We travel to East Bohemia, to a small but very
old town called Opočno, not far from the Polish border.
"The town of Opočno is located about 150 kilometres east of Prague
near the big town of Hradec Králové, in the vicinity of the Orlické
Former town councillor Jitka Kvasňová is the editor-in-chief of the local
The town of Opočno is probably best known for its remarkable castle which
can be seen from far away - standing proudly on a hill above a stream
called the Golden Creek.
"I would say that the biggest draw for tourists and for people from
the Czech Republic and abroad would be our Renaissance castle. It was
built in the place of a very old Gothic castle. It was rebuilt into a
Renaissance castle some time in the 16th century. After about ten years of
quite difficult negotiations with the state it is back to our aristocracy,
the family of Colloredo-Mansfeld."
Opočno Castle houses a fine gallery and a library. In the big halls
downstairs there are collections of 19th century tribal costumes, weapons,
toys and the like gathered by the former castle owner on his travels around
the world. On the first floor are the chambers once lived in by the owners,
looking as if they have only just been left. On the top floor you'll find
an armoury displaying weaponry from the 16th to 19th centuries, including
When you visit the castle, the guides will show you around the halls and
chambers and if you are lucky, they will tell you this grim legend about
one of the first owners of Opočno castle.
Mikuláš Trčka of Lípa who held Opočno in the 15th century, was already
advanced in age when he married a young noblewoman, who was only seventeen
years old. Mikuláš was away from home much of the time but he was also
extremely jealous. When he found out his wife was having an affair with a
young yeoman he had him beheaded and his wife immured alive in a cellar of
the castle. During renovation works in the 19th century, the workers did
find a niche in the wall, and inside a skeleton dressed in medieval
costume, fastened to a chair. But as the curious workers touched the find,
everything fell to dust.
The tour of the castle begins and ends in the castle's courtyard which is
open on one side offering a beautiful view of a wooded gorge.
"The castle is surrounded by a beautiful park in the English style
and behind the park there is also a game reserve with wild animals."
Standing in the courtyard you can see that there is a clearing cut out in
the woods just opposite the castle, so that the gentry could watch the
deer grazing in the morning from their chambers.
Every August Opočno's main square turns into one great fairground for a
few days when a special fair with historical and religious roots is held
there. The editor-in-chief of Opočno's local paper, Jitka Kvasňová.
"Actually even its name says something about it speciality. It is
called 'Porcinkule'. It's an annual fair that used to be a religious
celebration. But in this age it's mostly really a fair and festivities and
it's a big draw for children. It takes place on the first weekend in
August. Lots of people from all around the region come to Opočno. Usually
it is a time for families to get together; families and friends. This is
still the occasion. It lasts for two days and it's really big fun, as I
said, especially for children."
Just a few steps away from the main square you can find an inconspicuous
little house where one of the greatest artists ever born in this country
was born. But he's by no means the only famous native of Opočno.
"Well, we have quite a few. They are mostly known just in the Czech
Republic but we also have one artist who is very famous throughout Europe.
It is František Kupka, one of the first abstract painters. He was born in
Opočno, lived in this region and later moved to France, and he died near
A beautiful Renaissance castle, a park and a game reserve, annual fairs
and famous artists - that is quite a lot for such a little town as Opočno.
But as my guide Jitka Kvasňová says, there's still more to see.
"Opočno is such a beautiful little place that it's not only for a
summer holiday. Of course, springtime is beautiful everywhere. In the
summer we can offer a beautiful newly renovated outdoor swimming pool and
a little camping site next to it. In autumn there is another big draw,
interesting for tourists - our Falconers' Meeting. It is the first week in
October. It's is an international meeting of falconers. It is very
interesting and some shows are also open for the public. And of course, we
are only a few kilometres away from the Orlické Mountains which is a
beautiful skiing area. It has not been discovered by tourists yet, so it's
still very peaceful and quiet even in the skiing season in