This town is situated 64 kilometres from the Moravian city Brno, and is worth stopping over. You might consider staying overnight as there is a nice microbrewery and small hotel, otherwise there’s not much to do.
The main attraction of Kroměříž is the sumptuous early Baroque Archbishop’s Palace, with its commanding tower, rococo interiors and even a certifiable masterpiece: Titian’s The Flaying of Marsyas.
Unfortunately the old town was virtually destroyed throughout the 30-Year War. Just one tower of the Renaissance Bishop’s Palace remained. The Olomouc prince bishops rebuilt it, from 1686 onwards, on a grand scale. They not only built a palatial home, they also planted some attractive Italian gardens, and these all survive today, as does the wonderful gallery joined onto the palace. Even for a country that has so many palaces, this palace is virtually without equal in its opulence and pomp.
In 1997 Kroměříž was voted thce most beautiful historic town in the Czech Republic and a year later its Archiepiscopal Chateau with the Flower Garden and Castle Garden was added to the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage list. The town regularly hosts music festivals, exhibitions, congresses and conferences.
The current complex, that stands just to the main square’s north, was almost completely reconstructed by Prince Bishop Karl Eusebius von Liechtenstein Kastelkorn. He hired the Italian architects, Giovanni Tencalla and Filiberto Lucchese, to design the plans for his palace. Their plans were in a rather imposing early baroque style. Craftsmen from Italy, which included Baltasare Fontana, were responsible for the decoration on the inside and they implemented the stucco-work. Also, the prince bishop set-up a court orchestra.
The sole way to see the palace is via a tour guide, which lasts ninety minutes. Also, there is a tour which leads you to the roof of the high tower, although this is not so interesting. Admission: adult 200 CZK, discounted 120 CZK, art gallery 90 CZK, tower 50 CZK. Open: 9am-6pm Tue-Sun Jul-Aug, to 5pm Tue-Sun May, Jun & Sep, to 4pm Sat & Sun Apr & Oct. www.zamek-kromeriz.cz
In 1752, fire destroyed the original interior, and the artists hired to restore the damage were Josef Stern and Franz Anton Maulbertsch. The colourful appearance of Stern’s frescoes, based on Parnassus, which is a sacred mountain in Greece, greatly contrasts with the sombre palace exterior. During the 1770’s, the Sněmovní sál (Diet Hall) was elaborately decorated by the artist František von Freenthal.
The spectacular library houses over 50000 volumes, as well as a globe collection and a comprehensive archive of music, such as scores by Haydn and Mozart. A medal and coin collection represents the mint that existed in Kroměňž, from 1613 to 1760. During the tour, you will also see the Throne Room, the Audience Hall and the Hunting Hall. The Tsar’s Hall is also featured, where Tsar Alexander the 3rd and Emperor Franz Josef the 1st met in 1885.
You will require a separate ticket for visiting the picture gallery. This is located on the palace’s 2nd floor, where you can tour without being guided. This collection of art, the biggest in the Czech Rep outside of Prague, is founded on Karl von Liechtenstein’s acquisitions, who shrewdly purchased additional private collections. The masterpieces of the gallery include religious works by Lucas Cranach the Elder and the Master of Kroměříž. The paintings from Italy include the fragmentary “Apostles” by Veronesé, a cycle created by Jacopo Bassano about the tale of Noah, and a Titian masterpiece from1571: “The Flaying of Marsyas by Apollo”. This is an unsettling and brooding depiction of the macabre scene. Also, there are works by Pieter and Jan Breughel, and a delicate double portrait from Anthony van Dyck, who was commissioned by the King of England, Charles the 1st, and his wife, Henrietta.
Picturesque gardens border the palace and extend to the Moravia River banks. These gardens have numerous waterways and lakes in them. Attractions include an aviary, a menagerie and a Chinese Pavilion.
To see the remainder of Kroměňž, go back to the Velké náměstí (main square). From there, Jánská takes you to the baroque sinuous church of Kostel sv Jana Křtitele (Saint John the Baptist). Jánska itself also contains residences for officials of the church. From the Saint John the Baptist church, stroll up Pilarova to the thirteenth century Chrám sv Mořice (Saint Maurice Cathedral). Although this is among the few medieval buildings that survive in the town, the interior of the cathedral is somewhat lack lustre. The Moravcova Nine Jewish Town Hall is the sole surviving example away from Prague.
Tourist Information Centre
Address: Velkénáměstí 50; www.mesto-kromeriz.cz. Open: 8.30am-5pm Mon-Fri, 9am-1pm Sat & Sun).
Take the bus out of Prague or Brno, leaving from major bus stations. Instead, you could catch the train out of Brno and change in Kojetín.
Prague Kroměňž Transport. Alternative to train or bus. Book cheap door to door private minibus.