Český Krumlov - Town Sightseeing - Inner Town I.
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.
Radniční Street, Town square, Panská Street, Široká Street
The Inner Town, located on a peninsula on the right bank of the river, apparently formed on the site of an original trade settlement. Its regular layout of buildings suggests a sophisticated system of formation. Building activity probably started in the early 13th century in the town square, from whence construction gradually expanded towards the fortification walls.
Starting at the Barber‘s Bridge, we can set off to explore the inner town on one of the narrow streets around the square. If we turn to the left past the bridge, direction downstream, we find ourselves on the street Parkán. This street was first mentioned in 1443. It is characteristic for its relatively small houses built in the narrow space between the inner and outer fortification walls.
Barber‘s Bridge leads directly to Radniční Street, which soon brings us to the town square Svornost (Concord). The square‘s regular plan was probably established in the 13th century. Initially the square would have been lined with many wooden houses, while the arcaded stone houses were built about 100 years later. The town square is dominated by a fountain with Baroque plague column from 1712–1716. Princess Marie Ernestine of Schwarzenberg had it built as an expression of gratitude (albeit belated) for the departure of the plague epidemic that haunted the town during 1680-1682. The clear dominant, however, is the Town Hall. It originally consisted of two older houses whose facade optically connected them into one unit in 1597. The facade of the Town Hall is decorated four coats of arms: the seal of the Kingdom of Bohemia, the town of Český Krumlov, and the Eggenberg and Schwarzenberg coats of arms.
For our tour of the historical inner town, we may proceed along Panská Street. At the end there is one of the town‘s largest and formerly most spectacular townhouses – Vlašský Dvůr (No. 32). Each of its three facades faces another street, which attests to the house‘s extraordinary size. The Renaissance sgraffito decoration of the facade and attic gables is impressive, and the huge Gothic entrance portal is also notable.
There is another original burgher house worthy of our admiration – Švamberský Dům (No. 35) on the adjacent Soukenická Street. Its facade is decorated with sensitively reconstructed remnants of Gothic frescoes from the late 15th century. Among them, note the light- hearted image of a horse in a cradle.
The street running parallel with Soukenická is aptly named Široká, or Wide Street. This street is home to several notable architectural monuments, one of them being, for example, the two-story house No. 77. Its granite entrance portal is equipped with seated niches, and their execution in Saxon Renaissance style is unique in Český Krumlov. The most interesting inhabitant of House No. 77 on Široká Street (red facade) was the Rožmberk mining manager, Michael Anton of Ebbersbach. As an apparently serious scientist and alchemist, he enjoyed the trust of Vilém of Rožmberk, who employed several dozen such “experts”. He died in prison in 1593, however, after Vilém‘s younger brother sent Petr Vok of Rožmberk sent him here after Vilém‘s death.
The most expansive and most important monument on Široká Street is the complex of Renaissance buildings of the former municipal brewery. It was built in a “U”-shape in 1606–1608 by Dominico Benedetto Cometta of Eckthurn. This Italian-born architect was active in the service of Petr Vok of Rožmberk, having also built the Budějovice Gate and the church of St. Jost in Český Krumlov. The brewery buildings were generously renovated in 1993 to suit the needs of the now world-famous gallery, the Egon Schiele Art Centrum.
Nearby the former municipal brewery is the former Renaissance house No. 74. An archaeological excavation in the house revealed unique floor fragments inside the house, tiled with pork and beef bones.