Telc, Czech Republic

It started with a fire…

As so often happened in history, there was a fire. Telc was built in the 1200s as a royal road-fort, with an extensive moat, to protect a major road intersection. By 1359 it had town right, and the municipal records began, or at least the preserved copies go back to that date. In 1386 a fire began in a brewery’s malting house and burned down two churches and 27 houses. Welcome to life in a medieval city. A new suburb, still called New Town, developed in 1543. But the most famous bit of the city, what everyone comes to see, dates to the 1530s.

The Lords of Hradec, one of the richest families in Bohemia and Moravia, decided to rebuild in a way that would be more fire resistant, more attractive, and show off their power. And be good for trade, because you can do business without getting your wares wet.

Renaissance houses around one of the largest market squares in Europe.

Tunnels connect almost all the buildings, providing storage and ease in moving things like beer back and forth.

The town is relatively quiet, or was when we visited. They don’t quite roll the sidewalk up at night, but it feels like it on a weekday evening before the European tourist season really begins.

The buildings are decorated in a blend of plaster-work, paint, and a technique called sgrafito. Sgrafito, literally “scratching,” involves painting the surface with a dark color, then covering it with white or pale plaster, and scratching away everything that isn’t the desired design.

Tromp’loi is also common, as you can see in the “bricks” on the lower part of the wall. In case you are wondering about the light, the darker photos were taken at around six in the morning, when a veil of high clouds was intermittently diluting the sun.

Did I mention the fortress?

When you go past the church in the third photo, you reach the castle. From there you go out of hte square, through the gate, and you are in the English-style garden park surrounding the end of the old city. It is quite extensive and has nice plantings. There are rather few exits, but eventually you will find one if you don’t want to retrace your steps.

A moat still surrounds the city on three sides. The two towers are the church in the third photo.

The opposite end from the first moat shot. You are standing at the base of the castle and town hill, with the town hill on your right.

I did mention that this was a fortress, didn’t I? You have to poke around, but if you look carefully…

You can still find the walls, tucked away from the main tourist areas.

Telc has a Saturday market. There is produce, handicrafts, and lots of neat things. I was admiring some small paintings of various aircraft and struck up a conversation with the painter. We ended up chatting in German (it was easier for him) about an elderly man he’d met who had been an anti-aircraft gunner (German) at Arras. At the same time that A. de Saint-Euxprey wrote A Flight to Arras and mentioned how terribly accurate the flak gunners there were. Small world indeed.

I didn’t get to the little museum. It is all in Czech, and has local folklore, archaeology, and other stuff. I did buy three little buildings, which survived the trip home intact, and are now among the ephemera on my desk at work. Along with Prinz Eugen’s portrait, and a few other odds and ends.


5 thoughts on “Telc, Czech Republic

  1. Very nice, and I envy your time to actually make the trips and see the history, rather than just reading about it in books. Very nice pictures too!

    • Thank you. I learned with film, and had to pay for developing out of my own pocket, so I tend to compose, then shoot. Getting out really early does help reduce the crowds (although the mosquitoes seem to get up even earlier, alas.)

  2. Having read your Colplatschki series, your purchase of a portrait of Prinz Eugen comes as little surprise.

  3. If you find yourself thrown back in time… build, but with nothing that can catch fire. If possible, burn the bricks and stones before using them…. building with un-expended oil shale is… Ungood, Yeah, yeah, obvious…. or is it?

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