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The trip to Kratochvíle castle

On 22 August a friend of mine, I and our children set out on a trip to the castle Kratochvíle. The wether forecast warned of rain or at least showers but we went anyway. It had been raining all morning but when Petra parked her car at our house, the sun was already shining. We were really lucky when we arrived at the castle because the next guided tour of the castle was to start within five minutes. We had found out it is possible to see either the chapel or the building with the children cartoon exhibition, but we didn't remember to ask the cashier so we got tickets for both - at least that meant both the adults and children would see something they were interested in.

Chapel with history

The guide took us first to the beautifully decorated chapel chapel, where she told us some facts about the history of the place. Originally it was a fort and farm called Leptáč. It was bought by Jakub Krčín of Jelčany, had the fort rebuilt and decorated with hunting scenes. That caught the eye of Vilém of Rosenberg, who bought it from Krčín and had a Renaissance villa built there where are still to see wall paintings of Italian masters (its building started in 1583). He had also built the Virgin Mary church (consecrated in 1589), a game reserve and the foundations of the garden park. It was his brother Petr Vok who had to finish building that as Vilém died in 1592. Vok didn't stay long either because he needed to get out of debt and sold the place to emperor Rudolf II in 1601. The last aristocratic owners were the Schwarzenberg family. Since the land reform of 1920 Kratochvíle has been owned by the state. The place is very lucky not to have become a popular residence of its owners: it has never been much rebuilt so the Renaissance interior has remained the same. Of course the ravages of time don't respect the owners' desires.

The chapel itself is interesting, apart from its design, also in another aspect: it has a leaning tower annexed to it. Most probably the builders didn't mean to build a leaning tower but it was built later than the chapel and it started to lean away so much that the tower broke off the chapel wall and had to be rejoined. The seam is still visible today - the guide showed us.

Hide and seek and Mrs Goat

We moved to the villa for the other part of the tour and heard more about the history Moreover, the kids finally saw what they were looking for: the cartoon characters. Most of the rooms of the villa have displays with particular pictures and puppets from children tv stories, and you also learn about how cartoons are made.

As soon as we had seen the rooms, we went outside to the garden park. The children had seen the gardens with a lake in the middle from the villa windows and they really wanted to go there. We walked along the paths, the children played hide and seek among the rows of shrubs, had some snack by the lake with fish and then we went out of the castle walls to walk around. Right behind the gate but opposite the car park we discovered two very nice ponds where the children spent about an hour throwing stones into the water. The road ended at a fishermen's hut, so we had to walk back along the dam and turned left to walk along the castle walls. Round the corner we found a goat tied to a post who was really glad when the children started feeding her with apples and crispy leaves.

Ice cream without excavator drivers

We were going to walk all the way round the castle but the road suddenly ended with a fence and a wall, behind which there was out car park. The gates in the walls were all closed so there was no other alternative than walking all the way back past the goat and the ponds. We decided to end the trip with a short visit of the nearby town of Netolice, where the kids had ice cream and the mothers bought some food for dinner. The houses were very pretty and well reconstructed, which is sometimes a problem for small towns, which have limited finance sources. The town's website is equally good - including its English version. The paving on the square was just being repaired so Viky was happy to see all those lorries and excavators. However, it was 5pm so most of the drivers were probably watching TV back home. Ice cream made up for that though, although I had to face suggestions like "let's wait here till they start working again, shall we?".

Pronunciation and comments:

Leptáč [lep-ta:tch]
Petr Vok[pe-tr vok]
Jakub Krčín[ya-khup kr-tcheen]well-known South-Bohemian engineer, architect and pond-founder

Here are a few photos from the trip - click on the picture.
You can get the slides by clicking on the thumbnails.
These bigger pictures have been given comments in English.



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