Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Vyssi Brod

Vyssi Brod is a small town to be found on the fledgling River Vltava just east of the Lipno Lakes and south of Cesky Krumlov. During the summer its banks are home to holidaying canoeists, in addition there are a number of tourists (many day visitors from nearby Germany and Austria) who come to visit the ancient abbey that dominates the town. And it was for this last reason that my husband and I made the short trip to the town.

The monastery was founded in the 13th Century but the current buildings date back to the 15th when the abbey was rebuilt following a disastrous fire. The monastery as the Czech guidebook has it "is the architectonic dominant feature of the town" - Czechs seem to be into architectonic dominants, as the phrase appears in several guidebooks - ie the building dominates the town.

Our first task was to get into the building. Visits to Czech buildings usually happen in guided tours, so you have to wait for one to go round, ideally one in English. Unfortunately for us we had just missed one, the next was in Czech and anyway was full up, so we had to wait for a German-language tour (we were given an English translation). This gave us an hour to waste, we therefore wandered into the main town, and away from the tourist trail. In the town square a children's theatre company were performing to a rapt audience. I wandered into the small tourist information office, where the staff looked shocked to see a tourist. They weren't expecting me, indeed every surface was covered with trays of cakes. Although looking for information was quite difficult, nevertheless I managed to find a leaflet about an industry trail which led from the abbey into the surrounding hills, - something I will blog about next time.

After a coffee we returned to the monastery and waited and waited. The coach of visiting Germans, who were to make up the majority of our party, had not arrived. Two hours after arriving at Vyssi Brod we at last stepped into the monastery sans German coach party. The highlights of the tour were for us the cloister gallery full of lovely gothic and baroque statues, the stunning library and the church itself. The Germans had arrived shortly into the tour and turned out to be a choir and were asked to demonstrate the church's wonderful acoustics by the guide. This they did and more than made up for the delay they had caused.

On leaving the church we stopped to look at part of the monastery which had not been restored. During the communist era the monastery had been allowed to decline into an appalling condition and we were shocked to see what had happened. Over the last two decades the monastery has been gradually been restored, often with money from Germany, as Vyssi Brod was very much a German monastery. On our return to the carpark I located the starting point for the historical trail, but that would have to wait for another day.

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