Litomyšl, Czech Republic
I’ve written previously about the gorgeous squares you find in the smaller towns and cities in the Czech Republic. My favourite, as I’ve already declared, is the main square in the town of Telč. But coming a close second is the long square in the middle of Litomyšl.
It’s another small town, with a population of about 10,000 people. And the square is not really a ‘square’, it’s more of a road. It stretches along for almost 500 metres, lined on both sides with colourful buildings. The facades are from different eras – look closely and you’ll see elements of Baroque, Classical and Empire styles. But each of them has been carefully maintained to create a cohesive fronting onto the street.
Stretching around most of the square (officially called Smetanovo Square) is the original design of the arcade, which means you can walk under cover for almost the whole way.
Luckily for me, there’s no sight of rain and I don’t need to use the arcade. Instead, I try to dodge the cars and walk out on the street so I can look carefully at the buildings on either side – some are still houses but most are restaurants, shops and hotels.
Once they were all the houses of rich burghers. In medieval times, Litomyšl was part of an important trading route and the caravans of goods would come right down this street. One of the reasons the wealthy businessmen chose to settle here was because they had protection from the castle above them.
And Litomyšl Castle is really the highlight of the town… and the reason I am here.
Leaving the square/road and walking up the hill, it doesn’t take too long to find the castle. From the outside, it almost looks like an enormous cube. Four flat walls on each side give little away about what’s inside. The walls themselves are one of the most interesting elements of Litomyšl Castle. As you get close you realise that the tiles it’s made from, which look identical from a distance, each have their own design on them – animals, people, fruit, and other symbols.
I pass through the main external gates and come into a central courtyard. Sun shines down into it. Looking up, I see arcades along three of the internal walls. The fourth one has a solid wall with murals painted on it.
The only way to see inside is with a guided tour and so I sign up for the next one and wait my turn. The tour is only given in Czech and so, as the guide leads us around, I have time to take lots of photos and explore each room while she talks to the others.
The castle is described as an ‘arcade castle’ in the Renaissance style. This type of castle was first developed in Italy and then became popular in Central Europe in the 16th century. Litomyšl Castle was built from 1568 and is one of the best examples remaining.
Inside, though, the decorations are mainly from the 18th century when it was redesigned in the Baroque style by new owners.
I have to say, everything is extremely well laid out and the interior of the castle is beautiful. However, it does look like a lot of the other castles and palaces I have now seen in the Czech Republic. A lot of credit needs to go to those in the Czech Republic who restore and maintain these buildings – it is very well done. But nothing on the inside here jumps out at me as more spectacular than any other I have seen.
I’ll share some of the photos from inside with you now, and you’ll maybe see what I mean.
For many travellers, Litomyšl may seem a little out of the way from anywhere else they were planning to stop. I’ve had some people suggest that it’s not worth visiting unless you are going to be nearby anyway. I tend to disagree.
I stay overnight in town and it has a wonderful atmosphere to it when the hordes of day-tripping tourists have left. It’s not a busy place at night but in the early evening the buildings glow and you almost have the square to yourself.
And, even though I have mentioned that I didn’t find anything unique inside the castle, it is still an impressive display. And the exterior is special and something you won’t see anywhere else. Don’t discount Litomyšl. Stop by for the day or overnight and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
How do I get to Litomyšl Castle?
The official address of Litomyšl Castle is Jiráskova 93, 570 01, Litomyšl. Once you’re in the town, it’s very easy to find – just head up the hill at the northern end of the square. You can see it on a map here.
The best way to get there by public transport is to get the train to either Choceň or Česká Třebová and then get a connecting bus. The connections aren’t that regular so it’s worth checking the timetable here in advance.
Can I visit Litomyšl Castle?
Yes, you can visit the castle but it is closed in November, December, January, February and March. In April, it is open from 1000 – 1500 (10am – 3pm) on Saturday and Sunday. In May it is open from 1000 – 1500 (10am – 3pm) and June it is open from 1000 – 1600 (10am – 4pm). In July and August it is open from 0900 – 1700 (9am – 5pm). In September it is open from 1000 – 1600 (10am – 4pm). In October it is open from 1000 – 1500 (10am – 3pm). IT IS ALWAYS CLOSED ON MONDAYS.
The basic tour costs 120CZK (US$4.80) for adults and 80CZK (US$3.20) for concessions. Longer tours and English tours can be booked in advance for groups of more than 15 people.
You can find more information at the official website.
Are there tours to Litomyšl?
Other than the official guided tour in Czech that you get at the castle, there aren’t many services you can use for a guide in Litomyšl. One option I can suggest is a two day tour out of Prague that visits a lot of great heritage sites in the region. You can see more about that tour here.
Where should you stay in Litomyšl?
If you’re looking for a budget option, I would suggest Evropske Skolicí Centrum in a former brewery.
For something friendly and affordable, Penzion V Podzámčí is a great choice with a good breakfast.
For one of the best locations in the town, you can’t go past Hotel Zlata Hvezda.
And if you’re travelling in a group or as a family, you might like this apartment at Hajenka Kozlov.