Czech Town Offers History, Castle, Beer and Bears

Tourists can enjoy celebrations of a 400th anniversary.

Written by Shirley O’Bryan Smith for AP


Photo by: Associated Press. Cesky Krumlov Castle towers majestically above the town of Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic. The castle's dry moat houses a family of bears.

CESKY KRUMLOV, Czech Republic — Centuries of history have earned this Czech town a designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s a Bohemian beauty, tucked into a horseshoe bend on the Vltava River, with interesting architecture, an enormous castle and a nearby national park. 

But here’s something Cesky Krumlov has that you don’t find in most historic cities: live bears in the dry moat surrounding the castle.

And visiting the town of Cesky Krumlov this year offers an extra benefit: It’s the year of the Rosenbergs, who reigned over southern Bohemia for around 400 years. The family’s last male heir died in 1611, and special exhibitions and events are planned all year to honor the family, including tours of Rosenberg sites, museum exhibits and extended festivals.


The castle is one of those Rosenberg sites. A huge two-story arched bridge connects parts of it with Baroque gardens, a terrace and a rococo cascade fountain.

But there is no water in the moat surrounding the place to keep away advancing enemy hordes. Instead, there are the bears. Legend has it that

Cesky Krumlov: Helpful websites for travelers include and For information on the castle, visit Park and lake information: and Websites in Czech have English language tabs.

Getting there: Buses run regularly from Prague (110 miles or 180 kilometers) and from Vienna, Salzburg, Linz and Hallstatt in Austria. Train service via Czech Railways will deposit you north of the main square. From there you can take a taxi or walk about 15 to 20 minutes to the city. By air: Fly from Ruzyne-Prague Airport or the Linz-Horsching Airport in Austria, then take a bus or shuttle.

Currency: The Czech Republic is not in the euro zone. It still uses the Czech crown, or koruna. Although many places will take euros, the rate isn’t always favorable. Any change you receive will be in crowns.

Accommodations: Lodging includes a variety of hotels, guest houses, pensions (smaller less expensive hotels), apartments, bed and breakfasts, even camps and camping sites. Locations range from the historic part of town to outside of town, near the water or in the countryside. They run from less than $50 to more than $300 (less than 35 euros to more than 200 euros, or in korunas, less than 830 korunas to more than 5,000 korunas).

Food: Wide variety of restaurants offer local specialties such as pork dishes, potato dumplings, fried cheese, sausages, cabbage, goulash, schnitzel and delicious soups, breads and desserts, as well as pizza, chicken, steaks and vegetarian dishes. In addition there are coffee houses, pubs, pastry shops and street vendors. Prices are very reasonable.

they were given to the Rosenberg family because of their relationship with the Italian Orsini family. Since “orsa” means she-bear in Italian, the Rosenbergs adopted the animals as shield-bearers on their coat of arms. Today the moat bears are a much-loved part of the community. The animals get their own birthday parties and a big Christmas Eve bear festival where children bring presents and food for them.

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