a reasonable level of physical fitness is required if you wish to reach the chateau that way.

You can also reach the chateau by bicycle and there are locking stands near the chateau’s ticket office. If you travel by car, there is some free parking approximately 200 metres from the chateau.

There is also a small café at the chateau where you can rest and recharge before or after a tour.

This link will take you to the chateau’s official website:
Official chateau website

This link will give you more inforamtion about the Kralice Bible:
Kralice Bible article

From Beyond Prague to You and Yours.

This is most likely to be the very last post at Beyond Prague for 2019.

I thank all veteran readers for enjoying the website for another year and all new readers who found the site during 2019 for coming aboard.

To all the readership, old and new, of Beyond Prague; I wish you and yours a wonderful and magical holiday time and a New Year of prosperity and good fortune.

Brno Christmas Market – Back for 2019!

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Looking over the Vegetable Market square section of the Christmas market.

Into the Spirit of Things

November 29th saw the official opening of the 2019 edition of Brno’s Christmas market. The event brings with it lots of food, fun and merriment. Over the years it has grown into an event that is very much worth paying a specific visit to Brno for to take in.

I’ve had an article obout the market on the website for a number of years and have just finished adding fresh pictures and making a few edits to the text to make it reflective of the 2019 event.

Pay the article a visit and then maybe pay the market a visit if you’re near Brno:

https://beyondprague.wordpress.com/czechs-and-czech-culture/holidays/brno-christmas-market-food-festivities-and-fun/

 

Kofola – Retro on Tap

A mug of draft Kofola, a staple non-alcoholic drink in Czech restaurants.

A Mug of Nostalgia

If you find yourself outdoors in the Czech Republic on a sunny summer day, it’s not at all unusual to see Czechs indulging in frothy mugs of freshly drafted Kofola rather than the beer you might expect them to be drinking while taking a break from whatever outdoor activity they may have been expending their energies on.

Part of Kofola’s appeal is that it’s frequently available on tap in pubs and restaurants across the country. A cold mug of Kofola fresh from the tap can be very refreshing indeed, much more so than from the bottle, after physically demanding activity.

Kofola also enjoys popularity as a mixing drink in a number of types of cocktails in pubs around the nation.

Since first being put on the market in 1960, Kofola has enjoyed popularity among Czechs and Slovaks that has withstood the fall of Socialism and the ensuing high influx of soft drink brands such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi onto the Czech and Slovak markets.

At that, let’s take a look at Kofola, its history and what makes it the unique drink that it is:

At the Heart of the Drink

As the story goes, Kofola was developed in the late 1950s and early 1960s as a way to use excess caffeine created in the coffee roasting process and as a substitute for “Western” colas such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi which were not readily available at the time. While the latter part of that story is definitely true, the former part may be more legend than fact.

The core ingredient of Kofola is Kofo syrup, the exact make up of which is closely guarded secret, a mixture of 14 herbs, fruit extracts, caramel and licorice. This mix gives Kofola not only its distinctive herbal and fruit qualities to set it apart from the colas it is typically compared to; it also gives Kofola less caffeiene and refined sugar than the others.

It’s also good to look at what Kofola does not have that the others do: phosphoric acid. Typically, phosphoric acid is used in soft drinks to give them a tangy taste which is something Kofola already possesses through the ingredients in Kofo syrup.

The lack of phosphoric acid means that Kofola is less fizzy than other colas and so can come across as rather flat if you were expecting something more akin to Coke or Pepsi. With strong medical evidence showing phosphoric acid to be a contributor to tooth decay and the formation of kidney stones, however, there is at least some small reduction in health risk in drinking Kofola compared to some others.

The Czech Coca-Cola? Seriously?

Foreigners tend to have very strong opinions about Kofola. Many develop an aversion to it from the first sip; this is not a surprize given that many Czechs simply say that the drink is a Czech version of Coca-Cola that was developed during Socialism. While it’s true that Kofola was developed during Socialism, to compare it to the likes of Coca-Cola or Pepsi has certainly given many foreigners distinctly false expectations of the drink before they’ve even taken their first gulp.

Given Kofola’s distinctly herbal nature in both taste and smell, as well as being less sweet and less fizzy than typical colas, it would be much more fair to compare it to root beer. However, root beer is a drink that Czechs don’t have the same frame of reference for as they do for Coca-Cola or Pepsi as it’s not that commonly seen in the Czech Republic.

Kofola Today and learning More

As mentioned at the start of the article, Kofola is a Czech brand that survived the ups and downs of the fall of Socialism to still be with us today. It was not a smooth road, however, as the drink lost favour in the years immediately following 1989 and did not see a revival in popularity until the early 2000s.

Today, the brand is strong and riding a wave of nostalgia as a Czech retro brand. It is also seeing some success on the export market beyond the borders of the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

You can find out more about Kofola and their current range of drinks at their company’s website:
http://kofola.cz/en/

While written from a more Slovak angle, this BBC Travel article makes for some interesting further reading:
http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20190329-the-cold-war-era-drink-that-rivals-cola

Working on the New Look

Hello all,

As I mentioned a few posts ago, some changes are in the works for both my websites.

Here, at Beyond Prague, I’ve changed the theme of the page from “Toujours” to “Karuna”.

After much deliberation, I chose “Karuna” for the new theme as it maintained the page layout and colour scheme you’re used to here, but gave me the opportunity to have bigger header images. The smaller header image window of the “Toujours” theme was getting quite limiting with the images I could share with you through it, so I decided to give myself a bit more room for that at the top of the page.

I am still experimenting with how to make pictures fit nicely in the new header window, so bear with me on that.

Another good aspect of “Karuna”, I think anyway, is that the main menu bar moves as you scroll. That means that no matter how far you scroll down a page, the menu will be right there and you won’t need to scroll all the way to the top of the page to chose something else from the menu.

I think it will be a good theme to take the site through the next few years.

I hope you’ll feel the same.

We Need to Talk About Prague

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Looking into Prague’s Heart

The Price of Over-Tourism

I created Beyond Prague to showcase other aspects of the Czech Republic than the capital. I have nothing against Prague, beautiful city that it is, but it needs no help in promoting itself. However, it does need help in a different way:

Prague needs a rest.

Countries, regions, cities, towns and villages are living things just like those who live in them. Just like any other living thing, they can be overfed, starved, scarred, maimed and pushed past the breaking point. Tourism is one of those things that has the potential to do all of those things, and has done them, in many places around the world.

Tourism to the Czech capital has been on a relentless year on year rise since the fall of Socialism and 2019 has been a banner year in the city for disrespectful tourists and tour companies. Tour companies dedicated to pub crawls ply their trade to visitors with no greater agenda than getting wasted on beer that, while more expensive than anywhere else in the Czech lands, is still quite cheap by the standards of many other nations. Neither those tour companies nor their clients spare much thought for the fact that they are doing and enabling something in someone else’s home that they likely would not tolerate someone doing in their own homes.

Some areas of the city, particularly areas near the centre, have become quite unlivable for regular Czechs. Moreover, the local Czech language gets drowned out on its own home turf by a multitude of others on a daily basis as Prague really has no low season when it comes to tourism.

On a recent visit to Prague, I was walking through the centre and made way for a group of tourists on a guided tour. What I expected might be 15 to 20 people ended up being closer to 40 or 50! I’d never seen a tour group that large before, not even in Prague.

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The Memorial to Czechoslovak airmen who joined the Royal Air Force in the Second World War. The statue was installed in 2014.

Prague Fights Back

2019 seems to be the year where things have come to a head and the city is putting its foot down.

The year saw disturbing acts of vandalism against popular landmarks that included grafitti on Charles Bridge and The Lennon Wall.

Just as troubling were multiple incidents of disrespectful behaviour, including an incident of urination, toward the winged lion statue that was installed in 2014 to memorialise the Czechoslovak airmen who joined the ranks of the Royal Air Force in the Second World War after their homeland came under German occupation.

Such acts went from disturbing and troubling to outright contemptible when it came to light that some of those tourists were part of groups organised by licensed tour operators.

In the wake of the Charles Bridge graffiti incident, the two German nationals found responsible were stiffly fined and kicked out of the country for five years.  The Lennon Wall was given greater protections to prevent further grafitti against it.

At the start of 2019, the city introduced a new role: Nightlife Mayor. This position is intended to work with police and business owners to help bring the city’s out of control nightlife and the unacceptable vandalism and relentless noise that comes with it under control. One of the actions the Nightlife Mayor is taking is talking with pub owners and discouraging them from cooperating with organised pub crawl tours.

A number of longtime, if not lifelong, residents of Prague have also been speaking up more loudly of late as to their increasing displeasure at what uncontrolled tourism has done to their city.

You Can Help

I’ve spoken about responsible tourism before, and it looks like it’s time to talk about it again. I know that nobody likes to think about responsibility when they are on holidays; but would you allow a visitor in your home to use the fact they were on holiday as an excuse for disrespectful behaviour while they were in it?

No? I thought not.

If you’re visiting Prague, or anyplace for that matter, you can help reduce the damage that over-tourism can do by doing two simple things: Think, and think again.

Thinking about adding another love lock to that bridge or monument? Think again.

Thinking about having someone take your picture while you’re hanging from a statue or historically important architecture? Think again.

Thinking about going on an all night pub crawl, drinking more cheap alcohol in a couple of nights than you might in a month at home and then engaging in behaviour that makes locals put derogatory adjectives ahead of your nationality when they talk about people from your country? Think again.

The Bottom Line

When you are a tourist, you are a visitor in someone else’s home. Show their home every bit the respect you would want them to show to yours if they came to see it.

Further Reading

Below are links to articles from various sources highlighting what Prague is up against and what they’re doing in response:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/25/prague-drunk-tourists-conquer-our-city

https://www.radio.cz/en/section/curraffrs/more-protection-for-pragues-lennon-wall-after-tourist-agencies-organise-spray-painting

https://www.radio.cz/en/section/curraffrs/prague-gets-its-first-nightlife-mayor

https://www.radio.cz/en/section/one-on-one/prague-night-mayor-jan-stern-tourists-often-dont-realise-party-zones-are-residential-areas

Charles Bridge graffiti vandals banned from Czech Republic

Shining up Škodas and Polishing Pragas

Time for Some Deep Maintenance

It will probably be a while before my next larger article. Partly, it’s because I have quite a bit going on in life outside of blogging at the moment and also because I have to take a longer and closer look at all the changes WordPress has made to the editing functionality.

I’ll also be taking the opportunity to do more intensive housekeeping tasks on the blog. I’ll be keeping everything accessible to you, though you might see a few changes here and there from one visit to the next.

You might also see some of the older articles disappear for a while. The text is saved, but I might be taking them off the site for a bit until I can bring them up to scratch in quality and structure with more recent articles. Rest assured, if you see a favorite article of yours vanish, it’s not permanently gone.

I’m also testing the blog with different themes that WordPress offers, so a new look may become part of the changes you see.

Thanks for your patience and continued readership.