Špilberk Castle sits on top of a great hill rising out of Brno, the Czech Republic’s second city. Anička’s left me alone for a morning and when the cat’s away, the mouse will go for a hike. Up the hill I go to the thirteenth century stronghold.
The castle is surround by parkland that is blooming in the spring sunshine. I’m no botanist, but there are pink shrubs and cherry blossom that hasn’t yet dropped. The giant apple red walls tower above me. The only way through is via dark, cool tunnels.
At the top, I avoid buying a ticket. I won’t visit the museum today. A colony of artists sits on a corner of the wall having a lesson. A woman poses for a snap in a little wooden guardhouse.
The castle itself would not be recognised by those who built it. Over the centuries it has been damaged, rebuilt and remodelled by those who have bought it or taken it by force. In Špilberk’s current guise it was last worked upon by the Nazis. They tried to make it fit their model of central European perfection. And they used it as a torture house and stopover for those being transported to the concentration camps.
From Špilberk’s wall’s it is possible to look out over the whole of Brno. The Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul sits on top of another hill in the distance, the baroque churches with their verdigris domes nestle in the city and the functionalist exhibition centre spreads itself out over the acres to the southwest.
A little waterfall – I do not know whether it is natural or man-made – is surrounded by rose bushes. The splashes echo off the walls as I walk down the opposite side of Špilberk’s hill. The path is lined by old street lamps that must be beautiful at night.
I find some dappled shade, lie in a patch of daisies and relax.