Prevailing over Abandonments: Czechia’s Folk Village of Holašovice


Holašovice is clearly not the town that easily makes it to a travel itinerary in Czech Republic. In fact, it is not even a town—it is just a village! Despite it being off the tourist radar, it is perhaps the most memorable place we have been to in the country, even managing to win over our hearts more than the capital Prague did.

So, how did this largely unheard-of rural hamlet in Southern Bohemia find a place in our trip when by just looking at the map, the more popular Cesky Krumlov (only 20 kilometers away) could have been the more obvious choice for a stopover by while driving from Prague to Munich?

Look, no crowd! The village offers a highly pleasant atmosphere making visits enjoyable.

First, at that time, my friend and I have been traveling in Central Europe for a few weeks already, and it came to a point where an old town—especially for me—was just like any other old town! While good-looking cities on the way could have been easy and attractive picks, we made the deliberate decision to put some variety into the trip by visiting some places that travel operators still do not bring loads of tourists to. Second, we felt we needed a place that we can conveniently explore and appreciate in an hour. However, we enjoyed Holašovice’s unspoiled setting and pleasant vibe so much that we ended up hanging around longer than intended. Oftentimes, exceptional villages like it are gravely overlooked in favor of bigger, more historic towns in Europe.

Charming folk baroque details of a window.

After two hours of driving from Prague, what greeted us was a modest village with rows of charming farmsteads surrounding a green square, and hardly with any sign of “Disneyfication.” Holašovice has only one guest house, one quaint souvenir shop (a ceramic shop, where I bought a few nice hand-made items), a local museum dedicated to the village’s agricultural beginnings, a small central church beside a large pond, and one pub that unexpectedly served the best home-made style Bohemian food we have ever tasted! There was even backyard honey producer at the far end of the village from whom we bought a jar of honey to take home. Even in fast-paced 21st century, this place evidently has not sustained the negative impacts associated with mass tourism yet. In fact, all throughout our short stay, there were only four other tourists who also came by to check the place out. It does, nevertheless, have a tourism center already with an adequate car park, possibly foreseeing the arrival of hordes of tourists in the next couple of years.

Officially known as the Holašovice Historic Village, it has remarkably preserved its 18th to 19th century high-quality vernacular architectural features, as well as its ground layout that dates way back to the Middle Ages. The people who then settled in the village harmoniously blended Bohemian, Bavarian, and Austrian influences in creating what is now known as the South Bohemian Folk Baroque style, which later spread out across the region and influenced many other countryside settlements.

Czech goulash with potato dumplings, the best meal in the country, according to the author. Rows of south Bohemian folk baroque style farmhouses.

The current appearance of the village is a testament to the time when romanticized landscapes were in fashion in the German-speaking world. Everything there is neatly kept without it looking like an open-air museum. The almost uniform picturesque 2-story gabled houses are vibrantly painted in beige, yellow, orange, blue and maroon colors. These living abodes all bear rudimentary baroque ornamentations such as potted plants, sunrays, volutes, farming implements, and floral motifs, which give them an unusual appeal that is neither underwhelming nor overpowering.

It is obviously a working farming village with tools used daily on display. Beautiful hand-made ceramicwares from the only souvenir shop in the village.

There were periods in Holašovice’s history, though, when it was abandoned. The Bubonic plague of the early 16th century saw the first round of desertion, and then again after the World War II when its largely German population was displaced under the Czech communist regime. It was only in 1990 when the village was once more reestablished and repopulated, and it is now home to some 140 genuinely nice and welcoming residents. Growth was, therefore, slow compared to other nearby settlements. But, on the brighter side, the absence of rapid development also contributed to keeping its originality and historic textures intact. Despite the troubles it had in the past, one cannot deny that Holašovice has always been special. Its redemption was cemented when it was eventually declared as a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1998.

The author happy in finding his favourite place in Czech Republic.

If you are looking to experience something authentic, more rural, and cozier while in Czech Republic, my advice stands: Holašovice ranks as one of the best examples of a first-class traditional central European village there is to find, and going there will certainly not disappoint.

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