Sunday, 2 June 2013

There's a bear in there

Home owners certainly have a lot of options when it comes to household security.

There's window bars, sensor lights, alarms... oh and bears.

Bears were the option the occupants of Cesky Krumlov Castle, in the Czech Republic, opted for when looking to bolster their peace of mind.

At first I thought I must be seeing things when I sighted the brown shaggy shadow lurking in the waterless castle moat.

But sure enough, it was a bear.  And it's not alone.  There are a few of them down there apparently.

Yes.  It's a bear
A bear in the bear moat

It seems bears were the animal motif of the noble Rosenberg family, who once had their seat here.  So I guess bear moats make sense... sort of.

As home entrances go, a bear moat certainly beats a potted topiary plant any day.

Apart from verging on animal cruelty, it also seems the bear moat is an unnecessary way for the castle to try and stand out from the European castle crowd; the castle itself is already one of the most striking you will see.

Entering Cesky Krumlov Castle
The castle keeping an eye on the town below

As soon as we left the Cesky Krumlov train station we spotted castle towering above.

Perched on a rock cliff above the Vlatava River and the town, Cesky Krumlov Castle demands attention because of its size and its colourful paint job.  

Colourful wall murals trick the eye with the illusion of carved detail
Deploying the 3D painting technique trompe l'oeil, it seems almost every wall and ceiling is covered in detailed murals that "trick the eye".   From a distance it looks as though the castle is brimming with alcoves, statues, intricate carvings and brickwork, but in fact they've just been painted on the flat walls with an expert hand.

The castle is also quite a sprawling complex (one of the largest in Europe) as different generations have made their own additions and extensions over the centuries.

The castle lit by sunset

Wandering around the UNESCO World Heritage Listed old town, we thought we had stepped back into the Middle Ages.

We had made our way to Cesky Krumlov from Salzburg in Austria and were surprised to find an even prettier and more charming old town.

From the expansive town square, a network of cobblestone streets lined with colourful buildings (no doubt inspired by the castle) spread out around the river.  While others chose to paddle their canoes in the water, we were more than happy to just relax in the riverside cafes.  It's just one of those places where the best thing to do, is do nothing at all.

The Vltava River snakes its way below the castle
Rolling green hills fit for Medieval knights on horses flank the town, completing the picture perfect view.

Sadly, a view the moat bears will never get to see.

View from the castle's gardens

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