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Czech Republic’s Melnik – A Place For Royalty, Heartbreak and Wine

Czech Republic’s Melnik – A Place For Royalty, Heartbreak and Wine

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The thousand-year-old city of Melnik has been a gathering place for royalty since its inception. A short visit there from Prague quickly reveals why this very quaint town became a favorite of queens over the centuries.

It also remains the home of Czech Republic royalty even today. But no story of royalty goes without some mention of tragedy, scandal, and redemption, and Melnik is no exception.

Melnik Castle

Melnik boasts postcard views around every corner

Melnik had the distinction of being named a Dowry Town in the 1400s. These were the towns known for being the most beautiful in the region, that were given by the king to his queen.

Dowry towns were an important place for both refuge and income that the queen earned through taxation.

The unfortunate side of this was that over time Melnik became the sad residence of queens and princesses to be sent to live following the deaths of their husbands.

That fate also gave rise to several characteristics of the place that continue to make it one of the most picturesque areas to visit on a day trip from Prague.

Melnik’s Beautiful Surrounds

The town of Melnik is home to only 19,000 residents, which includes the Czech Republic’s royal Lobkowicz family. As you can imagine, as the home for royalty throughout hundreds of years the place does not look run-down.

A stroll around the town reveals narrow cobbled streets and beautifully manicured lawns. All with the backdrop of a lush growing area situated on the confluence of the rivers Labe (Elbe) and Vltava.

The town’s main square is brightly colored in the fashion that became popular after the fall of the Iron Curtain where every effort was made to remove the uniform gray buildings and mood that came and left with the end of communist rule.

Melnik town Square

Colorful Main Square

Every Queen Needs A Castle

At the end of World War II, the communists took control of the country, and members of the aristocracy were forced to flee, leaving their land and possessions behind.  After the end of 41 years of communist control, the Lobkowicz family returned from exile and regained ownership of the Melnik Castle.

Jiří­ Lobkowicz and his wife Bettina were able to move back into the castle in the early 1990s and began the arduous process of restoring the property. You can visit it now and enjoy its stunning views, take a spin on the dance floor, and sip wine in their private cellar.

You can also view expansive artworks including one of the world’s most impressive collections of hand-drawn maps dating back to the 17th Century.

Melnik River Rivew

Melnik River View

What you can’t do in the castle is visit Bettina, who was unfortunately replaced by a much younger opera singer and is now the current wife to Prince Jiří­. Not taking her dismissal lightly, Bettina took her sour grapes and moved away – but only by a few hundred feet.

Let there be wine!

The former princess took the knowledge that she gained in running the palace and overseeing the family’s famous wine production just down the street. She is now overseeing her successful winery where you can meet her and taste her revenge.

While in Melnik, we of course visited her Mělnický košt winery. And I have to say, revenge tastes pretty good.

Melnik Tasting Room

Tasting Room

Getting to Melnik from Prague

Melnik is easy to reach from nearby Prague. Trains depart from Praha Masarykovo to Mělník regularly, and will only cost a couple of dollars. 

To travel by bus, take the subway to Ládví station, and from there catch the bus to Melnik (about 40 minutes).

If you have a rental car, the drive is very pleasant as well.

Inspired to plan your visit to Melnik? Pin it for later:

Melnik Czech Republic

 

Here are a few related posts about travel in Prague that may just inspire you to consider a visit!

Thanks to JayWay Travel, specialists in custom tour packages to Central & Eastern Europe, who sponsored our time in Prague and introduced us to Melnik. As always, all our opinions are our own.

#JayWayPrague Blogger Project Roundup

Friday 6th of May 2016

[…] located in Casa Marcello, one of our partner hotels. Continuing the wine theme, we took them for a day trip to Melnik, a small town that lies at the confluence of the Labe and Vltava (Elbe and Moldau in German) rivers […]

Peter Parkorr

Monday 22nd of June 2015

Seems like a really nice little place! And I'd like to try the 'heartbreak wine'... but will it bring me good or bad luck? :)

noel

Sunday 21st of June 2015

I would love to discover this gem and try some of those wonderful wines some day!

Valeria

Sunday 21st of June 2015

Ha I loved reading about the love-and-revenge story :) This place looks interesting, and the view from the castle is stunning!

Orana

Saturday 20th of June 2015

Everyone should go have wine with Bettina! What a great story.