Mělník - delightfuly quirky
Mělník is a small town just 30 kilometers north of Prague, situated at the point where the Vltava flows into the mighty Elbe river. It’s the kind of place a visitor can easily pass through without actually seeing – or get the wrong impression from a mere cursory glance.
The effect of all this may seem a little off-putting. But one shouldn’t be dissuaded, for there is far more than first meets the eye in Mělník. The main sight is the baroque-era Mělník Chateau, which towers over the Elbe, framed on two sides by a steep bank of vineyards descending down to the river. As in nearby Roudnice nad Labem, the châteaux has been returned to the Lobkowicz family descendants after having been seized by the communists in 1948. And the châteaux is also home to some wine cellars, open to the public. All around the small old town, one can see wine stores and wine bars, one next to the other. For Mělník may be even more wine obsessed than Roudnice. Indeed, from 16-18 September, the town celebrates the grape harvest with the annual “Mělnické vinobraní 2016”. It’s three days of outdoor music, theatre, and plenty of wine drinking held in the town centre.
And if that isn’t all, there’s also a “wine tasting day” every August, in which winemakers offer the public the chance to taste their latest vintages. Not to mention a “wine night” held every April, and a welcoming of advent event in November – naturally, also accompanied by wine-drinking.
The town also offers a climb up to the St Peter and Paul’s Church tower, with its fantastic view of the distant landscape and also the confluence of the Vltava and Elbe right below the vineyards. The centre features a number of charming, winding alleys, and right beneath the town square is a deep 14th century stone well, surrounded by a number of underground tunnels – open to the public.
Mělník is a perfect antidote to busy, bustling Prague. There’s a regular direct bus route from the capital. It’s something of an oddball adventure. Well worth visiting.