- CESKÝ KRUMLOV Part 1 -

Town and Market Square (1)

LINKS to other pages in the Ceský Krumlov site and to the Colin Day Travelling Days series:

1 : Town and Square
2 : St Vitus Church
3 : Minorite Monastery
4 : Castle Tower
5 : Castle and Grounds
6 : Journey from Ceský Krumlov
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The following history of Ceský Krumlov is a condensed and edited version of material taken from the town's official website and Wikipedia.
The Vltava River has long been navigational for shipping to this region. The area's oldest settlement goes back to the late Stone Age (70000 to 50000 B.C.). Increasingly larger settlements were noted in the Bronze Age (1500 B.C.) and Celtic settlements in the early Iron Age (approx. 400 B.C.). Slavonic settlement has been dated from the 6th century A.D. the Slavs being represented by two tribes - Boletice and Doudleby.

In the 9th century the area was probably owned by the noble Czech family of Slavníkovci, who were slaughtered by the rival family of Premyslovci in 995. This area then became their property. In accordance with the principles of internal colonization and bestowing of sovereign domains in fief to members of a sovereign dynasty, this domain was able to be given by the ruling family of Premyslovci to one of their own lines i.e. the Witigonen, known in Czech as the Vítkovci.

Vitek, a member of the family, came to South Bohemia in the 12th century. In 1179 he built four residences in the region. Vítek could freely dispose of his properties and therefore gave one to each of his four sons - Jindrich of Hradec; Vítek II senior (predecessor of the Lords of Krumlov); Vítek III junior, founder of the family of Rosenberg; and Vítek IV.

In 1251 the Bohemian King Premysl Otakar II gained Austrian lands through marriage to Anna Maria of Bamberg. Premysl Otakar II. He tried to populate the sparsely settled Sumava region in the Czech-Austrian borderland so as to integrate his domains in Bohemia with his newly gained territories in Austria. His efforts in this sphere, however, had its consequences in those territories and resulted in conflicts with this most powerful ruling aristocratic family in the country, the sovereign family of Vítkovci. CeskyTown13.jpg

The town's name was first mentioned in a letter written by Duke Otokar Stýrský in 1253. The town itself was established essentially in two stages. The first part called Latrán was built below the Krumlov castle and settled mostly by people who had some administrative connection with the castle.

The second part of the town was founded on a "green meadow", i.e. in a place where no previous settlement had been. The town subsequently took shape as a typical colonisation ground plan with a quadratic square in the centre with streets from its corners leading to the town walls. This part of the town and its first Magistrate Sipota were first mentioned in 1274. Since the very beginning the population of the town was represented by both Czech and German nationalities and even Italian.

In 1302 the Krumlovian branch of the Vítkovci died out, and according to the law of escheat their domains should have passed to the king. At that time the Krumlovian estates consisted of a relatively extensive network of castles and smaller subject towns which were sources of numerous incomes for the aristocracy.

A member of another powerful branch of the Vítkovec family, Jindrich von Rosenberg, successfully requested that the king, Václav II (Wenceslav II), override the law of escheat and vest the Krumlovian estates to The Rosenbergs. They later made Krumlov the main residence of their family.

During the rule of the Rosenberg family, both the town and castle flourished. Crafts and trade developed, elaborate homes were built, and the town was endowed with various privileges such as the right to mill, brew beer, hold markets etc.. Butcher shops and breweries were built, and twice a year there was a fair. In 1376 there were 96 houses in the town.

Peter I von Rosenberg was the sovereign responsible for giving the town its original 14th century appearance. He was brought up in the Cistercian Monastery in Vyssí Brod, and this upbringing had a strong influence on his personality. Under his rule the Rosenberg estates flourished. Peter became first man of the politics of the day and at the same time the richest aristocrat in the country. He founded the St Vitus Church in Ceský Krumlov, a hospital, the church of St Jost in Latran and the Chapel of St. George in the castle.

In 1334, on request from King Jan Lucemburský, Peter invited Jews to the town. They were given a special street in the town and were, through their duties as chamberlains, made responsible for the administration of Rosenbergs' finances. Peter tried to gain glory equal to the royal court by marrying the widow of King Václav III (Wenceslas III), Viola Tesínská. Peter´s sons were engaged in the king's military service; his oldest son, Jindrich, died in 1346 at the side of Jan Lucemburský in the battle of the Hundred Years´ War at Krescak.

CeskyTown3.jpgIn the 16th century the town was ruled by the last Rosenbergs who considerably influenced the present appearance of the town and its surroundings. The Renaissance magnate, Wilhelm von Rosenberg, the most considerable aristocratic personality of the politics and culture of that time, especially initiated reconstructions of townhouses as well as the castle into Renaissance style.

On 14th August 1555 Wilhelm joined the two parts of town which had been up to then seperate, Latrán and the old town, to prevent litigations concerning particular privileges. Before the town´s unification, Latrán had been an individual administrative unit and its dwellers often disputed with those living in the other parts, especially for the privilege to brew white wheat beer, which was very popular and thus a very profitable product. Further problems had been caused by support payments for parish, the church, bridges, the local shepherd and the messenger.

Peter Wok von Rosenberg, the last member of the family, was forced by debts to sell Krumlov to Emperor Rudolf II of Habsburg in 1601, who placed his illegitimate son Don Julius there for a short period of time.

The Thirty Years´ War brought a new lordship to the town; the Emperor Ferdinand II of Habsburg vested the town to the Styrian family of Eggenberg in 1622 in return for their financial support during the war. Afterwards three generations of the Eggenbergs held Ceský Krumlov. Only the third-generation personality Johann Christian I. von Eggenberg altered the town and castle´s appearance by grand construction works and rich cultural and social events.

From 1719 until 1945 the castle belonged to the House of Schwarzenberg. Most of the architecture of the old town and castle dates from the 14th through 17th centuries; the town's structures are mostly in Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque styles. The core of the old town is within a horseshoe bend of the river, with the old Latrán neighborhood and castle on the other side of the Vltava.

During the interwar era the town and surrounding area was part of Czechoslovakia. Between 1938 and 1945 it was annexed by Nazi Germany as part of the so-called Sudetenland. The town's German-speaking population was expelled after liberation by the American Army during World War II and it was restored to Czechoslovakia.

During the Communist era of Czechoslovakia, Krumlov fell into disrepair, but since the 'Velvet Revolution' of 1989 much of the town's former beauty has been restored, and it is now a major holiday destination popular with tourists from Germany, Austria, and beyond.

In August 2002, the town suffered from damage in the great flood of the Vltava River. Major works to prevent a possible re-occurrence are still in progress.

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The pictures above and to follow take us through the old part of the town with its residences and shopping areas.
Bohemian jewellery......


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........and porcelain are available at shops throughout Cesný Krumlov.

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More modern examples of the artists' craft may also be found throughout the town.
Our tour of Cesný Krumlov continues on the next page.




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