Fairy Tale Charm and Shopping in Cesky Krumlov – Czech Republic

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top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>When The Swiss Miss called last week saying that she, The Little Swiss Miss and her husband, The Pelikan Pen Guy, were planning a driving trip through some villages in the southern Czech Republic I sighed a dreamy sigh and proclaimed, “The village of Cesky Krumlov reads like a fairy tale.”

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Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo buildings dot twisting cobblestone alleyways set against the dramatic Krumlov Hrad (Schwarzenberg Castle). Here the Rozenberk dynasty ruled for over 300 years and apparently they built a room for every year they were in power, for this 300-roomed castle is the second largest in the Czech Republic, coming in after Prague’s famed castle.

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Since the fall of communism, tourists have flocked to this little Bohemian village near the Austrian border to visit the castle and its surrounding area. Hotels, restaurants, great shops and antique stores have followed suit – not missing an opportunity one for serving the revitalization of this river-side town.

Diva Readers Take Note – Vendors often were more open to negotiation in Euro than the local currency the Czech Koruna. Thus come prepared with extra Euros on hand for better negotiation.

Nearby the castle, you can stay (or merely dine) in the romantic Hotel Ruze, a 16th C Renaissance building once used as a Jesuit monastery. Should you want to get a bit further off the tourist path, there are a myriad of pensions to choose from that are still within walking distance from the edge of town. While a day or two is enough time to tour the historic town, the shopping in Cesky Krumlov might just require an extended stay! Among the shops and vendors selling arts, antiques and handicrafts, one gallery stands out from the crowd – that of Miro Pozar.

Miro Pozar is a Czech sculptor whose work has appeared throughout Europe and North America. His face and torso are as chiseled as his sandstone sculptures made from stone culled from nearby quarries. Miro studies the stone in its rugged, raw state and he sees what is not there but could be – crafting the breast of a woman or the weary face of an old man in the veins of the stone. From time to time, the stone cries out for something different – to be made into more abstract art – and Miro creates from the past the future – making sculptures that appear both medieval and modern in their simplicity.

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Often as you walk about town you feel this simplicity – and this connection with the past even as you go forward into something as mundane and modern as a nation-wide chain. Botanicus stores branch across the Czech Republic, and while truth be told I enjoy visiting them in any Czech location, this Cesky Krumlov branch is perhaps my favorite. Fresh lavender dried and tied in bunches decorates the walls while baskets of fresh fruit soaps and cosmetics are placed about the room, giving an air of days long past. The shelves are lined like an old general store with oils, vinegars, conserves, teas and cordials. Each item is organic and made from the finest collection of natural products grown on Botanicus’ own farm in a small rural Czech village.

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The past is felt yet again when lunching at the nearby 16th C mill – Krumlovsky Mlyn (Krumlov Mill). One of the largest Renaissance buildings in town, the thematic restaurant not only offers a giant terrace overlooking the Vltava River where patrons dine to the sound of water churning, but it also houses an antique shop on premise alongside an oddly out-of-place-but-interesting-none-the-less historical motorcycle “museum”. For a real score, antique shoppers will head from here to two of my favorite antique shops in this region – Antique Starozitnosti and Antik Sterzunger.

Antique Starozitnosti (located at Zamecke Schody 8) has an interesting assortment of “perfectly packables” on offer. Antiques and vintage curiosities tumble onto the street, offering pedestrians a peek at the treasures inside. Their prices tend to be higher than some of the other antique shops in town but their inventory caught my attention. I fell head over heels for a pair of opera glasses, a blue glass ink well, a well-loved violin and a collection of vintage cameras.

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The items for sale at Antik Sterzinger (located at Siroka 48) were priced remarkably well. Walking into the corridor of the little shop you know without a doubt that you will find treasures inside!. Though the prices were reasonable to start with, the staff was still open to negation — WG picked up a beautiful alabaster bowl for a song (down from 16 E to 12 E) and I negotiated the purchase of an elaborate turn of the century marble pastry cart – that wouldn’t be out of place at Vienna’s Sacher Café – from 150 E down to 122 Euro. to 10px; WIDTH: 240px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 320px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_kcTb8DnPVW4/SbtlHXUEjTI/AAAAAAAACuk/KZxcBmcxTSc/s320/Antique+Sterzinger.jpg” border=”0″ />
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Of course, getting this latter piece home proved to be a problem as the vendor wasn’t willing to ship the product (even at my own expense) and after purchasing a statue at Miro Pozar’s our car was filled to the brim with Czech exports. With regret I left this treasure in the store, knowing that it was a bargain as I’d seen a similar cart priced for 1500E in Paris just a year before… so I left hoping that someday when I returned (hopefully in a much larger car) it would be there waiting for me in Cesky Krumlov. Now my only fear is that having told The Swiss Miss and her husband about my incredible find they might beat me to it! I guess that’s a risk The Antiques Diva™ has to take!

Na Shledanou!
Happy Travels and Happy Antique Shopping!

The Antiques Diva ™
(seen at right with WG drinking pilsner in Prague)