Last weekend – now seeming like so long time ago – we were in the Czech Republic, and not only just Prague… As the mid-autumn was approaching (or was it still just the end of the Indian Summer?), the Czechs were celebrating the grape harvest festival and my good friend from Prague invited us to get out of town to the Karlśtejn castle wine festival! Sounded perfect and together with the weather cooperation, it really was!
We did not just get out of town – it´s worth mentioning WHAT we got out on – the very old steam train from 1946, that is.
On Saturday, 30th of September, the perfect sunny weather as if wanted to wish farewell to the Summer.
The annual wine festival celebrates the medieval heritage. On the way to the castle, there were plenty of opportunities to try the freshly fermented wine or the local Czech Riesling, as well as enjoy the specialities of the local kitchen and indulge in the cultural program of historical dances, fakirs, fencers and court magicians. The highlight of the day was the medieval parade in stylized costumes when people re-enacted the historic scenes of the Holy Roman Emperor and Czech King Karel IV and his entourage riding from the Karlśtejn vineyards through the village on their way to the castle.
The visitors are encouraged to come in the period costumes. This is an authentic festival aimed at the mainly local crowd, with many czechs, but not so many foreign tourists around.
The little town of Karlstejn was very crowded indeed. Every second stand selling Burčák at ridiculously low prices. Burčák is a young Czech partially fermented wine. Interesting fact, that according to the law it is only legal to sell Burčák from the beginning of August till the end of November. The legend has it that Burčák will continue to ferment in your stomach, but this is scientifically impossible.
Apparently, there are grape harvest festivals all through the month of September and the beginning of October, so worth looking out for it if you are in the region.
The beautiful Karlśtejn Castle originates from the mid-14th Century. Founded by the King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV, it was his private residence and the safe place for keeping the royal treasures and the Imperial Crown Jewels.
The castle has been rebuilt repeatedly afterwards, in 15th, 17th century, as well as the end of the 19th century, when it gained the current appearance. The monumental Great Tower is in the centre of the fortifications.
It is worth visiting with or without the wine festival!