Sunday, July 17, 2011

Day trip: Tábor

While my college friend Ricky was in the country I decided I had to get him outside of Prague even if it was just for a quick day trip. You can't come all the way to Europe and only go to one city. Besides, the Czech Republic has a rich history and it's worth learning about.

I had a million and one options but I decided that we should go to Tábor. Don't ask why. It sounded interesting. I'm sort of a history nerd and I love learning about religion. Tábor is a town overflowing with religious history so it was like a goldmine for me.

Tábor is said to be named after Mt. Tábor where it is said the Transfiguration of Christ occurred. These days Tábor is also easily translated from Czech to mean 'camp.' 

This is appropriate because the town started as the first and largest Hussite encampment during the Protestant Reformation. 

For those of you who don't remember or spent most of your time sleeping in world history class here's a quick run down for you. *Please keep in mind I'm not a historian...*

A 24-hour clock. What?
The Protestant Reformation was a revolt which established Protestantism as a form of Christianity. The important parts of this movement for most people was the idea that even lay people should be allowed to read the Bible for themselves and discuss their thoughts and opinions as they pertained to the information presented in the Bible.

Basically, people were tired of being told what to believe and how to interpret biblical stories.

Martin Luther and John Calvin are names you would recognize which were associated with this movement. (And by associated with I mean major leaders...)

The basic setup

Well, the Hussites get their name from their leader in the reformation, Jan Hus. Hus was essentially the Czech version of Martin Luther. His arrest in 1414 stirred the pot and then his subsequent death, in which he was burned at the stake, was the major catalyst which lead to the Hussite Wars.

There's a series of tunnels set up underneath the center of town.
So the Hussite movement was born and Hus' followers went to Tábor to set up camp and get ready for an all out medieval war. While the ideas of the Hussites was founded in religion there was also a significant level of new found Czech nationalism. Followers were fighting for their rights as a people.

I hope you enjoyed that mock history lesson. Point is, we went to Tábor and learned all this plus some. We went to the historical museum which is tiny but we learned a lot. I actually realized there that I have learned quite a lot of Czech. See, everything in the exhibit was written in Czech so I spent some time reading and then taking in context clues to figure out was going on. I did surprisingly well.

Then we walked through a series of tunnels the Hussites had built beneath the town center to get from one place to the next. They were used mostly as storage. It actually reminded me a lot of the tunnels I visited in Vietnam.

Underground is the place to be during a war.

Kotnov lookout tower
After our underground tour we went over to what's left of the city walls to the Kotnov lookout tower. Note: Ricky is not a fan of heights. However, he was a trooper.

We climbed to the top of the tower and got to see some of the most beautiful views of the Czech countryside and Tábor.

It's really a beautiful little town.

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