As you now know, I find swans rather amusing, but they aren’t Pardubice’s only ornithological delight. Down in the old town lies a sprawling complex surrounded by shaded groves of willow trees. The walls are vast and a brilliant white, blending in nicely with the snow the past few days. All along the fortifications there are tiny windows, either for firing munitions from, or the original building contractor was a jerk and didn’t want the occupiers to see much of the outside world….I’m gonna go with the first option.
It’s more of a chateau really though, but the fortifications surrounding the structure make it seem more like a castle, sooo…….. let’s call it a Chastle going forward. On our first visit we strolled along the Western edge of the garden beyond the walls, passing a number of abandoned dwellings around the periphery. The pathway led the way through a sparse woodland area running along the side of the wall and onwards towards the entrance, a raised cobbled pathway leading from the edge of the old town into the Chastle itself.
Inside the Chastle walls there is an abundance of some rather dashing creatures indeed, the likes of which I’ve never seen before. Let’s say you take a frozen vegetable, namely a pea…..and you cross it genetically or otherwise with a male chicken, what do you get……….?
Onwards into the Chastle itself through the large ornate doorway, you walk through a small entranceway, that leads out to the central courtyard, surrounded by numerous doors and windows. Pick a door, any door is the feeling you get. But then a little old lady will shuffle out of one of the doors and usher you towards the ticket office. Which I would highly recommend entering, not for the decor, it’s a little drab. But no, do purchase a ticket for the various museums that reside within the building. There’s a glass museum full of glassware from the 1600’s right up to present day modern “art”. I don’t have any pictures of the glassware museum as there was a scary looking curator who looked like he’d glass you if you took a picture. See what I did there? GLASS you? Cuz it’s….a glass museum……ah never mind, moving on.
Our next port of call was the natural history museum, a most impressive yet compact display of the flora and fauna to be found in the Czech Republic. The displays consisted of large glass cases with exquisitely detailed environments ranging from rivers, to forests, to meadows. Each display contains stuffed animals and preserved insects from the environs, that really give a great sense of realism. It’s one of the finest displays of nature I’ve seen, and I’ve been to the Serengeti*
What next? Coins! A coin museum! Yes it’s just as boring as it sounds. Moving on. What else you got for us Chastle? How about guns? That’s better. Another small yet concise display awaits in the weapons museum. As seems to be the norm for museums, they are laid out in chronological order, and this one is no different. The displays range from beautifully crafted swords with ornate carvings and intricate ivory details (Sorry elephant lovers I couldn’t stop them…..I wasn’t born yet). The swords quickly wear out their welcome in warfare and are replaced by that most nasty of weapons, the gun. Modern guns are cold, ruthless killing machines that do one thing and one thing only, they put people down, they are tools, instruments of death. But back in the early days, the attention to detail that was lavished on Officer’s swords previously, was continued into the gunpowder age. Pistols and rifles were ordained in gold and silver, making them treasured objects, objects of stature and importance. Not to condone violence in any way but there’s something quite gentlemanly about these older weapons, from a by-gone era.
We thought we had finished and were tired and weary after all the taxidermy, currency and weaponry, we needed coffee. And so we ventured towards another room on the way out, one with what looked like a sign for a cafe. It sure smelled like a cafe from the outside. We went inside expecting another drab office like room with a coffee machine and some cakes but lo and behold we had entered another museum, a coffee museum no less. The aroma inside was intoxicating (more on that later, and yes the smell of the old square in Prague during the Christmas market is still my favourite), the place filled with people young and old. There were numerous display cabinets with objects ranging from seventeenth century coffee grinders to early twentieth century coffee packaging. There was a large model of a coffee factory as well as full scale replicas of the industrial machines used to produce coffee. It really was an extremely quaint little gem which we had not expected at all. Now surely in a coffee museum of all places we could get a coffee. Our wish was a kind old lady’s command and she furnished us with two small but heavenly scented cups of coffee. Oh my freaking God, what an amazing cup of coffee! Just writing this reminds me I gotta go back there and buy a jar.
So that’s the Chastle of Pardubice. Worth an afternoon stroll? Absolutely! The museums were very interesting and the building in which they are housed, is slowly being returned to its original splendor. Although most of the walls were plastered and painted white, there’s little glimpses of how it used to look throughout the various rooms.
*I haven’t really, but damn that museum was fine