Stunning Strakonice

The destination of the train journey to the Czech Republic was the city of Strakonice. Situated where the Volnya river meets the Otava river, its history goes back to 1243. This bridge is more recent than that and provides great views of the Otava river.

On my journey, I had been pondering the etymology of the word “bohemian” to refer to flamboyant, artistic and counter-cultural styles and people. On visiting the town centre, I wondered whether its source was in the local culture of Bohemia. The architectural decorations certainly suggest it.

Like when I visited Prague I noticed little soviet brutalist influence on the buildings. Presumably, the area was not subjected to a significant bombing in past wars so there was little space to build such buildings during the 20th century. I did encounter this couple “guarding” what looked like an apartment building with a photo shop on the ground floor:

And a similar couple graced the entrance to a bank where I withdrew some local koruna.

The statue gracing the central area (which is not square, so I will not call it that) is less formal and reflects the importance of bagpipes to Strakonice – more on them another time.

Even further out of the city centre, buildings a brightly painted, one with decorative plasterwork, piquing that curiosity of whether this artistic flair was the origin of the bohemian expression.

Despite these indicators, my etymology research suggests the French word “bohème” (later anglicised to “bohemian”) was used to refer to Roma gipsies thought to have come from Bohemia. The association of a lifestyle which did not conform to the local norms was expanded to cover any people living unconventional lives including artistic or literary. It turns out that the expression “bohemian” is hardly, if at all, related to this part of the Czech Republic!

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