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Moravský Krumlov Castle

Published: 11.6.2010
Hardly anybody would visit Moravský Krumlov Castle, if the building would not hide artistic treasury, admired by visitors not only from Czech Republic, but also from abroad. However, actual dilapidated exterior would not be attractive for nobody.

Moravský Krumlov is small town with approx. six thousands of inhabitants, situated 40 kms in south-west direction from Brno, on the road to Znojmo. The name „Krumlov“ is derived by historians from German word „krumm“, what means „curved“ or „bent“. The archaeological findings confirm the colonization on hillside above bends of Rokytna-river just from past time periods. The piece of ground from Great Moravia era was substituted by medioeval castle in 13th century. The building was later, in the course of 16th century, re-built by its owners into luxurious historical house in a style of Italian Renaissance. Just several aristocratic Parentages, such as from Obřany, Kravaře, Lipé, etc. lived in the castle. Nevertheless, Liechtenstein Parentage left there their most expressive trace. They left there their family tomb building. Kinsky Parentage was the last owner of the castle, they lived there till the end of 2nd World War.

The castle was in past very appreciated place.Very respective sovereigns, such as the Kings Premysl Ottokar II. and George of Poděbrady visited the seat. Even Frederick Falcky, so called „Winter King“, made positive notes regarding local luxurious accommodation. However, this small town was popular, too, in negative sense of the world, with military troops. So, Hussiten, Swedish, and later, within 19th century, Napoleon, Austrian and Prussian troops visited the town, bringing often cholera epidemy with. Moreover, at the end of the 2nd World War in May 1945, most of the town was damaged with extensive bombarding by Soviet Army troops (on base of Munich Agreement, Mahrisch Krummau, with majority of German speaking population, became a part of Third Reich, and this fact caused the exodus of Jewish and Czech inhabitants). Despite the fact that the town recoverd relatively well from war damages, the same situation did not happen in case of the castle. The building was nationalized and served as an administrative centre, barracks and school seat. However, the change towards better future did not brought the develpoment after 1989, and the romantic building with small tower ruins still.

Alfons Mucha and  Slavonic Epopee

Anyway, the castle got its fatal chance in 1950, when the unique collection of twenty gigantic pictures, presenting the scenes from history and legends of Slavonic nations, was transferred to the castle for restoration works. The picture collection was made (with financial support of Charles Crane, American industrialist, within 1910-1928) by Alfons Mucha (24th July 1860-14th July 1939), respected painter and native from neighbouring town of Ivančice. This Moravian painter obtained his world fame as one of main personalities of Art Deco artistic section (Art Deco, Sezession in German, what means secession, splint, German expression is Jugendstil, French L´Art Nouveau). This unknown artist surprised artistic world in Paris with his inventional decorative billboards for Theatre de la Rennaissance, picturing Sarah Bernhardt, popular actress. Moreover, the sightseeing of monumental art, within Paris World Exhibition, inspired Mucha, so that he decided to create these gigantic pictures, where he pictured most famous chapters from history of Slavonic nations.

Mucha made these pictures when he returned home. He leased therefore, for such purpose, some rooms of Zbiroh castle, and all pictures were dedicated to the town of Prague. The collection was exhibited for the first time in Prague Fairground Palace in 1928. After German occupation in 1939, the pictures were hidden in unknown place, and the collection was discovered again, when the war was over. However, the pictures needed a care of restotration team, so, the complete collection was transferred to the castle in Moravský Krumlov, till the time when a suitable space for standard presentation would be found. Anyway, this originally temporary provisional arrangement is lasting till now. Since 1963, the collection was open for public. The exposition is open since April till October. Except unique pictures, placed in so called Knight´s Hall and former castle chapel, you can visit in castle rooms another two small exhibitions, dedicated to personalities of Paracelsus, (1493-1541), Middle Age doctor. This person gave medical treatment to the family of castle owner. The next exhibition is dedicated to Maurice Odstrčil, patriot and founder of local Czech school.

Nevertheless, one question remains: what will happen to deserted castle rooms, when A. Mucha testament will be fulfilled and Prague will offer their representative space for dignified installation of the collection?

Another places of interest in the town and its environs

To the other interesting places belongs, no doubt, characteristic, four-tower silhouette of Baroque pilgrim chapel, placed on Florian Hill. In historical nucleus, you can find Middle Age Prince´s House with gallery and a museum, All Saints Parish Church, and St.Bartholomwe Church with former abbey, rest of medieoval ramparts, old Jewish cemetery, including monuments of several rabbis, etc. For nature lovers, vast castle park would be quite interesting, where you can find educational path, 15 kms long. You can get the detailed information regarding surrounding Krumlov National Nature Reservation, containing many items of protected flora and fauna, as well as the history of the region. So, the educational path can lead you to Mariolatry Well or to a waterfall, 11 metres high. Not far distant from the community of Olbramovice, a minimuseum of military fortification from 1st World War is to be found. The locality is open for public each first weekend of the month.

Text: Jiří Výborný

Translation. ing. Jan Jonáš

Photo: autor a Město Moravský Krumlov

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