A series of posts following David and Gail as they walk 480 kilometers from Prague to Vienna in 2014.
September 27, 2014
Mikulov is a city no less interesting than its cousins, Telč, Tabor, Salonice and Znojmo. But this hilltop town suffers from an unromantic approach. No crowning a hill to reveal a picturesque village here. Instead, the approach is through a rough industrial district, flat and ugly and not too unlike the approach to any North American city. Those impressions quickly disappear as the winding streets are navigated, revealing another stunning old town square. Wine dominates this urban landscape, along with the requisite enormous chateau watching over the imbibing below. It is still Burčak season and, of course, I participate in this fall ritual. Another difference is the glut of cyclists invading this city. Considering all the cycle paths we have followed since Prague, we have been surprised by how few bikers we have met. That started to change around Vranov nad Dyje but Mikulov is definitely two-wheel territory. It might have something to do with the less rigorous, gently rolling landscape. Or it may be that touring the wine district is the draw.
What makes Mikulov truly unique is its Jewish heritage. Jews were important throughout the history of the Czeck lands. Not without struggle, of course, but gaining a foot hold and rights similar to the rest of the population. Mikulov’s Jews once made up about 43% of the population. All of that changed with the rise of the Nazi’s and, by the end of World War Two, that population neared zero. What remains are the remnants of the Jewish ghetto, once a vital community of over 300 house clinging to the slopes below the chateau, now reduced to about 90 houses, a couple of synagogues and a huge cemetery easily rivaling that of the Prague ghetto.
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