Tabor Town and Surroundings

Located in Sothern Bohemia, Tábor is well situated for many day trips, whether you are looking for historical monuments, picturesque medieval walled towns, or endless rolling hills and forests.

For a small town with 37,000 inhabitants, Tábor is rich in history, architecture, culture, and pastoral beauty. The town is basically divided into two, old town {stare město} and new town (nové město). The old section dates back to 1420 and has at its centre Žižkovo náměsti (main square), with a warren of narrow medieval streets radiating away. New town is basically one street lined with a collection of a few nice turn of the century buildings and many uninspired ones, but it is the main shopping area, as well as where both bus and train stations are located. The highlight of this town is absolutely old town.



Hotel Nautilus lies on Žižkovo náměsti, (main square) named after the great military genius Jan Žižka who was responsible for all the Hussite victories from 1420 until his untimely death in 1424 from the plague. His Hussite armies were very well organized and owe much of their success to creating the first tanks, wagons mounted with artillery, which gave them the upper hand fighting against the invading crusaders.

His great form sits at the top of the square, still keeping a watch (at least with one eye) on locals and visitors alike.

Just behind him to the left is a monument to what Žižka and his Hussite followers were fighting so hard to keep out of town, the Catholic Church. The Church of the Transfiguration of Our Lord on Mt. Tábor, (Kostel Proměnění Páně na hoře Tábor) is named after the mountain where the transformation of Christ took place and shares the multi-layered history or the surrounding town. In the same spot once stood a wooden church that looked more like a barn than a church, and in the 1480’s the construction of the present church began. Because of the length of time it took to actually finish the building, it contains architectural features from the late Gothic period, Renaissance gables and a gallery, a Gothic tower, and to top it all off, a Baroque dome. One of the best features of the church is the tower. Only open during the warmer months of the year; for a small price you get a good little hike up the winding rock stairway and a great view of surrounding Tábor.

Also on the square is the town hall, an excellent example of late Gothic architecture that was constructed between 1440 and 1521.

It now houses the Hussite Museum, where you can find all manner of things relating to the Hussite movement in Tábor.

This is also where the entrance to the underground tunnels that run under the old town is located. Originally built in the 15th century as cellars, over the generations they expanded to create a maze of passages that go down as deep as three stories. Used primarily for storing food and beer, they were also used as shelter from enemy attack and fire. They are open during peak season for guided tours.

Radiating in all directions from the main square is the old town, a warren of narrow medieval streets that were designed to weaken any enemy attack. It is a great place to wander and discover an interesting collection of colourful houses with an amazing variety of gables, frescos, and beautiful examples of sgraffito, a technique of wall decor produced by applying layers of plaster tinted in contrasting colours to a moistened surface and then engraving with a pattern. A highlight is the quiet but beautiful Mikuláš of Hus Square, on which sits a number of charming buildings including the now closed Monastery Church of the Birth of The Virgin Mary. After the defeat of the Czech protestant estates at the White Mountain battle of 1621 it became a requirement of every Czech person to convert to Catholicism. The Augustinian monks were summoned and they chose this spot to build their church and begin preaching the new religion. At the beginning of the 19th century the monastery closed and the building was converted into a prison.

One end of old town is marked by Kotnov Tower and Bechyńská Gate. The tower being the only remaining part of the castle that occupied this site sometime between 1370 and 1532. Between 1612 and 1613 its remains were built into a brewery, but later to accommodate the expanding brewery, the remaining parts except for the tower were pulled down. The Gate is the only remaining town gate built in the 15th century and now houses a small historical museum with a permanent exhibition called The Life and Work of Medieval Society, and the tower can be climbed for another great view.

Just across the street from here is the park Pod Kotnovem. A beautiful walled park that was once an important and prestigious cemetery. All that remains are a few gravestones and the Cemetery Chapel of St. Filip and Jakub, which is now used for occasional musical concerts in the summer.

Also of interest is the pilgrimage church and monastery of Klokoti, built between 1700 and 1730. A short walk from town its onion domes gracefully rise above the trees making it a very special and important Baroque treasure in the country.

For plant lovers there is the Botanical Gardens, located in new town between the agriculture school and the lake. It was founded in 1866 and has seen better days, but in prime season one can still admire more than 4000 plants, many of which are grown for seed that are internationally exported.