Across the south of the Czech Republic are three delightful small medieval travel wonders all featuring magical central squares and rich histories. Only an hour by bus from each other, the alliterative Třeboň, Telč and Třebíč (from west to east) can be covered in a couple of days.
Třeboň is constructed on marshland with an ingenious usage of canals, dykes, medieval artificial lakes and fish ponds to manage flooding. With a stunning main cobble stoned square of traditional pastel-painted buildings (great viewing by climbing the town hall tower), the town is best experienced by cycling a path around the canals through a series of historic mini-villages and forests, highlighting the success of the historic fishing industry. There is a pleasant short walk around the intact city walls with its five gates and protective bastions. The black peat from the marshes is used in spa treatments that are accompanied with the usual medicinal claims for ailing joints and respiratory systems. More medicinal is the fine fish soup, impossibly fresh fish dishes or beer from the local Regent brewery.
Telč is a small town with little more than one long medieval cobble stoned street of stunning facades in a multitude of pastel-colours linking the majestic main square with the lavish Water Chateau (highlighted by a superb gilded ballroom). It is one of the finest squares in all of Europe, meriting UNESCO world-heritage listing. On each side of this village are artificial fish ponds built over six hundred years ago providing both food and defence. Virtually nothing has changed in over 250 years in this tiny town, giving a wonderful restful feel. Munch on a calorific pastry from one of the several bakeries on the square.
Třebíč is a treasured historic town that mixed a Jewish and Christian population for centuries. Aside from the huge main square with its typical pastel-coloured facades, it is the evocative Jewish Ghetto and cemetery and the oversized Gothic basilica (originally a monastery) that is the highlight of the town and has attracted UNESCO listing. Unlike the tourist madhouse of Prague’s Jewish quarter, Třebíč’s peaceful narrow cobblestone lanes and quiet houses feel frozen in time with almost none of the population surviving World War Two. The nearby cemetery leaves an almost eerie feeling with the numerous headstones, darkened over the centuries with algae and dirt, poking up at all angles like a horror dental job, surrounded by rough shrubs and bushes.
These three small Czech towns are best enjoyed exploring the narrow lanes, peering in the historic buildings, chatting in the street-side cafes and walking the rivers and lakes. Select at least one stopover on the way to Slovakia and enjoy the peaceful ambiance of a Czech village.