Telč: A Renaissance masterpiece

By Tracy A. Burns

Telc, UNESCO site in the Czech RepublicListed as one of UNESCO’s cultural monuments since 1992, Telč is not only a jewel of the Vysočany region but also of the entire country. The town has preserved its Renaissance appearance with a main square lined with romantic, narrow burgher houses and a chateau that is sure to cast a spell on visitors.

The history of Telč

Founded in the 13th century, Telč played a significant economic and political role during the Middle Ages, but the Renaissance proved to be its golden age. When Zachariáš of Hradec acquired Telč in 1550, he put into motion plans to give the town a Renaissance makeover. The Lords of Hradec, one of the wealthiest families in Bohemia, would own Telč until 1604.

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From the 17th century until today

The chateau then came into the possession of Vilém Slavata. He was best known as one of the two governors to be thrown out of a Prague Castle window in 1618 during the Third Defenestration of Prague, which triggered the Thirty Years’ War. Luckily, he survived, landing on a pile of manure. From the end of the 18th century until 1945, the town remained the property of the Podstatský-Liechtenstein clan. Now the chateau belongs to the state.

Zachariáš of Hradec Square

Telc, UNESCO site in the Czech RepublicThe main square is a Renaissance gem. The well-preserved burgher houses on Zachariáš of Hradec Square feature unique facades of various architectural styles. Distinguished by arched gables and arcading, they are adorned with figural painting and Renaissance sgraffito, for example. A painting of the Holy Trinity decorates the middle of the façade of the late Baroque House of Jan the Baker at number 17. The colorful House of Osterreicher the Master Mason at number 15 sports superb sgraffito.

The chateau interior of the first tour

Telc ChateauZachariáš of Hradec, inspired by Italian artists, transformed what was a Gothic castle into a Renaissance chateau. The highlight of the tour is the Golden Hall with superb carvings on a 16th century coffered ceiling. That’s not the only ceiling that astounds. The coffered ceilings in the Blue Hall and the Knights’ Hall are also remarkable. In the medieval Chapel of St. George, be sure to take note of the superb sculptural adornment. The African Hall holds a treasure of hunting trophies, such as an elephant’s ear and an open-mouthed head of a hippopotamus.

The chateau interior of the second tour

On the second tour, visitors explore the Podstatský Rooms, which show off 19th and 20th century styles. Some 300 plates from Delft hang on a wall in the Count’s Room. The library has over 8,000 volumes and an exquisite small table that hails from India. A superbly painted 17th century jewel chest made from ivory and precious stones is just one more example of the fascinating artifacts on this tour.

The park and garden

The park was founded in the 16th century and boasts of many rare species of woody plants. The garden, also designed in the 16th century, ranks as one of the oldest in the country.

Telč on your itinerary

Telč is a Renaissance gem that all tourists should explore. Churches and a Renaissance stone fountain are other sights worth your time. Take time out to walk around the entire main square, and gaze at each house. Have a meal on the square, but avoid eating at the hotel due to its painstakingly slow service. If time permits, go on both tours of the chateau in order to get a better perspective on the history of this Renaissance wonder.

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