Tabor Basic Information
Tabor is the second largest city in the South Bohemian Region, part of the Czech Republic. It is located about 75 km to the south from Prague and 50 km to the north from South Bohemian capital Ceske Budejovice. The population of Tabor is a little over 35 thousand, but the city forms a small agglomeration with neighbouring towns Sezimovo Usti and Plana nad Luznici, which have additional 10 thousand inhabitants.
Tabor History and the Hussites
Tabor is in many ways unique and has a special place in Czech history and culture. Although settlement of the place was reported from earlier periods, the city of Tabor itself was founded by Hussites in early 15th century and served as their main base and military camp during the Hussite Wars. The Hussites, named after a Church reformer and Czech national hero Jan Hus, revolted against the Catholic Church and the Holy Roman Empire in the years of Church reformation and achieved several great victories over much larger armies, often crusaders and other foreigners.
The word “tabor” (with small t) means (military or children’s) camp in Czech and a few other languages. According to some linguists the word is after the city, although there are other explanations.
Tabor Attractions and Monuments
Not surprisingly given its history, the layout of Tabor is not very typical, because its town centre is situated on a high rock overlooking a river (the Luznice), so if you are coming to the centre of Tabor from any direction, you go uphill. In the south-western part of the old town there are remains of an old castle, Kotnov, which was founded by Czech King Premysl Otakar II. in the 13th century, some 150 years before the Hussites came. Unfortunately, most of the castle was totally destroyed in a great fire in 1532. Only a characteristic round tower remains – and also the area called Parkan, where you can have a nice view of the river and the surroundings.
The very centre of the city is Zizkovo Namesti, named after the most famous Hussite army leader, Jan Zizka of Trocnov. There is also Zizka’s statue in the middle of the square and only two blocks away there is also Zizkova Street.
Under the main square, there is a network of underground passages, which is accessible to the public and it is maybe the biggest tourist attraction of the city. The passages were built in the 16th century (long after Hussites), originally as shelters from enemy attacks and fires. The entrance to the passages is from the Old City Hall building (Radnice). There is also the Hussite Museum in the City Hall.
Next to the City Hall, in one corner of Zizkovo Namesti there is the Church of Transfiguration of Christ on Mount Tabor (Kostel Promeneni Pane na hore Tabor). It has the tallest church tower in South Bohemia and it is frequently featured as a typical picture of Tabor.
Chynovska Cave, the Jordan, and the Luznice
Although most attractions are connected to the history of Tabor, there are also a few non-historical ones. For example, there is Chynovska Cave near Chynov, about 10 km to the east from the centre of Tabor.
There is also a large dam immediately next to the old town (on the other side than the river) – the Jordan. It was built in 1492 (the same year when the Spanish completed the reconquista or when Christopher Columbus arrived in America), which makes it the oldest dam in Central Europe.
The river that flows in Tabor – the Luznice – is one of the most classical rivers for canoeing and water tourism in the Czech Republic. Although this form of spending holiday has long tradition among the Czechs, its popularity virtually exploded in the last several years and it became almost mass tourism. In summer you can watch the canoes from the Parkan.
How to Get to Tabor
Tabor is situated on a very important road and railway corridor between Prague and Ceske Budejovice (and Linz, Austria). From Prague, you can get to Tabor by highway D1 (to Brno), which you exit on exit 21 (Mirosovice) and continue on road number 3 (E55), which in some sections becomes highway D3.
All express trains between Prague and Ceske Budejovice stop in Tabor, as it is the biggest city on the route. Travel time from Prague is about 1.5 hours or a little shorter in the fastest trains. There are also frequent bus services (the buses usually depart from Prague Roztyly or Prague Florenc bus stations).