Litomyšl: Town of History and Modern Architecture
Litomyšl is unique at least in three aspects – chateaus listed in UNESCO, the birthplace of Bedřich Smetana, and modern architecture. Especially, the third point is surprising, but it makes this town completely unique.
Litomyšl is a city of contrasts. On the one hand, it is a historical city with a UNESCO site. On the other hand, you can find here numerous examples of modern architecture and outstanding redesigns. That is why I would call Litomyšl as a modern historical town.
You might know Litomyšl as a birthplace of famous Czech composer Bedřich Smetana. In his honor, you can attend the festival “Smetanova Litomyšl,” every year in June-July.
I should not miss some fragments of history. Litomyšl was established around the trade route between Bohemia and Moravia in the 11th Century. Thanks to king Charles IV (you know Charles Bridge and Charles University found by him as well), the monastery was found in Litomyšl that brings life and education to the city. Today, monastery gardens are one of the most beautiful spots in the city.
What You Should Visit in Litomyšl
• Litomyšl Castle
• Birthplace of Bedřich Smetana
• Monastery Gardens
• Olbram Zoubek statues
• Piarist Church
• Smetanovo Square
• Modern Architecture
Litomyšl is chateau but listed in UNESCO as the castle. Don’t ask me why. Chateau is unique thanks to its Italian Renaissance style that you won’t find anywhere else North from the Alpes. With more than 8.000 pieces of sgraffito decoration (every piece is different!) and original 200-year-old baroque theatre, it is a proud UNESCO member since 1999.
Birthplace of Bedřich Smetana
In the castle brewery was born our beloved music composer Bedřich Smetana (1824-1884). His father served as a brewer of the noble family from the chateau. Today, you can visit their household where young Smetana started to practice on the piano. You might know his composition Vltava (Moldau) that I would strongly recommend you to listen.
Monastery Gardens are my favorite part of the city. They are surrounded by two dominant churches, one build in a Gothic style and second in a Baroque style. In between, you have a well-preserved garden with modern statues of Olbram Zoubek, amphitheater, and Bohéme restaurant with terrace. From the ramparts, you have a perfect view of the city.
Olbram Zoubek Statues
You might know his statues from Prague. Under Petřín hill, you can find his monument dedicated to the victims of communism. In Litomyšl, he restored the sgraffitos at the chateau. Later on, he created several unique statues around the Litomyšl, in monastery gardens, in front of the castles, and many other locations.
Baroque Piarist Church is an excellent example of the modern reconstruction of the church. Besides the statues of famous Matthias Bernard Braun and great view on the Litomyšl chateau from the roof, you can admire a modern reconstruction of the gallery.
Just a few steps from the monastery gardens, you can find something unique. Small inconspicuous house is hiding unique paintings and specifically-made furniture of an eccentric artist Josef Váchal. He decorated two rooms in this private house in the 1920s by various ornaments, such as demons, ghosts, biblical scenes, or zodiac signs. Only in 1993, the house was opened to the public.
Litomyšl has the longest square in the Czech Republic. Furthermore, the square is surrounded by historical buildings ranges from Renaissance, Baroque, Empire, and Classicism that is truly a feast for your eyes. At the very end, you can find an honorable statue of Bedřich Smetana.
As I already mentioned, Litomyšl is an excellent example of a city with great coexistence of history and modernity. I would highlight the reconstruction of Chateau brewery with a preserved industrial character, New Church with glass cross, modern swimming pool hiding in the grass, and reconstructed City waterfront.
Just a few kilometers from Litomyšl, you can find the only rococo chateau (also called Czech Versailles) in the Czech Republic. During the communist era, the whole chateau fell into disrepair. Fortunately, Petr and Magda Kučerovi bought the chateau in 1997 and, after extensive reconstruction, opened it to the public in 2001. You can visit one of the most beautiful gardens in the Czech Republic, see the exhibition of furniture from rococo to art deco, or visit the private apartment of the owners.
How to Get to Litomyšl
Getting to Litomyšl is easy. It took about 2,5 hours from Prague, by train or by car. It is an excellent place for your one-day trip from Prague. However, I would definitely recommend you to stay overnight, for example in Hotel Aplaus, and also visit nearby chateau Nové Hrady.