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Jindřichův Hradec

Here are some touristy photos of Jindřichův Hradec, in the Czech Republic, that I took during a few hours one hot August day in 1998 -- and one taken by a more adventurous person the other side of the world a century earlier.

Jindřichův Hradec (Neuhaus in German) is ENE of České Budějovice, more or less in the direction of Jihlava. It was a major town of medieval Bohemia, but it hasn't grown much since -- ideal conditions for the retention of good old buildings, of course.

[Jindřichův Hradec] [Jindřichův Hradec] [Jindřichův Hradec]

Three versions of the most cliché'd tourist site of Jindřichův Hradec, its central piazza with eighteenth-century monument to the plague. (This page gets a bit more interesting as you proceed downwards, I promise.)

[Jindřichův Hradec] [Jindřichův Hradec] [Jindřichův Hradec] [Jindřichův Hradec]

Views of and immediately around the lakeside castle, complete with the compulsory advertising for [real] Bud. The apparent chaos in the first photo is filming (or more likely straight-to-video-ing) of some historical spectacle; it involved two large guys in more or less medieval togs running over the moat out of the castle. Like any other good tourist, I gawped at this, entranced . . . but thinking how tedious it is to film anything, unless of course you're another Ed Wood and only do a single take.

I think the castle was closed that day -- I don't remember going into any building once I'd entered the courtyard. But no matter; just down the street is Okresní muzeum (the district museum), and that certainly had sights worth seeing.

The museum's most famous attraction by far is a vast mechanized Nativity scene (with hundreds of moving figures), which took one man the first half of the eighteenth century to build. I have no photos (photography isn't allowed), so enough of that. But the museum has more of interest. . . .

[Jindřichův Hradec] The opera singer Emmy Destinn (Ema Kittlová, Emmy/Emy/Ema Destinn/Destinnová) was a local girl and rooms are devoted to her successes. Not only that, a room is devoted to her furniture, made of antlers. The museum doesn't allow photography, but others there were snapping away, and this one scene demanded fame in cyberspace. (I apologize to anyone from Okresní muzeum: just tell me you don't want the picture here and I'll remove it.)

[photo of a Caduveo girl by Guido Boggiani] But the biggest surprise and the most memorable part of my brief stay in Jindřichův Hradec was an exhibition of the photographs of Guido Boggiani. Born in Novara in 1861, Boggiani was an ethnologist and amateur painter who studied the upper reaches of the Paraguay river; he took photographs only from 1896 to his murder (probably revenge for or prevention against his taking photographs) in 1901. Only a small number of his plates survive, and many have suffered damage; what is extraordinary is that they were made and survive at all. The photos are of single people and couples (some impassive, a few smiling broadly), landscapes, and plants and the like. We see a priest and native people wearing western clothes, but the general impression is of cultures before the incursions of the northerners. The photos benefited from being exhibited so well; the cracks and other damage to the plates didn't and don't detract. The Czech connection is that Boggiani's plates were collected, bought and preserved by Alberto Vojtěch Frič, and the occasion for this exhibition was the publication of a book of his works.

[Jindřichův Hradec] [Jindřichův Hradec]

And after I'd left the museum I wandered around the town a little, looking upwards, above the many shoppers.

More on the book

Pavel Frič and Yvonna Fričová, Guido Boggiani: Fotograf / fotografo / fotógrafo / photographer (Prague: Titanic, 1997) ISBN 80-85909-25-1.

Clothbound, large format (37x30 cm); about eighty excellently printed photographs; text in Czech, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and English; accompanied by a CD-ROM (also available separately) containing the photographs.

Order your own copy now! If your regular bookstore can't handle it, try Krakatit Bookstore. (No, I am not an "Amazon affiliate".)

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First created: 13 June 1999. Last fiddled with: 6 May 2001.

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