A small town in South Moravia in the Czech Republic, you’ll find Telč, where the beauty and charm of its elongated main square and Baroque and Renaissance-style façades will blow you away. The square features high gables painted in pastels and is almost storybook-like. The town was founded in 13th century as a royal water fort on the crossroads of busy merchant routes between Bohemia, Moravia and Austria.
Besides the monumental 17th century Renaissance chateau with an English-style park (a rebuilding of original Gothic castle), the most significant sight is the town square, a unique complex of long urban plaza with well-conserved Renaissance and Baroque houses with high gables and arcades; since 1992 all of this has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Gothic castle was built in the second half of the 14th century. At the end of the 15th century the castle fortifications were strengthened and a new gate-tower built. In the middle of the 16th century the medieval castle no longer satisfied Renaissance nobleman Zachariáš of Hradec, who had the castle altered in the Renaissance style. The ground floor was vaulted anew, the facade decorated with sgraffito, and the state apartments and living quarters received stucco ornamentation together withtrompe l’oeil and chiaroscuro paintings in 1553. The counter-reformation brought the Jesuits to the town, who built the church of Name of Jesus in 1666-1667, according to the plans of Domenico Orsi. The column of the Virgin and the fountain in the centre of the square date from the 18th century.
A square which looks like it has come straight from the stories of Hans Christian Andersen, a romantic chateau and crystal clear fishponds surrounding the city, Telč is the most perfect example of the Italian Renaissance north of the Alps and a town with one of the most beautiful squares in Europe.
When visiting Telč, you must not forget to visit the chateau, which ranks among the Moravian gems of Renaissance architecture. It was especially Zachariáš of Hradec who took merit in transformation of the Gothic castle into a Renaissance residence after having taken part in a trip by Bohemian magnates to Genoa, where he succumbed to the charm of the Renaissance. Thanks to the care of the owners, the original interiors which reflect Italian art have been preserved in the chateau. In the Golden Hall, you can admire portraits of Zachariáš’ ancestors and valuable carvings in the panels of the coffered ceiling. The Knights’ Hall and African Hall will certainly captivate children, who will gape at the curious trophies here. In terms of the tour, you can also take a peek into the rooms of the last inhabitants of the chateau, the library, bathrooms or dressing rooms with their collection of historical clothing and accessories.
In the area, there are two more locations brimming over with Renaissance beauty not far from Telč. You can for example visit the city of Jindřichův Hradec, which boasts one of the most extensive chateau complexes in the Czech Republic. The town of Slavonice on the other hand offers visitors a beautiful square with lots of picturesque Renaissance town houses and a unique historical underground.
Photo credit: Czech Tourism.