We will take you to the enchanting 16th century
town Telc, protected by UNESCO. The square is
lined by picturesque facades and arcades and its
Renaissance castle boasts many splendid features.
Its beauty was the inspiration of fairy-tale movies. The castle is closed in winter, from November till March. WATCH THE
9 HOUR ROUND TRIP
Telc is one of the best preserved ancient towns in the Czech Republic.
A combination of pure Renaissance and Baroque buildings, typically grouped, makes Telc one of finest examples of medieval urban architecture. The magnificent square, surrounded by arcaded houses and with a Baroque fountain in its centre, still retains the atmosphere of the Renaissance period.
The chateau was originally a Gothic castle from the 14th century, but in the second half of the 16th century it was converted into the Renaissance building.
The chateau interiors have rich decoration, carved and painted ceilings, frescoes, and other splendid features.
HISTORY OF TOWN TELC
According to the local legend, the foundation of Telc
is connected with the victory of the Moravian Duke Otto II. over the Czech Duke Bretislav in 1099. It is said that in the memory of the battle the victor established first a chapel, later a church and then a community, which is the Old Town today. The only historical proof is the documentation of a seigniorial estate and watch tower with a little church, which was the residence of the royal administrator. This royal property, Telc was paid out by Charles IV, firstly it was redeemed (1335) and secondly it was exchanged with Jindrich of Hradec for the border castle Banov (1339). This family started founding a new Telc. Menhart of Hradec is supposed to have built the castle, church, water fortification and Gothic houses around the large marketplace. The town started to expand after 1354, and in spite of rapid development – it was granted the rigth to carry out capital sentences and the right to hold annual markets by Charles IV, it used to suffer from fires (in 1386 the whole western half of the square including the church and town hall were burnt out) and later still from the Hussites rebellions. According to the Town Chronicle established in 1359 (and later lost) the town of Telč was – except for the castle – conquered in 1423 by the Hussites´army led by Jan Hvezda of Vicemilice. The recovery ot the town required quite a long time, although it was awarded additional privileges in the fifteenth century (fairs, brewing, the sale of salt). Zacharias of Hradec takes over the Telc estate and both the town and castle enjoy the period of prosperity. This enlightened and rich magnate (also thanks to the mariage with Katerina of Wallenstein) greatly renovates the Gothic castle and constructs joining it a chateau in the Renaissance style. Italian workmen invited to the castle help the burghers to rebuild the Gothic dwellings into the neat houses with attractive facades and arcades. At the same time the town water mains and new hospital were built, and new ponds, trades and new ways of management were established. Zacharias as well as other men of the Hradec family die without male offspring, and thus Lucie Ottilie, sister of the last of them brings her husband, Vilem Slavata (a well-known governor who had played his role within the Prague Defenestration in 1618) to the Telc estate (as well as to Hradec), together with a new noble family.
The rule of the Slavatas was affected by the Thirty Years’ War. Telc as well as the whole region suffers under the Swedish (and also the Imperial) Armies. In 1645 for a short period the town was even occupied and plundered by the Swedish forces. The estate was managed by the men of the family (Vilem, Jachym Oldrich, Ferdinand Vilem), the history of the town was, however, most influenced by Jachym’s widow whose maiden name was Frantiska, the Countess of Meggau. She invited the Jesuits to Telc, she had their college built directly opposite the chateau (1655), also the Church of the Name of Jesus (1667) was built, and the former malting house below the parish church was reconstructed to the hostel of St. Angels (resembling a temple music school), in addition she founded a new cemetery at Podoli (1676). At the same time also the Jesuit Latin Grammar School, pharmacy and meteorological centre were founded. The Slavatas rule also ended without any male progeny and the last son of Františka, Jan Karel Jáchym, the general superior of the Carmelite Order, in spite of the Pope’s Dispensation refuses to return to the family estate.
Thus the Lichtenstein-Kastelkorn family succeed to Telc, but again the first of them – Frantisek Antonin (who built the church of St. Jan z Nepomuku and widened the chapel of St. Vojtech) dies in 1761 without a heir. His relative on the distaff side, Alois the Count Podstatsky, unified the coast-of-arms of both the families in 1762. Then the Podstatsky-Lichtensteins managed the Telc estate until 1945 when the last members of the family were espelled to Austria.
The befinning of the 18th century was characterised by oppression from the holders of authority, but then it is possible to register the rise of the middle-class, and the wealthy townspeople help beautify their town with public fountains, the Marian Column, statues and chapels. In the second half of the century the town experiences the reforms of the Austrian Emperor Joseph II: in 1773 righs of the Jesuit Order were cancelled (the college is rebuilt into an army barracks) one year later the same happened to the Grammar School while the church of the Holy Spirit and other chapels were cancelled in 1785. This period seems to be the beginnings of germanisation at schools, in the public life and even in the families.
The beginning of the 19th century represents the rise of industrialisation. The Lang factory manufacturing cloths begins in the former Slavata’s yard, this factory had as many as 600 employees. The second half of the 19th century brings a reinforcement of national political maturity. An important role was played by the schools founded in 1852. Thanks to the teachers and professors as well as to all the others who were operating there (publisher Šolc and others) there rose a few associations (the Civic Beseda, Omladina (a youth association), Sokol, the National Unity) and Telc played an important role within the whole region of Southwest Moravia.
With regard to communications, the isolation of the town ended by the construction of the railway connecting Kostelec with Telc in 1898 and by its additional branch leading from Telc via Slavonice to Schwarzenau in Austria.
Also new cultural and economic life started to develop. No matter how much Telč vitalised, grew and spread, the inner town between the ponds and gates has kept the beautiful charm of the days of Zachariáš. And this is the main reason for which the historical heart of the town was registered in 1992 on the UNESCO´s List of World Cultural Heritage sites.
HOUSES IN THE SQUARE
The square, lined by picturesque facades and arcades, corresponds approximately to the conditions of the time when the town was founded from the point of view of its extent. Originally the houses were built in the Gothic style with characteristic dimensions (medium width into the square was 9 to 11 yards and the depth of about 33 yards) and with characteristic arrangement of both the ground and first floors which, in spite of numerous reconstruction, have been preserved up to now on most of them: the people passed from the square through a large gate with a stone jamb (some houses have kept their bent arch (no. 8, 49, 59 and others) into the vaulted entrance hall – “mazhouse” -, which took 2/3 of the width (in some exceptional cases even the whole width, no. 10, 15, 53, 62) and reached to various depths of the house yard. From this space that originally served for goods manufacture, shop or sale of beer, the people passed upstairs to the first floor and downstairs to the cellars, and through a passage into the yard.
In the second half of the 15th century the arcades and entire fronts with gables were constructed before most of the houses according to unified plans. Arcades, fronts and gables were built individually but some of the fronts were reconstructed in the following centuries, which means that only a part of them have kept their Renaissance style. Most fronts and gables bear the Baroque features, in some of them it is possible to also register the signs of later styles.
In the second part of the 14th century the barons of Hradec built a Gothic castle in Telc, which was a simple building in an “L” shape that had first of all defending features, and was fortified by a wall and moat, even in the direction opposite the town. From 1550 Zacharias of Hradec permanently resided in Telc and he had the old castle rebuilt and widened with a newly built Renaissance palace. The first stage of reconstruction was lead by the well-known architect Leopold Estreicher of Slavonice. From those days the rage sgraffito decorations of e. g. the small banqueting hall and of the treasury have been preserved. Other works were done under the supervision of the Italian artists whom Zacharias used to invite to Telc during his tours of Italy where he was strongly influenced by the Italian Renaissance art. The completion of the general appearance of the Telč architecture was assigned to Baldassare Maggi of Arogno.
The original condition of most of the castle rooms was not impaired by the later castle owners either: Slavatas 1604 – 1693, Lichtenstein-Kastelkorn 1693 – 1762 and Podstatsky – Lichtenstein 1762 – 1945.
The most remarkable rooms of the Telc castle are the Renaissance halls with beautiful wooden panel ceilings. In the Theatre Hall the ceiling is formed by the panels containing painted masquers (completed in 1556). In the ceiling of the Knight Hall (1570) you will see the acts of Hercules (this painting is assigned to Raimund Paul). The Blue Hall, finished in 1561, contains the allegory of four elements personified by the Roman gods. The ceiling of the famous Golden Hall consists of 30 octagonal panels with impressive figurative wooden carvings (1561). A most important artistic monument is also the stucco decoration of the Chapel of All Saint (1850) with the marble grave stone to Zacharias and Katerina surrounded by a decorative wrought grille.
With regard to the precious objects on display, you should pay particular attention to the Renaissance jewel-box with the inlaid works dating from 1566, to the armour which is situated in the Knight Hall and dates from the 15th and 16th centuries and to the collection of fire arms containing beautifully decorated rifles from the 17th century. In this hall you will also find the portraits of Zacharias of Hradec, of his first wife Katerina z Valdstejna and the one of famous “White Lady” Perchta of Rozmberk. In the Blue Hall you can see the picture of Prague defenestration during which the then-owner of Telč, Vilem Slavata was thrown out of Prague Castle window. Rare portraits of Zacharias´s parents, Anna and Adam which were painted by Jacob Sweiseneger can be seen in the Golden Hall.
The second exhibition route leads through the flat of the last castle owners, the Podstatsky-Lichtensteins. Its furnichings, mostly in their original conditions, represent a significant testimony of the appearance of noble interiors. Among some very interesting exhibits special attention should be paid to the jewel-box from the 17th century, to the collection of historical faiences and to other beautiful works of art. The greenhouse constructed in the Classicist style you will find in the park of the chateau (second quater of the 19th century).
Within the chateau rooms the Gallery of Jan Zrzavý is situated where you can see a survey of the work of this distinguished Czech painter. Here you will also find a branch of the Museum of Uplands. The Telc Museum founded in 1886 is the oldest one within the region of south-west Moravia. Along with the outstanding exhibits of the museum there belongs also a large model of the town dating from 1890, a movable Christmas crib, rich collections that are not only ethnographic, but also historical and archaeological.