The second part of Cool Czechia: Young African Leaders’ Study Trip programme took place in the southern Czech Republic town of Telč, known for its Italian Renaissance architecture including the chateau, former Gothic castle with carved wood ceilings, the Highlands Museum and colorful houses with arcades and ornamental gables ring Zachariáš of Hradec Square.
The “quiet town” is home to less than 6,000 people and has become one of those places that feel like it’s straight out of the pages of your favorite childhood fairytale. With a long row of colorful ornamented and detailed homes, an eye-catching watch tower, beautiful church, and surrounded by the mesmerizing countryside you will understand why so many travelers make a point to pass by and see this place for themselves.
In 1992, the city of Telc was named a Czech Republic UNESCO World Heritage site and is one of the twelve in the country. Thanks to the large collection of well preserved and Renaissance period homes, this town has seen a boost in tourism. People visit to see the fairy tale row of elaborate and colorful homes, plus 25percent of the country’s UNESCO sites in Vysočina!
Yes, it might be a relatively tiny town but it is a must-visit for travelers to the region!
The gorgeous city that you see today was built after a fire in the 14th century. They simply rebuilt upon the original structures. Some say that this is when Telc, Czech Republic was truly reborn. Zachariáš of Hradec, the ruler at the time, decided to change the castle from Gothic to Renaissance after a visit to Italy. The town then quickly followed his style with their townhomes on the square.
The locals tried to flaunt their wealth with the front of their home. That is why you will see such elaborate and intricate details throughout the square. Telc became quite wealthy as it ended up being used as a trading between center between Vienna and Prague. It was also a prosperous place for farming and breeding fish thanks to Zachariáš, who helped build the lakes and land around town.
Okay, so maybe they aren’t called the painted ladies here, but I couldn’t help but think that this was the Czech’s answer to San Francisco’s famous painted ladies. The entire Hradce Square is filled with beautiful colorful Renaissance and Baroque town homes.
While you will always see beautiful buildings like this in many town squares, there is none that quite compare to Telc. The long rectangular shape of the town square gives you two long rows of colorful and ornate home after another making for one of the most beautiful strips of real estate we have ever witnessed. You won’t be able to walk out of here without admiring each and every one of these charming households and paying attention to the details.
The Green Home with Frescos
It wasn’t until 1952 that they discovered there were frescos hidden underneath layers of this home. They have since restored the building to its Renaissance period with the frescos one of which is a painting of a home from that time. It is strange that someone would have a house painted on a house, but historians appreciate this piece of art because it gave them a genuine feel of what the homes were like back then.
Beneath the town square, there is a maze of underground tunnels and cellars connecting all the homes from the 13-14th century. The cellars were used to store beer and other goods as well as a way to escape the town if there was a huge fire or invaders. We were told by our local guide that the tunnels could give you fresh air in case of a fire, which, as you know, wasn’t super uncommon back then. However, the way that the air movement worked was said to have made the fires burn down the homes more quickly.
You can tour the underground, and you absolutely should. This was probably one of the biggest highlights of our trip to Telc, Czech Republic. You explore the back breaking tunnels with a flashlight, literally as you have to crouch really low to explore them. Before you go, there is a short film and interactive exhibit that is state of the art in a large room of the cellar.
Afterwards, you get to explore the maze of tunnels with your guide. Thank your lucky stars there is a guide because otherwise you could easily get turned around and confused. It’s actually like a maze. You cannot go too far as the tunnels connect to actual homes. There are gates to block you from entering someone else’s cellar.
Stunning St. James Church
Be sure to take a peek inside the Gothic cathedral of St. James. This Catholic Church dates back to the 15th century and the interior is considered typical Bohemian style. After taking a walk through the interior make your way to one of the most impressive views of the city and surrounding area, the tower. You can climb the tower and get a 360 view of the town square, castle garden, the entire city of Telc, and a great view of the land surrounding the city. It’s a quick and rewarding climb.
Panoramic views from the watch tower
It is one of the iconic symbols of Telc’s town square. The watch tower with the long row of multi-colored homes is what you will see in a typical picture of the city. You can get another incredible view of the city, from the top.
The Church of The Mother of God
Take a nice walk outside of town through a lovely path along the Stare Mesto pond to the Church of the Mother of God. Follow the path lined with statues of saints to lead you to this hidden treasure in Telc, Czech Republic. This will take about 20-30 minutes round trip depending on your pace. We enjoyed our walk! Even though the town is already a quiet place, this walk was even more peaceful.