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Písek - Sightseeing

A stroll through the city

Bakaláře

Písek - The "classroom" on Bakaláře reminds us that a school once stood here, photo by: Archiv Vydavatelství MCU s.r.o.We are now standing on an area known as Bakaláře. The name is reminiscent of the times when a schoolhouse stood here from 1565 to 1853. The building site has been marked since 2009 by a stylized classroom made out of granite blocks. Before we begin our tour of the church, notice the structure reminiscent of a "glass well". This is actually a remarkable archaeological find – preserved burial mounds from the Bronze Age. What we see now are replicas of the objects originally found in the grave.

The Deanery Church of the Birth of the Virgin Mary

Písek - the Dean’s Cathedral of the Birth of the Virgin Mary belongs among the oldest buildings in Písek, photo by: Archiv Vydavatelství MCU s.r.o.The Deanery Church of the Birth of the Virgin Mary is from the late 13th century. It was built as a three-nave pseudobasilica, while the main nave is closed in by a five-sided presbytery. The church originally held two low towers, the northern of which (on the left when looking from the front) looked like it was lower than the church tower itself. At the end of the 15th century, though, the southern tower was reconstructed and elevated to today's height of 72 meters. The tower is open to the public and contains perfectly preserved original beams from the 15th century. The gallery is 42 meters high and offers a magnificent view onto Písek and the surrounding areas. The preserved miniature dwelling of the tower keeper is also interesting. The tower contains the clockworks and tells the time with four large clock faces in all directions.

The clock on the Church of the Birth of the Virgin Mary has the minute and hour hands reversed – the minutes are shown by the small hand, while the big hand shows the full hour. If you'd like to know why the clock's engineers chose such a curious design, perhaps the tower watchman will be glad to explain it to you during a visit to the tower. You might learn a few other things as well.

The Gothic church is the work of the Písek-Zvíkov building works (as are the Stone Bridge and Royal Palace) and was enriched with Renaissance gables on the northern nave in the 16th century. The Baroque chapel was built in 1741 to 1748, consecrated to St. John of Nepomuk, and contains a veduta which captures Písek's appearance before the middle 18th century. The church's interior is Neo-Gothic, although it also contains Romanesque and Gothic wall murals with biblical motives. The painting of the Madonna on the side altar is worth noting. This is a copy (the original was stolen in 1975) of a valuable panel painting from the 14th century, named the Madonna of Písek.

First monument in Písek

Písek - Monument was revealed to honour fallen Austrian soldiers who died in the bloody battle near the northern Italian towns of Melegnano and Solferino in 1859, photo by: Archiv Vydavatelství MCU s.r.o.A bit further, in the gardens behind the church, we can see the historic first monument erected in Písek. It was revealed to honour fallen Austrian soldiers who died in the bloody battle near the northern Italian towns of Melegnano and Solferino in 1859. There were a total of 872 soldiers ho met their fate in these battles; they were members of the 11th infantry regiment from South Bohemia. The stone lion, the work of Czech-German sculptor Emanuel Max (1810-1901), is shown on the monument stepping on two snakes, the symbols of Austria's enemies, France and Sardinia.

The foundation of the International Red Cross is closely related to the Battle at Solferino. The battle marked a decisive conflict in Italy's second for independence (1859-1860). The allied armies of France and Sardinia defeated Austria's forces, thus opening the way for Italy's unification. The bloody event inspired Swiss Jean Henri Dunant to establish an organization to help and protect injured soldiers. Four years later, in 1863, the International Committee of the Red Cross was finally founded in Geneva, and was personally attended by Emperor Franz Josef I (but never again).