Náměstí from Štramberk, Czech Republic

Similar to many other small, out-of-the-way places, this square is simply called “Square,” or Náměstí in Czech. Štramberk is yet another example of a place where the entire town is condensed into its square. Aside from the row of houses that line its perimeter, only two or three additional streets complete the map. Trúba, a cylindrical tower consisting of the remains of a castle about which few things are known, dominates this settlement, perched on a nearby wooded hillside. Everything here reminds one of a fairy tale, from the forests to the castle to the square. A large number of wooden houses from the 18th and 19th centuries also add to the local cultural heritage. The land where Štramberk is located is called Valašsko, from the name of the populace who migrated here in waves, along the Carpathians from Transylvania and, perhaps, from Bukovina. Though the language of the Vlachs was lost along the way, and these people were slavicised, some customs did survive, such as the traditional building techniques that were adapted by local Czech and German craftsmen. The wooden houses clearly bring to mind the 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 A number of local settlements had such centres, but the wooden houses have been replaced by stone ones, usually Baroque in style. Štramberk has the greatest number of Vlach-style wooden houses, as they are called here, creating an interesting architectural reservation. Its square is also linked to the preparation of local cakes called “Štramberk ears,” which legally can only be made here. It is said that they have this name because the people of medieval Štramberk thought they resembled the ears of captured Tatar soldiers, during the time of the Tatar raids.