October 21, 2014

This and that in Klenová

A few years ago we stopped in Klenová for a while and visited an old church there, a small church hidden among trees. I just remembered there was also a gallery we didn't want to visit at that time and having taken a few photos in front of the church and having spent several minutes there, we left for home. Last weekend we decided to visit that place once more and to be thorough this time and visit everything it offers. Which is the church, a gallery, an exhibition of photos and an exhibition of paintings, ruins of an old castle and a building of a new chateau.

When we arrived at our destination, we headed for the church at first and I was amazed to see the difference between its winter appearance during our last visit, and its autumnal appearance now. The current colourful leaves accompanied by beautifully blue sky made all the difference versus the previous bare branches and greyish hue of everything. To be understood well, I still love the winter captures, but feel like entering through another door this time.

We bought tickets in the cash office and got to know that they are valid for everything in the area. One can roam freely in the ruins, join a guided tour of the chateau, visit the current exhibitions and admire art pieces placed in the premises. 

The castle was built in the 13th century but except for the fact that Kryštof Harant from Polžice and Bezdružice - an influential Czech nobleman from the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries - was born there, I didn't find the castle's history much interesting so I'm not going to repeat it here. Instead I'd like to share and describe a few captures I took.

No. 1: I haven't found any explanation on the Internet but I guess that the flags which were flapping around in front of the cash office belonged to the families that owned the castle through history. What else could they represent?

No. 2: Previously a granary, nowadays a part of the gallery. I liked the contrast in light, colours and structure between the building and the tree.

No. 3: The figure below represents just the upper part of a much higher statue involving one more person but the detail was much warmer and expressive than the whole. 

No. 4: Ruins of the castle in floral detail. On our way there the weather was foggy but as soon as we arrived at the spot, the sky turned marvellous blue and all the photos profited from it.

No. 5: Stairs leading to the ruins. I love that geometry. You can search the ruins while entering them from several directions and exploring them was really fun. Because of the views, the ways and the art pieces you could see along the way.

No. 6: The wooden room is placed between the ruins on the left, the new building on the right and above a passage you pass through. The pattern caught my attention.

No. 7 - 9: The three captures below were taken in a small yard with a big chestnut tree in the middle of it. As I was standing there, taking photos, another man with a camera came, passing quite quickly by me, and then he noticed what I was doing. He stopped in his tracks, looked around and took out his camera... I had to smile because this is what I like about photography, how differently we perceive our surroundings and thus can share different views and enrich one another.

No. 10: Eventually, when you've seen everything, you can sit down and get the energy back. Menu for that day consisted of a broccoli soup, roasted turkey-hen with spinach and dumplings or spaghetti with mincemeat, and as a desert you could order a cottage cheese strudel with blancmange. We didn't have anything from the menu but the meals sounded good to me and were not overpriced. The prices are given in Czech crowns. 

Well, that's it today. I just want to add that the opening photo at the beginning of this post shows a view as seen from the castle. I intentionally left out my photos of the art pieces I've mentioned before as I'm going to devote my next post to those of them I liked most. They deserve to be treated separately.

July 29, 2014

Park of Blatná castle

At the end of my previous post about the castle in Blatná I promised to take you to the castle’s park so here we go.

The park is open to the public all year round, free of charge. 

In the park used to stand several buildings but today there is only one, an Empire style house, where Hildprant family owning the castle lives today. They say it is more practical and the family have more privacy there.

By the house there is a little shed which would look very nice if repaired.

At the beginning of 19th century, baron František Hildprant let build an artificial hillock with rocks in the south-west part of the park, inside which grottos connected with stone corridors were made. Those plans brought work and wages to the inhabitants of the estate in the tough period of Napoleonic wars. We might have found an entrance into one of the caves but the underground system is referred to as inaccessible these days.

At the beginning of 19th century, the front part of the park was remodelled from a deer-park into an English style park, the back part remained preserved in its original form. 

The park is not as large as it used to be but it seems to have retained its charm.

In the 80's of the 20th century the park lost an oak tree more than 800 years old, 30 metres high and 180 centimetres in diameter. Unfortunately the tree had been struck by lightning and burnt and became damaged "beyond repair". They say that under that oak the Czech Queen Joanna of Rožmitál, a sister of Jaroslav Lev of Rožmitál that I mentioned in the previous post, liked to sit and met her future husband, the Czech King George of Poděbrady.

In the front park you can see (and hear) a bunch of peacocks of various colours. They are used to people and walk freely among them. 

Nevertheless, the most popular inhabitants of the park are fallow deer that roam in the park and accept food from people walking through the park. There are signs displayed warning you that you approach and feed the fallow deer at your own risk and of course you should respect the fact that they are not your pets but they are tame and behave friendly. Especially if you have something delicious in your hand. 

You can buy some dry food for them at the castle's ticket office if you have nothing prepared.

As the park is open to the public, there is a system of gates which close themselves if you forget so that the fallow deer wouldn't get out. 

It was interesting to notice that female fallow deer kept more their distance than male fallow deer that seemed much more interested in people and what they were offering. 

The nearness of the deer felt positively and we had lots of fun watching them.

Yet I need to remark that there is a little negative aspect relating to their feeding and gathering. You need to watch your steps carefully... :)

July 12, 2014

Blatná castle

Amidst marshland, situated on rock bedrock, a wooden fortress used to stand. Then, in the 13th century, the fortress was rebuilt into a castle and later in the place of the marsh a moat was built to protect the castle. That is where the history of the castle in Blatná, which is a small town in South Bohemia, dates back.

The era of the family of the house of Rožmitál in the 15th century under which the castle was remodelled significantly is considered as the most important period in the castle's history and sometimes it is called a golden age of the castle. The family of the house of Rožmitál was very influential and held many significant posts. Jaroslav Lev of the house of Rožmitál was a relative to George of Poděbrady, the King of Bohemia, who ruled from 1458 to 1471. Jaroslav Lev was designated as a leader of a representative Bohemian mission of forty lords and knights that was travelling European courts from 1465 to 1467 to gain regard for politics of the king aimed at creating a general peace union. Description of this travelling by Václav Šašek of Bířkov became the first Bohemian book of travels.

As each castle, also this one had many owners. The last family possessing it has been the family of Václav Karel Hildprandt who bought the castle in 1798. 

In 1948, when the communist party seized the rule, the castle was confiscated by the state. Thanks to relations with the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selasie I., the Hildprandt family was allowed to emigrate to Ethiopia in 1958. In 1990, after gaining the castle back into possession, baroness Kornelia Hildprandt returned to the Czech Republic and her family make effort now to restore the castle and keep it open to the public.

There is a lot that needs to be done before the restoration is finished but I applaud to that attitude and all the work that has been done. This time we haven't attended a guided tour so when I was reading the background information a moment ago, I was amazed to learn about the importance of the castle and its inhabitants in the history of Bohemia and thus the Czech Republic. 

And yet, there were no lines waiting to get inside the castle, there was no crowded parking lot...

The first photo of this post shows the entrance to the castle from the town, the other photos were taken in the castle's yard.

There is also a large park by the castle where you can meet fallow deer and peacocks freely roaming among visitors. I'm going to take you there in my next post.