Significant landmarks in Vysočina


The Pilgrimage Church of St John of Nepomuk at Zelená hora

Almost everybody knows the image of this star-shaped church, surrounded by a cloister that is also shaped like a star. The idea for building a house of God which would celebrate St John of Nepomuk came from Václav Vejmluva, an abbot in the Cistercian Monastery in Žďár. He thus approached architect Jan Blažej Santini-Aichel, who thanks to many years of collaboration and understanding designed the church, together with its cloister, as we know it today. The construction work started on 13th August 1719 with the building of the base walls of the church and cloister. The foundation stone was laid the following May, and in 1722, the construction of the church was completed.

This pilgrimage site was inscribed on the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage List in 1994. In 2013, the Roman Catholic Church submitted an application for this heritage site to be returned to them, which indeed happened a year later following a mutual agreement. Therefore, the church at Zelená hora is now under the stewardship of the Roman Catholic parish in Žďár nad Sázavou. You too can soak in the atmosphere of this place. The church premises can hold up to 300 people, so the church is suitable for holding ceremonies. However, you can also visit the site as a part of active recreation, perhaps after a training course or a seminar you may have attended in Žďár or elsewhere.


The Basilica of St Procopius and the Jewish Quarter in Třebíč

The history of the basilica started in 1220, when the Třebíč Monastery’s abbot decided to build the largest church in Moravia. He managed to fulfil this vision only in part, as this is the longest church only. In 1241, the South France masonic lodge thus built the foundations of the basilica, and construction was completed in 1260. This is one of the reasons why this building is a unique blend of the Romanesque and Gothic styles.

However, the basilica’s appearance, as we know it today, comes from the early 17th century, when the Waldsteins became the new owners and decided to restore its former glory lost after a fire in 1462. The oldest part of the basilica is its vault, whose 13th-century wooden-clad ceilings, as well as its fifty pillars, each of which is an original, have survived to date. The combination of architectural styles and its cultural value was the reason why the Basilica of St Procopius was included in the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage List in 2003.


The Jewish Quarter

The first written records of the presence of the Jewish population in Třebíč date back to 1338, although it is thought that they had lived there perhaps one hundred years before that. In the 17th century, up to 1,200 Jews lived within a very small area in Třebíč. In addition to some historic anti-Jewish measures, such as a ban on owning land or carrying on trade, new measures were put in place. Jews were not allowed to expand their town, which resulted in new houses being built into existing ones.

It may seem like the buildings standing along the crooked streets are silent witnesses of by-gone eras. The opposite is true, though. This ‘town within a town’ is a place that is constantly throbbing with a variety of cafés and restaurants, a museum and cultural life.

It is not just the houses that have been preserved in the Jewish Quarter – the town hall, school, poorhouse and, last but not least, two synagogues have survived too. The size of the area makes it the only fully preserved quarter in Europe. In 2003, it was inscribed on the UNESCO List as the only Jewish heritage site outside of Jerusalem.


The historic town centre of Telč

An island of history and cultural heritage. In the 13th century, this was a crossroads of trade routes with a water fort, protected on all sides by ponds and gates. These remained in place even after the fort was rebuilt in the 16th century. The current appearance of the site has its origins in this redevelopment. The historic centre of Telč is a one-of-a-kind urban unit that has Gothic/Renaissance buildings complete with arcades characteristic of that time period. Although the building of arcades stopped in other towns, and some arcades were even demolished, this practice was always prohibited in Telč, which is one of the reasons why the town can now boast the Small Arcade and Large Arcade. A Renaissance chateau and a French garden were built on the foundations of the previous fort. Its beauty will certainly make you think of the fairy tale film called Helluva Good Luck. Because of its unique appearance, the historic centre of Telč is protected by the government as an Urban Conservation Area (the town centre) and a National Cultural Heritage site (the chateau and its grounds). Both parts of the historic centre have been under the patronage of UNESCO since 1992.


Other landmarks in the Vysočina Region

Jaroměřice nad Rokytnou Chateau

Ten kilometres away from Moravské Budějovice is a gem of Baroque architecture dating back to the 1st half of the 18th century. The chateau is one of the largest Baroque complexes from that time period. However, it would not escape the trained eye of an expert that the masonry of today’s chateau hides its Renaissance past dating back to the 16th century. The original medieval fort was rebuilt into a Renaissance chateau during that time. The current appearance of the chateau is to the credit of the most prominent noble family ever to own it – the Questenbergs. The chateau and the adjacent Parish Church of St Margaret are surrounded by a French garden. Jaroměřice Chateau is also known for its musical history. It was here that F. V. Míča, a native to Třebíč, composed the first Czech-language opera entitled About the Origins of Jaroměřice. If you are Baroque music admirers, visit Jaroměřice in August, when the Peter Dvorský International Festival is held here.


Světlá nad Sázavou Chateau

In 2014, Světlá nad Sázavou Chateau opened its gates to the general public for the first time in its history and was determined to become not only the cultural centre of the entire Světlá area, but in the future a cultural gem of the Czech Republic as well. Currently, there are a few tours and exhibitions available to visitors in the chateau. The chateau is set to gradually undergo an extensive renovation process in the years to come; however, it will not close its gates to the public. Throughout the summer season, the chateau and park grounds play host to various entertainment programmes for children and adults alike, which include festivals, concerts, exhibitions and other fairy-tale events.


Náměšť nad Oslavou Chateau

Located 22 km away from Třebíč is a chateau built on the site of a previous medieval castle. The dominion was owned by the Meziříčí branch of the Lomnice noble family. The whole township was destroyed by Hungarian troops in the 2nd half of the 15th century. At the end of the 16th century, the chateau was passed to the ownership of the Zierotin family. The chateau remained in their ownership until the mid-18th century, when it was acquired by Wilhelm von Haugwitz, one of the creators of Maria Theresa’s reforms. During that period, the area enjoyed its biggest economic and trade boom. His family owned the chateau until the end of World War Two, after which it was nationalized following the Beneš decrees. President Beneš liked the chateau and had it remodelled as his summer seat in Moravia. Nevertheless, he visited it only once, in 1947.


Žďár nad Sázavou Chateau and Monastery

This site consists of a chateau, basilica (the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary), monastery and a garden. In 1252, the Cistercian Monastery of the Well of the Blessed Virgin Mary was founded on this site. The existence of a stone-built church was recorded in a chronicle in 1300. The monastery was passed to the ownership of King George of Poděbrady through inheritance in 1458. He strived to rebuild the site, which had been devastated by the Hussite armies. In 1638, the monastery’s ownership was transferred to the Olomouc cardinal, who had the prelate’s seat rebuilt as a chateau. The monastery was struck by a large fire for the first time in 1689. While restoring the monastery, the Church of St Margaret was added to the site. Abbot Václav Vejmluva commissioned architect Santini sixteen years later. The collaboration between these two figures culminated with the consecration of the Church of St John of Nepomuk at Zelená hora in 1722. Unfortunately, as soon as 1784, there was another fire in the monastery, after which abbot Steinbach asked Emperor Joseph II to close the monastery down. In 1930, the last noble family to own the building was the House of Kinsky. All the property was nationalized in 1948 and remained so until 1991 when it was returned to the Kinsky family.


Chotěboř Chateau

In the early 18th century, a Baroque Italian-style chateau was built on the site of a previous Gothic fort. Less than 20 km away from Havlíčkův Brod, you can visit the chateau, which currently houses a museum presenting the local history of trades and crafts. The adjacent Chapel of the Most Holy Trinity, which stands out for its rich stucco decorations, is definitely worth visiting. The chateau has been in the ownership of the Dobrzenský family since 1836, though it is completely open to the public.


Kámen Castle

Some 15 km away from Pelhřimov lies Kámen, an originally Gothic castle dating back to the 13th century. The castle, which belonged to a large dominion, was a royal fiefdom for almost two hundred years. In the mid-17th century, i.e. when it was owned by the Malovec family, the castle underwent a large redevelopment, during which the southern residential wing and entrance tower were built. The castle has been under state ownership since 1953. It is presently a branch of the Pelhřimov Vysočina Museum, p. o., which also houses exhibitions on homes and motorcycles.


Lipnice nad Sázavou Castle

This massive and far-reaching castle compound, which dates back to the 14th century, is situated 15 km away from Havlíčkův Brod, on the border between the historic Kingdom of Bohemia and the Margraviate of Moravia. In 1319, King John of Luxembourg acquired the castle as a pledge and transferred it to the Lords of Lipá in exchange for the Zittau dominion. During their reign, the castle was visited by John of Luxembourg and his son Charles, who later, as the ruling monarch Charles IV, acquired the castle, and in 1370 granted town privileges and brewing rights to the township of Lipnice. Then the castle belonged to various owners until 1869, when it succumbed to fire, as did most of Lipnice. It was not until 1913 that an initiative to save the castle was established. The castle has been under state ownership since 1953 and is gradually being made available to the public.


Roštejn Castle

Twelve kilometres away from Telč lies a castle built by the Lords of Hradec in the early 14th century. In the 1570s, Zachariáš of Hradec had it rebuilt into a Renaissance hunting lodge complete with a game enclosure. Two murals were painted here at the turn of the 19th century, which have been preserved to date. The castle was struck by fire in 1915. Its roofs were repaired eight years later, and in 1958, when it was under state ownership, the castle buildings were repaired as well. The castle has been open to the public since 1969, and you can currently visit an exhibition presenting the artwork of local craftspeople, and the Verderer’s Office.