With a population of almost 100,000 people, České Budějovice is the largest city in South Bohemia. For foreign visitors it's often considered merely a stepping stone on the way to smaller but more famous Český Krumlov 28km to the south, but České Budějovice is an interesting and diverse destination in its own right.
Home of Budweiser
Better known abroad under its old German name Budweis, České Budějovice has a long tradition as an important hub of the Czech brewing industry. The narrow cobblestoned back streets of the old town are lined with pubs and beerhalls and the Budweiser brewery, several kilometres north of the centre, offers daily tours through the bottling plant, malting house and fermenting cellars.
13th Century streetplan
The historic old town of České Budějovice dates from the 13th Century, when it was founded by King Přemysl Otakar II on flat land beside the junction of the Malše and Vltava rivers. The core of the town centre is the enormous marketplace square, one of Bohemia's largest. Like other planned settlements of the Gothic era, a grid of streets radiated out from the corners and sides of the square and the whole settlement was protected by a system of stone walls, guard towers and moats.
Old city walls beside the river
Remnants of the walls remain in several places. Especially well preserved is the corner near the river junction, where a guard tower and prison known as the Iron Maiden still stands. České Budějovice's old town is still almost surrounded by water, with the Malše to the south, the Vltava to the west and the Mill Race skirting through the parks along the eastern and northern edges of town.
Main square and fountain
The main square also has a water feature; the Samson fountain in the very centre of the square is the country's largest and is a favourite meeting place for locals. The most impressive structure on the main square though is the town hall. Originally from 1555 it was rebuilt in the 1720's in the baroque style around the same time as the fountain was being built.
Church and lookout tower
Another part of České Budějovice's baroque facelift was the Church of St Nicholas (Kostel Sv. Mikuláše). Originally built in the Gothic style not long after the city was founded in the 12th century, St Nicholas' was rebuilt in the 1500's and again when the baroque style came to the Czech lands after the Thirty Years' War.
A few metres from the entrance to the church is the 72 metre high lookout and belfry known as the Black Tower. The tower was built of the dark local stone in the mid 1500's, and the viewing deck offers wonderful views over the South Bohemian countryside and the rooftops of one of of its most largest and most vibrant historic city.
• Home •Blog• About• Contact• Sitemap •Links•
Outside Prague last updated June 13th, 2010. All text and images Copyright 2007-2010. Articles may be excerpted for review, or printed for use by individual travellers.
Complete articles or images may not otherwise be reproduced by print, electronic or other means.