Znojmo gets a shout out as one of the world’s prettiest small towns
View of St. Nicholas Church in Znojmo, on the Czech Austrian border.

Znojmo gets a shout out as one of the world’s prettiest small towns

With Prague and other main European capitals becoming a bit overcrowded with tourists, travel sites have been suggesting alternatives. Brno is often mentioned, and Olomouc ever recently got a plug.

But Znojmo, famous for wine and pickles, usually flies under the radar. A Microsoft News travel list of the 50 of the most beautiful small towns in the world put it at No. 39, though.

It is unclear if anyone actually visited all 50 towns, as the images are all from a stock photo agency. The first town on the MSN list was Positano, Italy, which was called “postcard perfect.”

Writer Georgia Marsh focused on the wine aspect of the town in the South Moravia region.

“Between Prague and Vienna, Znojmo is a favorite for sommeliers and wine buffs. The Museum of Vinoculture and Louka Monastery’s wine collection are within the town’s limits, and the Podyjí National Park – home to Šobes, a sublime local vineyard – is just a 20-minute drive away. Traverse the 19 miles of catacombs beneath Znojmo’s well-traveled streets where, you guessed it, there’s more wine to taste,” she said in the online slide show.

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The local mayor was pleased with the recognition. “”It’s a totally fantastic. We have joined a group of cities such as Giverny in France or Kitzbühel in Austria,” Mayor Jan Grois (ČSSD) said on Facebook.

Moravia’s wine region is certainly worth a visit, especially in the fall during the harvest season when there are many festivals. In the summer you can see the grapes growing on the vines, and the underground wine cellars are often naturally cooler than the sunny surface.

A network of bike trails in South Moravia makes going from one village to the next a quite pleasant form of eco-tourism. One drawback, and this has been an issue in the region, is that rules against drinking and driving also apply to bikes, which makes it hard to sample wines as you go along.

Znojmo is on a rocky bluff above the Dyje river, and among the towns attractions are Znojmo Castle, with roots going back to 1055 AD, a Gothic church and a Gothic tower. The labyrinth of catacombs under the town were made for defensive purposes.

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The town has a few notable people in its roster of historical figures including Václav Prokop Diviš, who made the first electric musical instrument back in mid-1700s. The Denis d’or, unfortunately, no longer exists and descriptions are so vague it has never been replicated.

The town also boasts a large number of sports figures such as hockey player Petr Rosol, who won Bronze Medal at the 1992 Olympics and also played for the Calgary Flames.

Travel promotion agency CzechTourism did mention Znojmo for its pickles. “The beginning of August in Znojmo is given over to the Cucumber Festival. You can try them here in various forms, from the simplest pickled cucumber to refined specialties in local restaurants,” they said.

Pickles in the town have a history going back to 1572, when a monk managed to sprout cucumber seeds from Hungary. They have been an important part of the local economy ever since. Typical Znojmo pickles are a bit spicy, as hot peppers are used to help preserve them.

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The Cucumber Festival in 2019 is on Aug. 2, while the Wine Festival is Sept. 13–15.

Raymond Johnston

Prague-based journalist with over three decades of media experience writing about culture, business, and travel. Folktale and legend expert, and avid photographer. Follow him on Instagram at @raymondjohnston4 or visit his blog magicbohemia.com.

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