Czech Republic on two wheels, Žďár, Telč and Třebíč

We start off saturday morning against the same wind we’ve been fighting for the past two days. It’s interesting that while in Europe wind is generally blowing from west, we manged to head eastwards one of the few periods when a cold front from Russia was advancing from the east.

At least we should have back wind for the second half of the day, between Žďár nad Sázavou and Kutná Hora. But before that we have to continue advancing like snales for the next 40 kilometers. Really for the bits which were slightly uphill we were probably averaging around 10 kilometers per hour. And there were moments in which the side-wind made balancing the bike at high speeds quite difficult.

Dimineata pe racoare...

Early in the morning.

Atacul gastelor scapate de sub control.

Attack of the geese.

Deal-vale, deal-vale...

Hilly terain.

So the first part of the day went on relatively uneventful. We were out of food, the battled the wind and we had no place to seek shelter, we were making slow progress so we couldn’t wait to see the silhouette of the Žďár monastery. The Pilgrimage Church of Saint John of Nepomuk, erected in the name of a 14th century saint, is situated on a round hill overlooking Žďár. The complex is included in the UNESCO list for it’s unusual baroque architecture, as everything was built around the number 5.

But before getting to the mausoleum, we need to replenish our food supply from one of the supermarkets in Žďár,  moment in which we realize that the products which are found in similar supermarkets vary greatly from country to country. For example the things which can be found in a German Lidl are different from the things which can be found in a Checz Lidl, and you think of it it’s relatively normal, as different nations have different tastes.

But skipping ahead to the pilgrimage church, the church and the surrounding complex has an original architecture, at least for that time. It’s the brainchild of an czech architect, named Jan Blažej Santini Aichel, and it’s probably one his most important works.



Cinci este numarul magic.

Five is the magic number.


Curved perspectives.

Umbrele cicloturistilor la Zdar.

Our shadows at Zdar.

The building is based on the number 5 ( the 5 wounds of Christ, the 5 letters of the latin word for remaining silent, the 5 stars which were seen here after the saint was killed), and so everything every detail in the church relates somehow to it. As a style, it’s a mix between Gothic and Baroque, which was then used again in other buildings in the Czech Republic.

After the windy visit to the Church, we change direction and we start pedaling back to Kutna Hora where we’ve left our car, with hopes of getting there before nightfall. The plan is to visit two more UNESCO sites, the city of Třebíč and Telč on Sunday. At least for the first 40 kilometers we have have back wind, and boy does it help. So instead of riding with an average of 10-12km/h, we dash with averages up to 25-30km/h.

Frontiera dintre Bohemia si Moravia.

The border between Moravia and Bohemia.

Cehia intr-o singura imagine.

Czech Republic in just one photo.

Even though we make good progress night catches us with another 20 kilometers to go, so we spend an hour pedaling in darkness through small villages, until we reach Kutna Hora, and after another 5 kilometers our car.

During Sunday we drive the 70 kilometers south towards Telč, and we get there early enough in the morning to avoid the tourist flux. The town has one of the most beautiful town squares from Europe flanked by gorgeous medieval houses with colorful facades. It does have Hans Christian Andersen feel to it. The harsh light didn’t really help for photography, but still it’s a nice town and it’s well worth the visit.

Casele de povesti din Telc.

The  fairy tale houses from Telc.

After another 30 kilometers of driving we reach a completely different  town, Třebíč, which looks completely different from Telc. The town is also included on the UNESCO list, with it’s benedictine cathedral, the Jewish quarter and the Jewish cemetery. They can all be seen by following a 3 kilometer trail, which travels through the city.

The benedictine church can be visited but the guided tours are only in Czech, but you usually receive a translation which you can use to discover the place on your own. Regarding the cathedral, it bears signs of almost all the different religious eras from the Czech Republic. In the begging catholic, with the reformation of Jan Hus by the mid 16th century most of the country switched to Protestantism,  a trend which got an abrupt stop after the defeat from the Battle of the White Mountain. This defeat, brought Czech Republic under Hapsburg control for the next 200 years, and it initiated a successful counter-reformation. In the beginning of the 19th century almost all the lands which still belonged to monasteries was confiscated, and churches ended up being used for different purposes. For example the benedictine church was used at one point as a beer cellar, and as a military warehouse.

As other old churches it was restored at the end of the 19th century, with an effort of keeping it as close as possible to the original form.

Basilica Sf. Pricopius.

St. Pricopius church.

After the church we head to the Jewish cemetery, one of the largest and the best preserved in Europe. Wondering through it’s narrow paths you see tomb stones which are hundred of years old, and it’s easy to understand how long was the history of the Jewish community from this town. I said was, because a small exodus started when jews were allowed to leave the ghetto, in the mid 19th century, and the remaining community was decimated during the second world war. And thus, today no jews live in Třebíč, but the traces still can be seen as a reminder of a once thriving place.

You cannot help but wonder how was the life of the people which are buried here and what was their world view. And you cannot help but feel that the end treats in an equal way, regardless of wealth and class.The oldest tombstone dates back to the 1625th century, and it’s interesting to see how the writing and the names have changed during the four centuries.

Haos si ordine.

Chaos and order.

Zidul, lumea celor vii pe de o parte, lumea celor morti in partea cealalta.

The wall, separating the world of the living from the world of the dead.

Everything is hidden by a blanket of autumn leaves and ivy plants, and some tomb stones are already breaking apart, you have the feeling that nothing is eternal, and in time the tombstones will completely disappear, weathered down by the elements and swallowed by the earth.


Nothing is eternal.

Morminte de peste veacuri.

Ancient tombstones.

We lingered around the cemetery and we started late back to the city, in order to wander through the ghetto for a while, in order to see the place where these people lived. The jewish quarter from Třebíč has 123 houses, erected along 2 main streets and interconnected by a number of different alleys. One can still identify the landmark buildings, the town hall, the synagogues, the rabbi’s house, the hospital, the home for the elderly and so on.

It’s one of the best preserved Jewish neighborhoods outside Israel. In 1890 here lived 1500 jews, by 1930 there were only 300 left, and currently ony 10 still live in the city. Nowadays there is no community, the houses are either empty, or are inhabited by people with a different religion. We visited the new Synagogue (which is 400 years old), where we find a small information center, and a 3D model showing the entire ghetto.

Prin ghetou.

Through the ghetto.

Sinagoga abandonata.

The abandoned Synagogue.

After reaching our car around 17:00, we start the long 500 kilometer journey back to Berlin, pleasantly surprised with Czech Republic, with it’s history and rural landscapes.


Bike touring in Czech Republic

The country is somewhere halfway between Romania and Germany from the infrastructure. There are some bike touring routes, and they usually follow smaller roads, and the are marked by yellow signs bearing different numbers. You usually see the route number and the distance to the next one or two cities in that direction. Free maps with the routes can be found in towns which have tourist information, but they usually only cover squares of bout 20 kilometers.

Other variants of bike routes in english ca be found here .

One online planner can be found: here.

What we really used was a road map bought from a gas station, just follow the secondary roads and you will be fine: Czech Republic 1:250,000 Travel Map with city plans Freytag&Berndt

Even though there are 4 EuroVelo routes which cross the country (number 4, 7, 9 and 13),   from what we’ve checked on their websites there special infrastructure doesn’t really exist. Probably the most popular from the four is the Prague-Vienna Greenway.

Now regarding tourisn in the Czech Republic:

  • Usually there is a tax for each site. At some sites you have guided tours, usually in Czech, organised every hour or every couple of hours. If you are a foreigner you get a leaflet with a translation of the content of the tour.
  • All the names are in Czech, which is a language which is sometimes difficult to pronounce, so doing a bit of homework before asking people for directions is useful.
  • For outdoor sites the information is usually provided in english and in czech, but there may be exceptions to this rule.
  • Well organized sites describing the 12 UNESCO sites in Czech Republic can be found here or here.




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