Hluboká Castle was magnificent! Everything about it is exactly what you want a castle to be. Did I already say that they call it the Czech Neuschwanstein? It was a medieval castle but it has been rebuilt several times. The final builders had the same fairy-tale romantic notions as King Ludwig in Germany. We weren’t allowed to take photos of the interior and they would have done it justice anyway. Woodcarvers worked for 30 years! One mirror frame took five woodcarvers 17 months to complete. The wood carving throughout was magnificent. Of course our tour was in Czech and our English texts were limited – so mostly we learned about the woodcarving….
Our next stop was just a coupe hours away in Trebic. A few weeks ago we were in Manti, UT and randomly met a young man who had served a mission in Czechia a couple years ago. He suggested we stop here so we cancelled our other hotel and changed our route. We are so glad that we did. This little town had three UNESCO world heritage sites! Two of them are Jewish and the only Jewish UNESCO sites outside of Israel.
The Jewish quarter is about the best preserved in Europe. It has a very old synagogue from the 17th century – again one of the oldest in Europe that wasn’t destroyed by the war. It was preserved and used as a warehouse. It was also used to store fruits and vegetables. Because of this the walls were painted with lime and this preserved the old talmudic paintings underneath (Talmud or Torah? I’m not sure)
The Jewish quarter gave us more practice on tight, twisting roads that should be sidewalks. We still didn’t have cellular coverage but we had figured out navigation. We didn’t know what to search but could see something on the map that looked like it could mean synagogue. We headed there to find information. We found out that we were parked illegally so we twisted our way to find a parking space and were lucky to get it because several cars followed us and were not so fortunate. Parking has become our daily challenge. We also found a little sweet shop with sandwiches so we had a light lunch before heading to our synagogue tour.
One thing about the tour – from this little town the Nazis told all Jews to go to the school to be deported and they took 1,371. Of the 1,371 only 63 survived. As we stood in their synagogue amongst their homes and looked at the plaque with all of their names I felt a little weak in the knees. It was all very real. Our tour was just Mark and I which was nice. We also toured a Jewish home that was attached – again making it all very real.
The second UNESCO site was a beautiful basilica. Our tour was in Czech so we don’t really know many details, but the architecture made it very special. I know the entrance is carved to represent the creation. Under the paint of the little chapel they uncovered very old, rare and valuable frescoes.
The third site is the Jewish cemetery. There are about 3,000 gravestones and 11,000 Jews buried here. When they run out of space they just bring in more dirt. It is very old and again one of the best preserved in Europe. The man who took it upon himself to maintain it died a few years ago so the older portions are being overrun with weeds. I wish we could organize a service project to go in and clean it up.
About this time I suddenly spiked a fever. Our hotel was in the Jewish Quarter – a conglomeration of old buildings restored on the steep hillside. We had to pass it on the way to the car so we checked in. We went down five sets of stairs to get to our room (not full flights). Since I was suddenly really sick Mark left me there to get the car. I slept for two hours and then all I wanted was soup. Bless his heart he bravely went into those crazy streets with the difficult language and found me some soup and French fries. I was so disappointed to be sick because it was such a charming spot I thought we would spend the evening out walking. Instead I wrapped in a blanket and we sat on the balcony which was essentially on the street. There was a tree which mostly hid us and we enjoyed watching the locals go through their evening. Our weather continues to bless us with ideal autumn evenings! (And don’t worry Mom, I am not so sick but I think I just let myself get dehydrated.)