Melnik is a small town about 30km north of Prague and is the centre of Bohemia’s burgeoning winegrowing area. It has a huge amount of history dating back to the Thirty Years’ War – when it was destroyed by the marauding Swedish army before being rebuilt – and it retains strong characteristics from many periods in history. The Old Town provides the main lure for most tourists, as it has a number of different wine bars and attractive historical monuments; beyond this lies the rest of the town, which is unspectacular and urban.
One of the biggest tourist attractions is the Mělník Chateau, a house owned by the Lobkowicz family for over 200 years, that has been open to the public since 1992. Although the house is currently undergoing extensive restoration, it is still very much worth a visit and visitors can see all of the different areas of the house in the way that they were presented many years ago, providing a great insight to the way that the moneyed lived in the past.
You can stroll through the former living quarters, which are decorated with a rich collection of baroque furniture and beautiful 17th- and 18th-century paintings, on a self-guided tour with an English leaflet. There’s also a wine-tasting tour which will take you to the 14th-century wine cellars (see more information bellow under The Mělník Wine-Tastings section).
There is also a shop to purchase souvenirs from, and one can also buy wine made on the Lobkiwicz estate here as well. Address: Svatováclavská 19; www.lobkowicz-melnik.cz; Admission 100 CZK. Open: 9.30am-5pm May-Sep.
Church of Saints Peter and Paul
Next to the Mělník Chateau is the Gothic church of Saints Peter and Paul, which dates back to the 15th century and has a spectacular Baroque clock tower. Climb to the top of the church tower for amazing views. Open: from 10am-12.30pm & 1.15-5pm Tue-Sun. Admission 40 CZK.
The old crypt of Church of Saints Peter and Paul is now a macabre sight, with the bones of 10,000 people housed there, all arranged in patterns after being dug up to make room for plague victims in the 16th century. The bones are arranged in the shapes of anchors, hearts and crosses, symbolising faith, love and hope.
Mělník Ossuary served its purpose until 1775 when the church cemetery was eliminated. According to a governing decree from 16 August 1878, bones stored in ossuaries were to be buried in the ground, and in Mělník Ossuary they solved this issue by walling in the windows and entrance. The cemetery was relocated to St. Ludmila’s Church in the town’s suburb. Admission: 30 CZK. Open: From 9.30am-12.30pm & 1.15-4pm Tue-Fri, 10am-12.30pm & 1.15-4pm Sat & Sun.
The Mělník Wine Tastings
The palace of the Lobkowicz’s in Mělník still own the identical vineyards where Charles the fourth brought French categories to Bohemia, so a tour of the wine cellars is almost obligatory when going to this tranquil town. The cháteau, whose name is borrowed on the label: ‘Cháteau Mělník’, produces: Blauer Portugieser, St. Laurent, Pinot Noir and Zweigeltrebe reds and Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay Moravian Muscat, Muller-Thurgau and Traminer whites. With many vines as old as forty years and the fermentation of the wine being done in huge, barrique oak casks, the estate always gets a steady stream of wine aficionados visiting it. Not so fancy mixes, under the Lobkowicz and Ludmila labels, represent bargains which still provide a fulfilling, dry, but fruit flavoured wine. Wine tastings are conducted every day from 10:00 to 17:00 for 90 to 220 CZK.
Tourist Information Office
Address: Legionářů 51; Open daily from 9am to 5pm. Infocenter sells maps and guides, and can possibly help with accommodation requests.
Mělník is located approx. 30km north of Prague and the only means of getting there are buses or taxis. Buses to Mělník (one-hour drive) are available from the stop outside Praha-Holešovice train station. Tickets cost around 50 CZK and can be purchased directly from the driver. A taxi from Prague centre will cost from 600 to 1000 CZK.