On Monday I travelled from Vienna to České Budějovice in the Czech Republic. I’ve heard colorful descriptions of České Budějovice and Český Krumlov – two classic medieval cities. Both are beautiful and look like European movie sets. Český Krumlov is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with 300 protected medieval buildings.
Accommodations in Český Krumlov are expensive, but I found an apartment in nearby České Budějovice and booked for two weeks. The apartment is a few minutes away from Přemysl Otakar II Square. The square has medieval buildings, towers, and churches and is not far from the University of South Bohemia and the Academy of Sciences. I thought the Czechs used Euros but the currency here is the Czech Koruna – one CZK equals 0.05 US dollars.
The connections between Vienna and České Budějovice were challenging and the information provided by the hotel wasn’t correct. I quickly lost any sense of confidence gained during the easy high-speed train rides from Budapest and Salzburg.
When I arrived at the Vienna train station which I thought was the departure point – I discovered it wasn’t. Vienna is a large city with many train stations, so I had to back track via the underground amidst several dramas playing out there. After a few underground connections I arrived at Spittelau Bahnhst station in time to catch the train to České Velenice. In České Velenice it was necessary to change trains to get to České Budějovice.
After finally getting on the right trains, the ride was quiet and comfortable and I fell asleep part of the trip. It’s not a great distance to travel. The time involved is due to the many stops the train makes along the way.
I haven’t explored much yet except for time spent last night searching for a place to have dinner. There are tons of pubs and cafes but I couldn’t find one with an English menu and no one was able to translate. I was tired, so just bought a few things at a small market.
Haven’t noticed much English being spoken and can’t tell the differences between German and Czech – they sound the same. I’m sure given time you would not only learn the languages but also easily distinguish between accents.
České Budějovice’s history is interesting and gaining a basic understanding of it is necessary to fully appreciate the area.
“In 1265 Bohemian King Přemysl Otakar II chose the confluence of the South Bohemian Rivers Vltava and Malše to found the city of České Budějovice. He thought establishing the city would strengthen his position in South Bohemia. The ground-plan of the city and its centre with an extensive square is an example of the peak of medieval urbanism in the Czech Lands.”
By the turn of the 14th century, České Budějovice was flourishing and the Bohemian king rewarded the people for their loyalty to the royal crown. The community built two churches, a fortified wall around the city, a tower, a new city hall, and replaced humble wooden houses with stone buildings. With a population of about 4,000 České Budějovice became one of the most important cities in the Kingdom of Bohemia. About two-thirds of the population were German-speaking, a third were Czech, and several Jewish families also settled here as of the mid-14th century.
During the 16th century České Budějovice’s prosperity continued and profits from silver mining, beer brewing, fish farming, and the salt trade flowed into the city’s coffers. The community used the money to continue improving their city and České Budějovice acquired a “charming Renaissance appearance”.
“During the estates uprising and the subsequent Thirty Years’ War, České Budějovice again remained loyal to the emperor and resisted the attacks of the estates army. Modern fortifications made the city an important strategic fortress to which the highest provincial officials moved several times. The local church served to hide the Bohemian crown jewels during the Thirty Years’ War in the 17th century.”
“The 19th century was a period of revolutionary technical progress and development that helped České Budějovice create its modern civic society. A horse-drawn tramway, built between 1825 and 1832, was the first on the European Continent. It established a link between České Budějovice and other cities. Along with the Vltava and Malše Rivers the tramway increased the speed of transportation.”
“In the 20th century České Budějovice grew into an economic and cultural capital of South Bohemia. In 1949 it became the seat of the newly created České Budějovice Region. Since the 1950s the city’s territory and population continue to grow.”