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Ústí nad Labem

This sorely tested town experienced a dramatic transformation from a winegrowing centre into an industrial metropolis. Tragically affected by WWII and the subsequent departure of German inhabitants and degenerated during the communist era, the city in the middle of the green Central Bohemian Uplands has transformed into a bizarre example of raw industrial design that is in sharp contrast with the picturesque hillsides and round curves of the Labe River.

The dark side of the socialist brutalist architectural aesthetics kindles creativity in the people who live here. In the 1980s, it gave rise to the local punk and metal scene, and today it drives the art and design, for example, at the Armaturka Gallery (Galerie Armaturka) which, in its factory building, has provided facilities for three galleries, residential studios, experiments, workshops, seminars and concerts since the beginning of the 20th century.

Discovering the City

The information centre at Mírové Square (Mírové náměstí) will lend you an audio guide of the BEST that the city has to offer against a refundable deposit of CZK 500. The guide will take you to the first Czechoslovak skyscraper or to a local church, which as a result of the city being bombed in April 1945 has the greatest leaning tower in Central Europe. You can also look inside the living room of the palace villa of Ignaz Petschek, a mine owner and the wealthiest businessman in Czechoslovakia between the world wars.

Out of the City on the River

Leaving the industrial scenery of Ústí nad Labem is easier than you think. Pass the Mariánský Bridge (Mariánský most), which is considered to be one of the ten most beautiful technical constructions of the 1990s in the world, and you can enjoy the unique countryside, the river, the long extinct volcanos and vineyards along the banks. The best way to enjoy this view is to board the Marie boat, which will take you from the Vaňov port to Píšťany, 15 kilometres away. The sailing season begins at the beginning of June and ends in September.

Out of the City on Foot

The Central Bohemian Uplands are home to the highest concentration of medieval castles in the Czech Republic. One of the most romantic ruins is found high above the river in Ústí nad Labem on a black rock. The typical silhouette of Střekov has inspired many foreign and Czech artists. The local Pod Hradem pub serves beer, excellent pork terrine with onion and a great view of the opposite river bank with the Větruše summer palace on a hill of the same name, where you can find a lookout tower, a natural and mirror maze and an original medieval execution site. You can get to the top of the hill on foot or by taking the aerial cableway (lanovka) (from the Forum mall). Once there, you can follow the green trail leading to the most beautiful of the romantic waterfalls, frequented by the locals in pairs. Vaňovský Waterfall (Vaňovský vodopád) is about 4 km from the city centre.  In spring it is a 12 metre high roaring waterfall, in summer and autumn there are crystalline springs, and in winter an ice-fall. In close proximity is Vrkoč, another unique natural site formed from cracked volcanic rock, which resembles girl’s hair.

Out of the City on Bicycle

The international Elbe Cycle Route (Labská stezka) passes through Ústí nad Labem: it is truly a European cycling tourism phenomenon. The amicably green river banks are lined with pubs and historical remnants of the light fortification system from the times of war. The route avoids roads for the majority of the time and follows the river bed – so do not expect any steep climbs. You can spend a whole day cycling or you can only cycle a few kilometres to nearby Velké Březno and tour the local Březňák brewery. The brewery gates open to the public at 2:30 pm every Saturday. On the way, make a stop at the dreamy Velké Březno Palace (Zámeček Velké Březno), which is where Žofie Chotková, the wife of the crown prince and victim of the 1914 assassination in Sarajevo, grew up. If you find the surrounding landscaped park too quiet, you can go and see some wild animals at the Ústí nad Labem ZOO.

Culture and Refreshments Go Hand-in-Hand

The Hraničář Cinema has been transformed into a universal hall for theatre, concerts, cinema, seminars and other cultural events thanks to public fundraising and thousands of hours of volunteer work. You can experience some student life in the Resslovka pub (hospoda Resslovka), called Na Růžku (Resslova 3). It is a standard pub opposite the Faculty of Arts and Design (Fakulta umění a designu), but the favourable prices and pleasant service makes it a popular place of rest after student consultations. Opposite the entrance to the university campus is the Resslovka Coffeehouse (kavárna Resslovka) (Resslova 16). If you’d like to sample some beer other than Březňák, stop by the Na Rychtě microbrewery (Minipivovar Na Rychtě), where you can also stay overnight. And then enjoy an excellent treat with your morning coffee at Fokus Kafe (kavárna Fokus Kafe), a coffeehouse run by the handicapped.

And One More for Courage

Don’t forget to taste the local Stará myslivecká brandy in one of the places on your tour of the city. The drink is more than a hundred years old and is made from a wine distillate with secret spices and a mix of dry fruit. Its surprising flavour is enhance by maturation in oak barrels.

Accommodation:

You can find decent bed and breakfast accommodation at U Kováře (pension U Kováře), Duel or Komtesa. The Loděnice Cycling Camp (Cyklokemp Loděnice) offers accommodation in cottages or your own tent, with all amenities including free Wi-Fi. There is a university in Ústí nad Labem that provides cheap accommodation (CZK 310-500/night) in the student dorms (vysokoškolské koleje). You need to reserve the bed at least 24 hours in advance by completing a form, which is only available in Czech.

Transport: 

The City is situated at a railway junction and on the main Prague – Dresden highway route. To get here, take a train from Prague or from Dresden in Germany. There is public transport in the City. 

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