Day 257: Litomyšl & Church of St JohnOctober 29, 2017 in Czech Republic
Huge day today! Left our apartment in Olomouc in heavy rain and started a long drive to the north-west, about 2 hours worth. Heavy rain for quite a lot of the way, though it was also howling with wind as well - super strong.
Eventually arrived safely at our first stop, the castle in Litomysl. This is known as an "arcade" style castle since it's designed as a hollow square around a courtyard, with open arcades facing into the courtyards. We'd decided to do the tour here since it was quite cheap and short, and although the guide only spoke Czech and French, they gave us some printed information in English which was nice.
This was home to the Wallenstein family which were one of the principle landowners in Moravia and Bohemia for several centuries. The castle is still full of their furniture and decorations, and we really enjoyed the tour. It was also warm and dry inside, while outside the wind continued to howl, though thankfully it had stopped raining. Did our best with filming but the wind was just horrendous. We discovered later that it was actually a named storm (Storm Sewart) and winds had reached 180kph in places, and that five people had died across Czech, Poland and Germany!
Had a quick look at the exterior of the castle as well, since it was completely covered in a decoration called sgraffito (the source of the modern word, graffiti). These are essentially engravings, where a dark and a light shade of plaster are rendered onto a wall, then the white layer is scratched off to create pictures, patterns etc. The exterior was designed as stone blocks, but inside was an enormous mural of local dignitaries, biblical scenes and mythological ones too like Helen of Troy.
Had lunch at a fancy restaurant in town, where I had an amazing dish of beef tenderloin and pureed carrots for about 8 euros, then got back on the road.
Back to the car where we carefully drove an hour or so to the south-west and our second WHS of the day - the pilgrimage church of St John of Nepomuk at Zelena Hora. Lots of branch and leaf debris everywhere, and quite a few fallen trees too though thankfully nothing blocking roads.
The pilgrimage church was very unusual, designed as a five-pointed star and surrounded by a 10-pointed star wall/walkway. St John of Nepomuk is a local hero, he was martyred in the 13th century after he refused to divulge the queen's confession to the King of Hungary. Thrown off a bridge in Prague for his trouble, and the story goes that five stars appeared above his body, hence the symbolism. It was quite interesting in the church itself, as the five-pointed star symbolism was everywhere.
Though I was also quite worried since the unusual shape of the building and its location on a hill above town meant that it was getting absolutely battered by the winds. They were almost strong enough to blow us over! And inside you could just hear the vortices being whipped up by the sharp edges - mildly concerning.
Finished our video and back to the car, where we drove another hour or so into Brno. This is the second-largest city in Czechia and would be our base for the next few days. Our apartment's in a basement, essentially, fairly small but newly renovated. The weather had calmed down a bit by now but still wasn't great, so we chilled out inside for a while before eventually venturing to a nearby Vietnamese restaurant for bowls of pho. Very tasty and very cheap. Fingers crossed for better weather tomorrow!Read more