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České Budějovice town tour - Black Tower

Heading around the corner formed by the Česká spořitelna building, we find ourselves near the most dominant feature and the symbol of České Budějovice, the Black Tower. Mineme-li nároží, tvořené budovou spořitelny, ocitneme se v blízkosti největší dominanty a zároveň symbolu Českých Budějovic, Černé věže.

Black Tower

České Budějovice - Symbol of České Budějovice - the Black Tower, photo by: Archiv Vydavatelství MCU s.r.o.Just a few steps from the Church of St. Nicholas is the Gothic-Renaissance Black Tower. It was built in the near vicinity of the church because it served as its bell tower. Three Italian builders supervised the construction, which was finished in 1577. The tower is 72.3 metres tall and has nine floors. The gallery offers a beautiful view of the historic part of the town as well as its surroundings, including the chateau of Hluboká and the Kleť Mountain on the opposite side.

The tower was built in order to protect the town against enemies and fires. It was originally called the New Tower, the Big Tower, the Parish Tower, or the Town Tower. It was given its new name in the 18th century when there was no major reconstruction and the building was decaying, so people started to call it Black.

A town tower that stands separately is not very common in the Czech Republic. Such a building element is much more common in Italy. Not even Prague has such a tower, despite being called the “city of a hundred spires“. It can only be found in Klatovy, Kolín and Hradec Králové.

České Budějovice - Bumerin, the largest bell of the Black Tower and one of the largest bells in the Czech Republic. It is almost 3.5 tons, photo by: Archiv Vydavatelství MCU s.r.o.The Black Tower served as the home to the guard and his family until as late as 1956. One of the guard‘s responsibilities was to raise a flag facing the place where he noticed a fire having burst out, and to swing the bell. It was certainly not easy to provide food for the guard‘s household, which was seated above the gallery. The only commodity they probably never ran out of was milk. A goat lived together with the guard‘s family upstairs.

After climbing 225 steps you will be rewarded with a beautiful view and the friendly smiles of the operators, who have been looking after tourists on the Black Tower for several years in order to make them feel at home. (tel.: +420 386 352 508)

Black Tower - Opening hours

Opening hours: April-June, September-October 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. (closed Mondays), July-August 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. (daily)

You can see the following bells on the Black Tower

bell Bumerin: weight 3 429 kg, date of casting 1406, tone A
bell Budvar: weight 1 100 kg, date of casting 1995, tone F
bell Marta: weight 1 742 kg, date of casting 1723, tone Cis
bell Oktáva: weight 434 kg, date of casting 1723, tone A
bell Maria: weight 163 kg, date of casting 1684, tone E

Interesting technical data about the Black Tower

total height: 72,3 m height up to the gallery: 45,7 m ground plan - a square with: a side of 11.1 m (at foundations) thickest part of the wall: 3,1 m number of stairs: 225 construction: 1549 - 1577 architects (chronological order): Hans Spatz, Lorenz, Vincent Vogarell the clock machine: installed in 1892, fa Ludwig Hainz, Prague

Now we can walk along U Černé věže Street until we reach the northern edge of the old town. On the left there is an interesting combination of large glass surfaces and elements in the Art Nouveau Style on the front of the Leopold Hajíček Department Store. It was built in 1909-1910 and was the first department store in South Bohemia with such a modern concept.