Bohemian Rhapsody

Castles, knights in shining armour, beer, strudel and classical music give Sue Wallace an insight into some of Europe’s grandest cities.

The silvery moon is creeping over the ramparts of Cesky Krumlov’s fairytale castle as I peek from the window of Hotel Ruze, a former 16th century Jesuit dormitory in the UNESCO World Heritage medieval town.

Images of knights in shining armour and tales of gallantry have filled my dreams after a day spent wandering through the famous castle and following crooked cobblestone streets lined with quaint shops and cosy cafes.

Old Cesky Krumlov, a small town in the South Bohemian region of the Czech Republic, is one of the best preserved medieval towns in Europe. Dating back to 1309, tourists flock here by day, but by night most head off to the next stop.

Long after the crowds have disappeared, we again wander through the old square passing by Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque houses, where tradesmen once crafted decorations and weapons. Legend has it that on a clear night you can hear the sound of a blacksmith working away, but all is quiet as we walk the deserted streets in the crisp night air and enjoy a nightcap at a charming inn on the way home.

Nestled on the loop of the Vltava, the town resembles an open-air art gallery with picture perfect houses that all have their own intriguing histories. But it’s the magnificent castle that takes centre stage complete with ostentatious rooms, sumptuous furniture and a story book history.

Europe’s grandest cities