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The Most Beautiful Baroque Sites in the Czech Republic

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The Most Beautiful Baroque Sites in the Czech Republic
From palaces to pilgrimage churches, quaint town squares to manicured gardens, Baroque has left a profound impact on the Czech landscape. This dramatic style made its way from Italy to the Czech lands in the 17th and 18th centuries, bringing its curves, arches, emotions, and faith to the capital city of Prague and beyond. 

You could spend more than a week in Prague exploring all its Baroque treasures, but the real journey begins once you hit the countryside. After all, a key Baroque concept was the creation of harmonious landscape complexes with cultural elements. No matter where you go, be it the hills of Bohemia or the vineyards of Moravia, every site has a story and every place has a personality behind it. To prove it, here’s a look at 10 travel-inspiring Czech Baroque sites.
Sponsored by Czech Republic, Land of Stories
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    1. Palace Gardens, Prague
    Urban green space in Prague goes well beyond your typical park or playground. It’s downright enchanting, as you’ll appreciate when exploring the five palace gardens spread out along the southern slopes below Prague Castle and overlooking the city. Additionally, the terraced Vrtba Garden, on the slopes of Petrin Hill, stands out for its Baroque sculptures by Matthias Bernard Braun. And the Wallenstein Garden is a geometric wonder featuring a pond, fountains, statues, and a grotto with stalactites.
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    2. Troja Chateau, Prague
    One of Prague’s most appealing features is that if you need a break from the hustle and bustle, there are plenty of opportunities just a short journey away. Case in point: the gracious salmon-hued Troja Chateau. It resembles a country estate, with surrounding manicured gardens (complete with a labyrinth and fountains) and nearby vineyards. The lavish Baroque highlights include a monumental staircase lined with statues depicting gods, titans, and allegorical figures.
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    3. Telc Square
    The fairytale-like square in the southern town of Telc is a shining example how Renaissance and Baroque influences combine to beautiful effect. While the gabled houses flanking the square have Renaissance arcades, their facades and high gables are Baroque. St. Margaret, the local patron saint, keeps watch from her perch above a prominent fountain in the square (first built to supply fresh water from a nearby pond). Soak up the atmosphere with a stroll and then get a bigger-picture perspective by taking a hot-air balloon flight over Telc.
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    4. The Baroque Theater of Cesky Krumlov
    The especially beautiful town of Cesky Krumlov is rich in Baroque and Renaissance landmarks. One of the most remarkable is its 17th-century The Castle Theatre, preserved in its entirety along with period scenery, costumes, props, lighting, librettos, and special effects machines. The adjacent gardens invite leisurely strolling, with their classically Baroque fountains, featuring animals, nymphs, and water deities (Only the Baroque Theatre in the Swedish Royal Palace in Drottningholm can compare.) Jan Kristian of Eggenberg is said to have built the theater for his wife, Marie—follow in their footsteps by heading back across the Baroque Cloak Bridge. The three-story arched wonder features covered passages and one of the best views of the city.
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    5. Broumov
    A harmonious relationship with the landscape is one of Czech Baroque’s most distinguishing features. And the rocky East Bohemian town of Broumov is one of the most awe-inspiring examples, thanks to Abbot Otmar Zinke of the Bromouv Benedictine Monastery. It’s a pleasure to explore the scenic countryside here, making your way from the monastery to the nine churches scattered throughout the area. Czech Baroque’s favorite architects—father and son team Christopher and Killian Ignatius Dientzenhofer—were behind the design and plan, constructing these landmarks from 1719 to 1743.
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    6. Vranov nad Dyji
    When the aristocratic Althanns family decided to go all out in the building of a new chateau near the Austrian border, they meant business—and wound up creating one of Central European Baroque’s most exceptional structures. Designed by noted Viennese architect Johan Bernard Fischer of Erlach, the dramatic cliff-top chateau is defined by its Hall of Ancestors. This homage to the family’s predecessors stands out as much for its ellipsoid shape as it does for the frescoed ceiling of its crowning dome.
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    7. The Pilgrimage Church on Zelena Hora in Zdar Nad Zazvou
    Throughout the Czech Republic, numerous sites are dedicated to the nation’s beloved patron saint, John of Nepomuk. The most distinctive and eye-popping is the handiwork of the country’s most admired Baroque architect, Jan Blazej Santini-Aichel. Set atop Green Mountain in Moravia’s Zdar Nad Zazvou, the UNESCO-listed site’s distinctive shape is derived from a mystical mix of Christian and Kabala symbols. It counts five gates, five chapels, five altars, and five stars. You almost have to see it to believe it.
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    8. Kuks Hospital and Church of the Holy Trinity
    Recently renovated Kuks Hospital, a Baroque pharmacy full of curiosities (deer heart bone, anyone?), an 18th-century herb garden, and a chateau are all part of a Czech Baroque complex built in the Kuks countryside. The centerpiece is the front-facing Church of the Holy Trinity where eccentric landowner Count Franz Anton von Sporck is laid to rest. On the hospital terrace, Baroque sculptor Matthias Bernard Braun’s statues of Virtues and Vices overlook the surroundings and, perhaps, inspire some introspection.
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    9. Kromeriz Gardens
    Swampy marshland blossomed in the 17th century as the Early Baroque Flower Garden, which has drawn comparisons to Versailles and been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, along with the Archibishop’s Palace and its adjoining Chateau Garden. At its center is a stucco rotunda adorned with statues and water-themed frescoes. As you explore the grounds, you’ll also encounter an island aviary, a rabbit hill, and an 800-foot-long colonnade lined with statues of Roman gods and mythical figures.
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    10. Jiretin pod Jedlovou
    An awakening of religious faith was a signature of the Baroque period, and inspired the construction of stations of the cross that can still be found throughout the Czech countryside. They line forested hillsides and continue to conjure an air of divine mystery. In North Bohemia’s Slunovsko, 14 were built; the Way of the Cross in Jiretin pod Jedlovou, connected to the Chapel of the Holy Cross, is arguably the most beautiful.