Litomyšl - Tour of town

Litomyšl was established around the trade route that connected Bohemia and Moravia at the end of the 10th and beginning of the 11th centuries. The dominant feature of the city is the Italianate Renaissance castle with its more than eight thousand examples of sgrafitto, which has been on the UNESCO World Cultural and Heritage List since 1999. Litomyšl is the birthplace of the composer Bedřich Smetana, whose name is commemorated by an annual opera festival. On the 500 metre long square can be found the Gothic town hall and a number of Renaissance and Baroque houses. A walk through the historical streets ending in the monastery gardens is an unforgettable experience. Another interesting sight is the Portmoneum museum with its murals by Josef Váchal. Litomyšl is not only historical, however, for there is a number of modern buildings here and it is proud of the moniker Europe's Blooming City; it is becoming a city of corporate tourism.

A tour of the city begins in the arcade of the Renaissance U Rytířů (Knight's Hall) and on your way you will see, for example, the baroque and Classical buildings on Smetanovo náměstí, the pedestrian zone by the River Loučná, the Church of the Discovery of the Holy Cross (kostel Nalezení svatého Kříže), the Monastery Gardens, the Church of the Raising of the Holy Cross (kostel Povýšení sv. Kříže), the Church of the Sending of the Holy Apostles (kostelík Rozeslání sv. Apoštolů) or the macabre Váchalova ulička. The castle grounds with its several tours, exhibition of statues by Olbram Zoubek and the family apartment of Bedřich Smetana all deserve separate visits.

Thanks to the bronze plaques installed on many of the buildings, it is also possible to make a tour on the trail of famous people who once lived in Litomyšl. Some of the more prominent names include the composer Bedřich Smetana, the writers Alois Jirásek, Božena Němcová and Teréza Nováková, the astronomer Zdeněk Kopal, the naturalist Jan Evangelista Purkyně or the chef Magdalena Dobromila Rettigová.

As well as these historical monuments, Litomyšl is also home to several examples of modern architecture. Buildings dating from the 1920s, such as the industrial school, and also buildings constructed in the last twenty years, such as the IIIrd primary school, the Monastery Gardens, the sports grounds, residential flats, etc., are also worth mentioning. Litomyšl is often cited as an example of how to combine modern architecture with a historical city.

You should also visit the five towns in the Czech-Moravian border lands which are a stone's throw from Litomyšl, and both enthusiasts of monuments and those keen on active recreation will come into their own. As well as Litomyšl, the towns of Svitavy which carries the legacy of Oskar Schindler, Polička with its medieval fortifications, Moravská Třebová with its renowned monument reservation and Vysoké Mýto with its tradition of car manufacturing are all worth visiting.

Toulovcovy maštale ('Toulovec Stables') are a protected natural formation in an area measuring over one thousand hectares. They can be found in the basin of the River Novohradka between Budislav, Proseč and Nové Hrady. Wind and water erosion has resulted in the creation of deeply eroded gorges and over time the wind has created cliffs and canyons with bizarre shapes. The area is associated with the noble highwayman Vavřinec Toulovec, who would hide amongst the stone posts with his band of men.

Also recommended are the four look-out posts, which are not only for children: the Kozlov look-out post, Toulovec look-out post, and the Terezka and Borůvka look-out posts. A visit to the Kozlov post can be combined with a tour of Max Švabinský's cottage, and the others can be seen in conjunction with the Toulcovy maštale.

The Rococo Nové Hrady château was built in 1774 - 1777 by Jan Antonín Harbuval-Chamaré in the style of French summer houses to the plans of Josef Jäger. Since 1997 the château grounds have been undergoing reconstruction and modernisation. As well as having a restaurant and a café, the castle also offers tours and a gallery, and the baroque storage tower contains the First Czech Cycling Museum. Your attention is also drawn to the breeding of red and fallow deer.

Travelling around the castles is a trip designed especially for lovers of Gothic. Our first stop is at the Svojanov castle, about 35 km away, which was established by Přemysl Otakar II to protect the Trstenice trading routes. The second stop is the Košumberk castle, 25 km away, which juts out on the cliff above the Novohradka valley near the village of Luže. We make our final stop at the ruins of Potštejn castle, about 35 km away, or Pernštejn castle, which is about 80 km away.

By bicycle we can take a tour of approximately 60 km using forest tracks and paved roads. On our journey we can visit the Růžový palouček (Rose Meadow), a place of reverence associated with Jan Ámos Komenský, the Nové Hrady castle, and the towns of Jarošov and Budislav which form the gateway to the Toulovcovy maštale.

We can commence a day-long hike at Smetanovo náměstí aand follow the red route alongside the Velký Košíř fish-pond to the Nedošínský háj. From here we walk through the village of Tržek to the Růžový palouček, where the Czech Brothers bade farewell to their homeland. We can then continue to Nové Hrady and then back again to Litomyšl.