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© Dagmar Veselková, archiv CzechTourism

Prague

Along the river Vltava against the flow of time

Along the river Vltava against the flow of time

Emperor Charles IV once wanted to connect the Vltava river with the Danube and Elbe and consequently also with the Black Sea and North Sea. Travel upstream the river from Prague to Český Krumlov and admire the jewels of romantic medieval architecture inserted into the beautiful landscape, with legendary castles, picturesque towns and exquisite monasteries commemorating the golden era of Charles IV.

Anyone watching the unique panorama of Prague, with its hundred towers situated along the banks of the river Vltava, may wonder where this longest of Czech rivers actually begins. If you have a little of the wandering spirit, you may travel upstream, as Charles IV did many times while he was thinking about a project comprising a system of channels that would connect the Vltava river with the Danube and Elbe and consequently also with the sea. Although this plan was never carried out, you may admire the surrounding landscape with majestic medieval architecture from the times of Emperor Charles IV.

You can start your journey at the castle of Zvíkov, nicknamed the “King of Czech Castles”, a precious Gothic monument, associated with a scary legend about the Zvíkov imp. Charles IV had the castle renovated and often came here to spend time with his entourage. If you continue southwards, you will discover more historical sites from the era of Charles IV. In the village of Purkarec near Hluboká nad Vltavou, you should make sure not miss the romantic ruins of Karlův Hrádek (Charles’s Cas­tle), built by the Emperor as a summer residence. This solitary place is in sharp contrast with the nearby city of České Budějovice, the cultural centre of South Bohemia. Charles IV paid four visits to this ancient royal town and in the former Dominican Monastery you can admire a Gothic painting portraying the great Emperor.

From here, the journey along the river will take you to the fabulous town of Český Krumlov, listed among UNESCO cultural heritage sites, to the ruins of the Dívčí Kámen castle, whose construction was permitted by Charles IV, and to the Gothic Cistercian Abbeys of Zlatá Koruna and Vyšší Brod.

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