Sunday, April 10, 2011

Stráž nad Nežárkou, Czech Republic...wildflowers, The Castle, lunch!

We headed east of Trebon to the little village of Stráž nad Nežárkou (just west of Jindřichův Hradec) as our colleagues had told us there was a large population of Giant Snowflakes (Leucojum aestivum) in flower behind the Castle gardens near the Nežárkou River.
It is a gorgeous little village with interesting buildings and, of course, a zamek (castle)...which we did not know about!
We parked in the downtown 'square' (actually more of a triangle),
right by the Adnice...a fun, pink building with clock tower (with a quaint sounding bell chiming out the quarter hours). The Adnice dates only to 1876 as the older 'town hall' as well as many houses in the town were destroyed by a fire in 1875. Added to this, repairs in the 1970s (during the Soviet era) made to the building removed all of the old doors and windows.
Even the Bishop standing out front is graced in pink!
Our goal, after seeing the Adnice, was to head to the Castle, after first stopping to look at the WWI and WWII memorial
The castle is an interesting color combination of buttery yellow and white with a red roof and 'onion' tower! This is the first yellow castle we have ever seen!

The castle dates back to 1577 when John William Lobkowicz (a Rosenberg) sold it to Vaclav Venclik. Vacav's heir, Peter Wok Strážského. After a few more changes in owners, it became an estate of the Hradec's of Jindřichův Hradec...then transformed in the 18th century to Baroque, although the castle tower remains Gothic (the onion dome is always a sure sign of this era!). The tower, as you will see in subsequent pictures is not square, oval or round, but semicircular with one flat side (the front).
As we approach the gates, we look at the signs on the gate posts and read about the museum for 'Emy Bestinnove':

It's not looking good....the Castle is not open at all and won't be until next month!

We peer through the locked gates and see above the front door a blue rose of the Rosenbergs, with a white rose above it! This is interesting, as you may remember that the Rosenbergs in Trebon had a red rose, while others elsewhere are different colors.

The blue rose and who lived here....tell us more!
There is a painting called the "Division of the Roses" in the castle at Cesky Krumlov (see earlier postings; if you visit the castle, take Tour #1 to see the painting) which explains a bit about determining by the color of the rose who originally owned or built a castle in South Bohemia.
"According to legend, Witigo had five sons. He divided his land between them and they founded new castles and estates such as Krumlov, Rožmberk, Jindřichův Hradec, Třeboň - Landštejn, Stráž nad Nežárkou and Sezimovo Ústí. This old legend is depicted in the picture in the Telč Castle and also its copies in Krumlov and Jindřichův Hradec. These show us how Witigo divided the coats of arms, each with a different coloured five-petalled rose, among his sons. The oldest, Jindřich, is given the golden rose on a blue background and is leaving for Jindřichův Hradec. Vítek z Klokot has a silver rose on a red background on his banner and goes to Třeboň. The ancestor of the Lords of Stráž departs with a blue rose on a golden background. Sezima, who was illegitimate, is also leaving for Ústí and carries a banner with a black rose on a golden background. Rožmberk and Krumlov are to be ruled by Vítek with a red rose on a white background."

The pictures, however, depict only a legend and are not very accurate. The castles painted there were actually founded much later in the 13th century, for example Stráž, around 1276. The other inaccuracy is that the Krumlov Witigonen was split in the next generation into two separate clans. They were already separated by Witigo\'s sons Vítek II referred to as the elder, who started the Krumlov Witigonen, and his younger brother, also called Vítek, who started the Rosenberg Witigonen. The third mistake is heraldic. The Krumlov Witigonen had a green rose in their coat of arms, not a red one, as the picture shows. The historical truth is, that Witigo had five sons:
Jindřich - the founder of Jindřichův Hradec Castle - a golden rose on a blue background
Vítek II Elder - first of the Krumlov Witigonen - a green rose on a silver background
Vítek III Younger - first of the Rosenbergs - a red rose on a silver background
Vítek IV first of the Lords of Třeboň and Landštejn - a silver rose on a red background
Sezima - a black rose on a golden background.
"Sometimes the lords of Stráž and lords of Sezimovo Ústí being associated into just one family branch of lords of Stráž and Ústí with symbol of blue or black rose at golden field."
Source of historical information:

So, there you have it...which sector of the Rosenbergs had the blue rose! Thus, we now also know why the village is called Stráž nad Nežárkou....the Lords of Stráž on the River Nežárkou. It all makes sense now!
We're not sure of the significance of the crowned lions with their tongues sticking out!

Since the castle isn't open, that means that we can't get into the park behind the castle to see the huge populations of Giant Snowflakes in flower. Not to be deterred, however, we start walking around the castle to see what else we can find!
On the way we pass by a lumber yard that has a 'castle' as the main office! Did you ever see such magnificence for a lumber yard office?!
The wood is drying nicely in the hot April sun!
Now we're walking past the south side of the castle and can see through the fence that the Gothic tower has a flat side!
With a gold rooster on top (the wind is from the east today)!
Then we pass by the side gates which have the initials ED on them? Who does this stand for?  It can't be a Rosenberg (Rzmberk) or the Lords of Stráž!
ED stands for the world-famous Czech opera singer, Ema Destinnová, who purchased it in ~1914 and owned it until the Nazi and then Soviet invasions!
For further information, visit the website:

This explains why there is a museum inside for Ema Destinnová...

We pass by many gardens that are in full flower with spring bulbs (geophytes). Here scillas (Scilla siberica) and crocus (Crocus vernus) sing April praises!
At the back of the castle where a stone wall blocks our view, a small path heads into the woods.
Here we see a flowering bulb in the onion family. We're not sure what it is (will have to identify it later):
They are beautiful!
As we peer over the stone wall, down below we see the huge populations of Giant Snowflakes.....all of the white flowers down by the river Nežárkou! Masses of's sad we can't get in to see them up close!

We continue down the dirt path through the woods where, finally, the castle grounds end and the woods is open for exploration.
Here, large patches of anemones (Anemone nemerosa) are in full flower. Absolutely gorgeous!
An unbelievable collection of them!
Neil ventures down the hill while Mark sits on the path and watches to see what can be found...
Gorgeous colored toadstools grace this rotting stump.

Then we both find a wild patch of snowdrops, Galanthus nivalis!  We have not seen these in the wild before!
Neil's looking excitedly at something.....wonder what he has found now?!
It's a lily....Lilium martagon! These are native in the Czech Republic and other parts of central Europe. We'll have to return here soon so we can see this Turk's cap lily in flower! What a thrill! Neil will have to show this picture to the North Star Lily Society members when he returns to the States....
We return to the 'Town Triangle', exhausted from all of the traipsing through the woods and "oohing / aahing" over all of the flowers! Since we haven't eaten lunch and it is now 15:30 or 3:30 p.m., we're famished!! Mark suggests we stop at a village eatery and sit outside in the shade (since it's so hot....nearly summer weather today). Mark has a Pilsner Urquell beer (pivo) along with one of the organic pears we brought from the farmer's market this morning! Tasty combination.

Neil has to try one as cooling and refreshing. He has to drink a Birell nealkoholiko pivo (nonalcoholhic beer) as he is driving!

Then out comes our order (30 minutes later)...the pesto proscciuto pizza takes that long to make/bake....

And a small Caesar salad with chicken sit just fine for this afternoon snack.
As we leave...we walk under the Kofola sign (Kofola, the Czech version of Coca Cola was invented in 1960 since the Czech's couldn't get the real thing, thanks to the Soviets).
Now we're headed to the western edge of the village to see something that Mark just discovered on the map....a Jewish cemetery, židovský hřbitov (that we did not even know existed here)!  See the future posting on this...the exciting day of discoveries continues!
On the way there, we venture past this old and abandoned industrial complex...wondering what it might have been....a glassworks factory? iron works? We can't read the faded sign on the front...

Disclaimer: This blog is not an official University of Minnesota or Fulbright Program blog. The views expressed are my own and not those of the Fulbright Program, the U.S. Department of State or any of its partner organizations, or the University of Minnesota.

1 comment:

  1. How does their pizza dough compare to ours? and the toppings? Cheeses? How is it baked?