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České Budějovice town tour - Zátka Embankment

If we leave the centre of town through Hroznová Street, we will get to the very end of the Malše River Billabong, where the Zátka Embankment begins. Take a look at the Front Mill on the right. The five-storey building was built in the third quarter of the 19th century; however, a mill was in this place as early as the 13th or 14th centuries. In 2009 the house was turned into a four-star hotel.

Before we set off along the embankment towards the confluence of the Vltava and the Malše rivers, we can make our outing a little longer in the opposite direction.

Tower of Rabenštejn

České Budějovice - Tower of Rabenštejn, photo by: Archiv Vydavatelství MCU s.r.o.Mlýnská Street (along the Front Mill) will take just a while to lead us to the narrowest house in the town. In the past the house used to be a pillar of one of the town gates. It stands at the place where Panská Street closely approaches Mlýnská Street from the right. At the place where both streets meet we will find ourselves in a small open space, which is dominated by the massive Tower of Rabenštejn. It was built in the 14th century and formed a part of the town fortification in the west. It also served as the town jail, which is why the ground floor did not originally have an entrance. It was entered from the first floor using a ladder. In the 19th century several smaller municipal flats where established in the tower; today we can find here an exhibition of replicas of historic weapons.

Zátka Embankment

We can return either along Mlýnská Street or along Panská Street, which are parallel to each other. A stroll along the Zátka Embankment, which is lined with a bailey wall, provides interesting views of the rear part of the Dominican convent. Along a wooden footbridge over the embankment of the Malše River we can get to Sokolský Island. But we can visit it another time.

Iron Maiden

České Budějovice - the massive gothic prismatic tower called the Iron Maiden, photo by: Archiv Vydavatelství MCU s.r.o.We continue further along the waterfront past the grammar school building in Česká Street and soon we can see two other significant remnants of the former town fortification. The first of them is a semicircular bastion called Otakar‘s Tower, or the Otakarka for short, which is situated in the Episcopal Garden. Another preserved bastion is the massive gothic prismatic tower called the Iron Maiden. It was originally called Spilhaybl and was built in the 14th century. The current appearance was achieved following reconstruction in 1612.

The name Iron Maiden originated according to a tool used for torture of the same name and that was allegedly placed in the tower. Today we can find a replica here as well as a copy of a letter written by one of the last executioners of České Budějovice. His name was Hermann and his expertise included the charming ability to cut off, tear off or break off anything from the body of a convict. In the above-mentioned letter, the executioner offers these abilities of his to the „Dear Fathers of the town of Jindřichův Hradec“. This was in 1757...

Observatory and planetarium of České Budějovice

Observatory and Planetarium České Budějovice, photo by: Archiv Vydavatelství MCU s.r.o.And now we are at the Iron Bridge. We can cross the bridge to take a short break from the town tour and reach the left bank of the Malše. After crossing the river let‘s go right. We now find ourselves in a small park, where we can sit down or visit one of the fascinating regular exhibitions in the observatory and planetarium of České Budějovice. When the weather is nice, observations of the Sun usually take place here. The observatory stands near where the longest river in the Czech Republic, the Vltava, meets the Malše River.

Let‘s return to the Iron Bridge while staying on the left bank of the Malše River. Along the building of the Justice Palace (the seat of the regional and district court and of the house of detention) dating back to 1902-1904 we will get to the pedestrian only Golden Bridge.

South Bohemian Theatre České Budějovice

We will use this bridge to return to the town centre. In the distance we can see the South Bohemian Theatre. It was completed in 1819 at the site of a former beer store for the town brewery and where the first German town theatre had been operating temporarily since 1764. Czech professional theatre and opera ensembles have been performing here since 1919.

The contemporary South Bohemian Theatre consists of four artistic ensembles: ballet, drama, puppet theatre, and opera. The theatre presents about 350 performances on three stages (the historic building, the Metropol House of Culture, and the Little Theatre) during the theatre season (September - May) every year. During summer the ensembles make use of another stage, the well-known and very popular Revolving Theatre in Český Krumlov.

A little further up the Malše River is the Slavie House of Culture dating to 1872. In the past it was called the German House and later the Army House (“Armáďák“). Today it is one of the cultural and social centres of České Budějovice.