Telč – Retaining the Renaissance

A general view of the preserved town centre and chateau of Telč
A general view of the preserved town centre and chateau of Telč

Idyllic and Inspiring

Situated in an area of the Vysočina highland region dotted with fish ponds and green hills, Telč is among the Czech Republic’s best known tourism destinations internationally. This is much thanks to the main square which is lined with Renaissance and Baroque facades that has held a place on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list since 1992.

If you arrive by train or bus, the trail to the centre is clearly marked from the moment you get to the station. There is no doubt this town is rightly proud of its international status and wears that pride on its sleeve.

A small sample of the many preserved facades which line the main square.
A small sample of the many preserved facades which line the main square.

Busy Now, Busy Then

Just as Telč is a busy point on the contemporary Czech Republic’s tourist map; historically, it was a busy place due to it being situated on significant trade routes linking Bohemia, Moravia and Austria.

The beginnings of what would become Telč were established in the early 13th century though it was not until the early 14th century that the name Telč began appearing in official documents.

From the very beginning, the town has had strong links to mercantile activities and trades. This heritage is reflected in the preserved town square and its numerous colourful facades and arcades each housing shops and cafes of differing nature and merchandise.

Looking toward the centre across one of two fish ponds which flank it.
Looking toward the centre across one of two fish ponds which flank it.

Just as with any centuries old town, history has thrown Telč its fair share of fortunes and misfortunes. What history has not changed is the nature of the town square. Bracketed by two sizable ponds, the centre has kept its historical character and flavour while history has shaped and reshaped the development of the town beyond.

It is largely due to this unchanged aspect of the square that it was inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 1992.

Even today the unchanging nature of the square in contrast to the surrounding town can be experienced. We first visited Telč nearly ten years ago in 2005; after getting off the bus in a nondescript part of the town, we walked along quite a few unfinished and semi finished roads until we reached our hotel. Along the way, we saw several buildings in need of repair in one degree or another.

Paying another visit in 2014 brought us face to face with a much more developed town with many new buildings and many more finished roads. Additionally, the bus station has been relocated to a much more welcoming spot right beside the train station.

Part of the chateau structure as seen from the garden.
Part of the chateau structure as seen from the garden.

A Chateau in the Centre

Impossible to miss in a visit to the centre is the large chateau which sits at one end of it.

Starting life as a 14th century Gothic castle, the structure was reworked and expanded into a Renaissance style palace in the mid 1500s.

Thanks to a succession of careful owners, Telč has one of the best preserved Renaissance style chateaus in the Czech Republic. The interiors have been kept remarkably intact and clearly show the influence of Italian art that found its way to this region from places north of the Alps.

Another view of the facades and arcades along the square.
Another view of the facades and arcades along the square.

Visiting and Getting the Most from Telč

Many visitors are happy to make a day trip of Telč; while that will give you a taste of the town, I recommend you at least stay overnight if you can.

The square is not closed off to motor traffic, so during the day there can be quite a few cars parked there which will interfere with your ability to take photos. They also rob the square of some of its historical atmosphere.

Staying overnight will give you the chance to see the square in the early morning and evening periods when the bulk of the cars are gone and the square has a much different and, in my view, enjoyable feel to it.

A visit to the town’s well organised web site will give you the full picture:

http://www.telc.eu/

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