I’ll bet you are struggling to pronounce the name of this Czech town! It’s cheskee boodyovitsay.
Now that you can say it, I’ll tell you about the town.
CB is the largest city in southern Bohemia. It is a commercial capital and home to the University of South Bohemia and also the Czech Academy of Sciences, which is where our friends work. It’s old – founded in 1256 by King Ottokar II of Bohemia to counterbalance the power of the House of Rosenburg, an old Czech family whose center of power was Cesky Krumlov, considered to be the oldest town in the country. The city has always been a bulwark of the Catholic Church, and although Jewish families were allowed to reside within the city walls from the mid-14th century and a synagogue was built there in 1380, there were pogroms in the late 15th and early 16th centuries.
CB was twice targets by the US Air Force during WW II, and the city was heavily damaged. Soviet troops liberated the city and met the American Army in the city square to celebrate the liberation.
Here are two shots of the city square. You can see the old town has preserved architecture from the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque periods – note the buildings surrounding large central Ottokar II Square. Of particular interest is the old Town Hall with murals and bronze gargoyles, and the 16th century Black Tower, which you can see in the middle of the second picture. It served as the bell tower for the church of St. Nicholas to its right.
One nearby site I will mention, which we didn’t visit on this trip but which we’ve seen, is Hlouboka Castle, one of the most beautiful of all Czech castles. In the second half of the 13th century, a Gothic castle was built at the site and rebuilt several times. It was expanded during the Renaissance and rebuilt in a Baroque style at the order of Adam Franz von Schwarzenberg in the beginning of the 18th century. It reached its current appearance during the 19th century, when Johann Adolf II von Schwarzenberg ordered the reconstruction of the castle in the romantic style of England’s Windsor Castle. The Schwarzenbergs lived in the castle until the end of 1939, when the last owner emigrated overseas to escape from the Nazis.
By far, the most important thing about CB is that it has been known for its beer since the 13th century. The town was once the imperial brewery for the Holy Roman Emperor, and Budweiser beer (beer from CB) became, along with Pilsner beer from Plzeň, one of the best know lagers in the world. The largest brewery, founded in 1895, is “Pivovar Budějovicky Budvar” (Budweiser Budvar Brewery) which has legal rights to market its beer under the “Budweiser” brand name in much of Europe. The same product is also sold elsewhere under the names “Budvar” and “Czechvar” due to legal disagreement with Anheuser Busch. Anheuser-Busch has made offers to buy out the Czech brewing company to secure global rights to the name “Budweiser”, but the Czech government has refused, regarding the Czech Budweiser name as a matter of national pride.
The day we visited was extremely hot, so we spent the afternoon sitting in the shade, drinking coffee and …beer!