Our tour of the Czech Republic started in Loket after a drive up from Munich. We would be driving a counterclockwise route through the country. Loket, "elbow" in Czech is town of 3,000 inhabitants in the Sokolov District in the Karlovy Vary region of the Czech Republic. From 1938 to 1945 it was one of the municipalities in Sudetenland. The German occupation of Czechoslovakia (1938–1945) began with the German annexation of Czechoslovakia's border regions known collectively as the Sudetenland.
We entered the city from the North-East, but I noticed that this was not the image I had familiarized myself from my internet searching and we continued along the perimeter of the town till we reached the North-West bridge. We would stop in Loket for a few quick pictures and a bite for lunch. I said quick but nothing is really quick when you are taking pictures and are looking for the "perfect" shot.
I was pleasantly disappointed on entering Bohemia. Instead of a dull, uninteresting country, as I expected, it is a land full of the most lovely scenery. There is every thing which can gratify the eye - high blue mountains, valleys of the sweetest pastoral look and romantic old ruins.Bayard Taylor
We ate at a restaurant called, Pivovar Svatý Florian surrounded by German tourists out for the day! Most places in the Czech Republic take both the local currency (koruna) and the Euro. I had exchange for both befor I left the United States, though in the future, except for some initial funds I will wait till I arrive. While a pretty little town it does not have a large tourist trade compared to Karlovy Vary.
One of the first things we noticed was that the beer was cheaper than water in the Czech Republic and that the Czechs loved meat. We also noticed that you paid extra for mayonnaise. While I brought my own packets I thought it might be bad form if I pulled these out in a restaurant. Having to pay for water was expected being an "old hand" and all. I was told that the Czechs like their beer with a full head of foam and I can happily report that the taste was fabulous.
Karlovy Vary or Carlsbad is the Czech Republic's most famous spa town and had it's heyday during 19th century. Goethe once said it was one of only three cities in the world that he would like to live in. It's still popular with Russian tourists and you'll see a lot of them there. A lot of Russian money has been invested in Karlovy Vary. Russians have bought houses and hotels in the city and renovated them. Russians are the reason that the spa town has regained some of its former glory.
Russians aside we stopped to drink the water and try their famous wafers. Karlovy Vary has 13 major and over 300 minor hot springs. The temperature and taste varies from spring to spring. I really like the spa wafers, especially the chocolate ones, the water ... not so much.
Terezin was a concentration camp 30 miles north of Prague in the Czech Republic during the World War II. It was originally a holiday resort reserved for Czech nobility. Terezín is contained within the walls of the famed fortress Theresienstadt, which was created by Emperor Joseph II of Austria in the late 18th century and named in honor of his mother, Empress Maria Theresa.
By 1940 Nazi Germany had assigned the Gestapo to turn Terezín into a Jewish ghetto and concentration camp. It held primarily Jews from Czechoslovakia, as well as tens of thousands of Jews deported chiefly from Germany and Austria, as well as hundreds from the Netherlands and Denmark. More than 150,000 Jews were sent there, including 15,000 children, and held there for months or years, before being sent by rail transports to their deaths at Treblinka and Auschwitz extermination camps in occupied Poland, as well as to smaller camps elsewhere. Less than 150 children survived.
Although Terezin was not an extermination camp, about 33,000 died in the ghetto. This was mostly due to the appalling conditions arising out of extreme population density, malnutrition and disease. About 88,000 inhabitants were deported to Auschwitz and other extermination camps. At the end of World War II, there were 17,247 survivors of Terezin (including some who had survived the death camps).
Many educated Jews were inmates of Terezin. Unlike other camps, Terezin’s detainees included scholars, philosophers, scientists, visual artists, and musicians of all types, some of whom had achieved international renown, and many of these contributed to the camp's cultural life. The Nazis kept a tight rein on the world’s perception of activities within Terezin. In a propaganda effort designed to fool the Western allies, the Nazis publicized the camp for its rich cultural life. TEREZIN: CHILDREN OF THE HOLOCAUST
Lidice, a small village in the Central Bohemia, was destroyed in June 10, 1942 as revenge for the killing of high-ranking Nazi Reinhard Heydrich, one of the main architects of the “Final Solution”. Even Hitler said of Heydrich that he was "the man with the iron heart".
An academic sculptor professor Marie Uchytilová was deeply touched by the tragedy of the crime in Lidice. In 1969 she decided to create bronze monument of Lidice children that should be also understood as A Monument of children’s war victims.
To create eighty-two statues of children in an above-life-size height took her two decades. The atelier where the monument was created was meanwhile visited by tens of thousands of people from the whole world. They started collecting money spontaneously so that the monument could be realized as it already touched everyone who had seen it.
Unfortunately, she died before it was ever finished and it was left to her husband to complete.
Rape, also called rapeseed or colza plant of the mustard family is grown for its seeds, which yield canola, or rapeseed, oil. Canola oil is variously used in cooking, as an ingredient in soap and margarine, and as a lamp fuel (colza oil). The seeds are also used as bird feed, and the seed residue after oil extraction is used for fodder. The plant can be grown as a cover crop and green manure.
I was looking for some interesting places to visit between Prague and Český Krumlov and read about a small village called Holašovice that was frozen in time.
Holašovice is an exceptionally complete and well-preserved example of a traditional central European village. It has a large number of outstanding 18th- and 19th-century vernacular buildings in a style known as 'South Bohemian folk Baroque', and preserves a ground plan dating from the Middle Ages.
The village includes twenty-three farmsteads that are placed around a rectangular village green, with the chapel of St. John of Nepomuk, a cross, a forge and a small fish-pond.
A Cistercian monastery was founded in Sedlec more than a century before local siver deposits were mined and the city of Kutna Hora was established. According to monastery traditions a cemetery here from about the middle of the 13th century. The Abbot of the monastery is said to have brought back from a pilgrimage a handful of earth from Jerusalem and to have scatterd it over the cemetary. The earth thus became part of the Holy Land and people were buried here not only from Bohemia, but also from surrounding countries.
At the time of the great plague 30,000 bodies were said to be burried here and the dead only increased during the Hussite Wars. The Hussite Wars, also called the Bohemian Wars, involved the military actions against and amongst the followers of Jan Hus in Bohemia in the period 1420 to c. 1434.
Work began on construction of the All Saints cemetry chapel at the beginning of the 14th century. The double-towered chapel had two floors. Bones from abolished graves were first piled up around the church, but were later removed to the bottom floor or ossury. In 1511, a half-blind monk piled the bones into decorative pyramids
František Rint was a 19th-century Czech woodcarver and carpenter. He was employed by the House of Schwarzenberg to organize the human bones interred at the Sedlec Ossuary, a small Christian chapel in Sedlec, in 1870.