Telč - a town of historical tranquility

photo:  (radio.cz)

Telč is a small Czech town in the heart of the hilly Vysočina region, about 150 km south-east of Prague. With barely 6,000 inhabitants, the settlement is built around three interconnected lakes, and has a history stretching back to the 11th century. Arriving here, a visitor can easily find themselves confused by the response to asking where to find the “Old Town” – helpful locals seem to point away from the cluster of historical monuments in the centre. The reason: Telč is is divided into four distinct districts. The “Old Town” part lies on the southern edge of Telč. The central part is called the “Vnitřní město“, or inner town.


Surrounded by water on three sides, this is the location of Telč’s famous town square, named after Zachariáš of Hradec, a local 16th century humanist and nobleman. Made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992, the square is more of a long rectangle really, filled with carefully preserved three-storey houses – each painted a different pastel colour, and some painted in the Italian “sgraffito” style, creating an optical illusion of three-dimensional tiles – but all unified by an arcade of arches at the bases, and gabled roofs at the top – meaning small pointed triangles, although a few buildings also feature castle-like (or teeth-like) merlons.

In the summer, Telč bustles with tourists; a surprisingly large number of these are Czechs. For this town isn’t the easiest of places for foreigners to reach. In the winter, Telč can feel eerily cold and deserted. One can almost fall under the impression that they have an entire fairytale town to themselves. Debates continue to rage among locals over whether permitting cars to park in the square damages the appearance of this historical site. Also on the down side, the stores in the square aren’t as interesting as a visitor might like – discount trinkets and low quality junk a-plenty.

There’s also a world under your feet in Telč, perfect to cool off during the hot summer months. Hundreds of metres of interconnected underground cellar tunnels, used in the past as both storage spaces and as places to hide from enemy invasions. Some of these tunnels have undergone extensive tourist-friendly renovations, and include multi-media exhibits and other interactive elements.

Back above ground, Telč is a paradise for anyone interested in historical architecture. Telč Castle was built during the 14th century in the Gothic style but was rebuilt two-hundred years later as an Italian Renaissance-style chateaux. Situated on the banks of a lake, the chateaux offers a plethora of sights both inside and out, including an elegant garden grounds and a large neo- Classical greenhouse.

If there’s one way to sum up Telč, then it’s a prevailing sense of calmness. This isn’t busy, bustling Prague or Český Krumlov. Tourist and entertainment facilities are comparatively limited. You can sit down by the lakes and feel you’re in the middle of nowhere in Telč, or lost in some retro-historical fairytale. It’s well worth the trip.

Author: Český rozhlas Radio Praha
Added: 20.04.2016

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