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Here are some touristy photos of Hluboká, in the Czech Republic, that I took late in the morning and lunchtime one day in August 1998.

Hluboká (Frauenberg in German) is on the Vltava (Moldau) -- thus its longer name of Hluboká nad Vltavou -- just ten kilometres north of České Budějovice (the town traduced by Anheuser Busch). There's a village next to a hill. At the top of the hill is a massive Schloss built from 1840 to 1871 as the latest in a succession of castles dating back to the mid thirteenth century. From 1661 and for centuries thereafter it belonged to the Schwarzenberg family. The design of the present castle was inspired by Windsor castle and more particularly its nineteenth-century refurbishment by Eugene Viollet le Duc.

The first impression you get when visiting this pile is that it's enormous. The second is that it's enormous. The third is that the people who designed it liked sticking bits of animals (or passable imitations thereof) on the outside.

Then you try to enter this place and realize that it's immensely popular, that you can only take one or other of a limited number of set tours, and that the one you want to go on probably isn't available. Not being overly fond of collected animal corpses, er, hunting trophies, and being interested in Flemish and other art, I wanted to see the Aleš gallery that forms part of this stately pile, but that wasn't possible. Therefore I saw a staggering quantity of pointless opulence, bits of dead animals, and artillery for killing animals (and people).

No, really, it's very splendid, but it's considerably too splendid, and I felt inner rumblings of a personal outbreak of socialism. ("What about the workers and peasants?")

Maybe if you go in the off-season, or when tours start up in the morning, you can go through at a leisurely pace and take a closer look at some of the good stuff that the Schwarzenberg clan acquired for their own satisfaction rather than to intimidate rival plutocrats.

The Lonely Planet guidebook (Czech & Slovak Republics) says that permission to take photos comes for a modest extra payment beforehand. I didn't buy this. Perhaps it wasn't available (I don't remember); anyway, it didn't seem likely that any, er, reverent interior photos I could take in a hurry would be anywhere near as good as those in the souvenir book (see below). And as for irreverent photos, the camera was no Leica and more decisively I'm no Elliot Erwitt.

I've cribbed some of the factoids -- not the photos! -- from: Miroslav Krob and Miroslav Krob, jr., Hluboká (Prague: Vydavatelství ČSTK-Pressfoto, 1992), ISBN 80-7046-004-0. This well produced (and modestly priced) hardback has many excellent photographs as well as text in Czech, German, French, English, and Italian.

[Hluboká] [Hluboká]

Contre-jour views -- no, just wrong-time-of-day snaps of the front of Hluboká.

[Hluboká] [Hluboká] [Hluboká]

So many stag heads, they ran out of wall space inside.

[Hluboká] [Hluboká] [Hluboká]

The extensive gardens of Hluboká (entrance free!) are popular among both humans and spiders.

[Hluboká] [Hluboká]

I strolled downhill into the sweltering village and found this unpretentious restaurant, in whose garden I had excellent chicken, spuds, and salad -- and a glass of Bernard beer (one of the best I drank anywhere in the Republic).

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First created: 20 June 1999. Last fiddled with: 6 May 2001.

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