© Jaroslav Mareš, archiv CzechTourism

The walls of the Father of the Nation

Jihlava - Třebíč - Telč - Želiv

Length 147 km Duration 2 Days

Day 1

Jihlava is situated about one hundred and thirty kilometres from Prague, the journey takes about an hour and a quarter if you use the motorway. Alternatively, you can use a direct bus. The itinerary for towns is planned for walking. Telč is located 32 kilometres from Jihlava. The journey by car or bus takes about 40 minutes.

During the first day of the trip following in the footsteps of Charles IV exploring the beauty and history of the Vysočina Region, the region’s two most important towns will be on view.

The first of these is Jihlava, the oldest Royal Mining Town, whose history is written in silver removed by pick and shovel from the surrounding mines. Jihlava was acquired by John of Luxembourg in 1311 and in 1325 it was named as the first mining town of the Kingdom of Bohemia. Its privileged position concerning issues relating to mining laws was confirmed by John’s son Charles IV.

An ideal place to start the tour in Jihlava is below ground in one of the largest catacombs in the country (alongside Znojmo). It owes its popularity to the purported paranormal phenomena that can occasionally be seen there. The entrance to the catacombs is in Hluboká Street. After returning to the surface, move on to the observation tower of the Church of St. James the Greater, the most significant building on Jakubské Square. The 63 metre high tower was completed in the early 14th century and offers a beautiful view of the surroundings. Near the square there is a house where the world renowned conductor Gustav Mahler lived for fifteen years. There is an exposition documenting his life and work.

After visiting the sights of Jihlava it will surely be time for lunch. The Vysočina Region is known for a multitude of regional specialities made of mushrooms and potatoes, such as the mushroom soup and potato pancakes called “vopelky”.

The journey continues in Telč, a town with a unique historical centre included among UNESCO World Heritage in 1992. This ancient town was bought back by Charles, the then Margrave of Moravia in the 1330s and a few years later it was ceded to Oldřich of Hradec. The first stop will be the Chateau, one of the gems of Moravian Renaissance architecture. The Chateau’s original interiors have been preserved in very good condition; many of them are representative examples of Italian art in the Czech territory. Telč owes its Renaissance heritage to Zacharias of Hradec, the most significant personality of its history.

Therefore you should take a stroll around the Square of Zachariáš of Hradec, unique for the architectural diversity of its buildings connected by Renaissance and Baroque arcades. The most interesting buildings are House No. 15, House No. 32 with a Baroque facade, House No. 61 – the oldest in the square, decorated with sgraffito drawings representing military leaders from the Old Testament, the massive building of the town hall and the Jesuit College. Telč also has its own catacombs, the crooked corridors of which served mostly as storage space, but were sometimes also used by the people of Telč as a last hiding place from enemies. It is no wonder that they are featured in many legends. Today there is an exciting multimedia exposition installed on a 150-metre long part of the catacombs.

Day 2

Třebíč is situated 35 km from Telč. The journey takes 40 minutes by car, or you can make use of public transport.

The second day of the trip to the Vysočina Region begins in Třebíč, a town whose fortification walls were constructed by permission of Charles in 1335 when he was Margrave of Moravia. Its biggest attraction is the Jewish quarter of global significance, where the journey around Třebíč starts. Its monuments are the only Jewish heritage outside the territory of Israel included in the UNESCO World Heritage list.

The next stop is the Basilica of St. Procopius with an exceptionally well-preserved Romanesque crypt. In 2015 the wedding of Charles IV and Blanche of Valois was shot here for a Czech biographical film about the world renowned sovereign.

Next to see is the Municipal Tower adjacent to the Church of St. Martin. The year of its construction is not known, but it was supposedly built after Charles, then the Margrave of Moravia, granted the town the right to build fortification walls. It was also he who commissioned the construction of the tower. The tower is 75 meters high and its clock belongs among the largest in Europe. You definitely should not miss out on seeing the Chateau, originally a Benedictine monastery, which became the region’s centre of scholarship under the reign of Charles IV.

Before the last stage of the journey, make time to have lunch in one of the stylish restaurants of Třebíč. Then continue on to the town of Želiv which is situated a one and a half hour drive away and is the seat of the unique Premonstratensian Canonate. One of its parts is the Church of the Birth of the Virgin Mary from the first half of the 12th century, which was a significant building of its kind during the reign of Charles IV. Why not finish the busy day with an excursion to the Premonstratensian Brewery, where you can learn about the history and present day of the site and beer production.

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