I arrived in Litomyšl in the middle of a spring storm.
It looked like it was threatening to ruin the beautiful clear day, and cast a strange golden light on the interestingly wooden Litomyšl station building.
I was there to visit my friends Meredith and Scott, who were in Litomyšl for Meredith’s Fulbright year. Thankfully it did not rain on our parade, but lit up the glorious scenery with that eerie light.
In the morning we went for a visit to the UNESCO-listed, 16th century Litomyšl Castle. It’s one of the largest Renaissance chateaus in Czech Republic, built by the Pernštejn family with Italian-style arcades and High-Baroque features added later. Unlike the day before, it was bright and clear, making the high structures that more impressive.
Original Pernštejn family seals above the entryway
The arcades of the chateau were truly impressive. Once we were finished with the wonderful tour, we wandered around on the top floor, admiring the view to the inside courtyard as well as the outside, where people lazily mulled around in the springtime sunshine. There was so much visual stimuli, so much to look at! There was even a couple taking their wedding photos there.
Historical scenes immortalized in the inner courtyard
Here are a few highlights from the inside of the chateau from our tour:
There was an original theatre built inside of the chateau, doorknobs that reminded me of croissants, beautifully upholstered furniture, a strange “lover’s” chair that I would pay to have, and a Baroque masonry stove – these always make me think of whipped cream and then crave ice cream. They are everywhere in these gorgeous old chateaus!
The view over the gardens and towards the nearby church is wonderful from the arcades.
In your post-tour stupor, I highly recommend a visit to the Monastery Gardens. On a nice day it’s great for a picnic and people-watching, and there are some nice statues scattered around the bright green grass. Just check out that scenery!
The town is very small compared to its cultural importance, despite which I was surprised to learn that Litomyšl restaurants are extremely reasonable. After lunch, we headed to the Portmoneum, a museum of the works of Josef Váchal (a printer, writer, and illustrator) that is kept in the former house of his good friend and fellow artist Josef Portman, and which was restored in 1991. Portman asked Váchal to decorate his house, and he created a large, interwoven, symbolic painting that completely covers the walls of two rooms.
You can’t take pictures and the painting is very hard to describe, but very worth a visit. He worked his many interests in the Eastern religions, philosophy, theology and demonology into the 1924 painting. You could spend 30 min to an hour with their guide, tracing the colorful and abstract intricacies of scenes from the Bhagavad-Gita and Christian iconography alike that he weaves together. (Regional Museum of Litomyšl)
Also visit the backyard for a small sculpture garden as well as a Camera Obscura in the shed.
Now, I would be in big trouble if I forgot to mention Litomyšl’s famed main square, Smetanovo náměstí, which boasts many colorful historical houses. But then again, all Czech squares do. Oh, what’s that you noticed? Yep, it’s one of the longest squares in central Europe. And believe me, there are a lot of squares in central Europe.
Last but not least, I was also pleasantly surprised to find out that there is no lack of great coffeehouses in the town. The best of them is conveniently on this main square, and is called Chocco Caffe. Take one look at the cakes and you will think you wandered into the splendor of a classic Viennese coffeehouse.
I could not resist this gorgeous chocolate cake with marzipan and edible gold flakes which were made from the sides of crepes, no less. Everything is homemade, including, of course, the chocolate. I got a bunch of unique house pralines to take home “as a gift.” They didn’t survive in my kitchen for three days.
Long story short: if you’re looking for a day trip from Prague, don’t miss this gorgeous and historical town where every sight is a feast for the eyes.