Best visited in an afternoon, but not to be missed is the tiny town of Telc Czech Republic in the southwest border in Moravia. This sleepy town is home to under 6,000 people and one of those places that feel like it’s straight out of the pages of your favorite childhood fairytale. With a long row of colorful ornamented and detailed homes, an eye-catching watch tower, beautiful church, and surrounded by the mesmerizing countryside you will understand why so many travelers make a point to pass by and see this place for themselves.
See why we think every traveler to this region needs to visit the tiny town of Telc Czech Republic.
The History is Interesting
The gorgeous city of Telc Czech Republic that you see today was built after a fire in the 14th century and rebuild upon the original structures. Some say that this is when Telc was reborn. Zachariáš of Hradec, the ruler at the time after the great fire, decided to change the castle from Gothic to Renaissance after a visit to Italy and the town quickly followed his style with their townhomes on the square.
The locals tried to one-up each other by flaunting their wealth with the front of their home. That is why you will see such elaborate and intricate details throughout the square.
Telc became quite wealthy as it ended up being used as a trading between Vienna and Prague as well as a prosperous place for farming and breeding fish thanks to Zachariáš who helped build the lakes and land around Telc.
These are all factors in what has made Telc what it is today.
Admire Telc’s Painted Ladies
Okay, so maybe they aren’t called the painted ladies here, but I couldn’t help but think that this was the Czech’s answer, on steroids in our opinion, of San Francisco’s famous painted ladies. The entire náměstí Zachariáše z Hradce, square, is filled with beautiful colorful Renaissance and Baroque town homes.
While you will always see beautiful buildings like this in many town squares, there is none that quite compare to Telc. The long rectangular shape of the town square gives you two long rows of colorful and ornate home after another making for one of the most beautiful strips of real estate we have ever witnessed.
You won’t be able to walk out of here without admiring each and every one of these charming households and paying attention to the details.
Some homes have a mark on them that signifies who used to live in the home. For example, the black and white Venetian painted home has an almost vanishing pretzel on one of the home’s pillars on the square. This represents that a baker used to live in the home. Back then bakers were wealthy and therefore was able to have an extravagant Venetian inspired painted front façade of the house.
Another one of the more recognizable symbols is the butcher symbol on beige house left of Hotel U Cerneho Orla. Here you can clearly see the painted butcher’s knives as if it were a coat of arms on one of the pillars of the homes.
The green home with frescos also has an interesting background. It wasn’t until 1952 that they discovered there were frescos hidden underneath layers of this home. They have since restored the building to its Renaissance period with the frescos one of which is a painting of a home from that time. It is strange that someone would have a house painted on a house, but historians appreciate this piece of art because it gave them a genuine feel of what the homes were like back then.
Also, around the 18th century, all the houses on the square were white! The townhouses as we see them now have been restored to their Renaissance period.
Explore the Underground Tunnels
Beneath the town square, there is a maze of underground tunnels and cellars connecting all the homes from the 13-14th century. The cellars were used to store beer and other goods as well as a way to escape the town if there was a huge fire or invaders.
We were told by our local guide that the tunnels could give you fresh air in case of a fire, which wasn’t super uncommon back then and as you already know has already been a problem for Telc. However, the way that the air movement worked was said to have made the fires burn down the homes more quickly.
You can tour the underground, and you absolutely should. This was probably one of the biggest highlights of our trip to Telc Czech Republic. Before you explore the back breaking tunnels with a flashlight, literally as you have to crouch really low to explore them, there is a short film and interactive exhibit that is state of the art in a large room of the cellar.
We were blown away by the exhibit, but sadly it was only in Czech. However, that still didn’t take away from how amazing and technologically advanced this exhibit was for the underground tunnel system.
Afterwards, you get to explore the maze of tunnels with your guide. Thank your lucky stars there is a guide because otherwise you could easily get turned around and confused because it’s actually like a maze. You cannot go too far as the tunnels to connect to actual homes still and there are gates to block you from entering someone else’s cellar.
There is one spot where you can take a back break and stand. This is in the middle of the square and if you shout in this part the entire square can hear you, or so our guide said. You might as will give it a try!
St. James Church
Be sure to take a peek inside the Gothic cathedral of St. James. This Catholic church dates back to the 15th century and the interior is considered typical Bohemian style. After taking a walk through the interior make your way to one of the most impressive views of the city and surrounding area, the tower.
For 30 CZK you can climb the tower and get a 360 view of the town square, castle garden, the entire city of Telc, and a great view of the land surrounding the city. It’s a quick and rewarding climb.
The Watch Tower
While this was under construction during our visit we did not get to climb one of the iconic symbols of Telc Czech Republic’s town square. The watch tower with the long row of multi color homes is what you will see in a typical picture of the city. You can get another incredible view of the city, or so we hear, from the top.
We were told the tower is going to be finished and open back up to the public by spring 2018.
Find the Church of The Mother of God
Take a nice walk outside of town through a lovely path along the Stare Mesto pond to the Church of the Mother of God. Follow the path lined with statues of saints to lead you to this hidden treasure in Telc Czech Republic. This will take about 20-30 minutes round trip depending on your pace. This was actually quite lovely as even though the town of Telc Czech Republic is already a quiet place, this walk was even more peaceful.
This was actually quite lovely as even though the town is already a quiet place, this walk was even more peaceful. You may even see the fish jumping out of the water and cows grazing in a small meadow. The church was small but worth checking out. Visiting it was more about the journey rather than the destination.
Check out the Castle
Be sure to graze the Renaissance grounds of the castle in Telc Czech Republic. You can walk around the well-manicured garden inside the castle walls or the park surrounding the exterior of the castle for another peaceful spot in the town. There are two different tours you can take of the interior of the castle unless you show up on a Monday like us! We sadly missed this and would love to come back to see and learn about this well-preserved gem of Moravia.
Even if you end up on a Monday like us, you can still walk the park around the castle. There are a few interesting characters to the park including a giant living hollow lemon tree as well as monumental Classicist green house that is sadly empty but nice to look at.
Telc Czech Republic is a UNESCO Site
Since 1992, the city of Telc has been named a UNESCO World Heritage site and is one in twelve total in the country. Thanks to the large collection of well preserved and Renaissance period homes, this town has seen boost in tourism. People gather here to see the fairy tale row of elaborate and colorful homes.
Tips for Visiting Telc
Many places are closed early on Sundays and monuments will be closed on Mondays. Be sure to plan your trip around this. We were unable to go into many of the monuments since we arrived on a Sunday night and planned our sightseeing on a Monday. Learn from our mistake!
Monuments are closed in the winter months! While it’s beautiful to see the city under a blanket of snow, you will want to just pass through during the winter season as almost everything is closed!
Visit the Information Center in the town square for any suggestions or questions you may have during your trip!
You can drive about 30 minutes almost all the way to the border of Austria to Slavonice. This is another eye appealing town with beautiful Renaissance and Baroque facades and buildings.
The square is inviting and has shops, restaurants, and cafes right on the street. We came for just dinner but wish we would have given ourselves a few hours to explore more. There is also an underground here you can check out, be sure to wear clothes you do not mind getting a bit damp or wet though!
Where to Stay
While Telc can easily be done in one afternoon you may want to spend the night while passing through. We were doing a road trip through the country and needed to stay the night anyways. It was nice to experience how the quiet town really gets even more so at night and early in the mornings, you may feel like you’re the only one here.
$ Hotel U Černého Orla
This is a great budget option right in the town square overlooking the row of multi color homes. There are a variety of rooms to choose from including super basic with a shared bathroom, your most affordable option, to larger rooms with private bathrooms that have windows opening up to the town square. This is where we stayed and were happy with our room with a view.
$$ Hotel Celerin
Located in the heart of the square at the end of the row of colorful townhomes you can’t get a better location. There are rooms with views of the entire square which makes this spot one of the prime locations in town. There’s also a great cafe attached for your coffee and dessert fix.
$$$ Penzion Kamenne Slunce
These fully furnished apartments are located right in the corner of the town square and offer a kitchen and even jacuzzi tub. The rooms are spacious and this is a great option for anyone who wants to feel like they are at home while traveling.
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