The Vysočina region full of life


The Vysočina region full of life
The Vysočina region
full of life
Ždírec nad Doubravkou
Ledeč nad Sázavou
Bystřice nad Pernštejnem
Velké Meziříčí
Kamenice nad Lipou
Náměšť nad Oslavou
Jaroměřice nad Rokytkou
It couldn’t be simpler to get to Vysočina – just one of the many great features of this recreational destination. It only takes an hour
and a half from Prague and an hour from Brno by car to reach the capital of the region, Jihlava.
You will find a wide range of travel information at the following website:
A symphony of forests and ponds
The Vysočina region sits in the very heart
of Europe on the border of Bohemia and
Moravia. Visitors to the area particularly
appreciate the untouched natural beauty
and unforgettable scenery of the Bohemian
and Moravian Highlands (Českomoravská
vrchovina) that make up the majority of the
The wooded hills of Vysočina recede into
flowering meadows, while expansive
valleys with romantic rock formations are
interwoven with roads and paths that are
themselves lined by full-grown avenues of
Ponds have been a part of Vysočina since
ancient times, the oldest being created back
in the 13th century. There were also a great
many dams here in the past, many being
used as reservoirs for drinking water. Some
also became popular places for recreation.
Vysočina is part of what is known as the
rooftop of Europe and over one hundred
kilometres of the main European dividing
line between the Black Sea and the North
Sea run through the region. Vysočina is
also where a number of rivers spring, rivers
that form a dense network of waterways
throughout the landscape.
Many corners of Vysočina have been
declared protected zones for their natural
and cultural wealth.
One of the most prominent of these protected
zones is „CHKO Žďárské vrchy“, whose rock
formations, forest remains and rare species of
moorland plants combine to make it one of
the jewels in the region’s crown.
Other sites of unique scenery can be
discovered elsewhere.
The valley of the River Doubrava, for
example, is a rare experience indeed. The
course of the river is lined by granite rocks
that rise as high as 60 metres, as the river
itself winds through a series of bizarre rapids
and waterfalls. By contrast, the Mohelno
Serpentine Steppe (Mohelenská hadcová
step) will enchant you with its unique fauna
and flora, which are influenced by the
serpentine subsoil of the local area.
The presence of this rock guarantees ideal
conditions for rare species of plants, ferns
and dwarf trees.
If, however, you are more inclined towards
walking and hiking to the heights, you
should certainly be sure not to miss the
highest peaks of the region - Javořice (837
m) and Devět skal (836 m). Of course this is
just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what
the local countryside has to offer.
The magic of pure nature, the power of fresh
air and the unique peace and quiet of the
deep forests are qualities being discovered
by more and more tourists every year, people
that come to Vysočina to relax and recharge
the batteries before returning to the hustle
and bustle of everyday life.
The heritage of the past
The finishing touches to the picturesque
landscape of Vysočina were added by
our forefathers and mothers over many
hundreds of years; it was they who created
trade routes in the deep forests along both
sides of the border between Bohemia and
Moravia and who built fortresses to protect
them. Later still they built many historic
monuments, structures that are very highly
valued to this day.
They dealt with drying out the sodden
land and went on to mine silver, setting up
villages and towns that to this day show their
one-time fame and importance and whose
history stretches back to the beginning of
the 13th century.
Many renowned architects, sculptors and
painters contributed to the development
and beautification of the towns, and not
just in the times of plenty and wealth - after
times of destructive wars as well. Their
architectural gems you can admire to this
day. The years of prosperity were obviously
interwoven with years of poverty and decline.
The regional capital of Jihlava was one of
the wealthiest and most powerful towns in
the Kingdom of Bohemia during the Middle
Ages thanks to the discovery of silver here.
Mighty fortifications took care of the safety
of Jihlava, most of which remain standing
to this day, as does the multi-level labyrinth
of underground passageways that linked
medieval cellars on the square.
Pelhřimov took on its Baroque appearance
in the 18th century when the historic
heart of the town was built following a
destructive fire. It is surrounded by the town
fortifications and their two gateways. Here
you will also find a number of well-preserved
medieval burgher houses.
Havlíčkův Brod was founded on an important
trade route, as was Jihlava.
The Baroque square of the town is home to
gabled houses, while a stone fountain stands
in the middle. There are towns here with their
roots in the distant past, towns where you will
find fabulous burgher houses, monumental
religious structures or stone bridges.
Archaeological finds, written records,
museum exhibits and collections of art all
testify to the rich history of the region.
A return to the Middle Ages
The atmosphere of the Middle Ages comes
alive at the castles and ruins in the area with
the help of a number of summer festivals
full of magicians, swordsmen and musicians.
The courtyard of the castle in Lipnice
nad Sázavou, for example, plays host to
summer concerts, theatre performances and
demonstrations by sword-fighting groups.
The castle tower, meanwhile, offers views
that reach up to 70 km in distance. A tour of
the castle includes a visit to the armoury and
a display of Gothic tiled stoves, a tour of the
Chapel of St. Lawrence (kaple sv. Vavřince)
and of the expansive cellar area, with its
original medieval well.
Roštejn, originally a Gothic fortification that
was later transformed into a Renaissance
hunting lodge, is now used to display a
collection of porcelain and tin items, period
furniture and weapons. The castle livens up
during the summer with its scary night-time
tours. Medieval sword-fighting contests
also help you experience the true castle
atmosphere that prevailed here, taking you a
couple of hundred years into the past.
Hundreds of people are attracted to the local
medieval market at the castle ruins of Orlík
nad Humpolcem in July every year.
A medieval oven was discovered in the
former castle kitchen here and reconstructed,
meaning that you are able to bake your own,
hand-prepared bread or try out your pottery
The castle in Ledeč nad Sázavou is home to a
museum with exhibits that relate the history
of the town and describe the lives of the
local craftsmen. There is also an extensive
collection of coins, clocks and paintings.
Then, during the summer, the courtyard
becomes a stage for occasional concerts or
theatre performances. Kámen castle, whose
displays of old furniture allow you to take a
look at life in the castle in the 2nd half of the
19th century, rises from centre of a dominant
and expansive rock garden.
One extremely popular attraction for visitors
to the castle is a display of unique, historical
two-wheeled vehicles, the most valuable
of which is perhaps a motorcycle made by
Laurin and Klement in 1898.
A pilgrimage to the past
Tours given by guides in period costume,
theatre performances and mysterious nighttime tours of chateaux are all at hand to
provide you with something new and to
bring you that bit closer to history in a lessthan-traditional way.
The Renaissance chateau in Náměšť nad
Oslavou is home to a unique collection
of wall tapestries that date back to the
16th to 19th centuries. The chateau library,
with its stucco and fresco decoration
and its 16 thousand volumes, including
the Bible of Kralice, will leave you
The Baroque chateau in Jaroměřice nad
Rokytnou, which is surrounded by an
expansive French / English type garden, is still
home to its original interior, with valuable
furniture and many collections. The historical
exhibits tell of the musical tradition here,
something that lends itself to the staging of
concerts and the annual International Peter
Dvorský Music Festival.
Žirovnice chateau houses unique museum
collections that document the history of the
mother-of-pearl industry:
the town here found fame in the middle
of the 19th century thanks to the hand
production of mother-of-pearl buttons. You
can also see a valuable collection of earlyGothic wall paintings at the chateau.
The chateau complex in Polná, meanwhile,
is an example of the diversity of architectural
styles – the Gothic castle palace, rooms
decorated with Renaissance paintings and
the Baroque farm buildings. The exhibits
will introduce you to period crafts, with the
use of stone, a collection of old clocks and a
historical dispensary. The chateau courtyard
often stages concerts.
Other former estates also testify to the
wealth of the local aristocracy: learn about
the lost crafts that were typical of the
countryside and the towns in Moravské
Budějovice; fire-fighting technology
enthusiasts come into their own with the
exhibits in Přibyslav; the exhibition at the
chateau in Velké Meziříčí tells of the history
of bridges and roadways in the Czech
Republic; Kamenice nad Lipou is home to
part of the rich collection of the Museum of
Decorative Arts in Prague; and the chateau in
Nové Město na Moravě houses a gallery with
an exhibition of Classicist sculpture.
Monasteries were once among the most
prominent centres of culture and art and
one of the oldest is the Premonstratensian
monastery in Želiv. The complex of buildings
here is one of the most valuable works of art
in Bohemia.
You can also admire (among other) the
Baroque wall frescos and artistically valuable
contents of the Premonstratensian monastery
in Nová Říše.
Žďár nad Sázavou
There are currently twelve sites in the Czech
Republic entered in the UNESCO Register of
World Cultural and Natural Heritage. Three
of these are found in the Vysočina region.
They form an imaginary triangle and can
easily all be visited in the course of a single
weekend given that the distance between
them is around 40 km.
The Church of St. John of Nepomuk (kostel
sv. Jana Nepomuckého) at Zelená hořa in
Žďár nad Sázavou was created according to
the designs of renowned architect Jan Santini
– Aichel and is to this day one of the most
distinctive Baroque buildings in Europe. The
project was entrusted to Santini by the abbot
of the nearby Cistercian monastery, a great
admirer of St. John of Nepomuk. The church
was consecrated in September 1722 and
is considered the summit of Santini’s work.
The ground plan is set out in the shape of
a five-pointed star, something that appears
in the legend surrounding the violent death
of John of Nepomuk. The symbolism of the
number five is seen elsewhere throughout
the building.There are five altars inside, five
corridors, five stars and five angels on the
main altar and the whole church is entirely
surrounded by cloisters with a quintuple
of gateways and chapels. The originality of
Santini’s Baroque Gothic led to the church
being listed as a UNESCO world cultural and
natural heritage site in 1994, the first standalone religious building in the Czech Republic
to receive such an honour.The nearby
Cistercian monastery was transformed into a
chateau in the 18th century and here you will
now find an exhibition documenting Santini’s
work, an exhibition dedicated to historical
pianos and a Museum of Books, which maps
out the development of books and book
printing in Europe.
The town of Telč, which is rightly considered
one of the most beautiful towns in the
Czech Republic, is characterised by its
triangular main square, which is lined by
burgher houses with Renaissance gables and
Gothic arcade vaulting.
The finishing touches to the unique
appearance of the town are provided by its
two preserved gateways, Baroque fountains
and statues.
The chateau and the square combine to
form an architectural whole of immense
value, resulting in entry in the UNESCO
Register of World Cultural and Heritage
Sites in 1992. The original Gothic castle,
which was converted into a grandiose
Renaissance chateau in the second half
of the 16th century, is one of the best
preserved architectural complexes in the
Czech Republic. Of particular value is the
interior, where you will find wooden coffered
ceilings, period furniture, a collection of
historical weapons and collections of art.
The chateau’s courtyard and historical halls
are popular places for artistic performances.
The complex is surrounded by a park, whilst
one wing houses a museum documenting
the history of the town and the development
of different crafts and trades.
The third place in Vysočina with the honour
of being registered as a UNESCO site (since
July 2003) is the Romanesque-Gothic Basilica
of St. Procopius in Třebíč, together with the
Jewish quarter and the Jewish cemetery.
The Basilica is a national treasure of medieval
architecture. Construction work on the
church, which was originally consecrated
to the Virgin Mary, began in the first half of
the 13th century as part of a Benedictine
monastery that had been founded here in
1101. The building suffered considerable
damage during different wars that broke out
in the Czech lands during the 15th century
and was used for more than two hundred
years as a stable, granary or brew house.
However, it was again used as a religious
building and consecrated to St. Procopius
between 1725 and 1731. The most highlyvalued parts of the basilica include its crypt,
the vaulting of the choir, the wheel-window
and the stone entranceway.
The current appearance of the interior dates
back to 1924 – 1935. Close to the church is
a former monastery, which was converted
into a chateau in the 16th century and
which is now home to a museum featuring
collections that map out the development of
the town and the history of traditional local
nativity scenes.
The unique Jewish quarter in the town
was built in the Middle Ages on a relatively
thin strip of land and is surrounded by a
high slope on one side and the river on the
other. The dense concentration of buildings
conceals all elements typical of Jewish
architecture, such as winding lanes, houses
almost one on top of the other, vaulted
passageways and staircases carved into the
rock. The run-down complex was at one
time threatened with redevelopment, but
was saved at the beginning of the Nineties
by a more positive perspective on the unique
nature of the site, since when it has been
returned its original appearance.
Over time the area has seen the construction
of apartments, a number of restaurants,
wine bars and galleries. However, the
absolute climax of a visit to the Jewish
quarter is the duo of synagogues. The front
synagogue, which was built in the middle of
the 17th century, is now used as a place of
worship by the Czechoslovak Hussite Church.
The rear synagogue was built at the end of
the 17th century in the Renaissance-Baroque
style. Its wall paintings and their ornamental
and floral patterns have been restored
along with the liturgical texts in Hebrew.
The synagogue was opened to the public in
1997 following extensive restoration work
and is now used to stage exhibitions and
concerts.he expansive Jewish cemetery holds
almost 3000 graves, the oldest of which
dates back to 1625. This serves as evidence
of the century-long existence of a Jewish
community in Třebíč.
In many places in Vysočina will you come
across monuments to Jewish settlement in
the area, be it individual buildings, town
quarters or synagogues. Great attention has
been paid to the reconstruction of these in
a number of towns and even though the
synagogues no longer serve their original
purpose, they are open to the public to
stage exhibitions and concerts. However, the
insensitive approach of past decades means
that in some places the only monument to
remain is a Jewish cemetery.
One of the oldest and most prominent
hubs of Jewish life was found in Třebíč. The
complex here is made up of a unique, wellpreserved Jewish quarter with 123 buildings
and two synagogues and an expansive Jewish
cemetery. This exceptionally valuable whole,
a rare, well-preserved medieval ghetto, has
been maintained and revived, a place to which
the ancient genius loci left behind by several
generations of local Jews is slowly returning.
The Jewish quarter in Třešť is home to
86 buildings and a synagogue built in the
Empire style, the only of its kind in the
Czech Republic with a pillared arcade. The
local Jewish cemetery is enclosed by a stone
wall and is home to valuable Baroque and
Classicist gravestones.
The Jewish quarter in Polná was built
in the second half of the 17th century
and holds some 32 buildings, predominantly
single storey. It has two parts – the original
town, with its triangular ground plan,
and the lower square – the so-called
Rabbi’s Square (Rabínův plácek). The
Regional Jewish Museum is housed in the
synagogue, while the Jewish cemetery on
the edge of the town dates back to the 16th
A Jewish quarter was established on the
banks of the River Oslava in Velké Meziříčí
during the 15th century. Sixty-three of the
original 101 buildings remain, many of them
featuring imposing architectural details.
The restored former synagogue is now home
to a museum concentrating on local Jewish
The reconstructed synagogue in Golčův
Jeníkov was built in 1873 and is currently
used as the depositary of the Jewish
Museum in Prague.
The Jewish cemetery in Ledeč nad Sázavou is
one of the oldest in Bohemia. Here too will
you find a reconstructed synagogue, which is
used for exhibitions and concerts.
The Vysočina region is the birthplace of many
prominent personalities, people to have
found fame in a wide variety of aspects of
human life.
A number of famous painters, architects,
writers and scientists have been born in
Vysočina and have remained linked to the
local area throughout their lives. Others
discovered Vysočina on their travels and kept
returning to the area, inspired again and
again by the picturesque Vysočina landscape.
Without doubt the most prominent person in
the world of music is Gustav Mahler. You can
visit the birth house of this world-renowned
conductor and composer in the small village
of Kaliště u Humpolce. The house in which
the young Gustav Mahler later lived with
his family is found in Jihlava and is home
to a permanent exhibition dedicated to the
family of Gustav Mahler, his life and his
work. Gustav Mahler’s relationship with the
Vysočina region is also described in
a permanent exhibition at the museum in
Humpolec and a music festival dedicated
to the man is one of the most prominent
musical events in the region.
Another outstanding composer and violinist
of world renown is Jan Václav Stamic,
whose birth home is found on the square in
Havlíčkův Brod. The Stamic Festival is staged
every year to commemorate the importance
of Stamic and his work.
A number of authors are associated with the
Vysočina region. Karel Havlíček Borovský,
Czech poet, publicist and founder of Czech
journalism and literary critique, is closely
linked to the village where he was born in
1821. After all, it gave him his name and
he gave it his. He was born in the village
of Borová, which now takes the title of
Havlíčkova Borová in honour of its famous
son. Karel Havlíček, meantime, began
signing his works as Borovský („of Borová“).
The birth home of Karel Havlíček Borovský is
now a national cultural monument and holds
an exhibition commemorating the life and
work of the man.
Hašek Memorial“, which has been created
in his home, by the writer’s grave in the old
cemetery and by a statue by the memorial
beneath the castle staircase.
The picturesque little town of Jimramov is
the birthplace of three prominent writers.
Commemorative plaques have been placed
on the birth homes of brothers Vilém and
Alois Mrštíkový and Jan Karafiát.
Few people know that the fate of the Good
Soldier Švejk was sealed in a small house
beneath the majestic castle in Lipnice.
However, it was here that globe-trotter
Jaroslav Hašek settled towards the end of
his life and here that he wrote the book that
brought him fame at home and abroad.
The life and work of the writer in Lipnice
are now commemorated by the “Jaroslav
Another person to leave an indelible mark
on Vysočina is Otokar Březina, real name
Václav Jebavý, a renowned Czech poet. He
was born in Počátky and died in Jaroměřice
nad Rokytnou, where he is buried in the
local cemetery. A statuary created by famous
sculptor and Březina’s friend František Bílek
entitled Creator and his Sister Pain stands on
his grave.
Poets Jakub Deml and Antonín Sova also
found inspiration for their work in Vysočina.
Only a few dedicated people know that
the creator of the Japanese economic
miracle, Josef Alois Schumpeter, prominent
economist, scientist and lawyer, was born in
a burgher house in the town of Třešť.
Today the building houses a museum, with
one of the exhibitions commemorating the
life and work of this famous son. Another
monument relating to the Schumpeter family
is found at the local cemetery, the pseudoRenaissance Schumpeter-Kilián family tomb.
Visit the town of Brtnice, birthplace of
renowned architect Josef Hoffmann, to see
a permanent exhibition entitled “Timeless
design” in the home of his birth. The aim of
the exhibition is to show visitors items made
to this day by leading Austrian companies
precisely in line with Hoffmann’s original
designs and thus point to their timelessness.
Nové Město na Moravě came to prominence
thanks to its famous sons, learned sculptors
Vincenc Makovský and Jana Štursa. You can
see several of their creations throughout
the town. Learned painter, graphic artist,
illustrator and scenographer Jan Zrzavý
captured his native Vysočina on canvas. You
can visit an exhibition about his life and work
in the Memorial Hall at Krucemburk. Zrzavý
is buried in the local cemetery.
Experience adventure and adrenalin
Vysočina is an ideal place for active
relaxation. The countryside is
interwoven with hundreds of kilometres
of hiking trails (2700 km), with nature
trails providing a bit of fun and
education along the way. Meanwhile,
countless regional cycling tracks
(2200 km) are linked up to their longdistance counterparts. You can also
enjoy the beauty of the local countryside
on horseback (850 km of horse-riding
Swimming in natural outdoor pools
can be alternated with a dip in an
indoor pool or a water park. The big
ponds here are ideal for yachters
and windsurfing enthusiasts and the
reservoirs practically made for water
sports and fishing. There is also plenty
of space for tennis courts, golf courses,
sports centres, ice rinks, rope centres
and other sporting complexes.
Lovers of winter sports are sure to
welcome the perfect conditions for
cross-country skiing here. The most
prominent ski centres are located in the
north of the region, which in winter is
transformed into a skiing paradise with
hundreds of kilometres of cross-country
trails for competitive and recreational
skiers alike. There are more than 40
downhill centres here, mostly used by
novices or families with children.
For a true bit of active relaxation there
is farm tourism, which gives you the
chance to learn about domestic animals
and involve yourself in the agricultural
and farming work that is far removed
from your normal life, or indeed
The deep forests here, inviting for
mushroom picking and long walks, are
ideal for relaxation.
In fact Vysočina has some form of active
entertainment for absolutely everyone.
Traditional folklore and folk crafts
Vysočina bore witness to the development
of many crafts and trades, the most famous
from ancient times being silver mining.
This era is commemorated to this day
every second year by the Jihlava Miner’s
Parade (Jihlavský havířský průvod), during
which children dressed in period clothing
commemorate the fame and hard labour of
the miners.
Without doubt the most important trade in
Vysočina was cloth manufacture. However,
the region’s glassmakers also won some
renown. The skill and precision of the
craftsmen of old are also seen in Christmas
nativity scenes in Třešť and Třebíč which work
to this day and which are remarkable for
their size and the individual detail involved.
The tradition of making nativity scenes in
Vysočina dates back some two hundred
years. It became one of the symbols of
Christmas, particularly in towns with a welldeveloped tradition of hand production.
Whereas nativity scenes made of paper and
placed in moss on wooden legs were typical
of the Třebíč area, in Třešť the figures were
carved out of wood. Indeed there are still
dozens of active amateur carvers in Třešť
to this day. Their nativity scenes can be
viewed in the local museum, the Schumpeter
House. Around twenty nativity scenes are
also put on display in private homes during
the Christmas period, from Christmas
Eve until Candlemas (2nd February). This
enduring tradition of making nativity scenes
becomes more and more popular every year,
something seen in the number of visitors
from the Czech Republic and abroad. Many
crafts have only been preserved in the folk
songs and dances that various folklore
groups demonstrate with great success at
home and abroad. However, some traditional
customs remain to this day. For example,
the residents of many villages celebrate a
masquerade carnival (Mardi gras) every year,
going round all the buildings in the village in
masks to wish the modern-day householders
another successful year. The arrival of spring,
meanwhile, is celebrated by “burning
witches” (sitting round a campfire with
friends) and erecting maypoles.
Summer tradition is upheld with fairs of
traditional crafts and games.
Photographs: Archiv Vysočina Tourism
Published by Vysočina Tourism 2011
Graphic design, preprint preparation, print: 20 – 20 Vision Graphics
European Union
European Regional Development Fund
Investing in Your Future
This publication is part of a project being jointly
financed by the European Union from
the European Fund for Regional Development.
Vysočina Tourism, příspěvková organizace
(institution receiving contributions from the State Budget)
E-mail: [email protected]

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