13 things to do in Cheb Czech republic in winter
Have you ever heard of Cheb Czech republic?
Cheb is located in the very West of Czech republic, in the Carlsbad region not very far from Karlovy Vary. Its German name Eger is still sometimes used as the town is located approx. 5 km from the Czech-German border. The Czech name Cheb appeared in the Middle Ages and it’s the name used officially nowadays.
With its approx. 33,000 inhabitants, Cheb is more or less the size of my home town Snina in Slovakia. Therefore, I give it thumbs up for being easily walkable.
13 things to do in Cheb Czech republic in winter:
1. History axis
That’s how I called it as I’m not sure if it has an official name. It’s a piece of metal axis inserted into the pavement going through the pedestrian zone which starts at the 9 m high Gate of Time artefact and goes towards the bus/train station. The axis shows what happened in Cheb and in which year. You can thus learn the most important events in the history of Cheb from 1061 (the first mention of Cheb) until 2011. If you come to Cheb by train or bus as I did (took a Regiojet bus from Karlovy Vary), the calendar on the ground is what you will notice as the first thing on the way to the city center.
2. Cheb castle
First, the 9th century Slavonic settlement burial place was covered there in 1125 with a new stone castle construction. Then in 1179 Friedrich Barbarossa reconstructed the castle into a Stauf imperial pfalz which was the only of its kind in Czech republic and at the same time the Easternmost one in Europe. This is what makes the Cheb castle stand out among all the Czech castles. During the reign of Czech kings the palace became a royal castle. Charles IV and George of Podebrady stayed there a couple of times.
Nowadays just a part of the Imperial pfalz has been conserved – palace ruins, the Chapel and the Black tower. The Black tower Černá věž from volcanic basalt is still dominating the castle. The 18.5 m high tower with 3 m thick walls had a defensive purpose.
As in winter months the castle exhibitions are closed, I could only walk around which was for free. I recommend you to have a look at the old Slavic thombs, the preserved 13th century two-storey Chapel of St. Martin, St. Erhard and St. Urshula, the remains of the Romanesque castle behind the Chapel and medieval wooden catapult weapons. Make sure to walk around the Bastion to get some views of the castle and of the river Ohře below it, and check also the 12-meter deep well from the 14th century.
Špalíček is together with the Cheb castle the most famous attraction in town. It’s a complex of 11 unique medieval town houses from the late-Gothic period. The three or four-storey merchant houses are located on the George of Podebrady square (náměstí krále Jiřího z Poděbrad.) Originally, since 1273 there used to stand wooden shanties which were rebuilt into stone houses in 1320. The form we can see now is from 1470 and was renewed in 1975. Please, also walk around the houses and find the 1.6 m narrow street Shopkeeper Lane, or the Kramářská in Czech language. This super cute street divides Špalíček houses into two blocks. Back in time the house inhabitants would put trash along the street.
4. Historic buildings
There’s altogether minimum of 51 houses of great historical importance in Cheb. Many houses have a little sign with history description of the house, its construction, in which style it was built (e.g. classicist), the number of the house and why the house was important.
5. St. Nicolas and Elisabeth church
Kostel Sv. Mikuláše a Alžběty consists of a late Gothic hall with 3 aisles with 2 Romanesque towers and a Gothic presbytery. Only some parts of the original 13th century Romanesque Basilica remained because the church burnt down many times over the centuries. The decorated vestibules were built in the Neo-Gothic style in the 19th century. In 1945 the church towers were damaged during the WWII and the new ones were consecrated in 2008.
It’s possible to visit the church for free (even though they recommend an optional fee) or visit the tower to get some views of the town (the tower entrance fee was 20 CZK crowns in 2016.) The church is open every day since 10 am to 4 pm, except Mondays when it’s closed.
6. Franciscan square
Františkánské náměstí is a small square with a Franciscan monastery and a Gothic church. The former Minorites Convent with the church were built in 1250’s. The famous Czech-German Royal wedding of princess Gutta and king Wenceslas II took place there. But then in 1270 the church burnt down in fire and was rebuilt many times ever since. Its present form is from the 18th century. The 60-m tall church tower was built already in Charles IV period and was pointing the travelers to the refuge. The Franciscans administrated the church from the 15th century until 1951 which is why it’s known as the Franciscan church. Unfortunately, the church was closed when I was there, yet still nice to look at from the outside. Hopefully you will get a chance to visit the unique cloister with the gardens.
7. Christmas market
Vánoční trhy offer a unique experience for their visitors, if you visit in the end of November or in December until Christmas. Many different things, such as warm clothes, drinks, and traditional meals are sold there. I recommend you to try my favorite roasted chestnuts and potato pancakes bramboráky. And if you are visiting Cheb with kids, they can have fun skating around the small ice ring by the Christmas market. Just soak up the Christmas atmosphere!
8. St. Bartholomew Church
Kostel Sv. Bartolomeje was originally a Gothic church built in 1414 to 1420. But then a fire damaged the church in 1809 so it had to be rebuilt in the classicist style in 1828. The inner wall paintings were restored in 1963. Next to the church we can find the Commendam and the Hospital of the Knights of the Red Cross.
9. Wall paintings and Cheb niches
Remember to check the wall paintings on the corner of the Šlikova street located on the house just above the Caffé. The paintings will give you an idea of local male clothing from the 13th to 17th century. Also, when taking a walk around the city center, look up and notice weird statues inserted in house niches. One of them is also located on one of the red houses of Špalíček.
10. Walk around city center
The picturesque Cheb city center is too colorful to be missed. Just take time to stroll around and pay attention to all the houses on your way. My favorite streets I remembered the names of were Mikulášská and Růžová.
11. Cheb Museum
If you are into museums or if it gets too cold outside, you can also spend some time in the Cheb Museum. It’s located in the Pachelbel House from 1390, opposite Špalíček. Cheb Museum is the largest museum in Carlsbad region. It holds an art-historical collection with important pieces, such as Cheb antependium and some items belonging to the Duke Albrecht of Valdštejn. The Museum is open on certain days only, but always on weekend from 9 am to 5 pm for a fee.
12. Belgian chocolaterie
The chocolaterie is located at the George of Podebrady square 18 and if you are a chocolate/praline lover, you need to enter. Just get ready to spend fortune there as you won’t be able to choose among kilograms of small pieces of heaven melting on your tongue. Before Christmas they were also selling Santa Claus and St. Nicolas chocolate figures there.
13. Dobrá čajovna
If you get too cold or too hungry or will be simply in the relaxing mood, then Dobrá čajovna could be the best choice. I stopped there on the way to the bus station after freezing my butt off for the day taking photos of Cheb. You can choose from a wide variety of tea and accompany it wih vegan or vegetarian meals, such as my beloved hummus.
Monastery Garden – The restored Klášterní zahrada belongs to the Franciscan monastery I mentioned above. The Franciscans used to grow vegetables and fruit there until 1930’s, then there was an ornamental garden, and even a school veggie garden. Now since it was restored in 2002 some cultural events take place in the peaceful garden. The garden was unfortunately closed during my stay but looked very romantic through the gate. If you visit Cheb between April and October, definitely go to chill out to the garden.
***Disclaimer: It was raining most of my visit in Cheb so some photos might have little dots on them. It’s rain drops, sorry. I still tried to choose the best photos out of more than 700 I took in Cheb.
More photos from my Cheb visit are in the photo album.
If you are in the region, then check also my article about 30 things to do in Karlovy Vary.
Charles IV was a frequent visitor of Cheb Czech republic which is why I chose Cheb as part of my trip for the #K700 campaign to promote Charles IV destinations in Czech republic. Czech tourism website gave me the idea to visit Cheb. Here you can find more information about Cheb. Or once there, grab town leaflets and maps at the tourist office on the Jateční street 476/2 at the corner of George of Podebrady square. If you are from Slovakia or Czech republic, I also recommend you to check out CeskaRepublika on Facebook.