Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Telc Area - Day 20

Tuesday, September 23
A short coach ride this morning took us to the village of Svetla, where we began our hike. We were still in a pine/spruce forest and still in the rain.
There was more rain today and it was coupled with cold weather. I was wearing 4 layers of clothing and feeling like I was back on the Camino again.
We walked for a couple of hours, and the highlight was reaching the "continental divide."
I asked Lada about this. In the US, we have only one (basically the Rocky Mountain range). He said in the Czech Republic, there are several and they are not at very high elevations. We were only at 1500 ft. We also walked along the Velky Pond, one of many dotting the countryside.
This is a popular tourist area so there were several shelters along the way. Fortunately, we found one where we could enjoy our picnic lunch out of the rain. My friends are hunkered down to stay warm.
It was still raining hard after lunch and we were given a choice to continue with the hike or spend time in Telc. I chose the latter with several others.
Telc, which has about 6,000 people, is famous for its castle and its main square, which is quite large for a town this size. The whole town is surrounded by a sophisticated system of ponds and defensive walls.
The old town has changed little since the 1500s, and, of the 40 houses lining the square, none is younger than. 300 years. A fire devastated the town in 1553, and it was rebuilt of stone. There are numerous buildings with "sgraffitties", like we discovered in Slovenice. We enjoyed the little shops, but many had closed for the season.
At 4 pm our group assembled for a tour of Telc Castle, which is located at the end of the main square.  
It was built in the second half of the 14th century. In the 1500s, the nobleman Zacharias z Hradec  (for whom the main square is named) imported a team of Italian artists, who turned the earlier Gothic palace into a lavish Renaissance residence. Their work also influenced many of the buildings on the town square. The appearance of the castle had not changed since the late 1500s, and it is one of the few intact Czech and Moravian Renaissance castles. It was never sold -- only passed from one family member to another -- but sometimes with different names. It was owned by the Lichtenstein family from the early 1700s until 1945 when the family was expelled to Austria and the property was taken over by the state. (I think they might have been German sympathizers.)
Because it has been so well-maintained, it is a delight to see. Our small group had a personal guide, but unfortunately, hurried us through because it was after hours. We also were not allowed to take photos, so my descriptions of my memories are my take-away.
The palace has 133 rooms and approximately 40 are open on tours. Among the most impressive was the huge ballroom known as Golden Hall, which had a balcony for the band. Noteworthy was its ceiling, with 30 three-dimensional octagonal panels hand-carved from wood and highlighted in gold that fit together to form a star shape . This type of ceiling treatment was used in a number of rooms. There was also a Theater Room with a stage, and panels along the wall containing painted masquers. The Blue Room, so noted because of its blue ceiling, had walls painted with an allegory of the four elements as personified by the Roman gods. Knight's Hall contained armor -- lots of it -- with full suits, helmets, shields and weapons from the 15th-17th centuries. On the ceiling were paintings of the acts of Hercules and on the wall, portraits of Hradec and his wife Katrina. But the most memorable room was the African Room, which was lined with numerous heads from animals Zi could not even name.  They were the trophies from a relative who hunted in Africa from 1903-1916. I wish I could have stayed longer here. We walked across an upper balcony and were able to get some lovely views of the garden. The sky had finally cleared.
Then we exited by the All Saint's Chapel, which we were allowed to photograph, where Hradec and Katrina are interred.
From the castle, it was a short walk back to the Hotel Anton, where we had dinner and an early bedtime, due to our departure tomorrow.

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