As I’ve written before, there are a lot of historic places in the Czech Republic. All around are extraordinary architecture, monuments, places, where important events happened. But there is city champion in the category of «fantastic place” in the Czech Republic. It is the official city museum – Telč.
So, my dear friends, arm yourself with patience and a bottle of Borjomi, because we will go in a long and fascinating journey through the city.
At first glance it seems that Telč was built in order to amuse tourists, because its architecture is stylistically well-thought. In fact, Telč is put on the list by UNESCO in 1992 as a World Cultural Heritage and this city is not fabulous scenery, but a rich historical place.
The exact date of foundation of the city remains a mystery, although Czech historians express their opinions: somebody thinks that Telč was founded in 1099 when the local lord margrave Otto built the Romanesque chapel and dedicated it to the Virgin Mary and to his victory over arch-enemy; someone believes that the foundation was hundred years later; somebody’s thoughts are based on confirmed data and written sources, according to which Telč was mentioned in 1333 when the Margrave Charles (later the Czech King and German Emperor Charles IV) got the Castle of Telč, which was built by his father. We also know that even in ancient times there were Slavic settlements.
In 1339 Oldrich Vitkovice of Hradec bought the king’s castle. Around the castle the city had grown. The big market square stretched along the walls of the castle. The unique shape of Telč was due to the fact that one part of it was limited by moat and fortified wall and the other part of the city was limited by ponds. It contributed to defence of the city.
The main square of the city for many years has the name Zachariáš of Hradec, who was an influential and very rich nobleman. He played in the history of a small Moravian town the same role as the Medici in Florence by developing arts and crafts and making Telč beautiful town. Like Medici, Zacharias also had enough money, influence and desire to turn the town into a pearl. Maecenas had decent family. His mother Anna was a relative of the Czech king, who granted the privileges to Telč to brew beer and sell salt. It was very profitable affair in those times. Adam (father of Zachariáš) was a royal favourite and head of the anti-Habsburg coalition in the Czech Republic.
During the coronation of Ferdinand Adam held the royal power and later he became the godfather of Maximilian (the heir to the throne).
Returning from an expedition to Genoa, Zacharias was so impressed by the Italian culture, that he decided to rebuild his gothic castle in Renaissance style. This case was troublesome, but due to marital status and marriage to heiress Catherine Wallenstein, problems were solved quickly. Masters Antonio Vlace and Baldassarre Madgi de Ronio created a magnificent structure that still stands on the shore of the pond. The facades of buildings in the central town square were rebuilt in Renaissance style in order to make the view from the window of the castle beautiful.
Initially, Old Town of Telč was built of wood, and in 1386 it was burned overnight. By the time of this tragic moment salt trading and brewing allowed townspeople to get money, so the town was rebuilt in stone very quickly.
In architecture prevailed Gothic style and in taxation prevailed a tax on the width of the facade, so the central area was built up with houses in the same style, closely standing flank to flank. And if you look at the city from a bird’s eye, it is noticeable that in the Renaissance facades real merchants’ houses hide – long and spacious to provide family, shop, and even warehouses with enough space. Looking at the facades, you will never say that the houses are big.
By the way, if you carefully look at the Renaissance facades of Telč, you will see that the major part of homes vaguely resembles Gothic prototypes: the facade is crowned by a triangle: there is a lonely window beneath the roof.
In 1604 the kin of noblemen Hradec suppressed in the male line, so the city becomes the property of the family Slavata. Thanks to Frantisek Slavate, Jesuits came in Telč. The next stage of development of the city is fully owned by the Jesuit Order: the Jesuit college, several schools, an astronomical observatory, a music school were built in the city. Also the Jesuits have built one of the most beautiful city churches. In the XVII century Telč passes into the possession of the genus Liechtenstein and remains quiet provincial town till nowadays.
After the reconstruction of the castle by the Italian masters, Zacharias probably did not like that the buildings of city square combine badly with the new castle, so the facades were rebuilt – somewhere is seen the triangle of Gothic facade, somewhere the facades have become jagged rectangles.
Perhaps, you will not find two similar homes in this whole area! Some are painted in bright colours, others are decorated with stucco or made in graffito technique, some are higher than others, but in general all the houses have approximately the same height. And it is not a surprise – all these things create the unique composition. That is why tourists want to go here and UNESCO was impressed. Bright solid wall of facades is cut off in four places, where the streets flow into square. Some neighbouring buildings have even joint supporting pillars! But all this is minor compared with the principal thing: an extended arcade gallery combines all the buildings of the square. Telč is often called the Venice of the Czech because of the ponds that surround the city centre. Oh my, these inventors, who can give the name «Venice» to any place where houses are located near the water; or name «Switzerland» where there are mountains! So, here in the Czech Republic there are “Venice” and “Switzerland”.
A typical promotional trick. Every country and area are unique, and such labels make the country or area defective. I have never heard people calling Milan as Italian Prague and Bordeaux as France Moravia. It is a bit disappointing.