HistoryAndBeer Tour 2014: Děčín and Terezín

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Děčín. We didn't much care for the city at first. While our accommodation was a winner - a former monastery on top of a hill - the blocks at the bottom had more cigarette butts than grass. We could have looked past the concrete and rust to the city's pretty castle, but instead we chose to spend our daytime in Bohemian Switzerland (České Švýcarsko, in Czech) the national park space around Děčín. 

Follow the orange backpack for a short hike through the woods...

Ye old monastery-converted-to-a-hotel

The view from our rustic little room

J-dog, queen of the lumber

Setting off

Higher and higher and higher

Blue-black beetles; made me think of "Moonrise Kingdom"

Fun sandstone

J-dog maneuvered 'round the labyrinth quite well
Swallowed by rocks 

Reached our destination....

...Pravčická brána, the largest natural rock arch on the continent!

Not much to report on this front, other than we cooled our heels with a cold one at the end of the hike. Budvar was the nectar on offer. Fun fact: Budvar was the original Budweiser, which Anheuser Busch nicked, thus resulting in multiple lawsuits across the pond. Now, Budvar is called Czechvar in America, while the American Budweiser is only allowed to be called Bud in Europe. Whew!

This joint is nestled next to the rock bridge

La vista hermosa

An apt trophy

More view

We made a spur-of-the-moment stop at Terezín on the way home. It's a military fortress-turned-concentration camp that's now a dusty little town, and we would have spent more time there had the rental car not needed to be returned in a couple of hours. We just didn't give it the time it deserved.

Terezín is unique because the Nazis used it as a "model" camp; they made it look like a small city by planting flowers and putting up dummy stores when the Red Cross came to visit in 1943. However, in reality it was overcrowded, starved and disease-ridden. About 33,000 of the almost 200,000 people who passed through its gates perished there. The majority of the rest were shipped East to extermination camps like Auschwitz. Of the 15,000 children who were at Terezín, only 132 were known to have survived, according to the Jewish Virtual Library.

We couldn't take pictures inside any of the buildings at the concentration camp - understandably so. But the museum spaces had elaborate exhibits on art created by children in the camp and the conditions of the "dormitories." Heart-wrenching.

The railroad tracks are still there

A structure where prisoners' ashes were stored

The cemetery
Outside of the crematorium
Old garrison ramparts that ended up being used for things like target practice - with live targets
Aside from the somber things we learned, we found out that many Jewish musical, literary, artistic and theatrical greats had been imprisoned at Terezín and produced magnificent works of art while there. I'd like to research that further. Also, I read that Sigmund Freud had four sisters who were deported to Terezín, as were relatives of a certain American... U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.


  1. České Švýcarsko is also on my 'bucket list', so thank you for this beautifully illustrated post which gives me further encouragement to visit in the not too distant future.

    On the other hand, I've now been to visit Terezín twice, once with Sybille & my sister Jenny, in August 2009 http://rickyyates.com/terezin/ . And again with my son Phillip & his girlfriend Lisa in January 2013. On both occasions, we gave ourselves a whole day for the visit, which as you seem to appreciate, is what you really need to fully take in all that there is to see. Visiting is a sobering but most worthwhile experience.

  2. Yes, we will definitely have to re-visit Terezínl thank you for sharing the post. In all of the sadness, one museum room that caught my eye and made me smile held information on how the prisoners wrote and produced elaborate theater productions. So inspiring!


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