The Column of the Virgin Mary

This week we travel about 150 km south of Prague to one of the gems of South Bohemia - the spa town of Trebon. Trebon lies in a protected landscape area with a beautiful countryside, vast thick forests and a dense concentration of fishponds.

"My name is Simona Koburkova and I'm from Trebon, which is a very beautiful town with a population of ten thousand. There are many places that you can visit in Trebon but if you want to get a general idea of the town, you should visit our permanent exhibition. It has information on the nature, spa systems, fish-farming, and the history of Trebon. Sightseeing tours around the town, with a qualified guide, can be ordered at the Information and Cultural centre. There are two spas in Trebon with wellness programmes, massages, and other relaxation schemes. You can stay here for just a weekend or one or even two weeks."

I'm standing now on the main square of Trebon, which is surrounded by residential houses with renaissance and baroque gables. In 1976, the historic core of the town was declared a town monument reservation. In front of me is a large fountain and next to it a column - the Column of the Virgin Mary - which was erected here to commemorate those who died from the plague. As I already said at the beginning of the programme, Trebon lies in a protected landscape area and one place where you enjoy a spectacular view of the town's countryside is up in the Old Town Hall's tower that's on this square.

The origins of Trebon go back to the mid-12th century, when a small settlement arose along one of the footpaths on the way to Austria. The Rozmberk, or Rosenberg, nobility was given the estate in 1366. Ten years later, Trebon was awarded the rights of a town and in 1378 Charles IV granted it the privilege of importing salt. But the town prospered most in the 16th and 17th centuries, under the rule of the last Rosenbergs - the brothers Vilem (William) and Petr Vok. Pavel Hoffman is the castle warden at Trebon Chateau:

"We are just a few metres away from the southern side of the pond named 'Svet'. The little church that we are standing next to was erected in 1576 by Vilem of Rosenberg. A gothic castle used to stand in Trebon until it burnt to the ground in 1562. Soon afterwards, Vilem of Rosenberg, inspired from his frequent trips to Italy, had a renaissance palace built on this spot."

The chateau now houses a permanent exhibition and a regional archive that documents the history of the town from the 13th century until today. Its collection of documents on the history of Central Europe from 1215 to 1682 has been declared a cultural monument.

The tradition of beer making, which started as early as in the 14th century has also been preserved in Trebon. The local "Regent" brew is made from only natural sources, using traditional technology. But thanks to its numerous fishponds, Trebon is best known for its delicious freshwater fish. It even boasts a large sculpture on one of its roundabouts, dedicated to carp. Pavel Hoffman:

"The Rosenberg nobility made a very significant contribution to the Trebon region because it changed the entire landscape. They hired a man named Jakub Krcin of Jelcany, who entered the service of the Rosenbergs in 1561 to build thousands of ponds. The most noteworthy are the ponds Svet and Rosenberg, the largest in the country. Mr Krcin was very talented and was put at the head of all business activity. This was a very wise decision as he brought in large amounts of money into the noble family's coffers."

After the death of the last member of the Rosenberg nobility, Peter of Rosenberg, in 1611, the estate was inherited by the Svamberg family. But it was not to be in their possession for long. Their role in the uprising against the Habsburgs saw the estate confiscated. It was not until 1660, when Jan Adolf of Schwarzenberg acquired the Trebon estate, that the town regained prosperity. Much of its appearance today dates back to the late eighteenth century when massive reconstruction was launched after a disastrous fire broke out during repair work on the monastery chapel. A dominant building in Trebon is the three-story Schwarzenberg tomb. It is built of bricks with stucco imitating stone blocks and impresses with its monumental staircase, chapel of white sandstone and marble, and its romantic 24 hectare park.

"My name is Paul Stasek. Welcome to the sepulchre building of the Schwarzenberg family in Trebon. This building was constructed for four years in 1877, initiated by Lady Eleonora Schwarzenberg. Before that, all the deceased family members rested in the village church and when the space was full, a new building had to be erected. It is in neo-Gothic style, imported from England. We have now entered the underground area with 26 coffins."

So, there's a body inside this coffin in front of me?

"Yes. It has been embalmed and is in the coffin now. The coffin is made up of double metal plates. The inner plate is made of copper and the outer plate is made of zinc."

What about this coffin, it's very small...?

"Yes. Lady Eleonora Schwarzenberg, who is in the first coffin in this row, gave birth to the baby in the small coffin. His name was Prince Walter Prosper and he died two days after he was born. But you must be wondering why the coffin is not with the others in a row. It's because Prince Walter was an illegitimate child. When Lady Eleonora stayed in Great Britain, she fell in love with an English nobleman and bore his child. The small vessel here contains the heart of the baby.

"This other coffin here which has a special shape was made in China. The son of Adolf Josef was a diplomat in Asia. He died in Shanghai from diphtheria. He was put in a coffin and sent here on board a ship."

For more information on Trebon, please visit the information centre's official website: