The historical core is comprised of two parts. The older section, Latrán, formed spontaneously beneath the castle on the left bank of the Vltava River. The inner town is slightly younger and was intentionally established within the meanders of the river. When viewed from above, the old town gives the impression of an island. The “loop” of the Vltava is so tight that at its narrowest point the two streams mutually converge to less than a hundred meters.
On the way from the church, to the right of the church steps, notice the prominent corner building with its five-sided oriel window. The house is known as Kaplanka; this is originally a late Gothic house, but it is also one of the first buildings in Český Krumlov onto which were later applied Renaissance architectural elements.
We walk around the Kaplanka back to Horní, or Upper Street. On the right side, the richly decorated neo-Renaissance facade of the Prelature immediately appears. This was the seat of the Český Krumlov deans, who were one of the few permitted allowed to use the title of Prelate. This four-wing complex of buildings was originally Gothic and dates from the second half of the 14th century. It was rebuilt in Renaissance in 1576, and a brewery was added to it later. The brewery caused many fires in later years that gradually necessitated a number of architectural modifications. One of these was in 1768, when Rococo elements were added, including the painting of the Prelature hall by painter František Jakub Prokyš (1713–1791). This artistically valuable room has been preserved to the present day and is named Prokyš Hall after this renowned painter.
Close by the Prelature, the Jesuit College was built between 1586-1590 as one of the first in Bohemia. The building was designed by Italian architect Baldassaro Maggi, also known for building the famous Kratochvíle summer residence near Netolice. The spectacular building of the former college, now the home of Hotel Růže, was richly decorated with sgraffito and murals. On the walls of the courtyard we find depictions of Vilém of Rožmberk‘s family coat of arms and of his fourth and last wife Polyxena of Pernstein.
Part of today‘s Hotel Růže is house No. 153, adapted in 1663 by the Jesuit Order into a theatre. Theatre performances always fulfilled an important role in the educational activities of the Jesuits, but theatre was played here after the revocation of the Jesuit Order, for over 300 years total – until March of 1971.
Opposite the hotel across the street stands another palatial building. It houses the Regional Museum, founded in the 17th century as a Jesuit seminary. It is interesting to note that this is the first major Baroque building in Český Krumlov. The Upper Gate used to stand between today‘s Hotel Růže and the Museum in the past (until 1839), after which Upper Street was named. The park next to the Museum offers one of the most beautiful views of Český Krumlov castle, with the tower of the former church of St. Jost in the foreground.
Just past the Museum, the Inner Town is separated from the “outside world” by a relatively deep and steep crevasse, known today as the “Mouse Hole”. This was a defence moat created by breaking down the rock below. At one time it was spanned by a wooden drawbridge. In 1787 this was replaced by a stone bridge consisting of four arches on three pillars. It is here that both halves of the meander of the Vltava River converge at their shortest distance. This is the reason that they are connected here by an artificial water channel, technically turning the Inner Town into an island.
Past the bridge on the left is today‘s Municipal Theatre, used for this purpose since 1993.