This is the third largest city in South Bohemia and an important cultural and tourist centre located on the banks of the Otava River which once contained gold sand. It was founded and built after the late 13th century by King Přemysl Otakar II. The city grew quickly due to gold panning and mining and soon became one of the most important cities of the Bohemian kingdom. At the beginning of the 15th century, Písek was an important centre of the Hussite movement, was conquered several times during the Thirty Years’ War, and was once nearly destroyed completely with most of its inhabitants murdered. The royal castle, founded simultaneously with the city, has only been preserved as a single wing today, which houses the Prácheň Museum. The dominant feature of the historical centre is the Church of the Birth of the Virgin Mary from the 13th century. The large square is divided into two parts and holds the monastery Church of the Elevation of the Holy Cross, the Baroque Town Hall (municipal headquarters), and the house At the Golden Boat with its interesting house symbol. On the second and smaller square stands the Marian Column and the Neo–renaissance building (almost a palace) At the Black Eagle. The most renowned Písek monument is undoubtedly the Stone Bridge spanning the Otava River from the end of the 13th century. This is the oldest bridge in the country and the second oldest bridge in Europe. The city’s most important technical monument is the Křižík Hydroelectric Power Plant.
The cultural history of Písek is very rich, the city is also occasionally known as the Athens of South Bohemia: the city is associated with many important names in Czech history, such as the poets Fráňa Šrámek, Adolf Heyduk, painter Mikoláš Aleš, and others.
This village is known for its picturesque cemetery. The cemetery walls are made of small chapels which until even recently were decorated with folk paintings and versed gravestone writings. The chapels, built as arches on two pillars, were mostly built in the early 19th century. The cemetery is next to the originally Romanesque Church of St. Peter and Paul, likely from the 12th century. The church’s interior paintings are very valuable.
This is a newly created village on the shore of the Orlík Reservoir. The original village disappeared beneath the waters when the reservoir dam was completed in 1960. At the time, the original red Church of St. Bartholomew from the end of the 12th century, also known as Rufa Ecclesia (red church), was dismantled before submersion, with part of its walls used to build a new church nearly identical to the old one.
This structure is the most massive reservoir dam of the Vltava cascade system and was built from 1954 to 1960, resulting in a reservoir lake 68 meters long reaching all the way to Týn nad Vltavou. The backwaters of the lake reach back to the Otava River (27 km back) and the Lužnice (9 km back). The ridge of the dam is 450 meters long, has 91-meter long foundations, and holds 700 million m3 of water. This is roughly twice the volume of Lake Lipno, which actually has a larger surface area.
This small town took its name from the former royal Gothic castle built on a high rock cliff over the Vltava river valley. The castle was modified several times over the 14th and 15th centuries, was later reconstructed during the Renaissance, and was transformed into a Neo-gothic residential castle in 1849–1860. The castle’s location, originally at the top of a high rock promontory, was originally reminiscent of an eagle’s nest (orlík=eagle) and gave the castle its name. The castle layout consists of four wings with a closed inner courtyard. When Orlík Lake was filled in 1960, the castle found itself nearly at the edge of the water. Orlík is surrounded by a vast English park which visitors can cross to visit the Neo-gothic Schwarzenberg tomb from the 19th century, not far away. www.orliknadvltavou.cz
By the end of the 13th century, this was a Gothic castle with a village. The town’s real development began in the 18th century when Protivín became the property of the Schwarzenbergs, who turned it into the centre of their dominion. There is a Renaissance castle at the southern edge of the town, originally a Gothic fortified castle, whose present appearance comes from the 1730’s and includes an extensive park. Protivín is also known for its brewery, which has enjoyed a very long tradition, having been founded in 1520. The local beer, Platan, is named after the path lined with sycamore (platan) trees leading to the brewery. There is a new and important tourist attraction in town, the Protivín Crocodile Zoo. www.muprotivin.cz
Castle ruins, founded by the Vítkovec family between 1243 and 1281. The castle was later fortified and extended, and at the time it was one of the largest fortified castles in South Bohemia. Another smaller castle stood on the opposite bank of the river, named Příběničky, which was connected to Příběnice Castle by a bridge. In 1437, at the end of the Hussite Wars, both castles were demolished. Their remains were covered by forest growth and today form an extensive castle ruins system above a meander of the Lužnice River. The foundations of the castle palace and octagonal tower are still quite visible today.
This village on the Blanice River is mostly known from Jaroslav Hašek’s book about the Good Soldier Švejk as well as the novel entitled “Jan Cimbura” from Jindřich Šimon Baar. Founded in the 11th century, this is one of the oldest villages in South Bohemia. There is an early Gothic church of St. Laurence from the late 13th century here as well as a late Gothic parish. Many houses bear the typical gables of the South Bohemian Rustic Baroque style.
This royal castle was founded in the middle 13th century above the confluence of the Vltava and Otava Rivers. Its period of greatest prosperity was during the reign of Emperor Charles IV who often stayed here and kept the crown jewels of Bohemia here before building Karlštejn Castle. The castle was extensively reconstructed at the end of the 19th century, since it was in dire condition by that time. It remained the property of the Schwarzenberg family until 1948. Today, Zvíkov is one of the most important structures of Czech medieval secular architecture; historian August Sedláček noted it as the “king of Czech castles”. After Orlík Lake was filled in 1960, the castle found itself at the edge of the waters of the newly formed lake. www.hrad-zvikov.eu
This steel bridge spans the valley of Orlík Lake and connects Rožmitál pod Třemšínem with Milevsko. It is part of the roadway that connects Plzeň and Tá bor. With an arch span of nearly 380 meters, it is still one of the largest constructions of its type in the world, and in certain technical parameters has not been outdone even today. It has a total length of 542.91 meters, is 100 meters above the bottom of the Vltava River, and the bridge itself is 50 meters above the surface of the water. The history of the bridge’s construction, started in 1957, is interesting in itself: before Orlík Lake was filled in, an army of engineers built two high support towers that held up the partially built main arch. Once the arch was connected, the towers, standing halfway in the water by that time, were disassembled again. The bridge was put into operation in 1967 and, with the exception of one larger repair in 1998, has served for reliable roadway transport ever since. This grandiose and very elegant work or Czech bridge engineering was awarded with the title “Bridge of the Century” in 2001.