Náměstí Zachariáše z Hradce from Telč, Czech Republic

Founded in 1354, in a thick forest, on the spot where two roads crossed next to waterways at the border between Moravia, Bohemia and Austria, Telč (or Teltsch in German), had the misfortune of experiencing a great fire two centuries later. The city was quickly rebuilt following the original plan, but with modifications which took into account the evolution of building styles and techniques. The Gothic castle was remade in the Renaissance style and lofts were built for the houses in the square. The houses received painted façades, which were later replaced in the 18th century with rococo and baroque ones. The medieval Gothic arch on the ground floor remained unchanged. It is continuous, uniting all the houses in the square. Two churches were built and a plague column was dedicated to Saint John Nepomuk, flanked by two fountains. Towards the end of the 18thcentury, time suddenly stopped in Telč, with the end of its age of glory and economic development. The city reached our times without further changes, unaffected by industrialisation and, through some miracle, without socialist blocks. It is straight out of a book of folk tales. The map of the city is practically synonymous with the triangular square. One step outside of it carries you to the yellow canola fields of the Bohemian hills.

Masarykovo náměstí from Třeboň, Czech Republic

Třeboň, called Wittingau in German, has one of the best preserved medieval squares in Bohemia. In fact, only the shape dates from medieval times, since the current state, with Renaissance and Baroque houses, is due to the flourishing fish trade of the 14th century. Starting from the middle of the 14th century, the natural landscape around the city has been gradually transformed by human intervention. The marshlands have given way to a dense network of over 500 lakes, grouped in 16 aquatic systems, today a paradise returned to wilderness and populated with rare species of plants and animals. The largest of these lakes is found right near the city and is tied to the name of the Rosenberg family, the owners of the medieval burg. Like all historical cities in Bohemia and Moravia, the square contains a plague column, a Renaissance fountain, the tower building of the city hall.

Náměstí from Štramberk, Czech Republic

Like in many other small, out of the way places, the square is called just Square. Náměstí in Czech. And Štramberk is yet another example of a place where the town is its square. Aside from the row of houses that define its perimeter, only two or three streets are added to the map. A cylindrical tower, called Trúba, remnant of a castle about which few things are known, dominates the settlement, perched up on the wooded hill nearby. Everything reminds one of a fairy tale, from the forests, to the castle and the square, with a large number of wooden houses from the 18th and 19th centuries also adding to the local cultural heritage. The land where Štramberk lies is called Valašsko, from the name of the populace migrating here in waves, along the Carpathians, from Transylvania and, perhaps, from Bukovina. If the language of the Vlachs has been lost along the way, and they were slavicised, some customs survived for a time and traditional building techniques were transmitted, taken and adapted by the local craftsmen, either Czech or German. The wooden houses clearly remind one of wooden Romanian architecture from Transylvania. A number of local settlements had such centres, but the wooden houses have been replaced by stone ones, usually Baroque in style. At Štramberk there is the largest number of Vlach style wooden houses, as they are called here, leading to an interesting architectural reservation. The square is also linked to the preparation of local cakes called “Štramberk ears”, which, by law, can only be made here. It is said that they have been called thus because the people of medieval Štramberk thought that they were similar to the ears of captured Tatar soldiers, during the time of Tatar raids.

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