Main square of Telč
The colourful main square of Telč is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Czech Republic. It’s one of those squares that’s actually more like a long, slender, slightly-curved triangle, something like a Christmas tree blowing in the wind. The star at the top of the tree is the aristocratic chateau and the green, gold, pink and blue renaissance townhouses glow brightly in the low sunshine of morning and afternoon.
Forged in a single mould
The similar appearance of the townhouses is due to a catastrophic fire in 1530 when one entire side of the square was destroyed. When Lord Zachariáš of Hradec moved his aristocratic seat to Telč in 1550, he refurbished the chateau and reconstructed the main square at the same time.
A row of pillars supporting vaulted arches extended the old burghers’ houses forward, meaning that the new facades were all built at the same time and in the same architectural style. The design and decoration of the individual facades was left to the individual owners and they built Venetian arched gables, flat topped battlements and stepped gables in an early display of outdoing your nieghbour.
Most of the buildings on the square house some kind of business, but because of the sheltered walkway formed by the pillars and arches around the edge of the square, all the plate glass windows, signs and footpath displays are tucked away, leaving the square relatively free of modern blemishes. If you don’t count the cars lined up along the southern side, that is.
Fountains and columns
There are also a couple of fountains and a plague column towards the wider end of the square. St Margaret, the patron saint of Telč, watches from her vantage point above the large fountain which was originally built in the 1500’s to supply the townspeople with fresh water from the nearby Nadýmák pond. The Marian plague column was built in 1718 and the smaller Silenus fountain is from 1817.
There are also several towers overlooking the square. The one at the wide end of the square is from the early 1200’s and served as a defensive lookout until it was incorporated into the Church of the Holy Spirit two centuries later. At the other end of the square are the pale yellow twin towers of the Jesuit church and the single bell tower of St James’ church, which can be climbed for outstanding views across Telc’s ponds and the surrounding countryside.
In addition to the towers, château and colourful facades, the square is a pleasant place just to stroll around or enjoy a drink at one of the outdoor cafes. Telč is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations, but in the evening when the daytrippers have retreated to wherever their fancy hotels are, the locals come out to play and you’ll see the square in its other role, as the social and cultural centre of a thriving little town in South Moravia.
And if you’ve come this far, you’re at least a little interested in how the locals do things, aren’t you?