Tabor monuments

Žižka Square

Žižka Square

Žižka Square offers a unique display of historical buildings representing nearly all architectural styles.

The town skyline is dominated by the Gothic Dean Church which is visible from far away since it is situated on the highest point of the town (on the northern side of the square) and an impressive late-Gothic Town-Hall where the Hussite Museum is located and from where Tábor’s underground corridors can be entered. Žižka Square is encircled with architecturally precious burgher houses – Škoch House, houses no. 12, 13, 16, 17, 18 and 19, Lichvic House and Ctibor House. The central part of the square is enhanced with a Renaissance fountain and a monument to Jan Žižka of Trocnov.

 

Hussite Museum in Tábor

Hussite Museum in Tábor

The exposition of the Hussite Museum, called ‘The Hussites‘, is situated in the impressive interior of the late Gothic building of the Tábor Town Hall. Visitors to the museum learn where the Hussite movement originated from, what the reformer of the Catholic Church, Master Jan Hus, was like, how Tábor was established, why Jan Žižka of Trocnov was unbeatable, and how the Hussites waged wars and what weapons they used.

On the ground floor there is an entrance to a network of underground tunnels – a place sought after by tourists. The corridors which resulted from the interconnection of cellars of burgher houses in the 16th century were used as a shelter when the town was attacked by enemies, and also for storing food and drink. An 800-metre-long section of the underground tunnels - winding under Žižka Square - is open to the public. The spacious halls in the Town Hall – in particular the Gothic Hall, the most impressive public interior in Tábor – have been used to organize significant cultural events and exhibitions. Sculptures in the Gothic Hall are dominated by a statue of Jan Žižka of Trocnov made by Bohumil Kafka in the likeness of which a monument in Prague – Žižkov was made. It is the largest bronze statue in the world. On the first floor of the historic Town Hall visitors can see the Gallery of Fine Arts where pictures of Tábor from the 17th to the 20th centuries are displayed.

Other exhibitions of the museum:
The Hussite Museum of Tábor also runs the exhibition in Bechyňská Gate called ‘Life and work in the Middle Ages’; the Soběslav branch offers exhibitions focused on the landscape of the Tábor region and Soběslav marshland. In Veselí nad Lužnicí there is the Karel Weis’ Memorial Hall and an exhibition called ‘Museum Treasures’, and last but not least, the memorial in Sezimovo Ústí commemorates the second Czechoslovak president, Dr. Edvard Beneš.

 

The Town Hall

The Town Hall

Every royal town in Bohemia wanted to have a town hall that it could be proud of. Tabor was no exception and the town hall was a building of the highest importance. It was a place where the town council held its meetings, where the municipal law was upheld and where all significant events took place. The town hall was also a symbol of the prestige and dignity of Tabor, and that was why the citizens did their best when building it.

Today we can say that they were most successful in their effort. The town hall is one of the most precious buildings in the style of the late Gothic in Bohemian towns. Construction started in 1440 when the town council had three houses on the western side of the square pulled down thus getting sufficient space for the planned edifice. It is a large structure with four wings encircling a small yard. If you climb the steps from the yard and cross a stone gallery, you can enter the main rooms of the town hall. The big hall, sometimes also called a Palace is justly considered to be the most impressive public interior in Tabor. Its high ceiling with unrivalled tracery vault was erected after most of the former second floor had been pulled down. The vault is supported by two polygonal columns. There are numerous small reliefs that decorate column brackets and vault keys. According to a legend the two men’s heads on one of the keys represent Jan Zizka and Prokop Holy - the most famous captains of the Hussite troops. The town seal presented to Tabor by the Emperor and Czech King Sigismund of Luxembourg was used as a model for the coat of arms which is hanging on the left wall near the window. Expert skills were required from the craftsmen to produce such a fine piece of art. In the frame of the coat of arms you can find a statue of Jan Hus, one of the first sculptures depicting the famous religious reformer. Worth noticing is also the coat of arms of the Czech Kingdom placed on one of the vault keys. Both the coats of arms emphasise the majesty of the place. On the other hand, small gilded sculptures on arch ribs prove that our forefathers did not lack a sense of humour. A legend has it that the artist made the sculpture of a man with naked buttocks because he wanted revenge on the town council as they were very stingy and did not pay the artist properly.

The construction of the Palace and of the whole building is ascribed to the architect and stonemason Wendell Roskopf who probably came from Luznice. His participation in construction of the edifice is proved by an inscription and a mark on the coat of arms which bears date - 1515 – 1516. The town hall was finished in the year 1521. In the second half of the 17th century the town hall, having been damaged during the Thirty Years' War, was altered according to Antonio de Alfieri's design which was influenced by the Baroque style. A hundred years later, in 1878, the architect Josef Niklas tried to return the town hall its late Gothic appearance. Since then the building has not undergone any major alterations.

Right behind the massive front door you can find the entrance to the underground tunnels. Exposition of the Hussite Museum is situated in most rooms of this building. The largest and most representative hall is reserved for important cultural events while in adjoining rooms paintings inspired by Tabor or the Hussite topics are displayed. There is also a small gallery of Frantisek Bilek (1872 – 1941) a native of the nearby town of Chynov whose works were often inspired by the Hussite Era; for example the Monument to Jan Hus in Husovo namesti in Tabor. Frantisek Bilek was a talented artist with broad skills – he became famous as a sculptor, wood-carver and graphic artist. Having been influenced by Otokar Brezina’s poetry, he became a promoter of symbolism and expressionism - styles that were modern in fine arts at that time.

 

Kotnov Tower and Bechyně Gate

Kotnov Tower and Bechyně Gate

Kotnov Tower is a landmark on the skyline of Tabor. The tower got its name after the legendary founder of the castle. The origin and age of the castle is still in the realm of speculation.

The oldest written note comes from the year 1370, but it is almost certain that the castle had been founded much earlier, somewhen in the second half of the 13th century, during the reign of King Premysl Otakar II. According to the latest research, which is, however, not final, since archaeological research has not finished yet, the castle boasted one angular and four round towers. Its fortification system was strengthened with moats and a bailey wall.

Gradually, the importance of the citadel decreased, moreover it was badly damaged by the fire in 1532. Since then the castle was used for other purposes; a part of it was for example turned into a local magistrate’s jail. Between the years 1612 and 1613 the castle was rebuilt into a brewery (brewery cellars). In the second half of the 19th century, in connection with a radical modernisation of the factory, some parts of the castle underwent further alterations. As late as 1908 the whole eastern wing of the castle had to be pulled down because of the expanding brewery. Kotnov Tower is therefore the only preserved part of the castle. Those who climb to its top will be rewarded with a beautiful view of the town and its surroundings.

The only preserved town gate, called Bechynska, is adjoined to the tower. Unlike the castle, it was treated much better, and has survived almost in the same state as in the 15th century when it was built. At the end of the 19th century it underwent a thorough reconstruction. Its Gothic interior hosts an exhibition called The Life and Work of Medieval Society.

 

The Dean Church of Lord‘s Conversion on Mount Tabor

The Dean Church of Lord‘s Conversion on Mount Tabor

The name of the main church confirms the orientation of our predecessors and their relationship to the Bible. A story in the Gospel has it that on Mount Tabor near Genezaret Lake in Palestine Jesus changed his appearance before the very eyes of his followers to show them that he was the God’s son.

In the place of the contemporary dean church a wooden church used to stand which was more like a barn than a religious structure. In the 1480´s the construction of a new, more monumental sanctuary began. Stanek of Prague, having proved his skills in the town hall, was summoned again. About the year 1512 he finished the interior of the church. The church has a nave and two adjacent aisles on the sides. While the presbytery is vaulted over with a rare diamond vault, the rest of the church has a tracery vault. The church was built at the same time as the town hall, which means they both bear similar architectural features - of the late Gothic period. However, due to later alterations the church has also signs of other architectural styles. First Renaissance gables were added, then a Renaissance gallery lengthened the Gothic tower, and in 1677 all this was topped with a Baroque dome designed by Giovanni ad Capauli. At the end of the last century the architect Josef Mocker renewed the medieval appearance of the church.

Tourists who would like to have a bird’s eye view of Tabor can climb 250 steps to the church tower which is 87 meters tall and will be rewarded with a beautiful view of the town and its surroundings.

 

Baroque Chateau in Tábor – Měšice

The Baroque chateau in Měšice dominates the Tábor borough of the same name; originally there was a village, established by Zdislav of Měšice in 1296.

Between 1352 – 1371 Měšice was owned by Oldřich Sezima of Ústí. In 1545 Prokop of Hejlovice built a Renaissance stronghold in the village which Jan Josef Carreto, the Count of Millesimo, rebuilt into a Baroque chateau. The castle is presently owned by Dr. Jan Nepomuk Berwid-Buquoy who renovated it and opened to the public. Another interesting feature in Měšice is the Chapel of St. Anna on a hill above the borough which is named after the chapel. The rococo chapel was built in 1782 by Jan Antonín Votápek of Ritterswald. During the totalitarian regime the chapel was completely destroyed and in 2005 it was rebuilt by the town of Tábor (You can learn more about Měšice and the chateau in a book called ‘Tábor – Měšice – a Village, the Baroque Chateau, the Legend of the Murdered Servant Anna and other Mysterious Stories from the Tábor Region’ which was written by the chateau owner´s daughter Christiane Berwid-Buquoy).

 

The Lake Jordán

The Lake Jordán

The Jordan is our pride. It is the oldest dam lake in Central Europe; in 1492 the citizens of Tabor dammed the River Tismenicky to provide a sufficient supply of drinking water for the town. The lake occupies an area of 50 hectares and reaches a depth of 14 metres.

Originally the local people wanted to breed fish here, but soon the lake proved to be too large for this. And thus the Jordan has not been emptied out since 1830. Nowadays, the Jordan does not only supply the town with water, but it is widely used for recreation. On hot summer days the cool water tempts both the local people and tourists into having a swim.

On the other side of the dam there is an eighteen-metre high waterfall created by water flowing from the Jordan.

 

Garnet rock

Garnet rock

On the right bank of the River Lužnice, opposite Suchomel Island camping site, there is an interesting natural formation – the Garnet Rock. The rock boasted a large number of red garnets, the almandin type, some of which were as large as a hazelnut.

A large portion of the rock was quarried in the past and used for the construction of the surrounding houses and paths or for guard stones along roads. Almandin garnet, which was found in this rock, is used in jewellery mostly in the East, the renowned Czech garnet called pyrop is obtained from sand sediment in Turnov and its surroundings.