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Znojmo Town and Chateau

Wine tasting, underground passages, chateau, town, rotonda of St. Catherine

Order Tour Code: C SEE13
Tour availability: Tour available in summer season Tour available in winter season

Znojmo Town
High above the valley of river Dyje and the Granice brook stands on a rock the castle of Znojmo. Established in the first half of the 30-ties of the llth century by prince Břetislav, as part of the local castle-system along the Dyje, to the defence of the Czech state-border against the Austrians and Babenbergers, the castle became to the seat of the Premyslite Princes of Znojmo. When the priacipalities in the l2th century were abolished, it got the character of a Landlord-castle. After 1710 the Gentlemen of Deblin, who acquired the castle of Joseph I., acquired on its castle a baroque-palace. To the deaths of the last Deblines, end of the l8th century, the castle served as an army military hospital and reserve-barrack. The curator of the Znojmo museum, Anton Vrbka is it to owe, that since the year of 1910 in a part of the castle museum - collections were accommodated. In I921 the museum acquired the overall castle - complex together with the rotonda of st. Catherine.

The Underground Passages
Originally formed from the cellars of townhouses, these passages go four stories deep down into the rock. They are closed in winter.

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Znojmo Castle

The original seat of Znojmo feudal princes of the Przemyslite family was in the founded in the early eleventh century by Prince Bretislav. After the year 1710, the Baroque chateau was erected by the lords of Deblin on the foundations of the mediaeval feudal castle. Its halls now accommodate the museum's historical exhibition documenting the history of the nineteenth century. The monuments of mediaeval and Renaissance Znojmo and its church art as well as sets of period furniture, rare prints from the printing room of the Louka monastery, extinct crafts, military and hunting weapons and historical sharpshooting targets are on display. The chateau's are on display. The chateau's underground spaces and the collection of fragments of ancient stone structures are also worth seeing. The view from the castle yard overlooking the deep valey of the river Dyje leaves an unforgettable impression on every visitor. It is closed in winter, but after making reservation ahead it can be open in winter time as well.

Romanesque Rotonda of st. Catherine

The Romanesque Rotunda of the Virgin Mary and St. Catherine is one of the most valuable architectural jewels in the Czech Republic. It was a part of the earlier fortified complex of the Přemyslids, built by the prominent Czech prince Břetislav I (1034-1055) on the site of a fortified Slavonic settlement. The Znojmo rotunda, placed in dominant position in the centre of the castle's outer precincts, was built in the mid eleventh century, a fact which was supported by archaeological research carried out in 1989. Architecturally, it consists of a cylindrical nave and an apse in the form of a horseshoe, and a conch-shaped vault. The interior painted decoration may have been influenced by dynastic disputes between members of the Czech ruling Přemyslid family and the apanage princes of Znojmo. In 1128, the Czech ruling prince Sobislav I arrested Conrad II of Znojmo for an alleged conspiracy; he released him in 1134 and arranged Conrad's marriage to Mary, the daughter of the Serbian king Uroš and a sister of the Hungarian queen. It was possibly on the occasion of this marriage that Conrad II had the rotunda vaulted and decorated with frescoes. This may be supported by a Latin inscription dated from 1134, discovered during restoration works between 1947-1949. The religious part of the fresco cycle depicts biblical scenes from the life of Christ, beginning with the "Annunciation", continuing through the picture of the "Flight to Egypt", which has not been preserved, the figures of the four Evangelists with angels of the apocalypse in the vault and "Christ Enthroned" with the twelve apostles in the apse. On both sides of the triumphal arch, there are figures of donors. Further, on the southern part of the wall, follows the Přemyslid legend of Přemysl the Ploughman being called by a delegation of the Princess Libuše to the princely throne in Prague. This secular part continues with a representation of the eight mythical Přemyslids. The third sequence consists of the figures of nineteen princes with the central figure being that of the first Czech king, Vratislav II (1061-1092). After 1226, the originally grand-parish church became a royal chapel and was consecrated to St. Catherine. In 1320, chapel patronage was presented by the king, John of Luxembourg, to George of Lipé, who then assigned it to the local convent of St. Clare. The Clare nuns sold the rotunda to the town in 1555. Emperor Charles IV ceded the outer part of the castle to the town in 1710. With the subsequent transfer of the property into private hands, the fate of the rotunda appeared in the late eighteenth century to be sealed. A brewery was installed on the premises of the former castle and the rotunda, over the course of time, served as a pig sty, beer-house, dance-hall, and finally a basket-making workshop. After the efforts of M. Trapp (1861-1863), a turning point for the rotunda was finally reached in the 1890s. Restoration work was carried out by the Viennese painter T. Melicher. In the unsettled year of 1938, the paintings were briefly attended to by the Viennese expert Dr Walliser. In the post-war period (1947-1949), the frescoes in the rotunda were restored by the painter František Fišer. The subsequent phase was begun in 1965, by the painter O. Míša, and was finished between 1969-1979 by the painters J. Alt, P. Lorek and A. Martan. This unique cycle of frescoes is constantly under specialist supervision. Due to this unique cycle of secular Romanesque paintings, depicting both the origins of the Czech state and the detailed succession of the Czech and Moravian princes, this building was listed as a national cultural monument on March 30, 1962. Its uniqueness has it rightly classified as integral part of European cultural heritage. Technical measures protecting the interior of the rotunda The microclimate inside the rotunda is constantly monitored and evaluated with the help of a special radio-telemetric system from the British firm Hanwell. Hanwell monitoring and control systems have been developed for controlling microclimates in museums, libraries and historic buildings. They are currently used in a number of prestigious institutions in Great Britain, France and other European countries. The system operating in the rotunda consists of telemetric units (input detectors) scanning data on relative humidity, interior and exterior air temperature, wall surface temperature and lighting parameters. These data are transferred by periodical radio transmission to the 'Architect' control unit, located outside the rotunda, where they are evaluated and compared with pre-set limit values of the parameters in question. If the system determines that the difference between the temperature of the wall surface and dew-point is close to the limit where water vapour condenses on the walls, it emits a signal to the attendant to close the building to the public while the unsuitable conditions last. Special PC software "Hanwell for Windows" is used for setting and calibrating the system, collecting data from the measurements, their graphic presentation and subsequent statistical evaluation. The Hanwell monitoring system for the Znojmo rotunda was supplied by the firm of Tech-Rentals CS, Ltd., Brno. The interior of the rotunda is lit by the high-pressure halogen discharge lamp 'Mastercolour CMD-T Osram', which provides a light very suitable for reproducing colours. The source is installed in a luminary of 'Figloo'-type, produced by the Italian company iGuzzini, a manufacturer of the highest quality lighting technology, used in the most important museums as well as for illumination of both interiors and exteriors of monuments all over Europe. The supplier of illumination for the Znojmo rotunda is Illumino, Ltd., Olomouc, in cooperation with the iGuzzini representative for the Czech Republic - Etna, Ltd., Prague. Digitizing the wall paintings in the rotunda A new phase in the history of the Rotunda of the Virgin Mary and St. Catherine was begun in 1996, with a joint project between the South-Moravian Museum in Znojmo and the Institute for Classical Studies, Academy of Science of the Czech Republic, in Prague. The objective of the project, unique from a European point of view, is to provide a complete digitized documentation of the construction and history of the Znojmo rotunda, i.e. first of all to document, thoroughly analyse and make available on CD-ROM the paintings, using up-to-date computer technology and methods. The first step was to make digital records, providing a complete and realistic picture of the condition of the rotunda's interior decoration as it was on October 1st, 1996. The operation, rather complicated from a technical point of view, was completed by R. Soukup and J. Stupka, from the academic research programme Clavis monumentorum litterararum (CML) section of digital photography, with the help of the top quality Swiss digital photographic camera Sinar e, the first and so far the only equipment of its kind available in the Czech Republic, used for the digital documentation of cultural and historic monuments on a scientific basis. The results of the work - pictorial records totalling six gigabytes in size - were recorded on CD-ROMs and stored in the digital photographic archive of the CML. In addition to being used for research purposes and as the basis for the presentation of the wall paintings in "traditional" printed matter and film, they have been further analysed, revised and compared with earlier photographic and written documentation within the framework of the above-mentioned project. The scanning of some details (the so-called dark places) directly in the Znojmo rotunda is being prepared as the next phase, with the focus on, among others, the famous inscription, which should make possible its definitive decipherment and an objective interpretation as well. With the digital documentation of wall paintings, the first steps towards both a complex processing of all available written and pictorial information on the Znojmo Rotunda of the Virgin Mary and St. Catherine, and towards a worthy presentation of this exceptional monument of European fine art in the form of a CD-ROM publication, have been taken. The Rotunda is open from June to September in a regime related to the current climatic conditions. Access passes through the so-called Gránice Valley; only on weekends and holidays is entry through the brewery allowed.

Wine grapes are cultivated throughout all of Europe, usually in vineyards, though in Finland and Iceland they are grown in greenhouses. Wine is adored throughout the world, and has cultivated an eager following of experts and aficionados for whom life without wine would be no life at all. Once considered the nectar of the Gods, wine is also a commodity, for buying, selling, and collecting. It is also a cytalyst for love. Most handbooks on wine miss an important point, namely, that this royal beverage can be understood as a measure of man´s own spiritual manurity.
The grape-vine was grown in the Czech lands during the time of the Great Moravian Empire. Legend has it that Prince Svatopluk sent Prince Borivoj (the grandfather of St. Wenceslas) and his wife Ludmila a cask of wine in honour of the birth of their son in 892. During a period of great drought, it is said that Ludmila sacrificed much of the gift to the Goddess Krosyna, hoping for rain. Her prayers were answered.
During the Middle Ages Czech grapes were grown primarily by monks, for more than just religious purposes. The Premonstratensians monks in Louka near the town Znojmo and the Cistercians at velehrad at Zernoseky owned the rights to their vineyards for centuries. Wine underwent a substantial "renaissance" under the Czech king and emperor Charles IV, who isseud an edict in 1358 calling for the cultivation of new vineyards. Wine soon became an important trade item, the selling and buying of which were influenced later by monarchs such as Rudolph II and Joseph II.

3 hours to drive from Prague , SE
on the way to Wienna

1)Znojmo SEE13 - 9 hour round trip
Trips combinations:
2)Znojmo town, wine-tasting SEE13 + Namest SEE7 - 12 hour round trip
3)Znojmo town, wine-tasting SEE13 + Mikulov SEE9 - 12 hour round trip
4)Znojmo town, wine-tasting SEE13 + Lednice and Valtice SEE8 - 12 hour round trip
5)Znojmo town, wine-tasting SEE13 + Jaromerice SEE6 - 12 hour round trip
6)Znojmo town, wine-tasting SEE13 + Moravsky Krumlov,A.Mucha SEE5 - 12 hour round trip
7)Znojmo town, wine-tasting SEE13 + Moravian Karst SEE4 - 12 hour round trip
8)Znojmo town, wine-tasting SEE13 + Brno and Austerlitz SEE3 - 12 hour round trip
9)Znojmo town, wine-tasting SEE13 + Catholic Pilgrim Sites in Moravia SEE11 - 13-14 hour round trip
10)Znojmo town, wine-tasting SEE13 + Vranov SEE10 - 13-14 hour round trip

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Last updated on Nov 12, 2010