Český Krumlov is a town in the South Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic. Its historic centre, centred around the Český Krumlov Castle, has been a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1992 and was given this status along with the historic Prague castle district.
The settlement arose beneath the castle, which was built from about 1240 onwards by a local branch of the noble Vítkovci family, descendants of Witiko of Prčice. The fortress was first mentioned in a 1253 deed as Chrumbenowe. It was also mentioned in the 1255 Frauendienst poem by minnesinger Ulrich von Liechtenstein. Located at a ford of an important trade route in the Kingdom of Bohemia, a settlement arose soon afterwards below the castle. The Czech name Krumlov is documented as early as in 1259.
Český Krumlov is home to the Pivovar Eggenberg brewery.
Český Krumlov has a railway station served by GW Train Regio and České dráhy situated on a line between České Budějovice and Černý Kříž (a railway junction near the village of Stožec). There has been a direct train to Prague since 2016, with a traveling time of 2h 48m. Several bus companies operate direct bus services to Prague. There are also direct shuttle minibus services to several cities including Prague, Munich and Vienna.
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.
Český Krumlov Castle is unusually large for a town of its size; within the Czech Republic it is second in extent only to the Hradčany castle complex of Prague. The castle was first mentioned in written sources in 1240.
Inside its grounds are a large rococo garden, an extensive bridge over a deep gap in the rock upon which the castle is built, and the castle itself, which in turn consists of many defined parts dating from different periods.
After the garden had been inadequately maintained in the second half of the 20th century, the site was included in the 1996 World Monuments Watch by the World Monuments Fund. With financial support from American Express the garden’s central fountain was documented and reconstructed, and remains functional today.
It is relatively unique in that it is surrounded by a moat filled not with water, but with bears. This was an attempt by the erstwhile rulers of the castle to associate themselves with the powerful Orsini family – whose name is a pun on the Italian word for bear; orso.
Český Krumlov Castle preserves its Baroque theatre, built in 1680–82 under Prince Johann Christian I von Eggenberg and renovated with up-to-date stage equipment under Josef Adam zu Schwarzenberg from 1765 to 1766. It is one of few such court theaters to retain its original stage machinery, scenery and props.
Due to its age, the theater is only used three times a year (only twice open to the public), when a Baroque opera is performed in simulated candlelight. Visitors can take a guided tour beneath the stage to catch a glimpse of the wood-and-rope apparatus that allowed stage settings to be moved in and out at the same time as the audience was diverted with fireworks and smoke. The castle’s last private owner was Adolph Schwarzenberg. It was here that he received President Edvard Beneš and gave him a large contribution for the defence of Czechoslovakia against the growing threat of Nazi Germany. His property was seized by the Gestapo in 1940 and then confiscated by the Czechoslovak government in 1947.
Český Krumlov has a museum dedicated to the painter Egon Schiele, who lived in the town. In the town center there is also a museum dedicated to the semi-precious gemstone Moldavite.
Český Krumlov hosts a number of festivals and other events each year including the Five-Petaled Rose Festival (a reference to the rose of the Rožmberk crest), which is held on the summer solstice weekend. The downtown area is turned into a medieval town with craftsmen, artists, musicians, and local people in medieval costume. Activities include jousting, fencing, historical dance performances, and folk theater, in the Castle precincts and along the river. It concludes with a fireworks display.
The International Music Festival Český Krumlov begins in July and ends in August, and features international music of various genres. Other such events are held throughout the year. The summer music festivals include the blues, rock, and soul festival Open Air Krumlov, held in late June at Eggenberg Brewery Garden.
Since the Velvet Revolution in 1989, over eighty restaurants have been established in the area. Many restaurants are located along the river and near the castle.
In popular culture
Český Krumlov has been used for locations in movies such as The Illusionist (2006) and Hostel (2005), as well as the 1973 German movie Traumstadt.