The picturesque town of Český Krumlov lies in the deep, meandering valley of the Vltava river, approximately 180 km south of Prague. This castle city in the Southwest of the Czech Republic has preserved its medieval center as no other town in the region. The city has two main districts: Latran (around the Castle) and the district on the slope between two bends of the river Vltava. Name of the town Cesky Krumlov is based on legend. The name Krumlov is derived from the German “Krumme Aue”, which may be translated as crooked meadow”. The name comes from the natural topography of the town, specifically from the tightly crooked meander of the Vltava river. The second word “Cesky” simply means Czech, or Bohemian (actually one and the same), as opposed to Moravian or Silesian. In Latin documents it was called Crumlovia or Crumlovium.
The town was first mentioned in documents from 1253, where Krumlov was called Chrumbonowe. It was also known under name Krumlov nad Vltavou. Nickname Cesky in connection with the existing name of the town was officially first used. However, the name Cesky Krumlov is in use since 30th, April in 1920 when Interior Minister gave permition.
Construction of the town and castle began in the late 13th century at a ford in the Vltava River, which was important in trade routes in Bohemia. In 1302 the town and castle were owned by the House of Rosenberg. Emperor Rudolf II bought Krumlov in 1602 and gave it to his natural son Julius d’Austria. Emperor Ferdinand II gave Krumlov to the House of Eggenberg. From 1719 until 1945 the castle belonged to the House of Schwarzenberg. Most of the architecture of the old town and castle dates from the 14th through 17th centuries; the town’s structures are mostly in Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque styles. The core of the old town is within a horseshoe bend of the river, with the old Latrán neighborhood and castle on the other side of the Vltava.
During the interwar era it was part of Czechoslovakia. Between 1938 and 1945 it was annexed by Nazi Germany as part of the so-called Sudetenland. The town’s German-speaking population was expelled after liberation by the American Army during World War II and it was restored to Czechoslovakia.
During the Communist era of Czechoslovakia, Krumlov fell into disrepair, but since the Velvet Revolution of 1989 much of the town’s former beauty has been restored, and it is now a major holiday destination popular with tourists from Germany, Austria, and beyond. In August, 2002, the town suffered from damage in the great flood of the Vltava River.
The Schwarzenbergs belonged among the most significant noble families in the Czech lands. The family was first mentioned in 1172. A branch of the Seinsheim family (the non-Schwarzenberg portion died out in 1958) was created when Erkinger I of Seinsheim acquired the Frankish barony of Schwarzenberg, the castle Schwarzenberg and the title Baron of Schwarzenberg, in 1405–21. At this time, they also possessed some fiefdoms in Bohemia. In 1599 the Schwarzenbergs were elevated to Counts and in 1670 to Princes. In 1660, they gained the first Czech dominion – Toeboo. The House of Schwarzenberg came into extensive land holdings in Bohemia in 1661 through a marriage alliance with the House of Eggenberg. In the 1670s, they established their primary seat in Bohemia. Until 1918 their primary residence was in Český Krumlov, Bohemia (now in the Czech Republic).
In the late 18th century, the House of Schwarzenberg was divided into two titled lines (majorats). The elder line died out in the male line in 1965 with Heinrich Schwarzenberg, the 11th Prince of Schwarzenberg. The second line was established with Prince Karl Philipp of Schwarzenberg at Orlík, Murau and Vienna. Today the two lines are united under the current head of the house, Prince Karl VII of Schwarzenberg, who served as a minister of foreign affairs of the Czech Republic in the cabinet of Mirek Topolanek.
The House of Eggenberg had its origins as a middle-class merchant house of the Eggenberger family in the Styrian region of Inner Austria and the Kingdom of Hungary in the Holy Roman Empire. The savvy and cunning business dealings of Balthasar Eggenberger in the late Middle Ages laid the foundations of the family’s rise to prominence. It was sometime prior to 1479 that Matthias Corvinus elevated Balthasar to the nobility, making way for the House of Eggenberg to arise. It was due to two men of later generations of Eggenbergs, both great-grandsons of Balthasar, Ruprecht von Eggenberg and Hans Ulrich von Eggenberg, that the family’s prominent place in the history of the Holy Roman Empire was secured. They came to Bohemia from Styria during the Thirty Year’s War in the 17th century.
The importance of this unique architectural jewel is underlined by the fact that it was included in the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List in 1992. However, Český Krumlov is more than an exceptional complex of 300 historical buildings. The town also presents itself to visitors as a centre of culture, conventions and tourism.
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